Over the Hill

Talk about a mad Tea Party

Special to The TribuneOctober 17, 2013 

Phil Dirkx

I wanted to get a different perspective on this latest Tea Party melodrama in Congress. So, I decided to reread a book that had belonged to my late sister Mary. It is “Alice In Wonderland.”

I picked it because Chapter Seven is titled, “A Mad Tea Party.” In it Alice encounters three mad characters. But they were mad in a different way than our Tea Party members are.

Alice had tea with two animals and one human. One animal was the March Hare, as in the expression, “Mad as a March hare.” The human was the Hatter, as in “Mad as a hatter.” The other animal was the Dormouse who had no claim to fame. Dormice are squirrel-like animals who sleep in the daytime.

The dormouse slept sitting at the table between the Hatter and the March Hare. They used him as an arm rest. The Hatter announced his watch was two days wrong, and sharply scolded the March Hare, “I told you butter wouldn’t suit the works.” The March Hare apologized saying, “It was the best butter.”

When describing them the word “mad” means insane, frantic or foolish.

But when describing Tea Party members “mad” means angry, as in the 1976 movie “Network.” The washed-up TV news anchor urges viewers to open their windows and shout, “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore.”

Many Americans feel that way today. It’s probably no coincidence that the Tea Party blossomed after our economy crashed in 2008. People were worried and concluded the government had mismanaged the economy. It probably had. I hope the Tea Party’s blossoming then wasn’t also caused by the election of an African-American as our president.

We also have more people now than we once did. When I was born in 1930 the U.S. population was 123 million. It is now 315 million. Traffic is denser, air is dirtier and water is dirtier and scarcer. We need more government regulation and spending. Some people find that hard to accept.

So people now demonstrate with hand-lettered signs like “Impeach Obama,” “Control Our Boarder Stop Illegals” and “Keep Gov’t Out Of My Medicare.” They may not have all the facts, but they have anger.

I wish they’d remember the words of another man who had reason to be angry — Rodney King. In 1991 his continuous beating by five Los Angeles police officers was videotaped from a nearby apartment.

Four of the officers were tried for the beating and acquitted. Rioting followed that killed 53 people in Los Angeles and injured more than 2,000. During the riots King appeared on TV and said, “Can we all get along?”

Phil Dirkx has lived in Paso Robles for more than five decades, and his column is published weekly. Reach him at 238-2372 or phild2008@sbcglobal.net.

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