December 18, 2009

The Tea Party's Moment

Justin Katz

Jeffrey Bell offers a good review of the tea party phenomenon and movement, but I think he picks the wrong moment of ignition:

By far the most pivotal event happened on August 7. That was the day a 45-year-old mother of five who had a month earlier announced her resignation as governor of Alaska, definitively ending her political career according to nearly every elite analyst, posted five paragraphs on her Facebook page. The post was titled "Statement on the Current Health Care Debate." Its second paragraph paraphrased conservative economist Thomas Sowell as observing that "government health care will not reduce the cost; it will simply refuse to pay the cost." Sarah Palin went on to pose a question Sowell's dictum implicitly raised: "And who will suffer the most when they ration care? The sick, the elderly, and the disabled, of course. The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama's 'death panel' so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their 'level of productivity in society,' whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil."

Through the lens of establishment politics, that may be the critical occurrence, but from my perspective in the cheap seats, the ultimate catalyst was the YouTube video of Arlen Specter facing angry shouts at his suggestion that the healthcare legislation must move quickly. That's when Americans called "BS," and when they realized that they could be heard, not only by their ostensible representatives, but by anybody who might happen upon a choice online video.

Online fame (such as it is) was perhaps a motivation for making events of the summer's town hall meetings, but the desire to be heard by political leaders has galvanized the longer-term movement, as Bell goes on to elaborate:

Completely absent both from the Hoffman campaign mounted by Conservative-party chairman Michael Long and from the various independent-expenditure grassroots efforts were the usual arguments, so ubiquitous among national Republican elites and Washington-based conservatives, over which issues to talk about and which not to. Hoffman included both social and economic issues in his campaign materials, and so did the independent grassroots efforts. Private polling found that both social and economic issues were contributing to Hoffman's unexpected surge.

This wasn't because the activists and voters who swung behind Hoffman agreed with one another on every issue or cared about all issues equally. They didn't. Rather, the threat of being marginalized by someone well to the left on virtually every issue seemed more important than intra-conservative disagreements.

That's worth remembering as the keepers of the standard running political narrative insist on a homogeneous political class.

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That Teabaggers tend to draw a disproportional amount of wing-nuts, loons, militia members and other mentally unstable clowns from a wide spectrum of political groups that is the threat to the rest of the general population at large.

Their combined, misrepresentation and misunderstanding of issues that is the root of their short-sighted, ultimately harmful ideological stance.

Posted by: Richard at December 18, 2009 3:25 PM

"Their combined, misrepresentation and misunderstanding of issues"

Actually, that sounds exactly like the general population at large. Want to guess on what percentage of the population is actually properly educated on the current issues? Very, very small.

Again, I would love to enact a law that people can only vote on issues/elections where they can name what's on the ballot. Don't need to know anything about it, but at least know what's on the ballot. Ask someone to name someone running for president, it doesn't matter what answer they give, if it's a name on the ballot for president, good enough, they can vote for a president. Same for Rep, same for Senator, same for local elections. If you have no idea who your local representative is or someone running against him/her, you shouldn't be able to vote. If you can't even name the person, how can you make an intelligent choice on that seat?

Posted by: Patrick at December 18, 2009 3:54 PM

In reference to Richard's comments on Teabaggers: As a teabagger I take offense to being called a mentally unstable clown and that I misunderstand what is happening to our state and the country. I have no intention of getting down to Richard's level. I do encourage him and others of his kind to continue their rhetoric. Their actions only encourage more individuals to join the Teabaggers movement. So Richard, continue on with your comments, it will only make us work harder to get rid of people who are ruining our state.

Posted by: grey fox at December 18, 2009 10:29 PM

The teabag movement is already dead and over it was all show and no substance at sure as hell was not grass roots and clearly was not non partisan.

Posted by: Sepiaball [AR codenamed: Assigned Pest] at December 19, 2009 8:15 AM

Those who think the Tea Party movement is dead are in for a rude awakening.
The next elections will be influenced in a huge way by the Tea Party folks.
They are as American as apple pie. Underestimate them at your peril. They represent the silent majority of hard working, decent, patriotic people who abhor the moral decay that the stupid liberals have created in our society.
Those who detest them are the stupid liberals who have no clue what it is like to actually work, provide for themselves, and act responsibly.
They are the lazy pigs, and their enablers, who go through life living off the dole, sucking the life and resources out of our state.
What we need to do is starve these pigs by gutting the welfare budget and forcing these pigs to leave our state. They offer nothing of value. We don't what them here and we don't need them here.
The revolution is coming.

Posted by: Mike Cappelli at December 19, 2009 7:48 PM

Awesome post mike c, I think we should capture all the liberal pigs and jail them and castrate them so that they can't go on to produce any little pig children. These beastly s lobs and their hairy armpitted women are the ruination of our nation. When and only when we are able to rid this nation of the liberal pigs and turn everyone into right minded conservatives will this nation again be safe. This blizzard is clearly fault or work of the liberal pigs. I had no hot chocolate today thanks to the liberal pigs. I can't wait until this nation returns tonthe great American way and smashes all dissenting opinions. God bless all Conservatives and. Pox on the house of all liberal pigs. Mike Cappelli for dog catcher.

Posted by: Mikecappelisawesome [AR codenamed: Assigned Pest] at December 20, 2009 8:55 PM

The above post is a brilliant piece of political satire rivalling Swift's "A Modest Proposal." I hope Mike appreciates it.

Posted by: rhody at December 22, 2009 12:36 PM
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