Free Markets, Free People

Still Not Getting It

Other than whistling-past-the-graveyard willful ignorance, how is it that the left and the media (yeah, I know, same thing) can still be so clueless when it comes to the Tea Party movement? The catalyst was the passage of the TARP bill last year, and the continued profligacy of government spending has served to fan the flames of these growing protests. Despite being deemed racist, ignorant, lunatic fringers who are nothing more than astroturfed loud-mouths bought and paid for by (take your pick) the GOP, the insurance industry, et al., the tea partiers have only become stronger and more noticeable. And although the message is excruciatingly simple (Taxed Enough Already), the left/media is still shocked to discover that this isn’t some devious plot to overthrow Obama and the Democrats that was orchestrated by Karl Rove:

While the energy of the anti-tax and anti-Big Government tea party movement may yet haunt Democrats in 2010, the first order of business appears to be remaking the Republican Party.

Whether it’s the loose confederation of Washington-oriented groups that have played an organizational role or the state-level activists who are channeling grass-roots anger into action back home, tea party forces are confronting the Republican establishment by backing insurgent conservatives and generating their own candidates — even if it means taking on GOP incumbents.

“We will be a headache for anyone who believes the Constitution of the United States … isn’t to be protected,” said Dick Armey, chairman of the anti-tax and limited government advocacy group FreedomWorks, which helped plan and promote the tea parties, town hall protests and the September ‘Taxpayer March’ in Washington. “If you can’t take it seriously, we will look for places of other employment for you.”

“We’re not a partisan organization, and I think many Republicans are disappointed we are not,” added Armey, a former GOP congressman.

In other words, it’s not the party, it’s the spending stupid.

However, for some the message is still not getting through:

The right-wing “Tea Party” activists are, obviously, deeply opposed to the Obama White House’s policies and the Democratic agenda in general. But Alex Isenstadt reports that they’re not especially pleased with the state of the Republican Party, either. Apparently, the Teabaggers think the GOP is too moderate…

Now, the notion of hostilities between right-wing activists and really right-wing activists is, to a certain extent, entertaining. State and local Republican parties are already pretty unhinged — pick a state GOP platform at random and read it — but that’s apparently insufficient.

But the part of this that’s really remarkable to me is the notion that the Republican Party of 2009 is just too darn reasonable and open to compromise with those sneaky Democrats, as far as this crowd is concerned.

Yes, the recovery-opposing, nominee-blocking, ACORN-hunting, Fox News-following, health care-rejecting, gay bashing, global warming-denying, scorched earth-raging Republican Party isn’t far enough to the right for the Teabggers.

Talk about misreading the Tea leaves. Benen misses the boat completely. He and his lefty adherents are convinced that the GOP started some fake grassroots campaign to take on Obama and the Democrats, stoked by racial fears of having a black man in the White House, and that the movement has now turned on them. But that was never the case. Instead, it was always about the runaway spending in Washington:

Tea party organizers say their resistance to Republican Party-backed primary candidates has much to do with what they perceive as the GOP’s stubborn insistence on embracing candidates who don’t abide by a small government, anti-tax conservative philosophy.

There it is in a nutshell. The people are tired of speaking out against runaway spending by Democrats just to get Republicans who do the same thing, only at a slightly slower pace. It’s the fundamental thinking in Washington that needs to change, not the letter behind the politician’s name.

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6 Responses to Still Not Getting It

  • If the Washington Monthly factota get away with calling the partiers “Teabaggers” can I go out on a limb and call the pro-tax-and-spend side “Pillow Biters”? Apparently they must like getting it in the backside. I’m just sayin….

  • If the Washington Monthly factota get away with calling the partiers “Teabaggers” can I go out on a limb and call the pro-tax-and-spend side “Pillow Biters”? Apparently they must like getting it in the backside. I’m just sayin….

  • Both sides are becoming more obdurate / extreme. Witness the dems lauding that dirtbag Grayson and their full-court press against Fox News.

    But the point of the post is excellent: nobody in DC really “gets” the Tea Party movement. I’m not entirely sure that people IN the tea party movement really get it, either. It seems to me mostly a hazy anger at Washington borne of fear of what big spending / big deficits / big debt is going to do to our country in the future. How this will play out politically is an open question. I think that MOST tea partiers will vote GOP because its the (slightly) better alternative. We shall see.

  • The left are bilious and stupid. who knew 😉

  • The so-called tea party movement isn’t really much of a force. Obama is still at 56% approval in most polls, it looks like health care is on track to pass, and the tea parties occupied a small period of time in the summer when the news cycle was slow. Talk radio jocks weren’t able to stop McCain from getting the GOP nomination, and overall it’s an emotional wing of the right that imagines itself stronger than it is.

    However, there is a grain of real truth in your post. The spending is the problem, and ultimately people far beyond the Glenn Beck listeners and partisans who think Obama is the reincarnation of Karl Marx will be upset by the implications and scope of the increased debt. Obama’s key to success will be to convincingly develop a strategy to stabilize the dollar and work away from massive debt. Right now, the White House isn’t convinced that’s the best way to go (though a debate is raging there). We’re dealing with real unknowns, after all (even if some people left and right have the mistaken idea that ideology gives them the “right” answer).