First let’s get one thing straight. I am not a psychiatrist, and I don’t even play one on TV. As much as I try to figure out the inner workings of the tea bagger mind, I find it elusive and damnably incoherent all at once.
I have in the past concluded that they were mostly racists, mostly working class, mostly poorly educated middle class wannabes. Mostly I suspect I’m wrong. Except for the first part.
Jacob Weisberg has an excellent article over at Slate attempting to help us understand the not understandable. They are in fact middle class, they are very whites, and they do blame everybody who is “other” but other here includes, paradoxically the very very rich. And that’s where things get weird.
They are against the bankers on Wall Street, and resent having bailed them out. They are against liberal “elites” whom they see as giving away all their hard-earned monies to those who they don’t feel have “earned” it. They are not, by and large, hurting financially themselves. They just are very sure they don’t want to give a penny of what is theirs away. One sign I saw being carried by a follower said, “Your medical illness, Your problem.” Compassion is not high on their list.
This is why the GOP moderates, or the “regulars” are in such a tizzy right now. How to control a vocal group that is anti, in-a-real-sense, business too? No doubt most teabaggers are natural Republicans by nature, and surely the teabagger movement was orchestrated by the GOP and it’s funders to be a voting block for the GOP.
But things went awry. Koch, Armey, et. al., tapped into a real anger out there. Anger which is largely fueled by white men who see their reign of control coming to an end. Every study says that the balance will tip to “other” in the next generation in terms of raw numbers. These people see their “way of life” about to end in a real way.
And they are angry at everyone whom they see as an enemy of “things as they are,” namely white Christian America in control. So they spout lots of phrases about returning to what our “founding fathers” intended, “taking back our country” and “saving our freedoms.” When pressed to be specific, of course they cannot, since to articulate what they really mean would be to enter into the reality of racism, ethnicity, religious hatreds, and all those things they claim has no motivating force in their movement. Except for the signs at their rallies and the fact that the phrases themselves are mere code words.
When pressed, they have no programs, only complaints. No more taxes, none, and they want some long running programs cancelled, period. Bill Clinton pointed this out, inquiring as to what exactly their positions were, and what they proposed. We cannot expect much I suspect, by the very nature of the movement–there are literally dozens of “groups” all under the “Tea Party” banner.
What Weisberg tends to argue is that the movement at this point resembles a group which is both hostage to intense anxiety over their “place” being usurped in America, and their willingness to engage in anarchy to get their way. That is why they are as willing to throw “moderate” Republicans under the bus as any Democrat. ‘Their mantra seems to be that of a 2-year-old in the midst of a tantrum–“LISTEN TO ME!!!” If we don’t listen to them, we are the problem.
On issues such as immigration, irrationality will continue to rule them. They want them gone, simply because the numbers of Latinos will be a force they cannot control within a few years. So no matter that the immigrant population is now essential to our economy, they want them deported. They are rabid about it, not for security reasons, although that is what they will say, but because Latinos coupled with Muslims, and African-Americans and Asians, group to make them politically irrelevant in the near future.
Muslims are the new “black”. Muslims, because some few are fanatics, and thus can be safely attacked. The teabagger looks world-wide, and sees that Muslims are a growing number and so he/she wants to make America a Muslim-free zone. This then translates into the “no more Mosques, and no Mosque at ground zero” rhetoric, even though Muslims have been living peaceably in this country for decades, and there is no logic to opposition to an Islamic Center two blocks from the site of the World Trade Center tragedy. It is fear of “other” making white Christian America no longer in charge again.
Moderate Republicans are leaving the party in some cases. In others, they are willing to prostitute themselves and worship at the trough of the teabagger ideological desert. Others hunker down and will try to ride it out. Colin Powell, yesterday, claimed this position. (see the link re: Clinton on Meet the Press, above) Others, Palin, and Beck, are merely trying to make a buck.
To point out just how much the teabaggers have taken over the GOP, none of the top leadership of the GOP appeared at the Values Voter Summit this year, the exact opposite of last year. The leadership is the enemy this year, with many calling for the replacement of both Boehner and McConnell as GOP spokesmen.
Within that meeting of course, is another split, namely the actually tea party group, which is all about fiscal conservatism, and the old guard Moral majority whose true interest is social conservatism. On some issues they will agree, namely no funding of anything for the poor, but the true teapartier is not much interested in legislation regulating personal sexual habits. A break will eventually occur here no doubt between the two.
It all bears watching. While most amusing to watch how the GOP is squirming and struggling to control this “tempest” we all will have to contend with this voter anger in some guise.
Least, that’s the way I see things, today.
- First Thoughts: The middle strikes back (firstread.msnbc.msn.com)
- The Tea Party Rocks GOP Primaries (chicagonow.com)
- Tea Party Victories Mark Death of “Compassionate Conservatism” (themoderatevoice.com)
- Powell: Illegal immigrants do my home repairs (msnbc.msn.com)
- Pence: GOP candidates will survive ‘nitpicking’ by Democrats (thehill.com)
- Dick Armey Tells Those Trusting Teabaggers He Wants To Use Them To Push Legislation (crooksandliars.com)