Πέμπτη, 16 Σεπτεμβρίου 2010

Labeling the Tea Party

Following the latest results of Republican primary elections for various state-wide offices in the United States, where many hitherto unknowns, supported by the "Tea Party", upset established candidates, favored by the Republican Party's machine, another analysis of the "Tea Party's" connection to the Republican Party emerged. I am putting "Tea Party" in inverted commas, because of the fallacy that is being reported (mostly by liberal media), that the Tea Party is a coherent organization with a steady structure, elected officers, etc.; and that is the singular most important misunderstanding about it.

There is no one "Tea Party", in the sense that a Democratic or a Republican party exist. There are many, very loosely connected, grass-roots movements in various States and localities. These movements center around the main idea that the government is spending too much money and running huge deficits unwisely, granting favors to undeserving parties (the word "party", again!). One can understand that they consider the federal government to be oversized and wish to cut it down. They are against government subsidies and entitlements and they retain an individualistic streak: they believe that, by and large, each individual should reap the benefits of their own decisions and be held responsible for their own failures. They are seeing the dangers inherent in governmental intervention, they have been witnessing pork spending for many years and are disillusioned even with Republican administrations, to the extent that they led to a horrendous increase of government spending.

Liberal newspapers and columnists dismiss the notion that there may be people with that line of thought who are not millionaires - how, they ask, is it that middle-class people (as most of those present at Tea Party rallies seem to be) are acting or voting against their own self-interest? They must be either loonies (a "fringe" as they like to point out) or bought out by big corporations, who are sponsoring them. That the Tea Partiers' self-interest leads them to different conclusions than the ones liberal pundits would consider proper seems unfathomable to them. From reading what liberals have been writing all these years I have come to believe that they are genuinely at a loss on how a grass-roots movement such as the Tea Party could have developed and that their conspiracy theories are not carved out as part of some malicious scheme to discredit the Tea Partiers, but reflect the liberals' surprise as to the very existence of the movement. They cannot seem to grasp that there are many people out there, who do not believe in the benevolence of the government - they can only think of the "Tea Party" as one large, organized entity, founded by the super-rich who have every interest to keep tax rates low, in order to avoid their "patriotic" duty to pay taxes. And, since in liberals' minds it is an entity, the "Tea Party" must bear the responsibility even   for allegedly hate-speech coming out of its local events; I guess they expect the central Tea Party organization to expel the members, who are out of line. But this is the issue: Tea Party events are spontaneous, at least initially, affairs, which have led to the formation of loose organizations at a local level. These organizations may assist several primary candidates, but I have yet to see an official "endorsement" announcement by a central Tea Party authority. And, while it is not at all certain that one would agree with everything promulgated at Tea Party conventions (or the too-frequent presence of Sarah Palin or Newt Gingrich in many of them), their very existence is a very healthy sign for American democracy.

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