Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Tea Parties, Part Two

Where is all this rage coming from? Where was this anger when it came to wiretapping American citizens without warrants? Where was it in response to torture? It wasn't there.

No, the rage has some sociological (and, likely, psychological) causes. When you look at these people, what you see is that the vast majority are white men in late middle age. In other words, they were born in the 1950s when white men were very privileged. They probably missed Vietnam, and didn't tune into politics until Reagan started selling the fantasy of restoring America to the fictive golden age before the 1960s - an age golden only for white males and not for women or minorities, the bulk of the population. Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama embody the loss of privilege.

Psychologically, they also embody the emasculation that age has wrought on them. The late middle-aged man and the middle-age crisis is all about adolescent fantasies that went unfulfilled. A party of women, minorities, and gays only makes them feel weaker and angrier. (This is why they love Sarah Palin - she represents what they wish they could have had, a spunky, pretty, but subordinate woman who shares their anger and looks up at McCain with those dreamy eyes. A true helpmate.)

Listen to what they are saying and how they are saying it. They are projecting onto Obama their fear and rage that something is being taken from them. They don't know what it is, of course, because it's a projection. They make it up as they go along, using catchphrases of hate ("you're going to make us like Russia") from a cold war childhood. That rage is not about health care or anything else. It's about blaming the government for their own loss of power in their lives (something that would more plausibly be directed at the banks and companies that have, in fact, rendered them so impotent in their daily lives).

Is it any wonder that the popular image is the tea party? Tea is regarded as effeminate in American culture, a "tea party" is more so. But in this sense, the tea party is about a band of young men dressing up as figures of independence and violence with outsider status (the Indian in popular culture) and committing raucous petty vandalism: a masculine and adolescent play on the feminine "tea party."


Raised By Republicans said...

Chris Mathews interviewed a guy yesterday who was hanging around outside an Obama town-hall meeting in New Hampshire with a pistol on his hip and carrying a sign that said, "It's time to refresh the tree of liberty" That's an obvious allusion to the quotation by Thomas Jefferson that "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants."

It sure sounds like a threat of violence to me. Especially given that the guy carrying the sign was also carrying a gun. Can you imagine what would have happened to this guy if he had shown up to a Bush-Cheney rally with a gun and such a sign? He wouldn't be giving interviews on MSNBC I can tell you.

The Law Talking Guy said...

Why didn't the secret service arrest him immediately for this rather open threat to the life of the president?

Raised By Republicans said...

Apparently, he was spotted by both press and the Secret Service and approached by the latter. He argued that carrying a non-concealed handgun is legal in New Hampshire. The Secret Service pointed out that under federal law he could not carry a gun of any kind concealed or otherwise within 1000 feet of a school (within which zone this event was).

But I think the scarier point here is that the far right as a movement has elements that are quite comfortable threatening political violence in public. And that these elements are tolerated among the more mainstream Republican activists.

uswest said...

I don't think I get the last paragraph of your psychological analysis.

Tea parties were revolts against the King. They were anti-government.

That is what they people think they are doing when they hold these "tea parties", being anti-government. It has little to do, I think with an adolescent play on the "feminine" tea party. That seems far fetched to me.

Raised By Republicans said...

I agree US West. This is about a nationalist self-image as a hero.

The Law Talking Guy said...

Tea parties in 1773 were not revolts against the monarchism or government in general: they were a tax protest that, even at the time, turned off many advocates of greater colonial liberty as juvenile or a vestige of "mob rule." There is still this adolescent "dressing up" thing about it today.

Of course, we're all entitled to see the world in our own way, and I don't blame you for seeing this differently.

USwest said...

I will agree to the mob rule part. And the tax protests were a form an anti-government protest.

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