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CrisisPapers Donating Member (271 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-28-10 08:24 AM
Original message
Rage and Rebellion: How Will the Left Respond?
l Bernard Weiner l

Like a lot of progressives, I've been puzzling over the Tea Party phenomenon. Many on the left choose to believe that the hundreds and sometimes thousands who attend the group's rallies are the same old extreme rightwingers who always have been around -- usually content to remain isolated individuals or small groups in the shadows but this time encouraged out in the open by incitement from the FarRight media.

While no doubt, there's a large truth in that observation, I think it's a mistake to interpret the Tea Party phenomenon mainly in that reductive, generic way. There are, it appears, a whole lot of newcomers to the agitated fold, frightened by the joblessness, the squeezing of the middle-class, the disappearance of the American Dream, the rapid sociological and demographic changes in the America they knew and felt comfortable in. Many of these folks are sincere but tend to get their narrow views of the world from the rightwing media machine, and thus are open to the simplistic demogoguery of Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin, FoxNews, et al.

We dismiss them, and more importantly the underlying constituency that the Tea Party represents, at our peril. While many Democrats have indicated in polls that they are not highly motivated to vote in November, these Tea Partiers and their ideological brethren will make up the core of committed rightwing funders, voters and activists in that midterm election. And they are angry as hell and looking for some object for their disaffection. (Making fun of their homemade signs, with all the misspellings, just reinforces their sense of victimhood and rage at the snobbish "elitists" who they see as their cultural enemy.)


What made me start to write this essay was a tragic incident that happened
in downtown Oakland, California, a week or so ago in broad daylight. Two
young men, 18 years old, with no provocation, attacked and badly beat a young
passerby; when the victim's father tried to intervene, they both attacked him
and he hit his head on the cement as he fell. He died a few days later.

The early reports seemed to imply a hate crime: the assailants are African
American, the victims are of Asian ethnicity. Further investigation revealed
that apparently this was no ethnic hate crime. According to the police, the
two young men were depressed about the direction of their lives,
"frustrated by personal circumstances" was the wording. The report said they were
drinking rum on the street and they just wanted to hit somebody, anybody, in
their rage.

It seems that they felt themselves fading from the American Dream snapshot.
All they saw were dead ends in a society that seemed to have no use for
them. Their anger and resentment were ready to explode out.


You can't have millions of unemployed young men hanging around the
streetcorners, drinking booze, feeling blocked from finding a decent way out of
their predicaments. We all remember newsreel shots of pre-Nazi Germany in the
1920s and 1930s: gangs of disaffected, jobless, resentful young men, many with
clubs and guns, roving the streets looking for someone to attack. Many
wound up -- with a role, a "patriotic" purpose -- as the shock troops in the
Nazi power machinery, easily swayed by Hitler's demagogic attacks on various
weak, powerless groups: Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals, socialists, et al.

Please don't misunderstand me. I'm not saying that the Tea Partiers and
their ilk are nascent S.S. thugs (though many don't mind having the support of
those types). But when history offers lessons, it's wise to pay attention.

The lesson being presented here is that as the traditional social glue is
weakening, those angry citizens feeling ignored or demeaned are increasingly
looking for some outlets for their fury, someone to hit, as it were. Unless
liberals make more of an attempt to understand the sources of their rage and
find some way to reconnect them to the civilized hope for change and progress, the left will continue to push them toward the very forces of HardRight
extremism that threaten to destroy much of our democratic republic.

It seems clear that in contemporary American society, the center is no
longer holding. The institutions that contain us as a nation of like-minded citizens are deteriorating more every day. Try, for example, to find the moderates in the Republican Party. They barely exist. The agents of Know-Nothing extremism remain in control, even though they have led the party to embarrassing national defeats in 2006 and 2008. No wonder men with semi-automatic rifles are going
in-your-face at public events, Arizona is turning into a police state, and Sarah Palin
is taken seriously as a candidate by a large segment of the country.


The Tea Party is largely at this stage a milling, inchoate mass of anger,
resentment and frustration. Its public role, whether sought or unsought, is
mostly as a stalking horse for the Republican Party. The tea partiers pretend
to be populist, but they won't oppose the robber-barons on Wall Street.
Indeed, these supposed "populist" rebels are silent when the Republicans are in
power creating social havoc; they seem to come out of the shadows only when
there's a Democrat in the White House.

But it's not the makeup of this movement (and those who finance and
publicize them) that I want to focus on, but the emotional core of fury that
threatens to explode into organized, and especially non-organized, violence by
angry citizens perched ever so tenuously on the edge of rightist sanity.


The Tea Party movement is a loose confederation across the rightwing
spectrum: from principled conservatives to KKK racists, armed militia members to
Ron Paul libertarians, anti-tax zealots to old John Birchers, et al. Many
seem to share the feeling of being used and abused and ignored by those who,
they believe, should be paying special attention to them.

You've heard a lot of their verbiage. They're in revolt because they see
themselves as "real Americans" who, they believe, are the majority in the
country. If the Democrats, who won the elections and are in the actual
majority, pass laws they don't like, that is evidence of governmental "tyranny."

Based on what I've heard directly, and from what I've read, here's an
amalgam of more of what they believe:

"We play by the rules. We work hard, we pay our taxes, we don't break the
law. But those in power -- including many elected officials -- ignore the
rules. And worst of all, THEY GET AWAY WITH IT!

"Those elitist bastards, including the politicians they've bought, hardly
ever suffer any penalties. (OK, every so often, a scapegoat gets indicted,
but that's the exception that proves the rule.)

"In this rotten economy, we're underwater on our mortgages. Many of us have
lost our jobs and benefits. Our pensions and retirement instruments have
turned to dross -- many of us are just barely scraping by, if we can scrape by
at all. Our American Dream is going bust, while our taxes go to prop up
lazy folks on welfare."

Again, one would think that believing all that, their anger might be
directed toward the captains of finance and industry -- those getting richer on
the backs of the poor and middle-class who bear the bailout burdens. But still
under the sway of their Ayn Randian, pro-business conservatism, they can't,
or won't, go there. Instead, their anger is re-directed away from the
sources of true power to a supposed CommunistMuslimNazi in the White House.

Or, for many on the Tea Party fringe, the enemy is anyone different
(liberals, "hippies," gays, "elitist" liberals, etc.) or of color: blacks,
Hispanics, immigrants.


Liberals have their own passionate objections to aspects of the Obama
agenda -- and, importantly, share some the anti-corporate sentiments expressed above -- but at least their anger is rational, relating to verifiable evidence, with a better sense of who the real enemies of economic justice and progress are.

The Left is angry at Obama as well, because he is maintaining many
of the worst CheneyBush policies with regard to civil liberties, torture and
imperial wars. But their resentment also derives from his unwillingness to take his own campaign rhetoric seriously. Rather than lead the country to major structural reforms, time and again Obama sides with the capitalist, pro-business forces that
are a large part of the problem:

Obama appointed some of the worst foxes (Summers, Geithner, Bernanke, et
al.) to guard the financial chicken coop. He never seriously considered a
single-payer health-care-reform plan, and made side deals with Big Pharma, Big
Insurance, Big Hospital that ensured that there would be no "public option"
(i.e., no real competition for lower-cost health insurance) and no cheaper
prescription drugs: no Medicare negotiation for lower prices, no
less-expensive drugs permitted from Canada. Instead, everyone will have to buy health insurance from the worst offenders in the industry. A boondoggle bonanza for the insurance giants -- who, you can be sure, are at this moment figuring out
ways of getting around any restrictions placed on their immoral way of
carrying out their greedy business.

In short, the major reforms promised by Obama during the campaign wind up
being mostly insufficient incremental changes for consumers, while
guaranteeing a continuation of the capitalist status quo for giant corporations and
their officers: socialism for the rich, dog-eat-dog capitalism for the rest of us. The President's M.O. is to water down meaningful initiatives, label his small-changes "major reforms," and then move on to the next item on his agenda. The result is that the middle class continues to get hammered, blocking their and their childrens' route to the American Dream.


If you believe, as I do, that the U.S. will continue to suffer massive
unemployment and a sagging economy on Main Street for a good many years -- we
can probably expect the second major economic dip later in 2010 or early 2011
-- then you know that the anger, frustration and rage in the polity will
only grow. Fertile hunting grounds for demagogues of all persuasions, but the
rightwing is dedicated and organized to try to ride that tiger all the way to
control of the White House and Congress. The left, per usual, just seems
dazed and confused.

If Obama really does want to be a "transformational" president, he might
decide, as FDR did in the 1930s, to openly take on the forces of regression
and repression. He could help direct much of that mostly undifferentiated
anger and resentment by rallying and educating millions of
seething-on-the-sidelines citizens to understand who and where the real enemies of progress and economic justice are.

But Obama just doesn't seem to be that type of personality, or have that
kind of genuine social-justice agenda in mind, and so it might be left to us
to organize ourselves into a mass Movement that will take up the cudgel and
lead the fight. Whether that can be done within the Democratic Party is
unclear at this stage.

The point is that unless someone starts to move to deal with the growing
anger in the body politic in a rational, concerted, savvy way, we leave the
field to those on the extreme right who seem by their inflammatory rhetoric
and reckless actions to be setting the stage for anti-governmental bombings,
airplanes into buildings, maybe even an assassination or armed rebellion.

Such anti-government attacks likely would not accomplish their desired
goal, but success may not be the immediate point. It would appear that the
extreme right is looking for dead martyrs to aid their longterm cause -- and to
help them raise a helluva lot of cash.--BW

Copyright 2010 by Bernard Weiner.

First published April 27, 2010 by The Crisis Papers.
>> <<

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daleanime Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-28-10 08:33 AM
Response to Original message
1. Well worth reading....
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Webster Green Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-28-10 08:38 AM
Response to Original message
2. Excellent!
Thanks for the post and the link. :thumbsup:
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Prof Lester Donating Member (158 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-28-10 08:58 AM
Response to Original message
3. Take Away The Secret Funding From Billionaire Shysters..
and the whole 'Bagger thing evaporates. There's been Astroturf pseudo-'patriots' around for a long time. And yes that is the exact same phenomenon that occurred in Weimar during the run-up to Hitler's takeover. Bankers put up the bucks to pay for the private army that was the basis of Hitler's power. No bucks.. no army.. no power.. no Nazi 'revolution'.

Cui bono, dudes.
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zipplewrath Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-28-10 09:03 AM
Response to Original message
4. He's ahead of himself
He makes a good argument that rests largely upon one important extrapolation. The unemployment rate is nowhere near those other examples he sites. Germany, and even during FDR, the rate was easily 3 times what it is today. It ain't great, but it ain't that bad either.

None the less, the DNC and the administration seems to have missed the boat on accessing legitimate populist anger, which is far larger than the astroturf of the Tea Party crowd.
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Demeter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-28-10 09:31 AM
Response to Reply #4
6. Give it a year, We'll Get There
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zipplewrath Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-28-10 09:34 AM
Response to Reply #6
7. He suggested as such
That's a "belief" he expressed. We'll see how the Euro crisis pans out.
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Demeter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-28-10 09:31 AM
Response to Original message
5. the Angry Right Cannot Be Reached By Reason and Is too Quick to Violence
This failing keeps the general populace, or grassroots, from overturning the power structure and taxing, jailing, and otherwise oppressing our oppressors.

If the Populist Right and the Populist Left ever joined forces, not only would the banksters be out of business, so too would most of Congress. Obama would be retired, as would the Roberts Supreme court. Jobs would stay here and more be brought home, or else. The Obscenely Rich would be taxed into the middle class or flee in exile, after which the dollar would be devalued overseas so that their stashes of cash were worthless.

I cannot see a way to make this happen. Obama is a traitor to his supporters, and he makes the case for the Right by inflaming their prejudices and supporting their arguments with his bias towards Corporate Power and Greed. This was not supposed to be the path.

Obama was supposed to demonstrate not only the superior economic and social justice of Democrats, but also the essential goodwill and harmlessness of non-whites to the nation as a whole. Instead, he propagates the same old fascism W introduced, and coddles Wall Street fraud and greed. Obama is helping only one class of "people", the newly human Corporation.

The health care fiasco was the clearest sign that Obama is way out of his depth and likely to drag down the entire nation as he drowns in his incompetence.
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BobbyBoring Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-28-10 10:18 AM
Response to Reply #5
8. I think
there is a way for the left and right to get together. I've been working (and it's work believe me) on a friend who is a FAR RIGHT wing nut. We have so much in common. The funny thing about this guy is he's Jewish. As we know, the far right hates Jews more than they could ever dream of hating Ni$$ers, Spix, etc, because Jews killed Jebus. Remember, one of their main goals is to restore America to it's Christian foundation, just like it sez in their pocket Constitutions. If people would just take 2 weeks off, that's all, 2 weeks off from the daily bombardment of bullshit from Faux, Rush, Sean, and other champions of Real America and take a look around, they MIGHT see who the enemy is. Show them the money! Show them where it goes! Who owns Faux? An American?? NO. Who runs Faux, A liberal Demoscum? No. A MAJOR player in the republican party.

By now, everyone knows someone who has lost their home, job, retirement fund. Ask how it happened?? Ask when it happened. Remember Bushs "Ownership Society"? Remember Bush encouraging people to spend after 9/11? If we can get people to just step back and THINK, we might get somewhere. one doesn't have to believe everything they see and hear on the "Lame Stream Media", but they do have to believe what the see with their own eyes. I know there's a bunch that will never get it, but there are some that will.

As far as the Democratic Party goes, there's not much help for us there. We have Grayson, Franken, Kaptur, Wiener, and a handful of others but for the most part, Dems are as rotten as Rethugs. They just have different paymasters. That's why the financial reform bill is a joke and not a very funny one. Dobbs, Frank, Reid, etc have to bite the hands that feed them in order to have reform and that won't happen. Long story short, about all incumbents that are up for reelection in 2010 MUST GO and CAN NOT be replaced by conservatives of any stripe. It can be done!

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Gwoppi Donating Member (42 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-28-10 01:03 PM
Response to Reply #8
11. No shock, Bobby
It shouldn't surprise you the right-winger guy is Jewish. One of the mandates of the "new GOP" formed after the tumultuous Sixties was to take control of two factions the defeated right saw as pivotal in the liberal victory of that decade: the media and the Jews. We were, and are still secretly seen as, dangerous leftist intellectuals by the right. The right's think tanks studied the 1960's very carefully and swore not to make the same mistakes again in the future. Thus you had very well-funded lobbying organizations formed and bankrolled with, if you look carefully and connect the dots, a clear mission to brainwash American Jews into supporting the right. The number one weakness of ours they exploited was Israel. The Christian right pretends extreme interest in supporting Israel to the point we are made dumb enough to ignore the "mass conversion to Jesus or we all die" clause asterisked at the end of the contract. The other mission was to control mass media and music so nothing but their message gets out, and no further Bob Dylans, Arlo Guthries or Joan Baezes to inspire the people will ever be heard again.

I am Jewish and real conspiracy is on the right wing Christian side. I'm saddened every day to see fellow Jews actually falling for the same tricks used to kill us seventy years ago across the ocean.

Welcome to DU, if I may say so.
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blue97keet Donating Member (390 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-28-10 06:13 PM
Response to Reply #8
16. What to get both the left and right really really mad at?
The globalist "free trade" agenda, what else?
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Jade Fox Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-28-10 12:10 PM
Response to Original message
9. I think the Tea Part phenomenon has peaked.....
and six months before the 2010 elections.

After all, the Tea Party has no real agenda. They are unorganized, and many seem barely literate. AND they depend on the powers behind the scene to get them moving. I find it hard to see them as a threat.
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starroute Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-28-10 12:43 PM
Response to Original message
10. Roosevelt didn't move to the left until 1935
And as a thread the other day on Huey Long pointed out, when he did it was largely in reaction to the widespread appeal of Long's all-out populist movement. (That along with the failure of Roosevelt's earlier, more cautious attempts to end the Great Depression.)

I have hopes that it may yet be possible to break Obama out of his misplaced pragmatism and set him on a more idealistic course. But whether it is or not, a genuine broad-based populist movement is the key to both bringing about true reform in this country and heading off the threat of fascist scapegoating.

We can do it with Obama or without him -- but either way, we have to do it.

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4dsc Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-28-10 01:03 PM
Response to Original message
12. Tea Party=GOP
Simply put, every time I mention Tea Party going forward I am going to include the GOP because all they really are.
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rhett o rick Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-28-10 03:58 PM
Response to Reply #12
15. the teaparty is the GOP's brownshirts. Like Hitler, they will dump them when they are finished
with them.
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colsohlibgal Donating Member (670 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-28-10 02:54 PM
Response to Original message
13. The Heart Of The Matter
How do the real left, the true populist/progressive people, proceed if, as appears likely Obama just isn't programmed for taking on the corporate State, it's just a thing he doesn't get. Movements outside the two party monopoly have only had symbolic success in the modern world. So the likely path is to support and run as many certified liberals as we can - but will that change things quick enough? As long as republican lite types like Rahm are running the party apparatus we're kind of stuck.

The truth is that a lot of the true left, like me, got burned badly by Obama, we worked hard to elect him because we believed what he was saying while running for the office. Of course once he got elected he went back on so much of what he said he would support and try to do. In other words in a lot of respects he sold us down the river.

Like many I'm doing what I can, helping the candidates trying to unseat blue dogs and maybe that's how we can eventually change the awful paradigm that's now in place.

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scarletwoman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-28-10 06:23 PM
Response to Reply #13
17. Sorry, what you said about "Movements outside the two party monopoly" is completely & utterly wrong.
Take one of the biggest movements in modern history, the Civil Rights Movement. It had NOTHING to do with party politics. Neither did the Union Movement. Neither did Women's Suffrage. Neither did the Vietnam era anti-war movement. Neither did the Environmental Movement.

The fact is, the ONLY way to mount a successful society-changing, consciousness-changing movement is OUTSIDE of partisan politics.

Relying on partisan electoral politics for change is a dead end. Change ONLY happens from the ground up. Build up enough momentum among the citizenry and the politicians eventually have to follow. It's NEVER the other way around. Politicians don't budge from protecting the status quo until they are FORCED to by an aroused citizenry.

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rhett o rick Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-28-10 03:57 PM
Response to Original message
14. FDR recognized the danger in letting men between 18 and 24 hang around
on the streets. He came up with the Civilian Conservation Corps. Obama should do the same
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mntleo2 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-29-10 08:07 AM
Response to Reply #14
18. I am an old lady and ready to riot ...
Edited on Thu Apr-29-10 08:10 AM by mntleo2
...I am mad as hell at the injustices being heaped upon us day by day. I am a progressive, but find much in common with Tea Party dissidents. While I find their anger misdirected, I too "hear" that anger and have much the same.

It is a mistake not to hear what is behind this anger. In my own life before I learned how to deal with it, when I had unfocused frustration, I lashed out at the nearest person/reason/situation as it seemed to "epitomize" the whole reason for my anger. Often it was because it was unfocused and based on my ignorance as to what was really going on (including my own failings which were at times unbearable to admit). Tea Partiers cannot bear their own acquiescence to the consequences they themselves are now reaping. They supported a regime that is now causing them grief and instead of facing what they supported as being the problem it is easier to point the finger and blame something they feel they had no part.

But it is still important to see and legitimize the anger. If there was one thing progressives need to do is hear it. Listen to it. There is something there that is the same as ours. Rather than ridicule and blame them, perhaps it is time to at the very least tell them we understand that anger and have it ourselves. It would do little good to point out the reasons and lack of education for many reasons. And I have read that many (57%?)Tea Partiers have college educations, they are no backwoods hicks (and those "hicks" have the most reasons of all to be angry because they are getting it in the shorts right now. Just google coal miners for instance ...).

I have found in my own life blame does little good and blaming these people for causing the mess is not going to help, even though it is true. All blame does is finger point. By saying, "Haha! I am not the one to blame YOU are!" merely causes guilt and then a defense that turns into denial. If one puts aside blame and takes the reasons to analyze why something happened, this is when you begin to find a solution.

Bernie, you got a point. Listen to the Tea Party anger, my friends. Whether or not they are reaping the consequences of blindness is not the point ~ because we "get" to reap those consequences too, whether or not we participated. Finding a common ground to fix it is what is going to cause change. Common ground is about tapping into the anger that we progressives also have. It is important not to blame unless we simply want to encourage their denial to increase.

My 2 cents

Cat In Seattle
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rhett o rick Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-29-10 12:32 PM
Response to Reply #18
23. Cat, I think you may have intended this to be a response to the main OP.
Be cool in Seattle, I live close.
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bonzotex Donating Member (740 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-29-10 08:27 AM
Response to Original message
19. excellent analysis......kick n/t
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Uncle Joe Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-29-10 10:34 AM
Response to Original message
20. Kicked, but too late to recommend.
Edited on Thu Apr-29-10 10:35 AM by Uncle Joe
Thanks for the thread, CrisisPapers.
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BanTheGOP Donating Member (596 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-29-10 12:10 PM
Response to Original message
We need to show the republicanists for whom they really are, and work the legal system to invalidate their presence in our democratic process as much as possible. Once we get the rulings our way, then we can reform the political process to ensure democratic, progressive advances as we integrate with the rest of the planet.
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Alcibiades Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-29-10 12:19 PM
Response to Original message
22. Nice move from "tea party" to "unemployed young men"
Edited on Thu Apr-29-10 12:20 PM by Alcibiades
They are not the same. The tea party folks are the same people who would have been angry is any Democrat was elected: mainly old, angry, southern, and, ironically, disproportionately dependent upon the government. They are not the angry young people depicted as dangerous in this essay.

Anyway, I posted something I wrote on who the teabaggers are this morning that agrees, and disagrees, a little with the above.


Part of the lie that has been perpetrated by the media is that they describe the Tea Party Movement as something new: it isn't. These folks take their ideas from folks such as John C. Calhoun, George Wallace, Barry Goldwater, John Birch and Lester Maddox. Whether they are motivated primarily by racism is beside the point: it is part of their kit and kaboodle. Their emphasis on small government, devolution of political authority to lower levels of government and "state sovereignty" are all hand-me-downs from earlier reactionary movements in the south.

It is certainly a multifacteted movement. Just as at any anti-war protest, you will see members of the Socialist Workers' Party, the Spartacist League, civil rights activists, feminists, greens, liberals, moderates, Quakers, gay rights activists, etc., so too at a Tea Party event you will find libertarians, fundamentalists, racists, John Birchers, neoconservatives and assorted morans. It is both grassroots and astroturf. The grassroots element of the movement consists simply of every reactionary activist who was enraged at the loss of the 2008 election. To a degree that we probably understate, this movement would have happened if ANY Democrat had won the presidency, as we saw with the rage on the right against Clinton. These folks do what they are told, believe what they are told to believe, and are mainly characterized by their impotent rage.

The more interesting, and probably more dangerous, part of the movement is the astroturf, fake grassroots element. The Tea Party Express, which began before the tea party movement, is simply a rebranding of "Our Country Deserves Better," a GOP-backed outfit that seeks to delegitimize the president.

There is a lot of anger on the right at the failure of Bush era big government conservatism. They feel betrayed, when they actually stop to think about it, by a supposedly conservative government that increased the deficit and the size of government, both of which the GOP establishment have maintained are bad. What the folks behind the Tea Party Express seem to be attempting is this:

1. Distract and redirect: instead of the obvious failure of unified Republican government to accomplish any of the supposed conservative aims, they seek to get their base angry about something else, namely the president and Democrats in general. They are supposed to forget that the same GOP congresscritters now opposing Obama are the ones who went along with Bush.

2. Make a lot of noise: A loud, vocal minority political movement can suck the oxygen out of the room and define the political debate on its own terms: instead of focusing on how to get the country out of this mess, we find ourselves addressing an increasingly insane litany of charges and policies emerging from the tea party, and from officeholding Republicans in places such as Arizona.

3. Rebranding: The middle-term objective is to bring about a rapprochement between the establishment GOP and the parts of the base angry at the failures of the Bush era GOP. They will say to the tea party people that they screamed and the GOP has listened. The GOP is new and improved, revitalized by the grassroots. None of them will remember that it was Paulson and Bernanke, along with Geithner, who orchestrated the bailouts they claim to hate, or that the GOP could have actually done something during the 2001-2006 era to do something about the issues that animate the tea party activists.

So, in summation, this is not a new movement, but the very same people who have formed the core of the crazy right for the last fifty years. What they began partly as a movement of anger at the failures of their own party has been transformed into one focused solely on the supposed failings of Democrats. In my opinion, the most effective tactic to oppose them will be ridicule, not to project on them some set of characteristics that may or may not fit, but to expose their actual ignorance, hypocrisy and absurdity, because they are ignorant, hypocritical and absurd. If this is successful, we may get to a point that no respectable moderate person in the US would consider voting Republican.
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