By Peter Roff, Thomas Jefferson Street blog
Outside certain broad parameters, the Tea Party Movement remains something of a mystery, at least to the media.
It has its positive aspects--for example the incredible level of self-education it is producing about the U.S. Constitution, the Federalist Papers, other founding documents and the political process itself. It also, admittedly, has less flattering components, like those who seem to find their way in front of the television cameras who are relentlessly negative, focused on ephemera or are just plain angry.
Either way it is clear it is a force to be reckoned with, at least for this political cycle. It is also clear that the established order, the dominant liberal, Democratic establishment currently in power is afraid of it, but not so much because they do not understand it as because they do.
A recent analysis of the Tea Parties conducted by the Associated Press identified what it called “ Five Key Things to Know about the Tea Party Movement.” The AP concluded that:
A) There isn’t one actual “Tea Party” and there might never be;
B) They are not Democrats--but they are not especially happy with Republican incumbents either;
C) The “Tea Party” doesn’t have a single leader, and that’s just fine with the activists;
D) The people involved in tea party activities have no defining issue; and
E) The tea parties are amplifying voter anger, but the anger is not universal nor is it ubiquitous.
It is an interesting, somewhat establishmentarian take on what is currently the nation’s most significant social movement. Make no mistake--the Tea Parties are a threat to Obamaism and all it represents, which is why Democratic operatives and their allies are working so hard to discredit the movement since it first appeared.
The problem for the establishment, however, is that whatever it may not be, the Tea Parties are a kind of a revolt of middle class Americans against big government--of the young, of teachers and doctors and working men and women and housewives and retirees and small business owners who very quickly tired of the taxes, debt and autocratic rule of the Obama White House and the political machine its allies have constructed in Congress.
As such, it is not at all surprising that the Democrats who are in charge and a compliant media have focused on the movement’s more unsavory aspects in their coverage, most notably the recent allegation that someone at a rally on Capitol Hill hurled a racist epithet at a Democratic member of Congress--who is, by the way, schooled in the ways of Saul Alinsky.
The fact that no one has yet been able to produce audio or video of that particular incident is somewhat beside the point, and for both sides. One side is wasting time trying to deny it, keeping the controversy alive. The other, one is certainly free to believe, would have not hesitated to make the allegation even if nothing of the sort had happened.
In any event, it’s a moot point. It is part of the left’s pattern of discrediting of the right to scream “Racism!” when confronted with a challenge they cannot defeat, a question they cannot answer. Now things are being ratcheted up a notch.
There are those who have announced their intention to make sure that any future allegations can stand up to media scrutiny--as long as the folks like MSNBC’s Norah O’Donnell and Rachel Maddow and Chris Matthews and the rest of their kind don’t look too hard.
Leftist activists like Jason Levin--of the group Crash the Tea Party--say they are recruiting activists in major cities all across America to “infiltrate” Tea Party events on April 15, when the half of America that actually pays income taxes rails against the size of their annual income tax bill. Levin’s goal, the AP reported, is to “dismantle the political group by trying to make its members appear to be racist, homophobic and moronic.”
It is unlikely to work, not because Levin and his allies will fail in their efforts to infiltrate the rallies, but because most of America will recognize their efforts for what they are. Few people will likely be persuaded the Tea Parties are something nefarious but these political “black ops” who did not already view them in a negative light.
Pollster Scott Rasmussen’s latest study of the movement finds that one-quarter of the nation’s electorate--24 percent--see themselves as part of the “Tea Party” movement, with another 10 percent saying they have close friends or family members who are. Having a third of the electorate--not the country--in or allied to the Tea Party movement presents a serious challenge to the governing establishment’s ability to win future elections, especially when 58 percent of the electorate is animated by Obama’s healthcare agenda and in favor of repealing it. The Democrats, if they continue to position themselves as the opponents of the Tea Party, are positioning themselves as the opponents of middle-America, which is not a way to win elections.