Am I too mean to the Teabaggers? Is it inappropriate to call them by the name they abandoned once they discovered its alternate meaning? Is it wrong to be amused by their illiteracy, their inanity, and their general incoherence? Their wild exaggerations of Tea Party crowd sizes? Their general cluelessness? Should I avoid even quoting other people who say mean things?
Nah, fuck that noise.
Teabaggers will get ridiculed because they're ridiculous--respect will only come when they start being respectable, and that doesn't appear likely to happen any time soon. Andrew Sullivan's piece "Why I'm Passing on Tea" explains his distance from the partisan Tea-Partiers, writing that "part of the tea-party anger is pent up from the Bush years:"
Most of the rational tea-partiers accept that the GOP has been as bad - if not worse - than the Democrats on spending, borrowing and the size and scope of government in recent years. They repressed this anger during the Bush years out of partisan loyalty. Now, they're taking it all out on the newbie. [...]
Their partisanship and cultural hostility to Obama are far more intense, it seems to me, than their genuine proposals to reduce spending and taxation. And this is largely because they have no genuine proposals to reduce spending and taxation. They seem very protective of Medicare and Social Security - and their older age bracket underlines this. They also seem primed for maximal neo-imperial reach, backing the nation-building efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq, favoring war against Iran, etc. [...] ...they are truly not serious in policy terms... [a]nd that lack of seriousness is complemented by a near-fanatical cultural alienation from the modern world.
Sullivan is keeping his distance until the Teabaggers' fact-free frivolity has abated, or at least come into more regular contact with reality:
When they propose cuts in Medicare, means-testing Social Security, a raising of the retirement age and a cut in defense spending, I'll take them seriously and wish them well.
Until then, I'll treat them with the condescending contempt they have thus far deserved.
In their minds, however, the Teabaggers aren't clueless-they're today's heirs to the Revolutionary Era. Slate's Will Saletan provides an important history lesson in "Hegemoron: Sarah Palin's ignorant imperialism," writing that Palin has been "going around to Tea Party rallies, invoking the spirit of revolutionary Boston and castigating Obama for failing to exalt American power and punish our adversaries:"
She seems blissfully unaware that the imperial arrogance she's preaching isn't how the American founders behaved. It's how the British behaved, and why they lost. Palin represents everything the original Tea Party was against. [...]
...rather than apologize or reach out, Britain flaunted its dominance and power. It imposed military rule in Massachusetts and shut down the port of Boston, thinking that this would divide the colonies and starve the insurgents into submission. [...] There was no America, as a nation, until Britain foolishly behaved as Palin now wants America to behave. Her advice is a prescription for superpower suicide. If she understood the Boston Tea Party as more than a slogan, she'd know that.
Bill Moyers and Michael Winship write at AlterNet that "The Tea Party Crowd Needs to Wake Up to Who the Real Villains Are," also available at TruthOut, Consortium News, and BuzzFlash. As they write, "we can only wish those Tea Party activists who gathered in Washington and other cities this week weren't so single-minded about just who's responsible for all their troubles, real and imagined:"
They're up in arms, so to speak, against Big Government, especially the Obama administration.
If they thought this through, they'd be joining forces with other grassroots Americans who in the coming weeks will be demonstrating in Washington and other cities against High Finance, taking on Wall Street and the country's biggest banks.
Their conclusion that "as usual, Thomas Jefferson, whose birthday we celebrate this week, had it right. Back in 1816, he wrote, "I sincerely believe... that banking establishments are more dangerous than standing armies." may seem puzzling without context; here are some of Jefferson's other statements about standing armies:
"There are instruments so dangerous to the rights of the nation and which place them so totally at the mercy of their governors that those governors, whether legislative or executive, should be restrained from keeping such instruments on foot but in well-defined cases. Such an instrument is a standing army." --Thomas Jefferson to David Humphreys, 1789.
"Nor is it conceived needful or safe that a standing army should be kept up in time of peace for [defense against invasion]." --Thomas Jefferson: 1st Annual Message, 1801.
"Standing armies [are] inconsistent with [a people's] freedom and subversive of their quiet." --Thomas Jefferson: Reply to Lord North's Proposition, 1775. Papers 1:231
"The spirit of this country is totally adverse to a large military force." --Thomas Jefferson to Chandler Price, 1807.
"There shall be no standing army but in time of actual war." --Thomas Jefferson: Draft Virginia Constitution, 1776.
In this wariness, Jefferson obviously sided more with the Anti-Federalists than the Hamiltonians who won the day. The myriad examples of standing-army military misadventures since then--of which Bush's are only the latest examples--suggest that in this, as in so many other things, Jefferson was right.