Merriam-Webster says that to cheer is to “applaud with shouts,” and to applaud something is “to express approval especially by clapping the hands.” Tea partiers have been doing both to express vociferous approval of many things of late, especially when the cameras have been rolling. While we all know what they hate — taxes, President Obama and the deficit, among other things — what is it they like again?
At the NBC-Politico debate on September 7, 2011, NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams pointed out that Texas Governor Rick Perry had presided over 234 executions, “more than any other governor in modern times.” The audience applauded.
Amnesty International notes that the United States executed 46 people in 2010 alone, more than any other country but China, Iran, North Korea and Yemen. According to the Death Penalty Information Center, the U.S. has already executed 32 people this year; 10 were from Texas.
2. The deaths of uninsured people
Though once they were whipped into a frenzy at the mere (false) thought that “death panels” might determine the ultimate fate of someone sick and government-insured, tea parties have less of a problem with “the market” deciding someone’s fate. During the CNN-Tea Party debate on September 12, 2011, tea partiers shouted at debate moderator Wolf Blitzer that a 30-year-old man who hadn’t bought health insurance should be allowed to die if he couldn’t afford care in the event of a catastrophe.
A study recently published in the American Journal of Public Health estimates, based on 2006 data, that 45,000 Americans die each year to to a lack of health insurance. Other studies from the federal Institute of Medicine and the Urban Institute based on earlier numbers suggest the number may be closer to 20,000. And, despite Blitzer’s hypothetical, a 2006 Kaiser Family Foundation study noted that two-thirds of the uninsured come from low-income families and are not “well off.”
In 2008, then-Senator Barack Obama rubbed many a conservative voter the wrong way when he said that working class voters “cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment” to channel their economic frustrations. Liberty University founder Jerry Falwell found out that his audiences might not cling to their guns, but they’ll enthusiastically applaud candidates who like them.
Notably, President Obama seems content to let working class voters “cling” to their guns: he’s pushed zero gun control legislation during his tenure, even in the wake of the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ).
4. Comparisons of health care reform and the Holocaust
The health care reform debate of 2009 was hardly known for its reasoned rhetoric, and tea partiers were leading the charge to demonize the bill promoted by the President and congressional Democrats. But some went a little further than others, like this speaker at an Americans For Prosperity rally in Colorado, who garnered applause when he suggested that reimbursing Medicare providers for appointments with patients to discuss end-of-life care decisions were akin to the murder of 6 million Jews (and many others) by the Nazi regime.
5. Christian values
Though clearly less popular than executions, the death of the uninsured, guns or inappropriate Holocaust analogies, Perry did get a smattering of applause at the religious-inspired Liberty University for praising the “Christian values that this country was based upon.” Christian values, while differing widely between sects, generally include edicts to love God above all else and to love one’s neighbor as much as one’s self, as well as favoring forgiveness, the renunciation of violence (“turn the other cheek”) and a repudiation of worldly goods. Those sects that take into account the Beatitudes are encouraged to be humble, to show mercy to others, to make peace and to be dedicated to truth.
[Image via Fibonacci Blue, Creative Commons licensed]