I read an article recently in the Los Angeles Times by a Mr. Timothy Rutten. The article was well reasoned and an interesting take on the Tea Party. The problem is that I have a different take on that unhappy group.
Mr. Rutten argues that the Tea Party is both anti-politics and anti-government, and resembles in many important aspects religious fundamentalists. They adhere to a theory of government that is aligned with the original US Constitution, similar perhaps to a religious fundamentalist’s literal reading of the bible. He may be correct, in that the Tea Party appears to display a view of the world that nowhere exists any longer. He argues further that, given the philosophical differences within the Tea Party, they are likely to come apart in the not too distant future. Fond hope springs eternal . . .
However interesting is that view, I think that it mischaracterizes the Tea Party.
On the view that they are both anti-government and anti-politics, I would argue that they are explicitly and hyper-partisan political. They represent to me the fascist wing of the Republican Party. Unlike, say, the Green Party, or even the Libertarian Party who nominate their own candidates on their own party line, Tea Partiers always nominate and support Republicans, and only hard right Republicans at that.
They represent the same types of "conservatives" as partied aboard the National Review-sponsored cruise, as described by Johann Hari in his 2007 article: " Neocons on a Cruise: What Conservatives Say When They Think We Aren't Listening", by Johann Hari, Independent UK. Posted July 17, 2007.
Mr. Hari begins with this summary:
"The Iraq war has been an amazing success, global warming is just a myth, and Guantanamo Bay is practically a holiday camp. The annual cruise organized by the National Review, mouthpiece of right-wing America, is a parallel universe populated by straight-talking, gun-toting, God-fearing Republicans."
In another passage, he describes a startling conversation:
"I lie on the beach with Hillary-Ann, a chatty, scatty 35-year-old California designer. As she explains the perils of Republican dating, my mind drifts, watching the gentle tide. When I hear her say, " Of course, we need to execute some of these people," I wake up. Who do we need to execute? She runs her fingers through the sand lazily. "A few of these prominent liberals who are trying to demoralise the country," she says. "Just take a couple of these anti-war people off to the gas chamber for treason to show, if you try to bring down America at a time of war, that's what you'll get." She squints at the sun and smiles. " Then things'll change."
Given the rage inherent among Teabaggers, this description would not seem farfetched.
So, anti-political, or anti-government??
I would argue instead that they are are simply "anti-being out of power." Their protestations about our out-of-control government spending, and our out-of-control government fail to ring true. They watched for 8 years without comment while Bush went on a spending rampage, building deficits never before contemplated, by cutting taxes to his rich friends. They watched without comment while Bush's government carried out a war under false pretenses, spied without warrants, imprisoned without trials, and tortured without regret. They watched without comment while Bush's laisse faire approach to commerce created the greatest economic crash since 1929. Yet, almost immediately, upon the election of a Black Democrat, they erupted in fury, demanding to take back their country.
I believe the closest approximation to their rage is what we observed in Germany during 1933, when Hitler roused the populace, blaming Jews for their having lost the war and their need to make reparations under the Armistice.
In this case, they are also rallying against "the devils", although in their case they have selected Obama, a Black president, and his "liberal" supporters instead of Jews. So, liberals (read Democrats), Blacks, and immigrants are to blame for all the ills that have befallen America.
They are not so much immune to data (even a casual reading of the facts would suggest to them that republicans are the prime cause of the nation's current plight) as capable of ignoring it--they perhaps epitomize Orwell's "double-think" approach to life. They are explicitly Republican. They lack only an actual, visible leader. Currently, their leaders remain hidden even from them. I would hold that the leadership of this fascist movement is Rupert Murdoch and others of his ilk (the Koch brothers come to mind). Someday soon, a real, flesh and blood and highly visible leader will move into their little world and they will follow him . . . or her . . . eventually to all our regret.
Here, once again, we must all be careful what we wish for.