The Crazy Corner of the Tea Party

I understand the feeling of the Tea Party that government isn’t responsive to the public, and that government is too big. I even understand, although strongly disagree with, the Tea Party view that government just transfers money from hard working Americans to lazy ones. But as this NY Times article makes clear, there are parts of the Tea Party movement that share the paranoid, New World Order fears which have populated certain right-wing movements for decades. When reading the quotes from some of these people, I find it difficult to conclude anything other than that they are unhinged from reality.

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4 responses to “The Crazy Corner of the Tea Party

  1. There is a significant portion of the population on the left and the right that live in a self-justifying world of conspiracy theories and insular bigotry. Nativism is one such manifestation of this. It rears its very ugly head sometimes to the disadvantage of one political party, sometimes to the other. It always has at its core a “blame others” approach to problems.

    For most tea party people I’ve run into, the concerns are genuine and this forum is an outlet and a starting point to express real concerns. For the fringe elements, its a place to expose themselves as beyond the pale.

    Fears of a ‘New World Order” expressed by the fringe are, of course, totally different than fears of political corruption, usurpation or tyranny expressed by sober thinking people in the very wide middle ground who are genuinely concerned about real problems.

    Despite my own disapproval (disappointment) of our current administration’s policies and mistakes, I simply will not treat with birthers, nativists and people trying to tell me that Obama is the anti-christ. A polite “no thanks” is the best I can muster. Similar types of conspiracy talk was heard for eight years as the Bush administration held sway and that talk was equally worthless.

    Eventually, these nutters will put up a 3rd party candidate (Buchanan, Perot, Nader) who will tap their anger in an unproductive way, but they will demonstrate that they are not a part of any solution. Perhaps these 3rd party bid by candidates tapping into this unhelpful anger at least gives these fringe groups a sort of release valve.

  2. A thoughtful comment Z, as usual. Here is an interesting post from Balkinization about the possibility/probability of a 3rd party candidate (Palin) representing the Tea Party: http://balkin.blogspot.com/2010/02/four-parties-in-2012.html

  3. Interesting blog, but I find a Palin 3rd party bid unlikely at this point. First, Sarah Palin has built her career as a Republican party pol. She is probably smart enough to know that she has a lifelong place in the very big tent that she rather detests, but apostasy will reduce her standing with voters greatly. As an activist for an element, and a photogenic TV personality on a network that appeals to Republican party types (if not exclusively) she would be putting her very nice job and podium in jeopardy.

    Secondly, Gov. Palin might like to use these people to win primary contests (a number of politicians would like to do this, of course). The Christian right was such a blunt force instrument back in the day.

    It should be remembered that a lot of tea party people are Independents and Democrats who have found themselves out of jobs, out of homes, with virtually no prospects of recovering what they have lost. Their anger at banks and investment firms is often quite justified and so too their anger at incompetent oversight. These people are angry and a lot of them want to see changes, but I’m not sure they are a cohesive enough or desirous of being led off of a cliff. Candidates would do well to court these people with real proposals and results that make some sense, and not only Republican candidates.

    The fringe elements, on the other hand, are already over the cliff’s edge. These guys might put up a candidate but they will probably not get a lot of votes (less than 2%). They would likely ruin elections for Republicans in some districts, and have a few surprise (and embarrassing) wins ala Jessie “the ridiculous” Ventura.

    Well, 2012 is much too far away. A lot could change and I hope what changes is that the two parties get some decent work done despite each other. That could rightfully take the wind out of a nutter movement’s sails.

  4. Right on, Zeus. Good analysis.

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