The racial controversy over Mark Williams’ recent Tea Party Express blog post is disheartening. In this post, Mr. Williams wrote a fictional letter to President Abraham Lincoln in which emancipated “Coloreds” decry having to manage their own lives. The letter goes on to insinuate that recent government bailouts are nothing more than “big money welfare” and that bailouts should be handed directly “to us coloreds” rather than big business. In generating this controversy, Mr. Williams not only exposed racial prejudices that still run rampant in this country, he also dealt a death blow to the Tea Party movement’s cohesiveness and effectiveness. Mr. Williams’ actions also highlight a fundamental flaw in the way we Americans approach change. (http://www.cnn.com/2010/POLITICS/07/18/tea.party.imbroglio/index.html?hpt=Sbin )
Mr. Williams says his post was written in response to recent NAACP allegations that the Tea Party movement has racist elements. It was also an attempt to satirize government bailouts of corporations that were directly responsible for the current economic meltdown. (I tried to find and read the original post, but to no avail). By responding in the manner he did, he only reinforced the NAACP’s allegations. In addition, he undermined his attempt to chastise the government’s corporate bailout program. He could not have chosen a more inappropriate means to convey his thoughts.
The fallout from this situation is twofold. First, Mr. Williams exposes racial stereotypes that are still alive and well in this country. Despite all the progress that has been attained towards eliminating racial discrimination within our borders, it shows that we still have a long way to go.
The next “victim” is the Tea Party movement itself. This movement is the first serious threat to the status quo this country has seen in some time. This is a good thing. It shows that “We The People” are getting tired of our government’s “business as usual” mentality. Most importantly, it shows we’re not just tired, but we’re tired enough to collectively mobilize at the grassroots level and actively stump for change. It is this willingness to act that separates the Tea Party movement from past attempts at change. It takes a strong movement to initiate change, an even stronger movement to keep that momentum going. Mr. Williams’ actions have jeopardized the cohesive strength of the Tea Party movement and reduced its ability to keep its momentum moving forward. That’s a bad thing. Not just for the movement itself, but also for this country.
Change requires the ability to identify a problem then propose a solution to that problem. We Americans do a great job at the former, not so good when it comes to the latter. This is especially true when identifying the problems afflicting our federal government. We’re quick to point to a flawed person, program, or process, yet often feel no responsibility to offer a solution in rectifying that flaw. We assume someone else will find a solution and in doing so we become part of the problem. I refuse to be part of the problem.
One solution that I believe will eliminate many of the problems hindering our federal government is the abolishment of political parties. Political parties, like the Republican and Democratic parties, are responsible for many of the woes that beset our federal government. They are responsible for the partisan politics that exemplify the gridlock and excess bureaucracy that has come to define our current federal government.
There’s no guarantee abolishment of political parties would eliminate all gridlock and excess bureaucracy. However, it would force our elected officials to vote based on ever changing subject matter and not along rigid, unyielding, and well-established party lines. While emphasis on subject matter would create pacts and some gridlock, these pacts would be temporary. Allies on one subject, like abortion, may find themselves at odds with each other on issues such as immigration. Abolishment of political parties would increase the likelihood of subject matter voting, which I believe would ultimately lessen the gridlock and excess bureaucracy that has come to define our federal government.