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On The Tea Party Idea

One of Andrew Sullivan's readers does not hide their feelings regarding the Tea Party movement:
[Those in the Tea Party] are thoroughgoing frauds - a bunch of right-wing victim-mongers whining about something they have no actual ideas about confronting. They are not something new. They are the decaying stench of the Republican corpse. If they get into power somehow, it will be Weekend At Bernie's for conservatism.
Ouch. Burrrrn.

But, slow down there Chachi. I agree, but only to a certain point. I think that there are definitely folks out there who know about that which they are talking/writing.

For example, longtime blogger, libertarian, friend-of-this-blog and general man about town Doug Mataconis is a smart feller. He knows his stuff and can criticize the government and it's minions in any way shape or form (whether it is led by Democrats or Republicans), and back up his criticism with these things called facts. Although I hesitate mentioning him in a post that primarily focuses on the Tea Party...

But, my point is that you cannot lump independent folks like Doug in with other, err, voices in the Tea Party movement. Not every libertarian-minded person is out there calling Obama and Pelosi 'socialists' while wearing a three-cornered hat and waving the Gadsden Flag. Sullivan's reader is painting with far too broad of strokes.

However! I will concede that there is definitely some stupidity to go around. Lots of misinformation (and straight-up lies) to justify a certain point-of-view is not unheard of with the Tea Party crowd (or any political movement for that matter). Sullivan himself points to a particularly painful on-line chat in the Washington Post with Tea Party Nation founder Judson Phillips:
Maryland: ... I am a hard-working middle class American and I don't agree with anything you are saying, and I have a right not agree with you. But you splitting the citizenry into classes of "elites/political class/Washington insiders/liberals" vs "real Americans" is just plain wrong! and that's the problem with your movement.

Liberals are just as American as you are and you and your movement has no right to question people's patriotism or Americanness just because they disagree with you.

Judson Phillips: Yes we do. You folks in the left do far worse. Patriotism is not something that cannot be measured. It can be. And you folks on the left, as a general rule are not patriotic. You do not love this country. You are embarrassed by us.

I hate to tell you this, but those of us in fly over country are the real Americans.
Ugh. Really? The 'us versus them' mentality? 'Real Americans'? Where have I heard that before?

[note: Phillips also asserts that moderates are not worthy of the Tea Parties: "I'm not trying attract moderates. Moderates are just those who have no core beliefs. I have a lot more respect for liberals than I do moderates. I'll disagree with liberals but they have core beliefs." Ugh.]

While I do sympathize which many views of the Tea Party movement (lower taxes, less government intrusion, et al), this is the type of thinking that makes me want to run as fast as I can from the Tea Partiers. The adoption of the 'if you are a liberal/progressive/Democrat, then you hate America' meme is something that I was hoping to avoid with the emergence of a (seemingly) viable third party.

Lastly, where was all of the Tea Party's anger when President George W. Bush was running up our national debt? I know that President Obama is the focus of 99% of their energy, but it was on Bush 43's watch that we got TARP, warrantless wiretapping, the Patriot Act, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Hardly examples of fiscal conservatism and small government at their finest.

I'm just sayin'.