When any small group of fringy leftwing kooks and nutcases protests anything, the leftwing punditocracy gravely stroke its collective chin and warns of the rising tide of popular indignation. But when thousands and thousands of Americans participate in more than 600 protests against taxes and federal spending in cities all across the nation, the left sneers at the symbolism and dismisses the protests as unrepresentative and contrived.
Marc Ambinder was the rare exception in the liberal punditocracy who questioned the official party-line.
The… tea-party enthusiasm on the American right has provoked a fairly typical reaction from the organized American left. It’s a fake. It involves tea bags and (a) Dick Armey. It’s got the consistency of astroturf, not natural grass. …
In the age of hyperconnectivity, just what would an organic grassroots movement look like, anyway? Are people who’ve organized on behalf of causes before forbidden from joining? Can the movement not accept help and money from outside players?
Ambinder’s right, of course. And the scale of yesterday’s protests ought to be considered far more significant in the light of the consideration that protests and street theater are not really our thing. Conservatives write angry letters to the editorial page and argue with liberal friends. We don’t typically march around in public waving signs.
Conservatives tend to be busy and productive people with responsibilities. It’s a lot harder to assemble a mob of mortgage-paying adults with jobs they need to be at than to get yourself a gang of students and urban slackers ready for a lark. The thousands seen yesterday obviously constituted only the smallest tip of a much larger iceberg, an iceberg which does reliably vote.