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Empty Tin Cans

I confess that I spent much of my early life in the basement classrooms run by Catholic nuns. 60 kids in a class. One nun. Order was maintained by a combination of physical and mental coercion that would leave Dick Cheney screaming for the ACLU to intervene. Made the CIA look like a marshmallow convention. Nevertheless, order WAS maintained.

One of the nuns, Sister Crossmetwiceandyourdead, was especially adept at the verbal barb. And when the third grade boys in the back of the room (never me, of course) were getting rambunctious she would utter one of her favorite jibes: Empty Tin Cans Make the Most Noise.

Which brings me to the Tea Party Republicans. 

We have witnessed, over the last 4 years, a regular, strident, loud and nasty noise from these folks. Unrelenting. Untrue, yes. But the noise is still the noise.

And just like the noise from the ill mannered third graders interfered with any orderly, sensible discussion in class, so the noise from these third party Tea Party supporters is meant to do the same for sensible, honest, political debate.

After all, it is not the “noise” of folks trying to bring about some positive change or supporting making things better. It is not the positive noise of cheering on your team at the ballpark. It is the boos and catcalls and whistles of the few post-adolescent boys in the bleachers who have had too much to drink. It is noise without purpose except to confuse and irritate. Signifying nothing. Just loud. 

BENGHAZI. BENGHAZI. BENGHAZI. They chant this mantra as though it has some deep, philosophical  or factual underpinnings. So, the GOP Congress investigates Benghazi. A tragedy. They collect evidence. Indict no one. But the noise continues.As though a tragedy is reason enough to make noise. BENGHAZI.

OBAMA HATES AMERICA. OBAMA IS A MUSLIM. OBAMA IS A SOCIALIST. The noise. The labels. No evidence. No basis in fact. But,  just as my little classmates enjoyed doing anything but the hard work of school, (after all they WERE 3rd grade boys) so these adult Tea PArty chanters enjoy the sound of their own chanting. Easier than facing facts. Easier than doing the work. OBAMA IS EVIL.

OBAMACARE IS BAD. OBAMACARE IS BAD. The empty tin cans. They bang. They clang. They deafen meaningful discussion. They evade specifics. Always. Evade specifics. It’s just ..bang…clang…bad….bang..clang…OBAMACARE IS BAD.

OBAMA WANTS YOUR GUNS. OBAMA WANTS YOUR GUNS. And yet. No guns are taken away. Nor bullets. I just double checked my closet. Gun still there. Bullets still there. The tin cans clang. Deafening. Drowning out sensible debate while 35,000 Americans die each year. The empty tin cans even drown out the sounds of children screaming in Sandy Hook Elementary. OBAMA WANTS YOUR GUNS.

After a few years the empty tin cans in my school moved on. They grew up. They did what they needed to do, even if they didn’t like it. Maybe they realized that their senseless noise wasn’t amusing anymore. Maybe they wanted to participate in positive ways. Maybe they just got tired of their own banging and clanging. I know the rest of us did. Or maybe they deafened themselves. 

So, Sister Crossmetwiceandyourdead, I guess you were right. The empty tin can noisemakers were very loud and very forceful. But, in the end, their noise dissipated. They grew up.  Let’s hope the current Empty Tin Cans are able to do the same.

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