Joe Bageant asks his Masked Political Consultant about the Tea Partiers, who responds anonymously with three points.
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.
Yeah, it is difficult for Obama to be a Nazi and a Communist at the same time. Political movements can be incoherent, especially in the beginning, about what they want. But even with that, they do seem remarkably incoherent. That’s another clue that they are homegrown and not a right wing thing tank construct. A construct would be way more focused (and deadly.) Also, Tea Partiers are highly suspicious of the Republican Party. This also weighs against them being manipulated by behind-the-scenes operatives. Do such operatives want to manipulate them? Sure. But how can you do that with a highly distributed movement with multiple nebulous goals and aims? Answer: You can’t.
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.
Why liberal and progressives blogs insist upon covering every lunacy mouthed by the wackier of the Tea Partiers in a mystery to me. But they can’t seem to help themselves, foaming at what troglodytes all of them are. Why not just ignore them or do an occasional pointed jab instead rather than such near-hysterical responses? Yes, such things do make Obama happy. Or used to, at least. Progressive support for him has been evaporating lately.
One major problem progressives have is they think if people will just understand the issues in a reasoned manner, then they will come around to a progressive view. Good luck with that. Politics is more visceral that intellectual. For real political change to happen, fire in the belly is needed too.
What happened to the Democratic Party? Why is it so gutless, especially at the congressional level? With few exceptions, they all seem terrified of being called liberals, much less progressives. The reason for this is simple. They aren’t. The Democratic Party as an entity has abandoned its traditional base of the working class, middle class, unions, people of color, and support for a social safety net. Democratic elected officials in Congress now are exceedingly corporate friendly and routinely ignore the base of the party. It’s not that they are gutless, but that they are complicit and agree with the corporate agenda, which is also supported by Republicans in Congress.
Look, LBJ may have been a warmonger. But he also was proud to be liberal and could ramrod bills through Congress with the best of them. As I mentioned previously, he got the Civil Rights Act of 1964 passed even though he knew it meant Democrats would lose the South for years to come. Seems to me, he stood on a principle and got it passed because it was the right thing to do. He used the bully pulpit, rallied public opinion, twisted arms, whatever it took. Contrast that, if you would, with the craven, timid Democratic Party of today. What does it stand for? Beats me.
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 were not faithful enough to those ideals
So then it must be someone else’s fault, probably someone foreign, or unpatriotic. Populism can veer into ugly nativist realms. That’s why lefties need to get involved in it now. And bring that fire in the belly too.