Two Cheers for Tea! (Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Tea Party)
The Huffington Post is all in a dither. What’s up with all these crazy wackos running around the country, waving tea bags and causing a ruckus. And what’s worse? These disassembled mobs of reactionary soccer moms (and the men that love them) are having an effect! Gasp!
The legacy media doesn’t know what to make of these tea parties. There is no central office in Manhattan so that David Shuster can call and get the head honcho of the tea baggers on the phone. In fact, there’s no centralization at all. It’s a leaderless protest movement. It’s not Ross Perot redux. And that’s why this movement will last for a long time.
It must be infuriating for the political and media establishment of this country. These aren’t the kind of protests they’re used to–like minded folks that smell of patchouli and look like Tommy Chong. The tea partiers are not protesting free trade or the Iraq War or corporate malfeasance or any of the other respectable causes. These freaks are protesting big government. What? Yeah, and they’re talking about the Founding Fathers without saying “racist” or (in the immortal words of the teacher from Dazed and Confused) “slave-owning, aristocratic, white males didn’t want to pay their taxes.”
And that’s what the politicians and the legacy media don’t get. The tea partiers are not like them. They don’t watch the same movies, listen to the same music, and hang out with the same people. They barely speak the same language.
I must admit that I’ve always been kind of irked about the Tea Party movement. I don’t really relate to the people who wear tea bags dangling from their hats. I don’t really watch Glenn Beck and I prefer classic rock to talk radio. And the populist nature of the Tea Party crowd has kind of bugged me too. But unlike the typical populist movement, these folks are demanding that government get smaller and get less involved in their lives. And they all seem to have read the Founding Fathers.
Last year, I was still not sure what to make of these so-called “tea baggers.” But once I saw Susan Roesgen from CNN interviewing some guy named Norm at one of these events in Chicago last year, I made up my mind. If you recall, Ms. Roesgen attacked this fellow with government talking points about all the FREE GOVERNMENT MONEY that Illinois was getting from the Stimulus bill. Norm quoted Abraham Lincoln. When was the last time you heard a guy–picked randomly from the crowd–at a protest quoting Lincoln? After watching the condescension that guys like Anderson Cooper leveled at these folks, I knew that they couldn’t be all bad.
So while I don’t support everything the Tea Party says or does, I think it’s safe to say that I’m on their side, especially against the mainstream media and the non-stop tea bagging jokes that emanate from it.