So you do your part and pay your taxes to the federal government. However, you feel you pay too much and you don't like how that same government uses that money. Do you have the right to petition and protest that government?
If it's on federal land that your tax dollars paid for, then your protest is hypocritical nonsense, according to MSNBC host Rachel Maddow. To her, the tea partiers, who protested on the government land of the National Mall, are hypocrites. Worse, they're getting unwarranted media coverage.
"In the case of the tea partiers, though, mainstream media coverage has been willing to almost assume that they're making sense, even in the face of evidence to the contrary," Maddow said on her April 21 program. "Because the idea of being in favor of smaller government, the idea that government is inherently wasteful and incompetent and should be shrunk, because that idea has shifted from a conservative movement talking point 30 years ago to centrist Beltway common wisdom today, sometimes we don't recognize the hypocrisy when it's right in our face. The conservative movement won the framing fight. It doesn't sound crazy anymore to rail against the federal government while standing in a national park until you really think about it."
Although the truth is that the tea parties are fighting against the continued expansion of government through entitlements - like health care -Maddow maintained the movement is completely anti-government, as if they're some sort fringe anarchist sect that wants a country completely without all the goodness a government can offer.
Rather than focus on those "crazy" people, Maddow suggested people protesting for more government should be showcased in the media.
"I mean, imagine anyone protesting in favor of government. Imagine for a minute if people were actually out there protesting for government not to go away and shrink but to be better, to stay the same size or maybe even to do more," she said, apparently unfamiliar with the situation in Greece and the rest of Europe. "Imagine if people were protesting against cuts to government that were going to hurt their quality of life.
It might not get as much air time as the tea party anti-government protests but that is, in fact, some of what's going on in America right now."
Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, who appeared on Maddow's program after her long-winded soliloquy, agreed and said these tea parties have been enabled by the media to have an unwarranted effect on the policy debate - despite election victories over the last six months in Virginia, New Jersey and Massachusetts.
"Well, I think you made a very central point in the early part of your narrative, and that's the conservatives have won this argument and they've certainly won it over the last 16, 17 months - in the fact that the tea party gets tremendous - the tea parties get tremendous coverage. And think about it - week before the health care vote, they had a rally in Washington, got 1,000 people, maybe not even that. The tax day rally, the big rally to protest federal taxes got less than 1,500 people showing up, according to their own organizer. Other people thought it was in the 400 or 500 range."
According to Rendell, even "the so-called liberal and progressive media" have played too much of a role in the tea party's rise.
"Gosh, if I had a rally in Washington to have stronger laws to protect puppies, we'd have 100,000 people without blinking," Rendell continued. "And yet, the media, including the so-called liberal and progressive media, have given the tea party-ites elevation in terms of the impact they're having on the national debate and discussion - way above what they deserve. And conversely, the rallies that you talked about, I think you'd have to look pretty hard tomorrow in The Washington Post and The New York Times and The Boston Herald, in any papers, to find those rallies covered."
Rendell also said it was the Democratic side's fault for not being more vocal about the status quo, but blasted the media for this bizarre notion of tea party hypocrisy.
"So, I think we bear some of the blame," Rendell said. "We, Democrats, and we ought to get off our duffs and start speaking about what we believe in. And the mainstream media deserves some of the blame for elevating the tea partiers' point of view and not pointing out the hypocrisy in what they're saying."
And even though the left has had its share of victories, with a $787-billion stimulus and ObamaCare passed and signed into law, Maddow lamented the tea party influence on "the Beltway narrative." She continued to argue the movement wasn't factually based.
"The hypocrisy in what they're saying and also, I think, the way that it sort of inflates the Beltway narrative about what - the way that they want to describe the country right now," Maddow replied. "It's sort of formed into this calcified common wisdom right now which isn't necessarily borne out by the facts."