Misunderstanding the tea party

posted at 8:30 pm on February 9, 2010 by Doctor Zero

The Tea Party movement is a political Andromeda Strain to the media, a baffling outbreak of viral unhappiness which has thus far defied every attempt at diagnosis. This is unsurprising, since the media has little interest in listening to what the Tea Party is actually saying. Instead, they attempt to stuff this remarkable grassroots movement into a variety of scary costumes, so they can be conveniently dismissed.

The most common of these costumes is a straitjacket. The media likes to view the Tea Party as a psychotic break with establishment reality. Writing in the L.A. Times, Gregory Rodriguez calls American distrust of government “neurotic – irrational, defensive, and born of emotional trauma.” He prescribes a dose of past-life regression therapy, until we get back to “our national birth trauma, our violent revolt against our ‘father’, King George III, which gave us our independence in the first place.” Wow, people named George cast really long shadows over history, don’t they?

If the buckles on the straitjacket break, certain elements of the Left are quick to dress the Tea Party in white sheets. The tedious Joe Queenan, working for a Guardian U.K. that evidently couldn’t afford to hire an American writer who has actually seen a Tea Party rally, describes the attendees as “smallish, grassroots, inbred” anti-intellectual pasty-white Nixon voters. He also can’t stress enough how white these abhorrent, pasty-white, “ethnically monochromatic” white crackers are. Oh, and they’re also a small fringe movement that likes to send tiny squads of loudmouths to intimidate rural Idaho congressmen… but they’re also a vast, sinister, potentially violent mob, lurking in the deep red shadows of flyover country, where people have forgotten how to properly appreciate their massive central government.

If you can’t quite buy the image of the Tea Party as a massive Birth of a Nation re-enactment, some liberals would like to conjure marionette strings leading from their awkwardly jerking limbs, up to puppet handles gripped in swollen feline paws. Lee Fang at Think Progress sees the helpless, mindless swarms of protesters as nothing but a Pampered Chef party for Republican “profiteers.” The mainstream press retails the usual smear about anyone who protests high taxes or government spending as either unwitting tools, or paid operatives, of the fat cats who stand to rake in millions from their agenda. (Remember the feeble attempts to paint anyone who disagreed with ObamaCare as henchmen of the insurance industry? Joe Queenan would remind you they were white henchmen of the white-owned insurance industry.)

Of course, no leftist caricature of the Tea Party would be complete without a dunce cap. To paraphrase the exasperated alien villain of Plan 9 From Outer Space, these protesters are stupid, stupid, stupid! They’re slaves of a woman Stephen Colbert assures us is “a f—ing retard.” Kurt Andersen of New York Magazine sees them as irrational hysterics, whipped into a frenzy by talk-radio hosts, threatening to unleash mere anarchy upon the nation by planting themselves ankle-deep in the blood-dimmed tide of mindless intransigence. They’re too dense to realize the establishment they oppose is an eternal institution, their lives mere grains of sand against its trillion-dollar fortifications.

The Tea Party movement is not crazy, hateful, or stupid. Their rallies are disarmingly cheerful affairs, which most certainly do include women and minorities. The movement is still in the process of coalescing, and seeks inspiration and representation, rather than leadership. They know their country is rocketing down the wrong path, and while the current President has a heavy hand on the throttle, the course was set long before he entered politics.

If you seek madness, look for it in the President’s delusional State of the Union speech, or the people who indulge his belief that another three or four trillion piled onto a $14 trillion national debt will get us at least halfway to utopia. If you want to taste hatred, sample the venom directed at Sarah Palin, the only person currently capable of building a bridge between the energy of the Tea Party, and the established resources of the GOP. If you would like stupidity illustrated, witness the spectacle of the Democrats passing off their oily mass of backroom deals and political payoffs as a rational plan for improving health care.

The lack of a comprehensive solution doesn’t make criticism invalid. The point is that comprehensive solutions are inherently inadequate, compared to the creative power of free markets and private industry. Tea Party stalwarts are entirely rational in refusing to submit themselves as raw materials for the next big adventure in central planning. After several lifetimes of watching an increasingly huge federal government fail at almost everything it tries, while displaying increasingly less enthusiasm for the Constitutional duty of national defense that it actually excels at, the middle class demands the freedom and respect to get busy solving its own problems. They’re understandably tired of watching every story in the evening news twisted into another reason the government needs more money, every market fluctuation offered as proof the private sector has too much freedom, and every change in the weather presented as a omen their standard of living is a mortal wound to the Earth.

Donald Luskin of the Wall Street Journal worries that the Tea Party could veer into destructive populism. Others fear they’ll mutate into a third-party dead end that drains enough strength from the Republicans to ensure a continued plunge into the collectivist abyss. Both are real dangers – there are always predators hiding in the grass roots. I believe the Tea Party is not a populist revolt against Wall Street, but rather a firm indictment of centralized power in general. Big Business brings reduced costs and advanced products to consumers, and American prosperity would be impossible without the financial resources of major banks, from business loans to credit cards. However, when Big Business merges with Big Government, the result always ends up looking more like the latter. The temptation to purchase government power is great, and it has many aggressive salesmen. Risk-taking is an essential component of growth… but there is no such thing as subsidized risk, and no healthy gamble can be made by companies which have gained federal certification as Too Big To Fail.

The Tea Party movement is not simplistic. It’s a revolt against the simplistic, and painfully inaccurate, notion that spending bills solve problems, and legislation is the only real form of action. It’s a rising tide of indignation from people tired of being told they’re ineligible to participate in the national discussion because of their race, class, religious belief, radio listening habits, or choice of cable news network. The idea that tagging a huge movement as “all-white” would serve as a devastating insult is deeply insulting to Americans of every skin color.

The Tea Party movement is young, and it could make a lot of mistakes… but it’s amazing how much it’s accomplished so far, just by clearing its throat. It’s not surprising the Left is trying to dismiss them, instead of answering their questions… but they’ve come too far to be discarded as lunatics, hatemongers, or idiots. They’re not a blank screen where the Left can project its neuroses and obsessions. They reject the narrative of a fading nation that should do the best it can to make amends for centuries of sins before it dies. They have not yet begin to fight, and theirs is the energy of a revolutionary spirit that can’t wait to get back to building a future beyond the limited imagination of their detractors.

Cross-posted at www.doczero.org.

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The founders referenced the tea party very early on… I think they referred to them as “We the people”.


CapedConservative on February 9, 2010 at 11:43 PM

I think the reason the Lamestream Media never covers a Tea Party in California is because they want tonperpetuate the myth that it’s an allbwhite movement. The two TPs I’ve attended had plenty of Latinos, some blacks and a lot of ex democrats… People who want smaller gov’t, to stop spending, cut the deficits that will cripple our children, less intrusion on how we live, national security…

dr O…When you say people are sick of gov’t using everything that occurs as an excuse to takevmore of our freedom away… You are absolutely right and we see it. When we caught on that the gov’t was trying to take our hard earned money to give it to others because of ” social justice” they went too far.

The TP movement is being so viciously attacked because it is materializing too soon! The gov’t needs more time to take complete control and this has thrown a wrench in the works i. e. Scott Brown…

CCRWM on February 9, 2010 at 11:45 PM

Sorry for all the typos… writing from my iPhone cuz there is no Internet access at the ski resort my husband and I are at in Lake Tahoe :(

CCRWM on February 9, 2010 at 11:47 PM

Sorry for all the typos… writing from my iPhone cuz there is no Internet access at the ski resort my husband and I are at in Lake Tahoe :(

CCRWM on February 9, 2010 at 11:47 PM

Sorry, that’s not pushing my sympathy button. Have fun and be safe!

hillbillyjim on February 10, 2010 at 12:02 AM

I’ve attended tea parties…the first one was really quite exhilarating and seeing all the other ones across the country was the most uplifting thing I’ve seen since Sarah Palin’s speech at St. Paul.

However…I do have reservations. I just know that the same pushy types who have been foisting these Dem and Republican losers on us forever are going to take over.

It’s simply human nature. The big mouths and the bullies will move in and start running things.

Dr. ZhivBlago on February 10, 2010 at 12:41 AM

Wise words, Doc Zero, wise words indeed.

Razgriez on February 10, 2010 at 12:49 AM

It never fails. Every time the Democrats manage to get some measure of majority control inside the beltway, they attempt to ramrod their massive socialist/progressive agenda down the throats of mostly center-right and generally conservative everyday Americans. Who then rise up and rebel on a large enough scale, albeit not as large as the current one in a long time, to put a halt to their shenanigans.

And on cue, the progressive pundits in the MSM start screaming and shouting about the ignorant, contrary masses who don’t know what’s good for them, and are rendering this country unable to be governed intelligently.

In other words, if we don’t agree with their socialist/progressive agenda, then there must be something horribly wrong with us, and we somehow must be made aware that our fractured and selfish obsessions are destroying the country.

Except this time the Democrats went too far, too fast, with the liberal/progressive factions of the MSM spinning like crazy to provide cover for them to give them a chance at achieving all those socialist/progressive dreams they’ve harbored for decades.

Yet thanks to modern technology, the American public has access to not just all the information and facts and documents never readily available before to past generations, but in addition has access to instant contact with each other in unprecedented numbers and on all levels possible. Radio Free Europe for Americans: X 1000.

The Democratic Party had a stranglehold on the country, in DC, The White House, majority control of both the House and Senate in Congress, the MSM venues, and a chance-in-a-lifetime opportunity to enact every single major socialist/progressive piece of legislation they could imagine. And they blew it.

Now they’re trying to tamp down the uprising of a seriously concerned American populace, hoping to salvage some bits and pieces out of the wasteland of their agenda while trying to marginalize the movement to neutralize it. At times in the past this may have worked, when Americans still believed that what they read in their newspapers and what they heard reported in the evening network news programs must be the truth. But not now. It can’t and won’t work as a ploy any longer thanks to alternative media sources available to a much more technology-savvy voting public. And largely because the Democrats got too arrogant, condescending, irresponsible, and drunk on power and spending other people’s money.

They’re twisting in the wind, and we’re loving watching every single contorted gyration. They thought they had it all, that they’d claimed the country for their own warped purposes. “I won.” Obama declared, then took the prize money and spent it frivolously. And it surprised the heck out of the Dems/Progressives/MSM when they finally got a clue and realized that they’d made two big mistakes: They chose the wrong “leader” to be President. And they greatly underestimated We The People of the United States of America.

And they ain’t seen nothin’ yet!

KendraWilder on February 10, 2010 at 2:03 AM

If the democrats, liberals, progressives and the msm want to try and understand the Tea Party movement, the first step
would be, every time they talk about or write about the movement, replace the words “tea-baggers” or “tea-partiers”
with the words “disgruntled voters”.
Maybe, just maybe then it would start to penetrate all of those bank vault-thick skulls and into those
tiny pea-brains.
But I doubt it.

mrt721 on February 10, 2010 at 6:29 AM

The Tea Party movement is easy to understand. It’s a tax revolt plain and simple. Olbergoebbels and Tingles Matthews have derided us as racists. The reason why the protests are so “White” is because the Dems have rearranged things to where most blacks don’t pay income taxes. Why would they protest something that doesn’t affect them? Pretty close to 50% of Americans pay no income tax. It’s a permanent voting block for the Dem/Communists, as they choose who to back up in the class warfare that they initiated in the first place. Liberalism is a mental disease…….

adamsmith on February 10, 2010 at 7:18 AM

Kendra Wilder, great post!!! And to think it was only maybe three years ago when the Huffington Post and anyone with that mentality were laughing at the Republicans and Conservatives because we were too old, too stupid to use internet technology. It will now be their undoing. Karma’s a bitch………

adamsmith on February 10, 2010 at 7:22 AM

Good Job Dr. Z, well put!

MechEng5by5 on February 10, 2010 at 9:19 AM

It’s an interesting essay but pretty verbose. The issue with the media and the Tea Parties is very simple: there is a Democrat in the White House.

If TARP was passed the fall before Bush’s second term, and he had put up the Stimulus bill, the Tea Parties would be exactly the same. The media coverage, however, would be completely different.

Tea Partiers would be media darlings if there was a Republican in the White House.

Jaynie59 on February 10, 2010 at 9:25 AM

You mean Tea Partiers aren’t just angry white men mesmerized by Sarah Palin’s breasts?

Cicero43 on February 9, 2010 at 8:41 PM

1. I’m an angry white man.
2. I am indeed mesmerized.

But not “just” that.
There’s more to it.

massrighty on February 10, 2010 at 9:48 AM

This is probably the best, most lucid essay about what is happening in our country that I have seen.

Thanks for posting this!

HiredGun on February 10, 2010 at 10:26 AM

Even if the TPs were all white men, so what? The Left seems to think there is no greater insult than to call someone “white”, as though this group among all others has no right to protest. Even this writer feels it necessary to comment that women and minorities are included. As long as we continue to respond to this canard by pointing out that some of our best friends are black/latino/female/etc., we play into the Left’s hands. Just ignore what the whitehouse/msm/etc., say and the truth will set us free.

Hucklebuck on February 10, 2010 at 10:55 AM