Thursday, November 5, 2009

Making Good Tea

In my discussions with my buddy from New Zealand, I learned something I did not know.  Namely, that the reason the British drink their tea with milk is that their tea often sucks.  This came up because he hadn't had any good iced tea in a while.  And I pride myself on making an excellent iced tea. 

This didn't just magically come about.  Rather, it was some experimentation that yielded a fine tea.  I'll give you the simple recipe, for 1 gallon.  Take 8 tea bags (generic store brand is fine, the $1 cheap-ass don't work),  pour on a quart of boiling water (the kettle is your friend).  Steep, dump to your pitcher (I filter this to trap extra sediments), then pour on another quart of boiling water and steep again.  Then add the other 2 quarts of water, sweeten to taste (I go Sweet & Low, since I developed a taste and don't need the sugar on my fat rolls), refrigerate.  Easy as can be.  And if you only want half a gallon, use half the tea bags, half the water, half the sugar, and only steep once.

The reason I share this is that it reflects what has begun with the Tea Party movement.  There's some experimentation and some shitty tea coming out of the whole process.  But if the angry and disparate coalition can get things straight, then something really good can come out of it. 

This is because this coalition of diverse voices appeared twice before in my lifetime:  The Reagan revolution and the Contract with America.  Essentially, a statement of principles that propelled a party to power with a blueprint on how to govern.  And even if both fell short in some areas, the idea is where it all begins.

So this is mainly to those out there who saw Tuesday's gains and are now looking to 2010 to remedy the current clusterfuck of non-representation by liberals, mindless moderates, self-serving hacks, and big government "conservatives."  We now have a year to build on what started this year.  Here's how to win:

Find Positives:  First of all, saying "this tea tastes like shit" is a start, but it doesn't make a good cup of tea. You have to get a basic recipe for making it, then do it right.  Likewise, government policy has to hold to specific principles for it to work. And in this movement, the key is to shrink the size and scope of government to a reasonable and Constitutional level.  Smaller is NOT always better, but in general it is.  The secret is to take slogans and find responsible policies that support them. 

Find Commonality:  There are all kinds of tea in the world.  The important thing to remember is that they're all tea, even if they don't work for everything.   What makes a big tent work is that there are specific pillars that everyone can support.  And on the size and scope of government, we can all agree on certain things.  A massive spending bill that will funnel tons of cash to our state specifically, or to our industry specifically, or to our class of people specifically, is mighty tempting.  But it's the ability to look at it dispassionately and decide whether it is a proper function of government that separates the real conservatives from the social pretenders.  This is specifically the social conservatives.  It makes for a hard sell when we preach smaller scope of government, yet want the government to control behavior.  So while there is still room for the social issues, the prize is a less intrusive government overall.

Do Your Homework:  In making tea, I did experiment with several basic bagged teas, from the Lipton branded to the generic store brand, to the bargain dollar shit.  Having done so, as well as looked at other variants (like green and Earl Grey (had to, being somewhat of a Trekkie)), I possess at least a rudimentary knowledge of the subject of teas.  I add this for the people standing with the badly misspelled signs.  Here's a hint:  "NObamaCare" signs are fine, "Keep the Goverment out of Medicare" signs prove you're an ignorant slut.  The fact is that the opposition, which refers to us derisively as "teabaggers" because they'd lose in a straight-up debate, always looks for the lowest common denominator to discredit us.  When you can hold up an idiot birther with a misspelled sign that says something along the lines of "Impeach the Miscegenated President of Kenya" on it, the movement loses focus.  So make sure what you write on the sign is intelligent, SPELLED CORRECTLY, and preferably conveys a positive suggestion (like the FairTax (yeah, I was due for it)) rather than just Obama bashing.  And if you're going to be committed to video, know what the hell you're talking about rather than just parroting the talking points.

Hold the Elected Officials Accountable:  If you mess up your pot of tea, do you keep drinking and making more of the shitty tea?  No, you pour that shit out and correct your error.  This is something we can learn from the MoveOn folks.  They have a large number of people hammering Congress daily with calls to pass government health care.  And they surely threaten the blue dog Dems to pass it or get the boot.  And this is all done with simple damned emails.  Likewise, no incumbent politician should be getting your vote if they're not sticking to principle, even if it means electing the opposing candidate.  And while there is always some room for compromise, a little ideological purity is necessary.  Especially when a leader goes back on a promise (George HW Bush and "no new taxes") or grows government like a bastard (George W Bush, with No Child left Behind and the Mediscare Prescription Drug benefit).  Adding goodies or programs to "fix" certain things sounds good, but when you expand the scope of the government doing so, the movement suffers.

So now you have simple formula for good iced tea and turning the tea parties from pissed off protests to anti-"progressive" political progress.

1 comment:

Beth said...

I was beginning to wonder when I started to read this why you didn't post it at your other blog, but it ended up being a pretty good analogy.