Category Archive 'Tea Party Protests'

26 Oct 2010

The Paranoid Style in Liberal Politics

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As the democrat party’s November Appointment in Samarra draws near, the left has been furiously discussing how voter dissatisfaction and the Tea Party Movement is all the nefarious culmination of a diabolical plot presided over by scheming capitalists who artificially created the whole thing with their funding.

Andrew Ferguson, in this month’s Commentary, has a good deal of fun applying Richard Hofstadter’s paranoia meme to liberalism’s latest efforts at self gratification.

Over the past 30 years, Charles and David Koch, owners of a Kansas-based family business called Koch Industries, have given hundreds of millions of dollars to organizations that advance their political views. Those views can be described as unevenly conservative and generally libertarian (pro-gay marriage, anti-ObamaCare). The donations are readily observable in foundation tax records posted on the Internet, as all such transactions are, and the brothers themselves have made many public appearances on behalf of the think tanks and magazines they fund, given speeches and media interviews, issued statements of support, sat on boards—even, in David’s case, made a hopeless and expensive run for the vice presidency on the Libertarian Party ticket in 1980.

Oddly, it took a while for the Inspector Clouseaus of the American left to smell a rat. And in fairness, it should be said that hiding in plain sight can often be the most sinister form of disguise for billionaires like the Kochs, the tricky bastards. About a year ago, the alarming rise of the Tea Parties inspired researchers at a website called ThinkProgress to start Googling. Among their discoveries, breathlessly reported, was the news that one of the Kochs’ foundations had funded Americans for Prosperity, a group instrumental in the Tea Party movement.

ThinkProgress presented its story as a scoop the mainstream press was afraid to touch. There the Kochs stood at last, exposed to broad daylight in the public square, where they’d been all along. ThinkProgress dubbed them “The Billionaires Behind the Hate.” We may never know what tipped off the sleuths to the Kochs’ political activities, but David Koch in particular must be kicking himself: I knew I shouldn’t have given that speech to 2,000 people in that hotel ballroom at the Americans for Prosperity convention! And the interviews I gave to New York magazine, and the Times—what a fool I was! …

One mark of the paranoid style in American politics, Richard Hofstadter wrote in his famous essay, is its concern with “factuality,” a piling up of random details to create a coherence that reality itself can’t provide. Journalism of a certain sort becomes a convenient instrument of the paranoid partisan. “The paranoid’s interpretation of history,” Hofstadter wrote, “is distinctly personal: decisive events are not taken as part of the stream of history, but as the consequences of someone’s will,” an “amoral superman” who “manufactures the mechanism of history, or tries to deflect the normal course of history in an evil way.”

With the Kochs, the American left gets two amoral supermen in one. Mayer’s article, and the larger campaign it’s a part of, is meant not only to alarm its audience but to soothe it as well. Any Democrat unnerved by the rise of the Tea Party movement will find it comforting to learn that it’s a giant confidence trick. The belief requires both a deep cynicism about one’s fellow citizens and a touching credulity about the ease with which they can be manipulated. All those angry, badly dressed people shouting into megaphones on TV: they’re not evil, they’re just stupid.

27 Aug 2010

Nico Would Be a Republican Too Today (If She Were Still Alive)

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In this 3:01 WALB-TV (Albany, GA) video reporting on Tea Party protests in South Georgia, we find at 2:41 former Velvet Underground drummer Maureen “Moe” Tucker denouncing the advance of socialism and excessive federal spending.

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Velvet Underground — Beginning to See the Light (1969) 4:43 video


Some people work very hard
but still they never get it right.
Well I’m beginning to see the light.

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Hat tip to John Brewer.

18 Apr 2010

Tea Parties: Revolution From Above?

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Today’s Day By Day illustrates Richard’s point about the sophistication of Tea Party commentary

Richard Fernandez notes that Tea Parties have taken the political debate to deeper than customary levels of analysis, which may possibly be connected to the recently discovered fact that Tea Party activists are not really the rubes and yokels that the community of fashion inevitably supposed they were.

Perhaps the greatest distinction between the Tea Parties and the televised “debates” between candidates is that issues are raised at fundamentally different levels. In the first the money is for the candidate to dispense. In the second it is about how much he has a right to dispense not at the margins but structurally. The psychological difference is captured perfectly by Barack Obama’s response to the Tea Parties. ABC News reported that

    Speaking at a Democratic fundraiser tonight, President Obama touted his administration’s tax cuts and said that the recent tea party rallies across the nation have “amused” him.

    “You would think they should be saying thank you,” the president said to applause.

    Members of the audience shouted, “Thank you.”

‘Thank you for what?’ the Tea Partiers might respond, ‘it is our money.’ The incendiary potential of that type of conversation may explain the heat which has been generated by the crashers and anti-crashers at these events. The Tea Parties are less a debate than political clash. Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit has a number of links to sites which have promised to infiltrate the Tea Parties and efforts repel boarders. It has the aspect of conflict and consequently generates many of the same emotions. Dana Milbank at the Washington Post was nearly beside himself at the sight of these “faux populists”, only recently described as hicks, but now revealed to have Harvard Degrees.

    A CBS News/New York Times poll released on Tax Day found that Tea Party activists are wealthier than average (20 percent of their households earn more than $100,000, compared with 14 percent of the general population) and better educated (37 percent have college or postgraduate degrees vs. 25 percent of Americans ).

Milbank should be careful about opening that can of worms lest it lead to a discussion of whether the half of US households who pay Federal Income Tax so it can be transferred to the other half should have any say on how their money is spent. Because the only thing worse than the narrative that Tea Partiers are the ingrates who should be saying “thank you” to the quality that wisely governs them is the reverse: a narrative where the Tea Partiers are the quality who dare to question the ingrates that govern and write about them. Any idea that threatens to invert the positions of the elite and the peasantry is by definition subversive. The real problem with portraying the rebels as well educated and smart is that it begs the question of what their critics are.

18 Sep 2009

Before the Deluge

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Arnold Kling sees the culture wars spinning further and further out of control and experiences despair.

I think the long-term significance of what is going on, both at the progressive end and at the Tea Party end of the political spectrum, is an open rupture. In the 1960’s, a Hubert Humphrey or Robert Kennedy could connect with uneducated white voters. The idea of blowing them off was unthinkable, if only because they were such a large majority of the voting population at the time.

Now, the elitism of President Obama and his supporters has reached in-your-face levels. They have utter contempt for the Tea Party-ers, and the Tea-Party-ers know it.

I wouldn’t want the Tea Party-ers at the faculty picnic, either. But my sense of class solidarity with Obama and other educated progressives does not make me want to see them exercise power. If anything, being a member of the educated elite and knowing knowing them as well as I do makes me share the Tea Party-ers’ fears.

I come back to my view that this is white, small-town America making its last stand. However, I think, also, that the progressive elite is making a last stand. My guess is that doubts are mounting among many independent voters about whether they want such a highly-charged politics. I am sticking with my bet that the Democrats will hold onto their House and Senate majorities as well as the Presidency through the elections of 2016, but relative to six months ago I feel that I am depending more on Republican incompetence than overall political trends to win that bet.

One could argue that this country is on the verge of a crisis of legitimacy. The progressive elite is starting to dismiss rural white America as illegitimate, and vice-versa. I see the chances of both sides losing as much greater than the chance of either force winning.


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