An odd fact: I was once mistaken for a Teabagger. It’s true. I was a proto-teabagger. I was outraged at the bank bailouts especially because it meant shortchanging public services like education. The protest was sparsely attended but focused. I met teachers, investment bankers (!) and a token LaRouche groupie. All in all a positive experience – even if it didn’t really satisfy my desire to see the system changed.
I was going to a Saturday tech conference on this same day and mentioned to someone there that I had been protesting the bank bailouts. “What? Are you one of these tea baggers?” He said it with a straight face, and I was horrified. Did he really think that I was the type of person to fall for that malarky? The Glen Beck Tea Party movement was just getting off the ground, and the voices of reasonable people were being drowned out the right-wing rabble. (To be fair: a lot of things were going on in April; we still didn’t know what had hit us in Fall, 2008). But I couldn’t believe anyone would take the rantings of Beck etc seriously. They were irrational. Also, a lot of their anger seem misdirected. I am resigned to the fact that our political leaders make mistakes, and the fact that we approved such a gigantic TARP/GM/AIG/Citi bailout disappointed me, but it hardly surprised me. I knew that the bailouts would affect the political dynamic somehow; I just didn’t know what form it would take or who would benefit from it.
But I didn’t seem to appreciate 1)that the media would find the movement so fascinating, 2)that it would influence Texas politics so strongly and 3)that it would outlast its promotion on Fox.
My theory is that the driving force behind tea parties was not Fox News but right-wing talk radio. Sure, Fox gives glitz and glamour to this political movement, but talk radio allows nonstop ranting and sarcasm while also letting people hear other angry citizens vent. The paradox of course is that the only people who listen to right-wing radio are right-wingers, so these people wouldn’t have an inkling of how out-of-the-mainstream right-wing political views are.
Contrast that with something like CSPAN (good lord; why can’t we have CSPAN on radio? ) They have a telephone call in show in the morning which is great – exposing people to a lot of viewpoints with hosts who are polite, respectful and soft-spoken. (“Sir, can you turn your radio down please?”) I don’t have CSPAN, but I love hearing the medley of voices on the rare occasions when I do. It is like hearing an audio version of a Studs Terkel book. I hear a variety of political viewpoints – some cranks to be sure, but most are reasonable even if they are not particularly informed. Of course, I don’t claim to be informed about lots of things; perhaps our political problem is that everybody thinks they are 1)right and 2)smarter than everybody else.
Now we see where the Tea Party people have come.
John Cole adds his two cents:
They weren’t around protesting during the Bush years BECAUSE THE TEA PARTY IS REPUBLICANS. They don’t care about the deficit. They care that a Democrat (and a black “Muslim,” to boot), is in the White House. They don’t care about fiscal restraint, they care that a Democrat is in the White House. They don’t, as some foolishly pretend, care about the Wall Street excesses. Certainly Cenk Uyger is not the only one who has noticed that the tea party bubbas could all be shipped to protest HCR, but the big money boys aren’t running the buses to protest Wall Street. They care that there is a Democrat in the White House.
Steve Benen started a great thread about the inane logic of teabaggers. Here are some comments (mainly about the misdirected anger and Friedman’s loony idea that they could be turned into some environmental group aka Green Tea Party). The comments are both rude and educated and truthful.
My own father is a Tea-bagger and started screaming at me because I dared to contradict his Fox News narrative that “the vast majority of the national debt has been added by Obama in 1 only year.”
I went to the U.S. treasury web-site and quoted the actual budget statistics that proved that the vast majority of the debt was created by Bush & the Republicans. All he could do was shout “That’s not true.”
“I’m looking right now at the official U.S. Dept. of the Treasury web-site.”
“That’s just not true.”
When I told him exactly what the official numbers show he just got angry and hung up the phone.
That’s the tea-bagger response in a nut-shell. You can’t argue or reason with them and facts are irrelevant. They have their OWN facts which cannot be contradicted.
The media narrative gives these people power. Friedman and others like him will keep seeking for reason in their wild ranting, and argue that the rest of the country has to move more towards the tea-bag view of the world as part of our duty to be “bi-partisan.”
It’s a tilted scale that always says we have to move endlessly to placate the right-wing no matter how determined they are never to be satisfied. Because they must be angry about SOMETHING, so it’s our duty to find out what it is and move to satisfy them.
Why? Because they’re “the American people”. Apparently black and brown people are not “real Americans” and Democrats cannot legitimately run things because they depend on the votes of “non-real Americans.”
Ever take public transit?
The entire teabagging party seems to be that crowd of riders at the bus stop that wasn’t paying much attention when it should have, and now is just realizing it’s been waiting at the stop while the bus has already departed, years ago!
The anger we’ve witnesses over the past year is the kind that foments when a person realizes he’s been ripped off, but can’t quite figure out who’s the one who ripped him off.
Well, we are graciously blessed with the teabagging party simply because their fearful bus drivers, Bush and Cheney, have left them stranded in the dust, and now they think the new muslim kid is going to steal their fares money!
The driving force is race. Not so much anger at a black president (though Obama provides a convenient focus that helps concentrate their rage), but at the TP’ers belief that liberal/Democratic policies tend to redistribute towards people of color.
A great indicator of the fundamental racism of the Tea Partiers is their frequent complaint (echoed in the Remember November video, and elsewhere) that Obama and the Dems “ignore the will of the people.” They can count votes, they know they lost the election – what they’re really saying is that all those non-white people who voted for Obama and the Dems shouldn’t really count.
Middle class whites have very little chance of getting into the tier I universities that are about the only course left for whites to succeed in the U.S. Since they have little chance of that happening, the middle class whites are left to compete with immigrants for jobs in health care, with blacks for government jobs, and with Hispanics for construction jobs.
Since whites have smaller families and a different culture that Asian, the middle east, southern Asia, or South American immigrants, whites cannot depend on tribal, clannish, or ethnic based groups to help to support them. Look at how few whites of any class major in engineering or the science, look at how middle class whites are leaving California because there is no future for them there.
California is about a half a generation ahead of the rest of the U.S. as far as whites are concerned the future does not look good.
Mr. Benen is correct since the Teabaggers only want budget cuts affecting everybody else BUT their own direct interest. You never hear any of them giving up their own SS and MC, but they want it abolished for everybody else. They complain about socialism yet also complain about the condition of the roads and subways. Hey, teabagging assholes! Do you see Microsuck or CocaCola building roads and subways? (They might put ads in/next to them, but not send out their own road crews)
They’re just angry McPalin voters who can’t stand a black guy with more brains, power, and insight than them.
(From the Priceless Tom Tomorrow).