Friday, October 01, 2010

Tea Party is pretty much a GOP instrument

This is another one of those posts where I say that to find good journalism you have to go outside the usual news sources. I ask, as I asked before, why am I reading this in the music magazine of all places? Rolling Stone has a very good article by Matt Taibbi on the tea party. The author is certainly more brave than I am. He actually went out and spent a good chunk of time with tea partiers to learn what makes them tick. It turns out that there is not a whole lot of substance making them angry. It's mostly angry with some resentment over the fact that the country is changing. One of those changes is the fact that other ethnic groups, like African-Americans and Latinos, are becoming majorities. So the White folks are suddenly feeling persecuted. That, and a few other things that Mr. Taibbi explains a lot better. The article is worth a look, but sadly it is the type of good, solid writing that a lot of people will miss. Why is this kind of stuff not being covered in the main news channels? Why is it those channels pretty much give a free pass to whatever the tea baggers preach even when it is utter nonsense?

There are some passages from the article I want to note and comment on.

This takes place at a rally in Kentucky.

"A hall full of elderly white people in Medicare-paid scooters, railing against government spending and imagining themselves revolutionaries as they cheer on the vice-presidential puppet hand-picked by the GOP establishment. If there exists a better snapshot of everything the Tea Party represents, I can't imagine it." 

The irony of this practically writes itself. Of course, these hypocrites fail to see the irony for, as Mr. Taibbi points out, it's ok to cut programs as long as it is not their programs. These tea baggers are the only ones deserving of government largesse. Everyone else is a free loading slacker.

Taibbi goes on to say,

"But after lengthy study of the phenomenon, I've concluded that the whole miserable narrative boils down to one stark fact: They're full of shit. All of them. At the voter level, the Tea Party is a movement that purports to be furious about government spending — only the reality is that the vast majority of its members are former Bush supporters who yawned through two terms of record deficits and spent the past two electoral cycles frothing not about spending but about John Kerry's medals and Barack Obama's Sixties associations. The average Tea Partier is sincerely against government spending — with the exception of the money spent on them." 

The hypocrisy is pretty much appaling, especially if you have half a brain. I ask not only why does the "regular" press not pick up on this, but why does anyone actually listen to these people? A lot of them are rejects from the past administration who pretty much fell asleep at the wheel when said administration was basically spending the nation into bankruptcy, and now suddenly they feel outraged. And they do it while collecting on the dole. These are people who, sure they may have a right to expression, but they should be laughed right out of the public square with other crackpots.

Taibbi then goes on to suggest that the rest of us who know how the American system of government actually works may end up getting the last laugh. Sadly, this is not good news. It is pretty tragic when you think about it, but it is something that people in this country have allowed to happen, again by falling asleep at the wheel. What the tea baggers fail to see is:

"But what they don't realize is, there's a catch: This is America, and we have an entrenched oligarchical system in place that insulates us all from any meaningful political change. The Tea Party today is being pitched in the media as this great threat to the GOP; in reality, the Tea Party is the GOP."

George Carlin said it so well (link to YouTube for the routine):

"I'm talking about the real owners now... the real owners. The big wealthy business interests that control things and make all the important decisions. Forget the politicians. The politicians are put there to give you the idea that you have freedom of choice. You don’t. You have no choice. You have owners. They own you. They own everything. They own all the important land. They own and control the corporations. They’ve long since bought and paid for the Senate, the Congress, the state houses, the city halls. They got the judges in their back pockets and they own all the big media companies, so they control just about all of the news and information you get to hear. They got you by the balls. They spend billions of dollars every year lobbying. Lobbying to get what they want. Well, we know what they want. They want more for themselves and less for everybody else. . . . "

Exactly. The two party system in this country, combined with a mostly selfish population that would rather vote on the results of American Idol or worry about Snooki's latest skank stunt, pretty much assures that nothing will really change in this nation no matter who you vote for. The tea party, when you really think about it, is pretty much the latest iteration of people being easily manipulated and then co-opted by the big interests, by the real owners.  It's kind of depressing when you think about it. Certainly does make you wonder if voting is even worth it at this point given that both parties are pretty much bought and paid for. I cannot help but wonder if the United States will ever get to the point where it is basically one big corporation, and the only way to "vote" is by owning stock in the corporation. This is certainly not a new idea. See the novel Snow Crash for instance, where the U.S. government pretty much has given the nation away to businesses and corporations. Or you can see the concept taking root in the film Robocop 2, where the OCP CEO says that every citizen, once OCP took over Detroit, would have a a "living unit" clean, quiet and safe, and as for voting, well, citizens could buy OCP stock. We are not that far from such a future, and it is inane, selfish fools like the tea baggers who will enable it all the while cheering the big interests on.

And back to the article, talk about a con job:

"So how does a group of billionaire businessmen and corporations get a bunch of broke Middle American white people to lobby for lower taxes for the rich and deregulation of Wall Street?"

It turns out it is pretty easy to do. It is easy when  you have those high interests making sure that the common folks (even though in some cases, if we look at the tea baggers, they are not that "common," but the label will work for our purposes) stay misinformed and pretty much mostly illiterate. We are talking about people who are pretty much incapable of critical thinking. Heck, the real tragedy is that they are not even aware of their own incompetence. By the way, here is a bit I wrote a while back that includes something on competence theory.

By the way, the article is worth reading just to get the list of five things you will hear from every tea bagger ever interviewed. Go on and read the article. Taibbi goes on to say that the tea baggers are not so much racist as they are narcissists. I think he is being charitable. These people are racists, and just because they are mostly clueless, does not make them any less racist. Remember these are the folks that, though they rail against bailouts, are happy to vote for rich people getting tax breaks while they blame poor Black homeowners for the economic crisis. Funny how that works.

I am going to jump to the end of the article, not because the rest of it is not interesting. Far from that. This is a must read. I am jumping because Taibbi's conclusion is something that definitely pisses me off as well. In large measure, it ticks me off because I make an effort to stay well informed. Sure, part of it is because I am a librarian, but it is also because I think that being well informed, thinking critically, and then speaking out are elements of the democracy, a democracy that is pretty much on its last legs unless some serious stuff happens (some serious education reforms may be a good start). I hate being a pessimist; I really do, but I am getting to the point where I just have to say certain things. Taibbi writes:

"Of course, the fact that we're even sitting here two years after Bush talking about a GOP comeback is a profound testament to two things: One, the American voter's unmatched ability to forget what happened to him 10 seconds ago, and two, the Republican Party's incredible recuperative skill and bureaucratic ingenuity. This is a party that in 2008 was not just beaten but obliterated, with nearly every one of its recognizable leaders reduced to historical-footnote status and pinned with blame for some ghastly political catastrophe. There were literally no healthy bodies left on the bench, but the Republicans managed to get back in the game anyway by plucking an assortment of nativist freaks, village idiots and Internet Hitlers out of thin air and training them into a giant ball of incoherent resentment just in time for the 2010 midterms." 

That is what really gets me. That people's attention spans are so short that they are willing to throw it all away just because change does not come in fast enough. And I am not defending the current administration. Deity of choice knows they have not delivered on a lot of what they promised, they  have been wusses pretty much when they should have been aggressive and enacted true reform, and they pretty much turned out to be the same corporate whores as the other guys. But that people are even willing to consider going back to the politicians and party that wrecked this nation for eight years is the epitome of stupidity. It's more than just masochism. It is plain selfishness and misdirected anger born of misinformation and willful ignorance. The evidence is there for anyone who wants to see it. Of course, for those like the tea baggers, it is easier to go to rallies on a Medicare paid scooter (paid by my taxes by the way) and rail against "big government and big government spending," than it is to think about the common good. And that I really find disgusting, disturbing, and offensive. And so should you.

A hat tip to Pharyngula.

1 comment:

BHS Productions said...

Very well said. The inherent racism and hypocrisy in the Tea Party enrages me as well... are people really so stupid as to think that two years of recovery can reverse eight years of disaster?

Of course, it doesn't surprise me at all that Obama is taking the blame. He and the democrats are not entirely undeserving, of course, though I continue to believe that Obama has done the best he can under extraordinarily difficult circumstances. But the truth is that Obama has been the Anti-Christ of the right wing since he first came to prominence. It was the same deal with Clinton; remember Whitewater? They kept trying and trying to nail him with something, anything until that little slut Monica came along and gave them all the ammunition they needed.

There's no mistaking it: we live in dark times. We campaigned for hope and change and quickly backslid into the same-old, same-old. Glenn Beck was able to give a neofascist rally while supposedly "paying tribute" to one of the greatest Americans to ever live, an event which made me angrier than I think I've been in years.

However, as naive as it may be, and as much as the cynic in me wants to give up and agree with Carlin, I think that doing that will just ensure that the teabaggers win in the end. The moment you give up your idealism is the moment the last vestige of your childhood disappears. If we ever really want change, we CANNOT lose that hope. We CANNOT start thinking that things will never get better. As the great poet said, "Do not go gentle into that good night/Rage, rage against the dying of the light". Or, to use a line from one of my favorite songs, "As long as one heart still holds on/Hope is never really gone". I intend to hold on to my idealism to the last. Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks. We press on.