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."

Monday, October 11, 2010

"The Beats" vs. the "Tea Partiers"

I thought I'd share this rather interesting take on the "Tea Partiers" from the New York Times Book Review .

All protest movements are the same at their base- they are often against some notion of "elitism" and they are often driven by some sense of marginalization. I didn't know much about the "Beats", so I found this article rather interesting.


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USwest said...

The more I think about the Team Party, the more interested I am in it. For starters, this dressing up like Mardi Gras characters, while apparently silly, is also so American. We love Halloween. Our political conventions are full of people wearing buttons and red-white-blue, funny hats, and the like. And since there is no leader of this group, everyone appropriates his own symbol for his own statement. Gee, I am thinking about recent events in Iran where the people were using revolutionary symbols and slogans but turning their traditional meanings around for their own purposes. What these Tea Partiers are doing is no different.

Also, this weekend, I was listening to a couple of news reporters talking and they were saying many Tea Partiers had complained about being characterized as "Angry". They claim that to say that makes them sound as if they aren't thoughtful about their political concerns or views. They claim they aren't angry, but anxious about the direction of the country. And they are giving thing a great deal of thought.

Not all of these people dress up in fancy costumes. And there has always been a libertarian streak in Americans. As RBR pointed out during the elections 2 years ago, the West in particular has a strong libertarian tendency. Ross Perot, Ron Paul did pretty well in the West. And there has been an increase in third parties in general. Many more people are declining to state party preferences when they register to vote, others are registering as Independent. The Tea Party movement is populism from the right.

And to a certain degree, I understand their frustration. Between the nanny state that seeks to "protect" us from everything from bullying (anti-bullying laws- spare me), to Terrorists (being forced into invasive screening procedures), and businesses that want to exploit us (using wireless internet in an airport requires that I pay AT&T $6 an hour) there is little margin for personal decision making (AKA: Freedom/liberty). We are treated at best like children and at worst like morons by both groups. Our schools have dumbed everyone down to make this possible. So when Tea Partiers talk about "big Government", I think this is the underside of that. Yes, they don't like huge national debts, none of us do. But there is also frustration and a desire to revolt. They carry their guns to protests not to shoot, but to show that they can exercise some liberty. And I am glad that the revolt has taken the form of non-violent, somewhat whimsical protest and a use of our government system to "correct the system". That is also an interesting cultural aspect of all this.

Raised By Republicans said...

US West,

You bring up Ross Perot and Ron Paul and it got me thinking about the internal contradictions in their views and appeal and how it relates to the Tea Party crowd.

Ross Perot was anti-debt which could be considered a libertarian position. But he was also strongly anti-free trade. That view could never be libertarian.

Ron Paul is anti-debt too. But he's also solidly in the Christian Conservative camp.

Both Perot and Paul are at least as populist as they are libertarian. And that's where the Tea Party comes in. They CLAIM to be all about low taxes and balanced budgets. But the candidates that really get them jazzed are people who share their own populist contradictions.

I think the unifying theme with all these candidates and the Tea Party is white, working class anxiety. There is a strong sense among a certain segment of the "White" population that "their America" is disappearing. And the thing is - they're right.

The days of a high school graduate being able to earn a "middle class" living as a factory worker are done. There are a lot of families in this country that have seen tangible declines in their living standards over the course of the last couple of generations. That's where the Tea Party comes from.

They use the rhetoric of libertarianism but what they want is for the government to use its power to reinstate their former privilege in the society.

In this sense I think they are radically different from the Beats. The Beats were chafing against the power of the state. The Tea Party people think the power of the state is being misdirected. Sure they CLAIM to dislike the state but if you scratch the surface you find a mountain of hypocrisy.

As for their non-violence. I hope it holds. But when I see crowds that include undeniably angry people (just look at the signs) and includes people who think its a good idea to take a firearm to a political rally, I get very nervous.

USwest said...

I think, RBR, you hit it directly. But even those of us who have more than a high school diploma and steady jobs are not as comfortable in the middle class as we'd like.

The movement is white, it's middle aged. It's angry and anxious. And it's really off the mark about where the problems really are. Many of our problems the federal government can't solve.

I do think that we have to bring some balance back to the system. We have some serious systemic problems in our government and in our society. And I am not sure how some of those can be solved.

Raised By Republicans said...

The solution to the problem in California is simple enough at least. Get rid of the 2/3 majority requirement to pass a budget. Simultaneous majorities in both houses and a governor with a veto should be a sufficient check against "tyranny of the majority."

As for the rest of the country, I think that the problem is that for a generation life was unbelievably cushy and easy. You could drop out of high school and have a realistic chance of owning a house, a car and a boat. That was an aberration but the people who benefitted from it are angry because they got the idea that they were entitled to it.

USwest said...

There's that aspect, the entitlement. But in addition, we accommodated or punished so many in the minority that we now have no traction.

In some instances, it is too easy to pass silly laws that limit the freedom of the majority. For instance, one kid commits suicide because "he was being bullied" and we start talking about "anti-bullying" laws. I guarantee you that something other than bullying contributed to that kid's death. And how can you enforce such a law?

Some guy takes his beer walks up the street, and gets drunk in the park; suddenly no one is allowed to have a beer in the park because of public drunkenness.

Some woman is caught on video smacking her kid in a parking lot, and now social services arrive claiming it was abuse. So now on one dares smack their kid.

In my office, two devout Muslims believe that they must wash their undercarriages with running water after relieving themselves. So they use the bathroom sinks, getting nasty water on the floor. It's a safety and health hazard. So rather than explain the proper hygiene practices in America and expecting some conformity in public places, we start talking about installing bidet's for their use.

Some asshole decides to blow up his shoes, I have to now take my shoes off at every airport.

I want to install a new floor in my kitchen, or covert my garage into a rec room, I have to get permits from the county and city.

Now this stuff ruffles me up. But for a Tea Partier, they feel the same away about having to apply for permits to buy guns. They see it the same way I see "anti-bullying laws" or paying for permits to build a retaining wall around my property. They get pissed off that their driver's test, or the instructions to the new TV are written in 10 languages.

These are small things, but taken in the collective, it's like being pecked to death by pigeons.

We have in this country political freedom (some would argue that we are loosing that with gerrymandering and the like), but we do not have social and individual freedom. It's all regulated. As a woman who is free and 21 (I left out white), I am entitled to some individual freedom, thanks.

USwest said...

You know what, RBR is right. These tea party people are not libertarians. They are nuts. I was wrong to think there might be a grain of something legitimate to them.

If RBR thinks the Democrats are institutionally constrained, what reason is there for uber-conservatives to be so stupid? It's one thing to shun intellectualism, but why common sense too?

Clarence Thomas' wife is harassing Anita Hill? Why?

O'Donnell is so literal that she thinks the implied separation between church and state in non-existent? They take strict constructionalism to new levels. Then she is quoted as saying "American scientific companies are cross-breeding humans and animals and coming up with mice with fully functioning human brains." We'd only be so lucky to have functioning mice with types like her running around. This is the same type of dumb that gave us 8 years of G.W. Bush.

The nut in Nevada tried to say that Harry Reid voted to fund Viagra for child molesters. Talk about twisted logic. In voting for Health Care reform, he had to vote for some portion of the law that funded Viagra period. I guess because the law didn't say "except for child molesters" then that means he's for child molesters.

They are nuts, nuts, nuts.

And they think they are being funny and clever. No, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert are funny and clever, and quick to say that they are about FAKE news and entertainment. They are about satire, something Congress seemed to forget when the allowed Stephen Colbert to testify last month and then were ticked when he did it in character. He is making the point that inviting him was a joke that they should be ashamed of.

The Tea Partiers are doing more than joking around and they don't have a bigger point. They want to legislate the satire. And the public that loves "the Biggest Looser" and "911 Nanny" are eating it up because they find these nuts entertaining.