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The Origins of Tea Party Radicalism

Posted on Feb 10, 2010

By E.J. Dionne Jr.

So what exactly is the tea party movement and why has it risen up?

The ferocity of its opposition to President Barack Obama is mystifying to political progressives. Most of the left simply doesn’t see the current occupant of the White House as especially liberal, let alone “socialist.”

Obama, after all, is the man who saved the banks and the capital markets. Now the bankers are secure and most of them are still rich.

His health care proposals stopped far short of the single-payer system that so many liberals have long sought, and his plan is the kind of thing moderate Republicans offered back when they were a significant force. Obama put absolutely no political muscle behind the progressives’ backup idea, a public option that could have served as a beachhead for a single-payer system.

The president is also decidedly moderate on budget questions. His stimulus plan was, if anything, too small. And Obama endorsed a bipartisan commission to reach a deal on deficit reduction, an idea that originated with centrist Democrats and moderately conservative Republicans—and that most liberals opposed.

Why has this middle-of-the-road leader inspired such enthusiastic counter-organizing, and called forth such venom?

The most popular theory on the left is that Obama’s race is a big part of the story, and that we are seeing a reaction among some whites against the multiracial, multicultural political coalition he has brought together. The phrase “losing our country” is often on the lips of his enemies, which raises the question of who they mean by the word our.

At last week’s Tea Party Convention, former Rep. Tom Tancredo, famed for his attacks on illegal immigration, gave backers of the racial explanation all the ammunition they needed.

In an astonishingly offensive speech, cheered by the tea party crowd, Tancredo declared that “people who could not even spell the word vote or say it in English put a committed socialist ideologue in the White House. His name is Barack Hussein Obama.”

Even worse, if that’s possible, Tancredo harkened back to the Jim Crow South that denied the right to vote to African-Americans on the basis of “literacy tests” that called for potential black registrants to answer questions that would have stumped Ph.D.s in political science.

The reason we elected “Barack Hussein Obama,” according to Tancredo, is “mostly because I think that we do not have a civics literacy test before people can vote in this country.”

Where is the party of Abraham Lincoln? The GOP’s leaders have been shockingly silent, but Meghan McCain, John McCain’s daughter, honorably stepped up to condemn Tancredo. On ABC’s “The View,” she said the call for literacy tests amounted to “innate racism.”

So, yes, parts of this movement do seem to be motivated by a new nativism, and by racism. But it would be a mistake to see the hostility to Obama only in terms of race. 

Something else is going on in the tea party movement, and it has deep roots in our history. Anti-statism, a profound mistrust of power in Washington, goes all the way back to the Anti-Federalists who opposed the Constitution itself because they saw it concentrating too much authority in the central government. At any given time, perhaps 20 percent to 25 percent of Americans can be counted on to denounce anything Washington does as a threat to “our traditional liberties.”

This suspicion of government is not amenable to “facts”—not because it is irrational, but because the facts are beside the point. For the anti-statists, opposing government power is a matter of principle.

If those who think this way are asked whether an economic collapse would have been better than passing a stimulus and bailing out the banks, the anti-statists typically say “yes,” even if they might also challenge the premise of the question.

The purest expression of this disposition has come from Rep. Ron Paul, the libertarian Republican from Texas. In 2008, Paul strenuously criticized President George W. Bush’s proposed bank bailout for “propping up a failed system so the agony lasts longer.” Without a bailout, Paul conceded, “It would be a bad year. But, this way, it’s going to be a bad decade.”

Understanding the principled anti-government radicalism that animates this movement explains why its partisans see the conservative Bush as a sellout and the cautiously liberal Obama as a socialist. For now, their fears of Obama are enough to tether the tea partiers to the GOP. In the long run, establishment Republicans are destined to disappoint them.

E.J. Dionne’s e-mail address is ejdionne(at)

© 2010, Washington Post Writers Group


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Night-Gaunt's avatar

By Night-Gaunt, February 11, 2010 at 5:23 pm Link to this comment

A major part of the problem is that the mind set of the majority has been set by those who support corporate conservatism where the elite moneyed run the country whether directly or indirectly. I think they are tired of it and want to rule directly like they use to before 1933. One thing many types of dictatorships have in common is that they are as straight forward as a carnivore’s digestive system and as brutal. When human conscience and morality aren’t a factor it can move with a deadly efficiency.

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By MarthaA, February 11, 2010 at 5:09 pm Link to this comment

The Tea Baggers is a Right-Wing Hitleresque Movement to take over the country’s government in relatively the same manner as Hitler took over the government of Germany by rallying the liberal populace to a fake liberal movement.

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By Hammond Eggs, February 11, 2010 at 4:57 pm Link to this comment

The ferocity of its opposition to President Barack Obama is mystifying to political progressives.

No, it’s not.  The Tea Baggers are the Sturm Abteilung of the Republican party.  Glenn Beck, Michelle Malkin, Tom Tancredo, etc.  The movement overall is fascist, even though, unsurprisingly, the apolitical downtrodden are among the Tea Baggers’ ranks.  The Republican Schutzstaffeln, Jeb Bush, Mitt Romney, etc., might have to start worrying about the Tea Baggers and devise their own Night of the Long Knives.

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no mans land's avatar

By no mans land, February 11, 2010 at 3:18 pm Link to this comment

I appreciate your thoughtful comments. Would that you were a true representation of your movement. (you should be aware though that conservatism has always been a pro-corporate agenda, and liberalism a pro-labor agenda. Corporations didn’t hijack conservatism, they just redefined liberalism to be a 4 letter word.)

As for the rest of the Tea Baggers…

Why shouldn’t they be angry? Because right after they rant and rave about all of those things, they turn around and demand “free markets” and “less regulation” as if we haven’t had 30 years of that; as if that hasn’t been the cause of so many of our problems. Who do they think manipulated the markets and caused all of this? It wasn’t the government. The government’s been so watered down over the last 30 years that at best they were paralyzed and at worst incompetent by design.

And when are they going to realize that the people they’re in bed certainly believe in lowering taxes, but not for them? We aren’t in the club and we never were…

They scream about big business and big banking and then crank out a platform that would give carte blanche power over our government and even legal system to those they just complained about. This has already happened in our history and it makes no sense tear it all down so we can relearn why the hell it was all there in first place. The Teabaggers, though some are surely well intended, are charging forth to put out a fire with a tank full of gasoline.

What the tea baggers don’t realize is that they aren’t the first one to call for smaller government. We’ve had 30 years of that and for the most part they’ve gotten their way. The military is half the size it used be. Regulatory agencies like the Dept of Labor, the SEC, and the FDA were all stacked with the same pro-business forces who have been gutting and defunding them for decades. Well, no kidding the government failed. No kidding the government is ineffective. So no one in the tea party movement should be at all surprised when govt fails. its by design. 

Go ahead and destroy the only tool you have to keep your drinking water clean, your food safe, and your courts fair. When the teabaggers look back on this day 20 yrs from now, they will have no to blame but themselves.

The Tea Party really should read up on the Populist Movement of the 19th century. They fought to expand democracy, while people like Tancredo and Palin fight to take it away. In the 19th Century, the populists understood that it was a government of the people, and was therefore the people’s ONLY tool to fight the very same problems that the tea baggers are ranting about today. The tea baggers, though, don’t see government as a tool to return power to the populace. They see government as the heart of the problem and ‘the Market’ as their savior in waiting. And in doing so, they will deliver us right into the hands of the very people who just took our homes, dissolved our jobs, and siezed our assets. Unfortunately, most of them learned their economics from the likes of Limbaugh and Beck. If the Tea Baggers don’t get educated on what they’re doing real quick, they will seal all of our fates when they turn on their hoses to spray the fire down with deregulatory gasoline.

What’s more, a true Populist movement is about the people. Its about empowering people. What we saw and heard from Tancredo along with the applause and Standing-O proves everything this article is about.  This so-called populist movement has turned against the people. It blames the people. It should be labled an Anti-Populist movement because it blames the people and seeks to give power back to big business. Becuase of that, it is a self-defeating movement that I’m sad to say represents nothing more to me than a tribe of Tancredo Bandwagon Bigots who think they can spew segregationist rhetoric and still claim not to be racist. I’ll have no part of it…

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By rolmike, February 11, 2010 at 3:12 pm Link to this comment

What could possibly be mystifying about a legion of boobtube watching unhappy ignorant campers that have their brains stuffed with “belief” venting their anger where it is directed by the money people who delighted in Palins nomination for veep! After all, this is in many ways a far darker age than the dark age ever was.

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By jonathonk99, February 11, 2010 at 3:01 pm Link to this comment

“The ferocity of its opposition to President Barack Obama is mystifying to
political progressives. Most of the left simply doesn’t see the current occupant
of the White House as especially liberal, let alone “socialist.”

Give us a break E.J. 

It’s not that hard to figure out for anyone with even a pea-sized brain?

What’s happening here is that conservative ideologues such as Tom Tancredo
are taking advantage of racial feelings of working class whites.  The obvious
truth is that people are pissed because Obama handed over a trillion dollars of
tax payers money to bakers and financiers who happen to be a bunch of old
white guys, but instead of facing up to that it’s much more convenient for
Tancredo and Palin to blame it on socialism which happens to point the finger
at poor people of color who incidentally have nothing once or ever to do with
campaign finance by the way. 

Same old political tactics they’ve been using since the dawn of democracy if
you ask me:  Just pit everyone against each other by exploiting racial tensions,
or else start an utterly unjust invasion against a defenseless nation under the
guise of freedom and human rights.  The central idea is to totally divert the
attention of the masses from what’s going on right beneath their eyes.

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By DBM, February 11, 2010 at 2:16 pm Link to this comment

Oh ... and No_Man’s_Land, February 11 at 2:23 pm # nailed it ... it is so hard to admit being wrong after decades of commitment to “conservatism”.  To be fair, that “conservatism” was cleverly hijacked by corporate managers and the conservative base seemed not to notice!

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By DBM, February 11, 2010 at 2:04 pm Link to this comment

Any attempt to find a single motivation for thousands of people will fall short.  It is inevitable that there are many motivations including everything mentioned in this article and the additional motivations mentioned in this thread.  Yes there are anti-government Tea Baggers who would be suspicious of anything coming out of Washington.  It cannot be denied that there are racist Tea Baggers and, in fact, the neo-Nazis and KKK have attempted to co-opt the movement as a more “acceptable” vehicle for their positions.  There are political operatives aligned with the GOP (like Fox News) who have supported the Tea Baggers largely, it seems, to be mischevious and cause the current Democratic government irritation.  No doubt there are many Tea Baggers who are simply enjoying the sense of collective moral indignation for reasons they do not even understand and could not articulate.

I think a key point which should be kept in mind is that the Tea Baggers have good reasons to be upset.  Economically their lives are being ripped apart.  They, and their children (many look like retirees), are losing their jobs, their home equity and their freedoms.  They see corporate managers awarding themselves huge dollops of the other people’s money that they manage ... and they see those same corporate managers using the money they manage to “own” Washington for their own purposes.  Why wouldn’t they be angry?

Now, that is not to say that the Tea Baggers are the best educated group in the world.  Many of them are quite able to call the government (usually personified by Obama) both “socialist” and “fascist”.  In both cases they seem to mean “totalitarian” which both the Nazis and the Soviets were.  They don’t seem to understand the real levers of power but I don’t think they are alone there ... there are an awful lot of Truthdiggers who can’t understand how the government can find so many popular causes “politically infeasible”.  That doesn’t change the fact that these people are hurting for the same reasons as the rest of the country.

So, deride the Tea Baggers their racism but don’t make the mistake of thinking that this is just “20 percent to 25 percent of Americans [who] can be counted on to denounce anything Washington does as a threat to ‘our traditional liberties’” either.  The underlying pain is real even if the activism is misguided and misdirected.

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By bonito, February 11, 2010 at 1:55 pm Link to this comment

There is no mystery as to what the Tea-baggers are,
or just where they came from.  These are the same
type of people that populated the KKK of old. Only
now they should be called the TEA KLUX KLAN.  Their
existence relies on their need to Bad-mouth someone
or a group of some whom for one reason or other, they
too believe these same persons will not respond in
kind, or, deem them as an insignificant threat to
themselves or those they support.  This could be a
blunder on the part of the middle class or those
working men and women that have not as yet gained the
status of middle class, as these TKK whether meaning
to or not could very well destroy both classes in
order to succeed at some dubious victory. If they
were truly concerned about working men and women, it
would follow that they would be in favor of
affordable Health Care for all, and also a living
wage so that citizens of this country would not have
to worry about loosing their homes and everything
they own because the rich brokers and bankers on Wall
St. continue to gamble away the economy of the U.S..
If it is true that the working men and women of this
country have not received a meaningful raise in over
30 years, just maybe it is time that a limit be
placed on how many millions can be given to jocks
like Tiger Woods and others, and still be deducted as
a business expense.

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By scotttpot, February 11, 2010 at 12:53 pm Link to this comment

The corporate media created a “movement’’ out of ignorance , fear, and hatred.
Giving print space and air-time to the mis-informed for the purpose of displaying
their Obama Derangement Syndrome.
Get your government hands off of my Medi-Care! etc.

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By gerard, February 11, 2010 at 12:09 pm Link to this comment

Either/Or—the simple-minded set-up of Western rationalism and many languages.  Choose one.  You can’t have both.  There’s nothing in between.  One is Good/the other is Bad.  Evil Empire. American Exceptionalism.  The greatest country on earth!  Socialism or death!  Vote Yes or No. 
  The problem is that life is not that simple—never was, never will be.  Education is the study of nuances—the subtle in-betweens of that illusive thing we call Reality. 
  Teabaggers—and most of the rest of us are hung up on Either/Or.  Our language, the way we think, has taught us this as a way of trying to simplify Life, which is tremendously complex.
  This simple-mindedness is very dangerous when violence enters the picture—the Eithers fighting the Ors—and nothing in between.  It needs to be called what it is—gross oversimplification.
  Truth and honesty quite probably lie somewhere in between. Radicalism goes off the rails because it is convinced it is right, good, correct, moral, just etc. etc. It is mainly interested in killing witches.
Smart people found this out in ancient Greece, but we still can’t seem to understand “moderation is all.”

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By rollzone, February 11, 2010 at 11:22 am Link to this comment

hello. it is important, to identify the causes of alarming opposition to the present administration, and decide whether it is personal; or the office itself: and make proper corrections in public images, or suffer the most humiliating party line defeats in history. historically unprecedented, make no mistake about this, do not let this fool you- i see it right in front of me on the teleprompter- let me make this clearer for you to understand… it is both of the above; the person, and the office. lower our taxes, make them easier, reduce our government, (make it leaner and more effective), and listen to the people of this nation. unfair taxation and misrepresentation. listen and represent, or continue being extinguished.

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By ontoyou, February 11, 2010 at 10:51 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

This article is just another attempt at mainstream press coverage to tell us all who believes what about whom so we can keep fighting one another.  That way, the powers that be can stay in power.

I would have expected better from TruthDig, but I’ve read Dionne’s other articles, and I don’t expect better from him. 

Yeah, its towing the party line conventional wisdom to talk about the left as “progressive” and associate the “teabaggers” with neocons.  The neocons would love it if we all believed the Tea Parties were just about re-electing another George W. Bush.  They’d love it even more, if it helped them do so.  But if the Tea Party members were, as Mr. Dionne argues, neocons…a lot of things would add up differently. 

Neocons wouldn’t oppose President Obama as much as the Tea Party members do.  They’d be happy about Obama’s corporatism, and his extension of the war in Afghanistan.  They’d be delighted he was talking war or sanctions vv. Iran, and even more excited about the military bases that are currently being planned for Yemen, and a number of other locations around the world.  Why, his Health Care “reform” package was made in a room with the heads of the insurance companies!  Its not as if he was proposing anything progressive at all - including a return to Glass-Steagall or a Hill Burton health care standard.

So why would the Tea Party people oppose President Obama?  Oh, I don’t know.  Maybe they oppose him because they AREN’T neocons after all!  Maybe some of them even voted for him, and then, they found out that he’s a statist liar - just like Bush.  He said he’d oppose the Patriot Act - he renewed and extended it.  He said he’d oppose NAFTA and GATT, no further discussion of that of course.  His health care measure is an austerity program in disguise - and if you don’t believe me, just ask yourself this simple question: “How can President Obama and the Congress sell us ‘quality Health Care for all Americans’ and simultaneously claim they’ll save billions?”  It just doesn’t compute.  He said troops out of Iraq - are the troops home yet?  We just got another promise during SOTU, let’s see if he follows through on it.  Infrastructure projects?  Oh, sure.  A few.  But the Banksters get 700 billion, and today’s Bloomberg says corporations are currently holding cash at 78.1% - translation?  Nobody is lending or investing!  The bailout-wall-st-to-help-main-st logic is a complete failure. 

Populists and progressives care about what’s good for the people - period.  They aren’t artificially defined by ideological groupings dreamed up by journalists who are trying to justify their jobs.  The people need jobs - not just jobs pushing paper and raking leaves, but jobs that create technological, spiritual - HUMAN - advancement.  They need educations that aren’t just crappy indoctrination into “meaninglessness”.  They need protection from fraud and lies and the theft of their assets - whether by government or by corporations.  And they need to be able to tell it like it is, without being silenced, arrested, or hijacked by moronic corporatists - be they the neocon or obamabot variety.

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By no mans land, February 11, 2010 at 10:23 am Link to this comment

I’m a pretty red region here. Many in my own family have bought into the tea party phenomenon. Sadly, a lot of the tea partiers I know were once rational, centrist human beings.

For example: my mother used to hire a gay, black babysitter to watch us when we were young. Today, words come out of her mouth I can scarcely believe.  After Obama was elected, she said something I’ve never quite been able to overcome: “The blacks better not ever complain again.”

She’s just not the woman I remember.

There is another factor that Dionne fails to mention. A good number of the people in the tea party movement were ardent supporters of President Bush. They rabidly believed in a free market ideology and in “American Exceptionalism.” For many of them, that ideology is something they had been investing every bit of their conscious thought and emotioin to for at least 20 years. For 20 years, at least, they’ve listened to the likes of Limbaugh and Fox push their buttons. For hours and hours, they’ve listened to rewriting of the American narrative and of the anti-American evils of liberalism.

In Bush, they were certain their day had arrived and that America would soon be returned to her former greatness and prestige.

But that’s not what happened. Instead, we have watched as American Exceptionalism turned into Imperial Hubris and American Supremacy. Their Messiah manipulated the country into two protracted and disastrous wars. We have seen their true god, the “invisible hand of the free market,” destroy our economy. For each and every thing they hoped to acieve 10 years ago when GW Bush took office, precisely the oppsisite happened. We are less respected or revered in the world. We are less powerful. We are less secure: economically and militarily. The market has not made us prosperous, but has collapsed around us; our wealth has fled our shores.

Like the war veteran who has to believe that all of his friends died and that all of his pain was “for something,” they cling to their denials. They have to. In some ways, you can say that they’ve bet the better part of 20 or 30 years of themselves that they were right. And when they lost big, they took the shirts of their backs to double down, without realizing that they were now sitting at the table naked.

The truth is much harder to accept, so they will not admit fault. They will not accept culpability. Instead, they cling to their identity ever-more tightly. “We weren’t conservative enough,” “We weren’t nasty enough,” and “We weren’t active enough.” So they throw their former messiah under the bus to prove they are, indeed, purely “conservative.” And when you’ve already beat the Imperial and American supremacy drums for along as they have and failed, the only place to go is to the far right fringe. American supremacy turns into racial and ethnic supremacy. The democratic rule of law becomes Socialism and communism, or “Tyranny.” History itself is continuously forgotten and rewritten to accomodate their preference—not just of the last decade, but even the last week. The very mention of human compassion provokes anger and disgust.

Every action they take will be to prove conservative purity—even if it means dressing in colonial drag. Because, if they don’t, if they move to left but a sliver, it is an implicit admission of lifelong failure and they would rather detroy the world around them than confront their biggest fear: the mirror.

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By MarthaA, February 11, 2010 at 10:22 am Link to this comment

Ron Paul is a REPUBLICAN. Ron Paul has done his job, he got a Right-Wing Republican psuedo-populace Tea Party started and that is all he was trying to do. Now, Palin can take over and the autocracy will reign through the assistance of the Roberts Right-Wing Supreme Court. The Tea Party part of the populace is too stupid to know that the REPUBLICANS are for autocracy, instead of democracy, so Paul and Palin act like they are concerned about the populace all the way to the bank. Palin got paid $100,000. by the Right for her last act where she made notes on her hand for her talking points, because she was so concerned about the populace that she couldn’t remember without writing it on her hand. Palin and Paul are the Right. The Right has never represented the Left, the populace, throughout history, therefore wake up folks, don’t believe the Right’s propaganda—no matter what shade. The Right is trying to play the Left like a fiddle. The Right, the REPUBLICANS, only represents corporations and big money, ONLY.

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By P. T., February 11, 2010 at 9:57 am Link to this comment

British historian Jeffry Kaplow, in discussing fascism and the far right, made this point:  “It is not blood or even culture alone that makes the petty bourgeois vicious, but the fact that he is caught, as his rhetoric so often declares, between the upper and nether millstones of capital and labor.  He must go in one direction or the other, but he cannot remain a stable anachronism in a society whose economic base has increasing less room for him.”

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By bozh, February 11, 2010 at 9:48 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

In principle, one shld not be against any gov’t, when in fact, gov’ts are mere managers. Safeway manager, or manager of plutocratic or corporate affairs [ceos] can be removed only by store owners.

In any case, of much need, we shld have skilled and schooled people to manage a store, country club, country, school, army, etc.

So teabaggers appear to be correct in wanting to end selection-election of nation’s managers by ogrish THEM.

It wld be fair then that all people not only elect but also select managers of the nation’s affairs! tnx

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By John K, February 11, 2010 at 7:28 am Link to this comment

The Tea Party is at its heart Libertarian. They are looking to reclaim the Republican Party - to root out the corporate whores, neocons and the theocrats.  Most don’t care about abortion and gay marriage - or if they do care, they realize we have bigger fish to fry. 

They want a smaller government, a real market system and they don’t want America in the Empire building business. At first the GOP mocked the movement but now, shitheels like Dick Army are stepping out in front of the parade and reshaping the message to help the GOP get back in the driver’s seat. Or course he is downplaying the “End the Empire” aspect in favor of the “End Taxes and End Big Government” line. 

The real tea party folks are smart, organized and not looking to be the corporate GOP’s tool. This is a leaderless movement with a lot of resonance with folks.  But since it isn’t a top down movement with top down control, the fringe folks can participate and as a result, they get the media coverage.

If America has any chance of digging its way out of this mess it will come from folks like this.  Certainly it won’t come from either corporate party.

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By MarthaA, February 11, 2010 at 6:11 am Link to this comment

The Right-Wing has risen up the Tea Party populace because the Democratic Party quit representing the populace and the populace had to have somewhere to go, so the Right-Wing provided the populace a Tea Party within the Republican Party, the one party of the two that definitely doesn’t represent the populace, and in doing so the populace hope to punish the Democratic Party, but there is no punishment—the only ones punished by Right-Wing one party rule is the populace.

The populace needs to run all the DLC New Democrats out of the Democratic Party and reclaim the Democratic Party for democracy, instead of continuing to allow the Democratic Party to be used to support autocracy.

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By James Taff, February 11, 2010 at 5:56 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Perhaps there’s merit to the historical distrust of government theory.  But we did not have such reactions from a grass roots right between 1932-1968.  In U.S. center-right politics (which actually means right-right…since there’s no such political animal as a “center”), the righward shift of the GOP has meant massive, unrelenting assaults on the very idea of government.  But it has also meant a perversely unprincipled “red-baiting”, in which Democrats and their tame and moderate establishment standard bearers such as Clinton, Gore, Kerry, and Obama are constantly attacked as socialists, the “far left”, radicals, moonbats, etc.  So this backlash against a touted “socialist” bogeyman is real enough - except for the fact that there is no actual socialist trend.

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By ardee, February 11, 2010 at 3:48 am Link to this comment

Much confusion abounds it would seem. I think that, despite the confused and confusing rhetoric of TimJanezic the TeaParty movement is a sign of frustration and a clear indication of how easily frustrated voters can be manipulated with lies and half truths.

The same people who make themselves absurd with tea bags hanging everywhere, and even more absurd applauding a demagogic Tancredo and railing against “socialism in govt.”, insist that their welfare checks and social security arrive on time.

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By John Kace, February 11, 2010 at 3:36 am Link to this comment

Tea Party Radicalism, catchy title. You know they have been infiltrated, a Katie Couric behind every pole. I think they are just a pre-emptive strike to split the non-conformist vote. Elections every year as Joe Friday said just the facts maam/sir. I/E your voting record please.

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By Del, February 11, 2010 at 1:03 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Tea parties are radical? Tea parties are cute and all, but do they have any impact?
- <a >del</a>

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Night-Gaunt's avatar

By Night-Gaunt, February 11, 2010 at 12:49 am Link to this comment

Ron Paul is being assaulted by the Tea Baggers who think he isn’t one of them. He had actually been the impetus to start them in the first place!

So far Obama has shown he can out do the radical Republicans at every turn but one. Ended the gag order concerning birth control for medical treatment abroad. All else hasn’t change d for the better but has gotten worse or not changed. Mild he is not.

Socialism for the corporations and their mega-rich owners is fascism. Add a virulent form of Christianity and you have a revolution on your hands. It has been ongoing since 1980 when they went to work to trash our Republic in order to make it fall then rebuild it as a theocratic-corporate state.

[They failed in 1934, weren’t punished, collaborated with the Axis, bide their time till now to make their move. This time to leave very little to chance.]

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By yours truly, February 11, 2010 at 12:48 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The teabaggers are doing what progressives should be doing, namely, appealing to a legitimately angry populace. Doing this how?  With a program that challenges the status quo (for example, troops out now, full employment, criminal trials for the banksters) instead of pretending to do so by fiddling at its margins.  Some “progressives” hold back for fear of hurting President Obama’s or the Democratic chances in the 2010 & 2012 elections, which explains the quotation marks, since being a progressive isn’t about supporting a person or political party, but about turning things around, such that, there’s peace on earth and goodwill to all living beings, something that begins with a call to all those who can’t take it no more (progressive, conservative, teabagger, whatever) to rise up and become the change that they seek; where everyone’s a leader, there are no left-outs nor have-nots, and with political parties and so-called great leaders recognized as the joke they are (er, were).

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By P. T., February 11, 2010 at 12:35 am Link to this comment

E. J. Dionne says, “For the anti-statists, opposing government power is a matter of principle.”

If he were correct, however, the anti-statists would favor due process rights for those held at Guantanamo and would favor cutting the Pentagon’s huge budget.  The evidence is not there.

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By adp3d, February 11, 2010 at 12:28 am Link to this comment
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Now then, everyone knows that Ms. McCain in RINO…

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By TimJanezic, February 11, 2010 at 12:18 am Link to this comment

The origins of the Tea Party were Libertarian.  You claim Obama is not a socialist, but did he “save” the banks with his own money?  Both major parties are socialists… all they ever do is make the government bigger and spend taxpayer money.  After all, the only money they have is taxpayer money, so basically everything they do can be called “socialist.”  If it isn’t the war machine, it’s some other new bureaucracy.  This “socialist” talk among other pieces of rhetoric are just part of the usual sideshow that puts people into primitive left/right tribes that bicker over catch words & phrases and various other worthless pieces of imagery that effect nothing in the real world. 

The real Tea Party movement began during the tenure of George W. Bush, and as far as I know he’s white, so playing of the race card by the establishment left & right is clever, but wrong and only appeals to the moronic retinues that make up your flocks.

Yes, we know the GOP is trying to hijack the Tea Party movement, so at least you mentioned that nuance.  And yes there are ideologues against government, but the same can be said of those on the left… unmoved by facts as climategate and glaciergate reveal their environmental movement was hijacked by the establishment. 

I hope lefties don’t start attacking the real Tea Party and playing into the rhetoric that it’s racist, or that “radicals” will commit violent acts.  C’mon, you’d rather have the right be libertarian than the GOP, wouldn’t you?  Or are you going to take political cover behind the rhetoric so as to pretend the GOP and drones like Palin are synonymous with Libertarians, because you know GOP types like Palin will be easier to defeat in elections?

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By Miko, February 11, 2010 at 12:02 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Ron Paul is not the purist expression of anti-statism.  To see this, consider the fact that he’s a statist.  For one extreme example, he has no problem passing bills restricting abortion rights—something no one even remotely anti-statist would consider, no matter what their personal views on the morality of abortion happen to be.  And then there’s border walls, pork for his district, crazy immigration rules, etc.

Anti-statism is a significant component of anarchism, and anarchism leads invariably to leftist goals.  To the extent that the Tea Protesters are anti-statist (it varies from participant to participant, but overall they probably aren’t as anti-statist as we’d like them to be), we should applaud them and hope that their new-found anti-statism after the last 9 years of the Bush/Obama disaster will eventually lead them to explore the broader themes of anarchism as well.

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