Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Tea Time Revisited

For eighteen months, liberal commentators, press organs and academics have been struggling to do two things.   The first is to explain the Tea Party phenomenon without undermining the fundamental assumptions that inform the liberal worldview.

The second is related.   Unable to explain the Tea Party movement without calling into question their underlying liberal political philosophy, yet recognizing it as an existential threat, liberals have sought to marginalize and vilify it.

Hence, the ever changing explanations and disparagings.   First they dismissed it as trivial and tried to ignore it.   As the movement grew, it was just "astroturf," not a real grassroots movement.   Then they called Tea Partiers "uncivil."   The same people who considered the antics of Code Pink a virtue during the Bush years suddenly found it uncivil to ask your Congressman if he had read a bill before voting on it.

Then Tea Partiers were described as hateful, violent, even dangerous.   A “small-scale mimicry of Kristallnacht,” it was said of the people who subsequently rallied peacefully on the National Mall at the end of August and picked up after themselves, leaving behind not a scrap of litter for the astonished Park Service staff to remove.

The mainstream press repeated stories of physical assaults against people and property, allegedly by Tea Partiers, and none of which were ever proven.   Like the obviously staged "brick in the window" at Monroe Democratic Headquarters last spring.

Then Scott Brown won the Senate race in Massachusetts, of all places.   Panic time on the left.   This thing had traction.   That was about the time liberals resorted to their last redoubt when they're out of arguments on any subject:   the Tea Party is racist.

It's also extremist.   You've seen the ugly face of extremism:   there are people who actually believe the income they earn belongs to them, not the government?   Extremism!   Being impertinent enough to ask "Where are the jobs?" that the trillions in government spending were supposed to create? Extremism!

Then it became a secret plot bankrolled by right-wing billionaires. Then it was all because Americans are stupid.   Spoiled.   Ungrateful.   Acting on fear, not reason or facts or science.   And on and on, ever changing as the inconvenient reality just won't support each successive theory.

Trying to explain the Tea Party movement without disturbing bedrock liberal assumptions is hard work.   Some would say impossible.   Like trying to engineer a space shuttle mission while insisting on the fundamental assumption that the earth is flat.

It can't be done.   There's a reality whose existence is impervious to opinion and assumption.   Its the reality that the public has turned against the Democrats.   Because, despite the Democrats' spending and their claims, the economy hasn't improved, and because the public believes their policies are too liberal and overreaching.   Especially Obamacare.   That's what created the Tea Party movement.

The Left can't accept it, so their explanations of the phenomenon keep shifting over time, since they never fit, and thus the quest continues for any explanation other than the real one.

The Left won't accept that we live in an esentially center-right country.   We do.   When you govern against the grain, the public turns on you.

Mustard Street recognized the import of the Tea Party movement way back when.   We told you that something big was happening when conservatives take to the streets, pack into Town Hall meetings, rally, and carry protest signs.   That had always been the doing of the Left.   Never a part of the conservative playbook.   If the right was doing it now, this was something very new, that could have a major impact.

We had a foretaste of that impact last November in New Jersey and Virginia.   Then early this year, in Massachusetts.   Today we will measure its impact again.

As we all await the results of today's vote, we round out our analysis of the Tea Party phenomenon by reprising below excerpts from several of our original pieces on the subject.

From The Real Tea Party -- published April 18, 2010
Tea party activists ... it turns out, are more educated than the average American, more reflective of mainstream anxieties than any populist movement in memory, and more closely aligned philosophically with the wider electorate than any big-city newsroom in America.
Like we told you.

Read the whole thing.

From Lincoln Was Wrong -- published April 15, 2010

All elements of the Liberal Archipelago, from the media to the universities to the political class, have talked themselves into believing the Tea Party movement is just a few fringe complainers.   Just something "astroturfed" by Sarah Palin or the Republican Party.   They repeat it over and over, maybe hoping if they do, that will make it so.

They're clueless.   As the oldest resident of Mustard Street, let me tell you.   The last time I remember the Liberal-Media Complex so far out of touch with what's going on in the country was during the year before Reagan was elected in 1980.   They never saw it coming, and never believed it could happen.

Then it happened.

Tea Time -- published April 16, 2009

The extraordinary feature of yesterday's Tea Party protests across the country is not the impressive number of participants, but that they happened at all.

Political rallies and street protests traditionally have been the province of the Left.   People in the ordinary mainstream of life and conservatively-minded people are too polite, too reticent, too time-strapped.   Lacking, for the most part, the ideological fervor to overcome inhibitions like self-consciousness, or concern over what the Boss might think.

A conservative friend of humorist P.J. O'Rourke asked "why don't our people do this," as they passed by a streetcorner group of left-wing protesters.

"Our people have jobs," P.J. explained.

That Americans were willing to turn out yesterday in the numbers they did, to protest taxes and government spending, demonstrates a broad and deep feeling across the country.

Whether it will be productively channeled, resulting in policy reform, we will learn in the years ahead.   That it might be is clearly troubling the Left.  They understand, better than anyone, that street organizing and protests are very much outside of the culture of the conservative and the moderate.

The Left understands the import of what it saw yesterday.   Look at the more extreme of the local and national Left-oriented websites and how they tried yesterday, in anticipation, to dismiss and belittle the tea parties.   These efforts carry a whiff of "whistling past the graveyard."   If they really thought the tea parties were meaningless, they'd ignore them rather than give them more publicity by denouncing them in advance, as they have.

The nervousness of the Left is showing.

Tea, anyone?

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