How Much Difference: Coffee Party and Tea Party?

In the course of some Facebook comments on a friend’s page, I was pointed to this, about the differences between the two groups or movements:

http://thehill.com/opinion/letters/99085-a-letter-to-us-legislators-coffee-teas-commonalities

While the Tea Party spokesman’s credentials to speak for it seem highly disputed in the comments following, I think both people, as well as most who are engaged in current political polemics, miss a point that is compelling to me:

“Special Interests” are all our interests.  The lives we lead, the values we hold, all create “special interests” and we depend on lobbyists, trial lawyers, big and small corporations, political parties and politicians to represent them.  We are comfortable with our “interests” and tend to think they benefit society as a whole or at least are not incompatible with the public interest.

I am 67 today, a member of AARP, one who collects Social Security and, in my case, gets most of his health care from the Veterans’ Administration.  I am also seriously interested in civil liberties and concerned at their erosion since 9/11 and continuing in executive decisions today, although my own have never been questioned.  I read broadly but am best read in the nonfiction political books and articles of my life time.  A diagram of all my “interests” taken as all the things I think should be supported from just those listed above would show countless congruences and conflicts, many of which I don’t recognize unless, in the course of engaging others, they point them out.  Some probably can’t be resolved.  I would be surprised if there were any people, not to speak of many, whose “interests” were entirely consistent.

Peanut’s said, I think, “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

So pointing to the “special interests” is pointing in the mirror and shouting about them, is shouting at ourselves.  If it works for you, do it but it doesn’t for me.

This is a large, complex society, both national and international.  “Interests” are intertwined and interlaced.  Figuring out what constitutes the best solution to any given large-scale social problem is a complex task requiring well-prepared arguments from the “interests” involved, as well as a recognition that no solution will satisfy all “interests” fully.  Shouting just doesn’t get to that point.  Civility in public debate may, although there is no guarantee that it will.  In my view, the greater the problem, the more civility is essential to its resolution or amelioration in a democratic society.

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