Sunday, April 04, 2010

Tea and Tyranny


A couple of days ago, we had a bit of fun here at the Burning House with some of the goofier signs that have cropped up at "Tea Party" rallies here and there. Previously, a year ago, we had a good laugh about "teabagging." This was mostly me being a juvenile male, not so much about political philosophy.

Apart from this railery, I have refrained from bashing the Tea Partiers. These are, after all, my neighbors -- figuratively and even literally. Some of my actual neighbors here in Deming have staged protests outside of government buildings. Well, more power to 'em. Bless them for getting off their duffs and making a scene in order to communicate a point. It gives me a dash of hope to see a protest. After all, I've been in quite a few of them myself and I respect the exercise, if not always the particular message.

Having spent some time trying to pay attention to what they are saying, to discount the more idiotic scene-stealers, the loonies and the racists, and to find a consistent underlying thesis or a theme, it seems to me that the Tea Partiers who are sincerely interested in politics are concerned about tyranny. A broad area of concern for them is that political power is being removed from the citizenry and transferred to large powers that are not accountable to the people.

Are they wrong to be concerned about that? Oh, I think not: if anything, they're waking up a bit late.

(There is also a libertarian philosophy being expressed here, but I'm going to stick with the issue of political power and tyranny for this post.)

My criticism for them would be in their analysis; or, rather, their lack of independent analysis. This is why they have been so easily manipulated by media figures and the corporate lobby, and even the Republican Party. Too many of them trust Dick Armey is telling them the truth, without asking themselves who he works for, who is paying him. They are too easily led to believe easily debunkable lies about, for instance, the Affordable Care Act ("They're gonna kill your grandma!").

Becoming a political actor means you have to do some homework; the man who looks and talks like Walter Cronkite could still be lying to you, so you have to verify things independently. Otherwise you might find yourself parroting a lie -- and next thing you know, Rachel Maddow is making fun of you.

The Tea Party is also right to be skeptical of executive power, but who is it they are afraid of? They are getting all worked up into a lather about the Congress, about Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama. This is rather naive. These actors possess limited political power. There are things they can do, yes; yet there are things they can't even talk about.

I'd like to know what the Tea Partiers think about the I.M.F., the World Bank, and the World Trade Organization. Talk about lack of representation! Talk about political power without accountability! Political power has been transferred from the ballot box to remote board rooms, and these folks thought sending Scott Brown to the Senate was going to change that?

Instead of making fun of the Tea Party or portraying them all as ignorant honkeys, I'd like to see the left try to engage the more serious-minded citizens among them in some education about who's got power and how it is being used.

Because some of the Tea Party folks are right on one basic, important thing: the people are not in charge. The problem is, they're blaming the courtiers, not the real kings.

2 comments:

Kyle said...

The funny thing about the tea baggers is how strangly close their political leanings are to those wonderfully loved Torries during the American Revolution.

I can't spell worth a shit either, but if I'm gonna go that extra mile and make a political sign, I'd take the extra 2 minutes to spell things right. I haven't laughed that hard at signs in a long time.

Kelly said...

Very interesting observation, Algernon.

As for the poor spelling (which isn't an indication of ignorance imo), I certainly make my share of typos in comments, etc. When it really counts, though, I keep my dictionary close.