Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Tea party i-dole-atry

It looks like I picked the wrong day to quit snorting Drāno(TM).

Unless, of course, this story really wasn't in Tuesday's
New York Times and, in fact, was just the kind of hallucination you get when drain cleaner meets brain cell.

YOU DECIDE, as they say on Everybody's Favorite Cable Network:
When Tom Grimes lost his job as a financial consultant 15 months ago, he called his congressman, a Democrat, for help getting government health care.

Then he found a new full-time occupation: Tea Party activist.

In the last year, he has organized a local group and a statewide coalition, and even started a “bus czar” Web site to marshal protesters to Washington on short notice. This month, he mobilized 200 other Tea Party activists to go to the local office of the same congressman to protest what he sees as the government’s takeover of health care.

Mr. Grimes is one of many Tea Party members jolted into action by economic distress. At rallies, gatherings and training sessions in recent months, activists often tell a similar story in interviews: they had lost their jobs, or perhaps watched their homes plummet in value, and they found common cause in the Tea Party’s fight for lower taxes and smaller government.

The Great Depression, too, mobilized many middle-class people who had fallen on hard times. Though, as Michael Kazin, the author of “The Populist Persuasion,” notes, they tended to push for more government involvement. The Tea Party vehemently wants less — though a number of its members acknowledge that they are relying on government programs for help.

Mr. Grimes, who receives Social Security, has filled the back seat of his Mercury Grand Marquis with the literature of the movement, including Glenn Beck’s “Arguing With Idiots” and Frederic Bastiat’s “The Law,” which denounces public benefits as “false philanthropy.”

“If you quit giving people that stuff, they would figure out how to do it on their own,” Mr. Grimes said.

The fact that many of them joined the Tea Party after losing their jobs raises questions of whether the movement can survive an improvement in the economy, with people trading protest signs for paychecks.

But for now, some are even putting their savings into work that they argue is more important than a job — planning candidate forums and get-out-the-vote operations, researching arguments about the constitutional limits on Congress and using Facebook to attract recruits.


Jeff McQueen, 50, began organizing Tea Party groups in Michigan and Ohio after losing his job in auto parts sales. “Being unemployed and having some time, I realized I just couldn’t sit on the couch anymore,” he said. “I had the time to get involved.”

He began producing what he calls the flag of the Second American Revolution, and drove 700 miles to campaign for Mr. Brown under its banner. Flag sales, so far, are not making him much. But he sees a bigger cause.

“The founding fathers pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor,” he said. “They believed in it so much that they would sacrifice. That’s the kind of loyalty to this country that we stand for.”

He blames the government for his unemployment. “Government is absolutely responsible, not because of what they did recently with the car companies, but what they’ve done since the 1980s,” he said. “The government has allowed free trade and never set up any rules.”

He and others do not see any contradictions in their arguments for smaller government even as they argue that it should do more to prevent job loss or cuts to Medicare. After a year of angry debate, emotion outweighs fact.

“If you don’t trust the mindset or the value system of the people running the system, you can’t even look at the facts anymore,” Mr. Grimes said.
ME, I THINK this demonstrates what I've thought all along about the tea party movement -- that it's blind rage, abject fear and talking-head-fueled paranoia in search of the Other.

That "Other" might be black folk on welfare, or white folk on Wall Street, or brown folk roofing your house, or black folk in the White House, or pinko commie-lib Democrats in Congress . . . or just some poor jerk in the coffee shop (or on
Facebook) who disagrees with you. The tea party "patriots" represent free-floating rage with nowhere to go -- because that kind of rage can't go anywhere constructive.

It only can destroy . . . consume. It can't build.

Creating requires a clear head; it requires transforming anger into something that transcends itself. Building a better future for this country requires knowing what you believe and where you want to go.

UNFORTUNATELY, it's becoming clearer and clearer that America's angry tea partiers don't even know their ass from a hole in the ground. Doubly unfortunately, that hole is where their blind rage and complete confusion threatens to bury us all if we don't watch out.

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