By Alan Bean
It is easy to write off Tea Party enthusiasts as a pack of doom sayers, but they are better characterized as doom deniers.
“Sometimes I believe in as many as six impossible things before breakfast,” says Alice. “That is an excellent practice,” the Mad Hatter agrees.
The Tea Party conversation follows a similar pattern.
Take this article from the New York Times, “Climate Change Doubt Is Tea Party Article of Faith”.
Confronted by bad news on all fronts, Tea Partiers reinforce the old verities. To the economically literate, the current recession is a natural consequence of lax regulation in the financial sector. Message: free markets are not self-regulating. The rules go out the window when the referee trots off the field.
Proponents of supply side fiscal orthodoxy respond to this analysis with cries of “heresy”. If enough of us say it ain’t so, it ain’t so!
Recent headlines suggest that America is flocking to the Tea Party banner. The effect can be overstated, but its real enough. Elections turn on relatively minor shifts in public opinion. If 5% of the “Yes we Can” crowd stays home and the Silent Majority people increases its participation by 5% you have the makings of a political revolution.
At the moment, as Stephen Colbert suggests, fear drives the machine. Americans are afraid that unfettered free markets might not guarantee eternal prosperity; we fear the environmentalists might be right about global warming. Decades of misadventure cast doubt on the ability of our vaunted military to control international politics. The rise of China and India signal the end of American economic hegemony. DNA exonerations and bizarre incarceration statistics suggest a broken criminal justice system. The soaring cost of health care and the swelling ranks of the uninsured signal the demise of the current insurance system. When more minority babies are born in America than white babies, white supremacy is on the ropes.
Everywhere you look the news is bad, especially if you are a white male.
Tea Partiers are like four year-olds who stick their fingers in their ears and scream “La-la-la-la” when confronted with unfavorable news. If you don’t like being reminded that native Americans, African Americans, Asian Americans, Latinos and women have paid a horrendous price for American glory, faux historian Alan Barton of Texas is always reassuring. In Barton’s America never is heard a discouraging word and the skies are not cloudy all day.
“La, la, la, la!”
Bill Maher asks who would win if Sarah Palin and Barack Obama were running for president and only white males could vote.
I think we all know the answer. Angry white males will control the show in Washington if minorities and white progressives are too discouraged to vote. But you can only sing “La, la, la, la” for so long. Incoherent rage is no solution to anything. Scaling back the size of government will mean massive deregulation and a reprise of the present economic disaster. Sooner or later, real questions demand real answers.
Thanks to the Tea Party movement (and an inept, stuttering response from sensible Americans) it appears we will be kicking the day-of-reckoning down the road a while longer.