I noticed a recent Tea Party dust-up with the IRS over 501 (c) (4) tax-exempt status. The Tea Party wants it; the IRS doesn’t appear to want to give it to them. Now, you can attain that status quite easily if your group is not perceived to be trying to influence elections. It’s pretty much a ‘social welfare’ tax exemption; your little reward for giving a damn about your neighbors and helping with Policeman and Fireman relief funds, cleaning up parks, finding services for those in need, that kind of stuff. Technically a 501 (c) (4) organization is supposed to spend the lion’s share of its time promoting ‘social welfare’ not trying to elect the most radical politician in the district.
Or, in the dry syntax of the IRS, “An organization is operated exclusively for the promotion of social welfare if it is primarily engaged in promoting in some way the common good and general welfare of the community.” Doesn’t mean you can’t stump for the occasional radical pol, it just means you have to be primarily engaged in helping your fellow man and woman.
I thought I’d take a Tea Party tour of the Internet and check out the ‘social welfare’ programs that take up so much TP time. For my first stop, I journeyed all the way to Fredericksburg, Texas seeking the presence of do-gooder programs on their Tea Party homepage. There were notifications of a few meetings. The sheriff was going to address one of them, then some guy named Cox, founder of the Get Out of Our House Revolution was speaking at another. Don’t know what GOOH is, could be a hint to the adult children, but I doubt it’s a program to help any charities that I know about.
The right side menus of the Fredericksburg site were most revealing. There were national links to the Drudge Report, Free Republic, American Spectator, Townhall.com, the Weekly Standard, Rush Limbaugh, the Club for Growth and about a dozen other links having nothing to do with ‘social welfare’ and everything to do with brainwashing visitors into electing radical right-wingers.
And we’re not finished. There was a National Think Tank menu list that included the far, far right American Enterprise, Cato, Heartland and Manhattan Institutes, not to mention the ubiquitous Heritage Foundations and the Federalist Society.
Any ‘social welfare’ programs of this particular Tea Party chapter were about the size of an atom compared to a political agenda of Jupiter proportions.
Closer to home, I checked out a couple of South Carolina Tea Party sites. There was a fawning eulogy for Andrew Breitbart accompanied by 4 liberal-hating videos of the late right-wing website mogul, whose one self-proclaimed goal in life was to “Destroy the Institutional Left.” What a sweet sentiment. As an aside to our golden-agers, Breitbart’s father-in-law was actor, Orson Bean. The grieving eulogist further declared, “Not since the death of Dale Earnhardt has the passing of a public figure who I don’t know (I high-five’d him once at CPAC) caused me so much grief.”
It was a moving tribute all right, but there was little in the way of evidence that the site was as moved by anything to do with ‘social welfare’.
Another state Tea Party Website trumpted a RINO Hunt Saturday in Florence! The message continued…”The RINO Hunt is getting serious! Primary filing is just around the corner…the best way to eliminate a RINO is in their own primary! If we are going to hunt the big game, we’ve gotta take the hunt to their natural habitat! And Florence is home to one of the most infamous RINO’s in the state.”
Maybe RINO hunts constitute ‘social welfare’ in some parts of South Carolina.
Do what I did and go no a Tea Party expedition throughout Internetland. Visit the Tea Party sites and their multitude of spin-offs, many of a religious nature. You’ll note that nothing on their hompages appears to justify a tax-exempt designation of a 501 (c) (4) organization. They politicize and little else. At least the ones I saw.
I think British Philosopher, AC Grayling, writing in The Guardian Newspaper in the UK, best described what I believe to be representative of members of the Tea Party – “Those who espouse a belief system or ideology which pre-packages all the answers.” Perfectly framed by Grayling. From my perspective, all Tea Party answers are boringly predictable because they require no intellectual kinetics.
In the Tea Party world, there is nothing to measure, nothing to study. It’s all laid out there before the members and they lap it up like kittens lap up milk. The Tea Party faithful then end up with little mustaches of homophobia, racism, love of war, hatred of the federal government, democrats, public schools, Obama, Obamacare, Muslims, taxes and liberals – all pre-packaged; nothing to study. They do LOVE two things, however; People like the late Breitbart who hated the same things they hate and the dream of untold wealth.
If you think this is some mom and pop citizen populist movement, you couldn’t be further off base. This is the propaganda arm of the most powerful corporate players in the country and that’s all it is. Nothing more!!! Shovel in a heap of patriotism and Christianity, mix well with pure bullshit and a wave of naïve and uninformed goobers come tumbling onto your political landfill ready to do your bidding.
Such is contemporary America.