For a long time I've been trying to figure out what the single unifying point of the Tea Party movement and conservatives in general is. Finally the other day it came to me. They are scared shitless. I guess it's not really that hard to understand when you check out the constant stream of fear their handlers throw at them. After all when you tell people 24/7/365 that the President is illegally elected, that they won't be able to worship their God, that government death panels are coming to kill their grandma, that rich people need even bigger tax breaks or there won't be any jobs, that the evil brown heathens are coming to steal their freedoms and install Sharia Law and that even their light bulbs are under attack then eventually some of them start to actually believe it.
Of course the problem goes back much further than the last few decades. As we all know, for the first few hundred years after the settling of America, white Christian males held 100% of the power in this country, then came the Civil War followed by the 13th, 14th and 19th Amendments. By 1950 that number was down to about 95%. Currently it's closer to 75% and dropping. That number is still too high given the actual percentage of the population that fits the description, but all those that do can see is people taking away the rights they held seemingly forever. Early on the federal government forced them to integrate schools and actually allow all the people of color to vote. By the 1980's the changes were in full swing. First there was a woman on the ballot for Vice President and next thing you know a black man was President. Then here comes Rush Limbaugh, FOX News, Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann all screaming to high heaven that white Christians are getting screwed and the deepest fears come bubbling to the surface.
Change can be scary and as we roll forward into the next few decades the power shift will continue. It's a done deal. Inside of 20 years all that will be left of the GOP is the hard core southern white Christian base - AKA The Tea Party and what a fearful party it is. To hold on to the America where they were kings their leaders are pulling out all the stops. They are rolling back voting rights at an unprecedented rate, telling their supporters there is a secret agenda to take away their guns, refusing to do anything to help the economy then blaming the lack of recovery on the "Usurper in Chief" and telling everyone who will listen that this is an election for the very soul of America.
Sunday that fear and anger lashed out again when a white supremacist in Wisconsin did what he'd been primed to do. He grabbed his guns and he went off to kill him some Muslims. He knew where they were. They met every Sunday not to far away. He'd seen them in their turbans with their beards. They looked damned scary and the building they met in is actually a Mosque. He was sure that they were up to no good, that they were infiltrators just as Michelle Bachmann had warned us all. Something had to be done and he did it. The fact they weren't actually Muslims but Sikh's really didn't matter to him as once again, the scary brown people with their weird dress styles, were flaunting their otherness for all to see. Now six people are dead. Seven if you count the shooter himself and the question "why" just isn't that hard to answer.
Of course it's not just him. Every day conservative become more alienated from the culture their fathers knew. They lash out both in the real world and through violent imagery from the safety of their homes. Can you see how scared that man is? The way he hides behind his glasses, afraid to show his eyes? Can you sense his helplessness as he resorts to pointing a gun at the whole world to try and scare them off? Read the frustration in his words. Like the dog barking at the strangers as they walk down the sidewalk past its yard, this man is desperately trying to hold back that which he fears the most.
You have to look beyond your own fear and nervousness and realize these people really just need a hug and to be told, "it's going to be okay." When they look at you like you've lost your mind and start to bluster, simply repeat steps 1 and 2. Keep doing it over and over. Change can be scary. These people fear change because from their perspective, it has only hurt them. That's obviously not true, but perspective is reality and we need to find a way to get past their defensiveness, find a way to reach them, to calm those fears and assuage that anger.
I admit, I've been as guilty recently as anyone of letting my anger and frustration over the GOP's lockstep marching and the unwillingness to bend to the inevitable changes this country and world are going to see in the next few decades dictate my words and actions. So today, I'm turning over a new leaf. I'm going to stop trolling these fearful, angry people. I'm going to find a way to tell them that it's going to be okay and they can stop being so scared - that the new world may not be the one they are used to, but it has a chance to be so much better. Still, odds are I can't do it on my own. We all need to do our part. We need to lead them gently and calmly through their fears and into the light of the new day. Do it on Facebook. Do it in bars. Do it in public. Do it at home. Hug a Teabagger for America each and every day. I know it's a scary thought, but, trust me, they are way more scared of you than you are of them.