Over the last two years the various Tea Party-type rallies have brought hundreds of thousands of outraged but quite ordinary Americans to the nation’s capital to protest of out of control spending, ruinous economic policies, rising unemployment and the one-sided approach to governing that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, and President Barack Obama have employed in pursuit of their legislative and political objectives.
The most recent weekend rally, organized and promoted by nearly four hundred liberal and labor groups in support of the Democrats and their agenda, by contrast, appeared to draw only a few people per group, if one chose to look at it that way. It did not come close to the crowd Obama drew for his inauguration.
In politics, intensity matters. And, as the November 2010 midterm elections draw near most polls and a good deal of anecdotal evidence show that the energy is all on the right side of the aisle.
Having little positive to say--indeed having fled town early in order to try to rescue as many of their candidates as they can--the Democrats have fallen back on the time-tested politics of fear to try and preserve what remains of their majority. Once again “gridlock”--a good thing when George W. Bush was president and the Democrats controlled Congress--is being tossed around as the likely and negative consequence of any Republican successes a month from now.
The mere existence of the Tea Party is something of a culture clash for the former political activists and politicians who cut their teeth in the counter-culture movement of the 1960s and its aftermath--or who at least like to think they did. Popular movements, like revolutions are, in their minds, the exclusive province of the left.
This is, of course, nonsense. But who wants to let the facts get in the way of a good narrative?
It has been lost on far too many people that many of the things that people don’t like about the way Barack Obama is governing are also things they didn’t like about George W. Bush.
Obama is a big spender and an advocate for bigger, more activist government. So was Bush, though not, perhaps, to the same degree. The same people who were mad at the latter were mad at the former, and have enlisted in the Tea Parties. It is only in the mind of a dedicated statist that the desire for smaller, more limited government can seem extreme, radical, or unhealthy. The Tea Party movement is not outrageous or outlandish or even, as someone suggested here on Thomas Jefferson Street just the other day, unthinking.
The sense of panic felt on the left has become voluble, making the latest volley of assaults on the Tea Party an effort at explaining that the Tea Party movement is of its very nature irrational, a product of anger, and ultimately not in the country’s best interest.
On that point, certain commentators have taken to pointing out how the members of the Tea Party movement hold positions that run counter to their own self interest. In what is supposed to pass for astute analysis, the Tea Parties are now said to be working to thwart political initiatives like mortgage relief that are intended to help them. The possibility that the Tea Partyers don’t want that kind of “help” is, apparently, somewhat mystifying to these same commentators--who also seem to believe that for every problem can and will only be solved by the federal government.