Wednesday, September 22, 2010

They Seldom State It Directly...

Jacob Weisberg has a profile of the tea party movement over at Slate that I am highly sympathetic to.

Excerpt:

"Nostalgia, resentment, and reality-denial are all expressions of the same underlying anxiety about losing one's place in the country or of losing control of it to someone else. When you look at the surveys, the Tea Partiers are not primarily the victims of economic transformation, but rather people whose position is threatened by social change. Because racial bias is unacceptable both in American political culture and in an individualist ideology, Tea Partiers don't say directly what Pat Buchanan used to: that moving from a predominantly white Christian nation to a majority nonwhite one is a bad thing and should be stopped. Instead, their resistance finds sublimated expression through their reality distortion field: Beck's claim that Obama "has a deep-seated hatred of white people"' or Dinesh D'Souza's Newt-endorsed theory that Obama is a Kenyan Mau Mau in mufti, or the prevalent Tea Party opinion that policies like Obamacare and the stimulus are merely mechanisms for transferring income from the middle class to the minority poor and illegal immigrants—i.e., socialism. Of no previous movement has Richard Hofstadter's depiction of populism as driven by "status anxiety" been so apt."


It was brought to my attention lately that I have been cruel in my caricatures of the Tea Party. I have to own that. I have been cruel. I have been condescending, I have stereotyped, I have mocked, I have scorned. I have also shivered at the weird undercurrents of Tea Party concern, and creepy revolutionary language. Don't get me wrong; I don't think there will be a revolution (no one can stay that excited for that long), but it's still creepy. The Tea Party movement strikes me as hysterical and paranoid. They seem to be in the thralls of a compulsive, mass twitch. The Tea Party, to me, is just another utopian group that wants to tear everything down and start again from scratch. Life tends towards chaos. The welfare state (the safety net) seeks to put parameters on that chaos.

If I could replace the omnipresent (and now somewhat trite sounding) Gandhi quote, 'Be the change you wish to see in the world', it would be with the lesser known--but more apt--observation from Kurt Vonnegut that reads as follows:

"Another flaw in the human character is that everybody wants to build and nobody wants to do maintenance."

3 comments:

Willie Y said...

Just ask a tea party person the specifics of what they will do to impoved the goverment, the silence will be deafening.

the elegant ape said...

You can follow any flag that you set your sight upon. My main concern with the tea party is their absolute belief regardless of fact of circumstance. I had a professor once who was shocked by the incoming class. He described the as being "arrogant in their ignorance"
This to me is a hall mark of this movement. And as a twenty percent voting block in our fractured electorate can wield real and profound power. I have tried to have a reasonable dialogue with "tea party" partisans it is a exercise in futility.
Let's ignore the fact that being a white Christan in America is not a minority group facing discrimination. Or that their titular leader is a failed half Governor who couldn't find Africa on a map or pick Margret Thatcher out of a line up.
Real consequences will result from this upcoming election.
We have just started paying for the lost decade of GW.
I think the bill is about to become much more.

Spencer Troxell said...

For anyone stopping by for Monday's post:

The new posting system doesn't seem to be working for me. The 'new post' tool is continuously loading, and not allowing me to copy & paste my newest piece.

Hopefully, this will be resolved shortly. Thanks for your patience.