The costume isn’t fooling anybody

When I was in military school, we were expected to wear our uniforms at all times when we weren’t in the barracks.  We had the daily uniform, a uniform for working out (PT gear), dress uniforms, etc.  The only time we weren’t in uniform was when taking a shower or sleeping.  We even wore our uniforms when we went into town on the weekends.

As you would expect, cadets from time to time would want to wander around town in “civilian clothes.”  For whatever reason, this was a common desire.  What we didn’t realize back then was that a Marine Military Academy cadet was recognizable even out of uniform.  The first “tell” was the haircut.  In the late ’70s, very few teenagers had military-style haircuts, and you can bet that no kid in Harlingen, Texas had such a haircut because he wouldn’t want to be mistaken for an MMA cadet.

Some kids got the bright idea to wear a wig or hat to hide the haircut and thereby go incognito.  That didn’t work very often, either.  MMA cadets stand straighter than their non-cadet contemporaries, and they march even when they’re just ambling down the road.  It’s trivial for anybody who’s familiar with cadets to spot one in a crowd.  He stands out because he looks, stands, walks, and talks differently from somebody who hasn’t attended the school.

Founded in early 2008, what eventually became the “Tea Party” was a reaction to the excesses of government perpetrated by both major parties.  What started as a popular uprising and was laughed at by members of both major parties soon became a serious force in American politics because Tea Party members were echoing the frustration and disgust that many of us felt.

Following the sweeping rejection of Republicans the 2008 election, many Republicans started looking for a way to re-make the party’s image, and they somehow managed to latch onto the growing popularity of the Tea Party.  At first, it looked encouraging:  Republicans who were interested in fiscal responsibility were embracing what looked to be an up and coming third party.  But somewhere along the way the Tea Party got hijacked by the Republican old guard.

An old school Republican can’t hide in a group of people who are fed up with the excesses of government any more than an MMA cadet can don civilian clothes and disappear among the natives.  Republicans are part of Big Government just as Democrats are.  The only difference between the two is what parts of Big Government they support.

Today’s “Tea Party” is just a bunch of old Republicans who’ve put on wigs and new clothes, trying to fool us into believing that they’re something else while they belt out the same tired old ideas.  As one of the original Tea Party founders said, the movement has been hijacked by the very people it was protesting against and is now obsessed with “God, guns, and gays.”

Don’t be fooled.  There’s nothing different behind the thin Tea Party veil.  It’s the same old crap you’ve been hearing for decades.  The Republicans today are screaming the “I hate Obama” message as loudly as Democrats were screaming “I hate Bush” back in 2004.  And, like the Democrats in 2004, the Tea Party Republicans have nothing else on their agenda.  They’ll have us believe that if we put them in power, they’ll “fix” everything.

That said, I’ll be happy to see Democrats lose control of Congress.  Not because I have any love of the Republican party, but rather because I think it’s dangerous to have any party control both the Legislative and Executive branches of government.  People complain about government gridlock, but I think it’s a good thing.  We’re much better off when Congress has a difficult time passing legislation.