Tea Party and GOP are mad as hatters

The 2012 presidential election has officially begun, and the theatrics and entertainment have already gotten off to a great start.

With President Barack Obama announcing the beginning of his campaign, former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty released a 30 second television spot which felt more like a trailer for a Michael Bay film than a presidential campaign ad. With incredible editing, the spot shows foreclosed homes, stock market charts plunging, unemployment lines, and the White House beneath ominous forks of lightning.

"I want to ask you a question. How can we win the future, if we're losing the present?" asks Pawlenty in the television spot.

Let me ask you a question, Pawlenty. How did we get in this mess? Getting off to an early start, it's beginning to appear as though the GOP will exploit the Great Recession (which they caused) to their own benefit. They'll deliberately overlook the anti-regulatory environment (which they helped to engender) that rendered our economy nothing more than a national casino. They'll overlook how irresponsible and irrational they were about entering into the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. And they'll definitely overlook how catastrophically bad President George W. Bush was.

Instead, they will valiantly try to convince the American people that their way is the only way for America to recover. They'll try to insinuate that the Obama administration and liberal democrats are trying to enslave the country in a vice like grip of debt and taxes. They'll definitely attempt to scare Americans into thinking that the "nanny-state" is on a mission to establish a socialist-dictatorship, where every aspect of your life, from the gay-tolerant and atheist public education you're taught as a child to the federal casket you're buried in, is decided in advance by a faceless bureaucracy.

The Tea Party's mercurial influence on the GOP is frankly frightening. For a group of people who claim to champion the founding fathers' philosophies, the U.S. Constitution, and personal liberty, they have a gross tendency to revise historical facts and impose their Christian values everywhere they shouldn't be. The idealized America that Tea Party followers dream of is a place where gays live exclusively in Los Angeles (Sodom) and New York (Gomorrah), corporations pay record low taxes, women never get abortions, prisons grow bigger, and Muslims and illegal aliens can take a hike.

The GOP has lost its way. The very idea of the America they espouse is a perversion of the values our country was founded upon. In the essay "Democracy 101: Mark Twain's Farewell Address," Lewis H. Lapham, a national correspondent for Harper's Magazine, describes the mission of America in a pithy, non-partisan statement: "If America is about nothing else, it is about making it up as one goes along, the chance to build a raft of serviceable identity on which to float south to Vicksburg or the islands of the blessed."

It's going to take a lot of work to get America back on track, and right now the GOP agenda is offering nothing different from the backwards policies they've offered in the past. If they have any chance of winning, they'll have to shift away from the Tea Party and embrace a political ideology that accommodates both conservative and liberal sentiments. But I wouldn't hold my breath.