Tea Party haters claim that the Tea Party has introduced great incivility into the political debate. Ironically, the exact opposite is true. The most common and most damaging incivility imputes to someone something they did not say and do not believe. The anti-Tea Party crowd excels above all other groups in its practice of such incivility. A favorite target of this hatred recently has been freshman Utah Senator Mike Lee. As usual, truth has once again been the innocent victim.
In response to a caller's question about federal flood relief in a recent interview, Mike Lee said this:
The listener identifies an issue with flood and disaster relief, should that be a federal prerogative or a state power? I think a compelling point can be made that that‘s one thing states historically focused on and an area where we ought to focus, one of many areas where we ought to focus on getting that power back to the states, keeping that money back to the states in the states to begin with.Yet during the same time period, in regard to receiving federal flood assistance for recent flooding in Southern Utah Senator Lee said this:
"That money is there. It's been appropriated for disaster relief, and I see no reason why Utah ought not be entitled to receive such federal funds."Only the willfully inane cannot reconcile those two concepts. The Deseret News didn't have a hard time doing it. DesNews reported in the very first paragraphs of a story that Utahns could have easily read if they wanted to understand the truth, that
First there's the principle: flood relief is an unconstitutional usurpation of power from the States by the federal government. Then there's the reality: because of this unconstitutional usurpation of power, Americans have been taxed for and become accustomed to receiving flood assistance from the federal government. Which brings up another principle: it takes time and careful effort to be fair to the American people while extricating the federal government from powers that it has unconstitutionally usurped from the States.
Utah's newest U.S. senator has long championed state's rights and continues to campaign for shrinking the federal government's size and role in state affairs — including natural disasters.
But until those changes happen, Republican Sen. Mike Lee backs the state's request for millions in federal disaster relief funds to help Utah's Dixie rebuild from major flooding. (Emphasis added.)
Who are the greatest fear mongers in America today? Those who hate the Tea Party--and they do it with a purely visceral reaction. This small but vocal group of people appear to have a hard time formulating a mental idea of why they disagree with federal elected officials who identify with the Tea Party. Filtered through the lens of their irrational fear and hate, they will tell you such things as:
- Mike Lee supposedly wants to abolish child labor laws.
- Mike Lee supposedly wants to end the Social Security program posthaste.
- Mike Lee supposedly supports gun violence, and
- Mike Lee supposedly wants to abolish flood relief
It's time to take the debate to a higher level--one where both sides represent accurately the position of their opponents, even when it hurts. I suggest that raising the level of debate could begin with several apologies to Utah Senator Mike Lee for completely misrepresenting what he stands for.