The Hijacked Tea Party
Earl Clarendon, of The New Pamphleteers was all set to attend a Tea Party event yesterday, but eventually changed his mind, citing the way the Tea Parties have been “hijacked” by B-list conservative celebrities.
The Tea Party movement didn’t need this, the sad parade of B-list conservative celebrities all too eager to attach their name to the cause. The movement did start organically, even if it was soon co-opted by a political machine that politicizes and makes partisan even the most important of issues. Once that issue becomes just another “conservative” thing, all hope of real victory is lost. It is just something else that conservatives will be mocked for, because that is what we do to our political opponents these days. I imagine there’ll be a lot of mocking of our opponents at the Washington Tea Party today, because both sides are equally guilty of the practice.
And yet, the organizers of the D.C. Tea Party invited these pundits to assume leadership, or at least prominence, in the movement. By doing so, I can’t help but feel like they’ve killed something very important. I don’t know why they felt it was so important to have partisans play such a large role in today’s events. Maybe they simply thought it was a good idea. If so, they were wrong.
Eric has more.. much more. Read the whole thing.
I sympathize with Eric’s point of view, but I think that what he’s missing is that the whole conservative/libertarian movement has been pretty much taken over what Steven Taylor calls “Talk Radio made manifest”.
That is to say: bluster, drama and criticism without much actual substance all aimed at an audience predisposed to agree. Sure, there are kernels of ideas and policies, but ultimately very little in terms of actual policy prescriptions. There certainly isn’t an actual argument being proffered.
I’d go even further than Taylor–he sees this as limited to the Tea Parties. I see it as being related to the conservative movement as a whole. This video, entitled “How Conservatives View the IRS” kind of sums up the state of things right now (minus the Ron Paul bits):
Personally, I have to say that I’m pretty concerned about the effects of the Obama Administration on liberty, too. But not because of the TARP program or his willingness to let the Bush tax cuts expire. No, I’m talking about more serious concerns like the fact that Gitmo isn’t closing–it’s just getting a new name and a paint job. But the degradation of America’s proud tradition of humane treatment of prisoners and dedication to due process appears to be continuing unabated. As Thoreau says
Bagram is the new Guantanamo, and we cannot rest easy as the prison at Guantanamo closes. If anything, Bagram will be worse, because it is even farther from the US, in a place even more dangerous and more difficult for journalists and lawyers to reach. In this, at least, Obama is smarter than Bush: If you want to have a gulag, you have to put it in a remote and dangerous locale (like the Soviets did in Siberia), not on a tropical island in a region where planes can fly without being fired upon.
Funny, I don’t recall any large masses of conservatives protesting this–which is an actual threat to liberty. As far as I can tell, though, the conservative movement appears to be fixated on the dual horrors of gay marriage and slightly higher taxes, with the occasional swipe at Mexican immigrants thrown in for grins.
Once upon a time, I’m told, the conservative/libertarian coalition actually believed in liberty and smaller government. Nowadays, though, it appears that the conservative/libertarian coalition believes largely in boogeymen conspiracy theories and lower taxes for the richest 1% with no concern for small businesses or true entrepreneurs. Which I suppose is a blessing for Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh–conspiracy theories are their bread and butter, and lower marginal tax rates means more money for them. But it doesn’t do much for most Americans now, does it?