The Tea Party: A Grassroots Movement? Fed and Watered by Billionaires

For months now the media has been full of stories of the so-called Tea Party movement. Rallies of 200 were important enough to be featured on primetime news and the front page of the newspapers. This has all been built up over the last weeks with Glenn Beck’s attempt to eclipse the 1963 March on Washington led by Martin Luther King by having his event on the anniversary of that historic rally. This thinly disguised racist even went so far as to say they were there to “take back” the Civil Rights movement.

Throngs of people, mostly aging and white, descended on Washington in their air-conditioned buses to hear the empty ranting of Beck, Palin and others. This was recently followed by a rally in Alaska by the twin stars of this so-called movement – Beck and Palin.

Attracting only a little less attention was a preacher in Gainesville Florida whose publicity stunt was to announce that he and his congregation of around 30 people were going to burn the Quaran on September 11. This was supposedly in opposition to the construction of a Muslim community center blocks away from the site of the former twin towers. His announcement attracted media attention from around the world and resulted in top officials in the US, from Obama to top military brass, opposing his actions.

From the so-called Tea Party politicians to those who claim the U.S. is slipping into the hands of foreign powers, there is more than enough hysteria to go around. With the deep crisis so many are facing, there is little wonder that there is dissatisfaction with the situation we face.

Fear can be a powerful driving force. People look at the Democrats and what are they doing? The banks and large corporations are bailed out and we are sinking. The national health care program has turned into a bonanza for the insurance and drug companies and large hospital chains. Meanwhile the Republicans stand in the way of even the smallest attempts to even begin to address the problems we face. So, along comes the so-called Tea party. For those who see the world through the narrow eyes of racism, this was the perfect bandwagon to jump on – blame an African-American president for everything and while you are at it say he is a Muslim, like there is something wrong with being a Muslim. For those whose intolerance extends to gays and lesbians, the Tea Party is the perfect platform. And then there are those who are fearful and looking for a quick solution and protection, the Tea Party can seem attractive.

It is election time and this provides an opportunity to whip up peoples’ fears. But why would ordinary people be demanding to protect tax cuts for the rich and continued protections for the banks and big corporations when they are facing massive unemployment, foreclosures, rising health care costs and an overall attack on their standard of living? It doesn’t make sense, until we look at who is bankrolling this so-called movement – the billionaire Koch brothers, Rupert Murdoch and his media empire and other multi-millionaires.

The Koch family, heirs to an oil fortune, have poured hundreds of millions of dollars into right-wing organizations and support for politicians. Murdoch’s Fox news has both Beck and Palin on its payroll and provides constant promotion of right-wing activities on its television and radio outlets.

Opposing the hysteria represented by the Tea Party folks does not mean we have to support, defend or rely on the Democrats. They are the other side of the same coin – also the representatives of the corporations and the banks. It is time we began to figure out how to represent our own interests and not at the ballot box, but through the power we have on the job and our numbers in the streets.