The recent Republican presidential candidates’ debate in front of the so-called tea party turned out to be a disturbing walk on the wild side.
The candidates’ meeting with representatives of the overwhelmingly older, white and suburban movement revealed an appalling level of small-mindedness.
The audience exhibited one form of bias after another.
When Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, was asked if a person should be left to die if he had chosen not to get insurance, some in the crowd yelled “yes” and laughed.
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When Texas Gov. Rick Perry defended access to higher education for Latinos who had been brought to America as babies, he was booed.
When Paul pointed out that Muslims in countries that were bombed by the United States could have reason for joining anti-American movements, he was booed.
The crowd fulminated over the Affordable Care Act — the health insurance law signed by President Obama, an African-American. But they were much quieter about virtually the same law signed by Mitt Romney, a white man, when he was governor of Massachusetts.
The candidates added to the rancor as they pandered to the crowd.
Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum described Latino voters as illegal voters, as if all Latinos were such.
Romney said Latinos who were Democrats came to this country to get handouts, slandering millions of hard-working Latinos.
Mixed in with all this rage was tremendous faith in big business. Less regulation and more tax breaks for the rich were regular mantras.
The fact that deregulation of the banks and tax breaks got us into the horrible recession we’re suffering didn’t seem to bother anyone at the debate.
The real Boston tea party supported respect for all, even those who didn’t think like them. Today’s tea party should do the same.
Ramon Castellblanch is an associate professor of health education at San Francisco State. He wrote this for Progressive Media Project, a source of liberal commentary on domestic and international issues; it is affiliated with The Progressive magazine. Readers may write to the author at: Progressive Media Project, 409 East Main Street, Madison, Wis. 53703; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; Web site: www.progressive.org.