Joe Bageant: Tea Baggers are our canary in the coal mine
Dispatches from America’s Class War Joe Bageant
Joe recently asked our “masked political consultant,” a well known West Coast political adviser for his quick take on the Tea Party movement. He is now writing under the pseudonym John Brown (Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. His previous contributions to this site are:”Not New Ideas, but Identifying New Enemies“, “Moving to the Center of Elite Consensus“, and “Life in the Post Political Age“. As usual, the masked consultant cuts through the bullshit like a laser. Here is their exchange:
I don’t get it about the Tea Party movement. After eight years of of a super right wing administration destroying jobs and what social safety net there was … “the people” have suddenly decided: “Now that I’m unemployed, I think I’ll form a grassroots movement to destroy my health care too. It seems that no one in the mainstream media finds it a bit suspicious that this so-called grassroots popular movement sounds an awful lot like the neocons we just dumped. Hell, in my home town the Tea Bagger leadership pretty much comes from the ranks of the movers and shakers in the local Republican Party. This is a populist movement?
Maybe it’s just my cynicism, but the Tea Party movement smells to high hell of the far right think tanks.
Of course if you get upwind, up there in the official state entertainment agencies, mainstream media, you can’t smell it, and wonder of wonders, it is declared to be another example of the American people exercising democracy!
What’s your take?
Joe (no sugar please) Bageant
You’re right about the nature of the Tea Baggers.
However, there are three things that really stand out to me about the Tea Baggers in a broader context.
The first is the general political incoherence of their lines of attack and in what they claim to be for and what they claim to be against. The most retrograde or ignorant of McCarthyites in the 50’s or New Right activists of the 70s and 80’s would not have attacked their very mainstream adversaries for being both Communists and Nazis at the same time.
Second is the responses the Tea Baggers have solicited from progressives in general and the very large well funded Obama political organization. The Obama machine has no interest in fending them off since they have been excellent foil in keeping progressives in line and have pushed the health care debate in the direction of the deals they have already cut with the health care industry (pro-corporate and to the right), and away from more progressive vision of health care reform. And the progressives are fucking worthless — they don’t hate, they don’t fight and then they wonder why no one is afraid of them.
Lastly and most importantly, I think the Tea Baggers are really our canary in the mine that we are entering our late empire period. Crisis and decline in such situations does not lead to discrediting the failed ideologies that caused the given crisis, but rather the belief that we are failing because we where not faith full enough to those ideals. (Think of the crisis in Islamic world and the rise of fundamentalism.)
When it comes to history, shit just flows down hill.
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