Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Name the Task Pt. 2: The Tea Party

I'm not quite ready to move on from the subject of identifying the problem before you try to arrive at a solution. For one thing, I didn't mention in my last post the crucial bit that you are only likely to come up with a solution if you genuinely want to solve a problem. My dog jumps up on me. People who teach dog training classes aren't supposed to let their dogs jump on people. But hey, he just kind of gently rises up and puts his paws on my chest for a scritch and a snuggle, and I think it's kind of sweet. I haven't trained him not to do it because I get something out of this particular "problem."

I'm wondering if this might be the case with the Tea Party movement. Clearly this is a group of people who are upset, and demanding change. But it's very difficult to tell what change it is that they're demanding. The official website gives as their mission/motto: "A community committed to standing together, shoulder to shoulder, to protect our country and the Constitution upon which we were founded!" OK, two missions: 1) protect country and 2) protect Constitution. So in order to accomplish the missions we would clearly need to determine who is threatening our country (Iraq? Iran? Al Qaeda? Illegal immigrants? Liberals?) and what is threatening our Constitution (Gun limits? Don't Ask Don't Tell? Free speech for corporations? Health insurance mandates?).

If their mission is to protect the Constitution, does that mean that they will stand up to protect same-sex marriage if the court (as in California) declares it constitutional? If a court should find that Arizona's anti-illegal immigration law is an unconstitutional violation of civil rights, will they stand up to protect the Constitution and the right of people to not be racially profiled? Something tells me this is not at the top of the agenda.

In reality, what the group seems to have greatest unanimity about is that taxes are too high, which seems only tangentially related to the group's stated mission. And even then, there doesn't seem to be any attempt to frame a solution as far as which taxes are too high, and what we might do without in order to lower taxes.

Which leads me to wonder, is this really a group in search of a solution, or a variety of solutions for a variety of problems? Or is the mission of the group really to protest and be outraged? In that case solving "problems" would actually run counter to their mission of being outraged.

Of course, the Tea Party is just one example of a problem that doesn't seem to be in search of a solution. I suspect that most of us have problems that we really aren't looking to solve. Some people complain all the time about being overworked, but actually love the feeling of importance and being needed that their overwork creates. Many, perhaps most, people bitch about their weight without having the slightest intention of permanently changing their habits of eating or exercise.

Part one of Name the Problem: If you don't know what you want to change, you aren't very likely to change it. Part two of Name the Problem: If you aren't trying to work out a solution, maybe you aren't really convinced you have a problem. Time to have another look at part one. Or maybe what I should call part 1a: If you call the problem something different (Protect the Constitution!) than the problem you'd really like to solve (I don't have a job), you are unlikely to come up with a solution. In which case cynics like me might suggest that you aren't really trying to fix anything after all.

1 comment:

  1. Love this, Lynn! Some organizations really DO exist just to moan and complain. This is a great post; keep it up!! Cheers, Amanda