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Tea Party Protests

April 15th, 2009 by Myrhaf · 4 Comments · Culture

In my last post I linked to Paul Krugman’s column in which he calls Republicans and the Tea Party protests “crazy.” Today more liberals look at the Tea Parties and see insanity. There’s nothing wrong with America that could possibly invite protest! These people must be crazy!

Marc Cooper writes, “Anti-Obama Taxpayer Tea Parties steeped in insanity.”

The Tea Party movement, more than anything else, is a rather garish display of a Republican right that seems to have lost not only the national elections but also any semblance of political bearings. Staying on this course, the GOP risks — in the words of one pundit — becoming “the Talk Radio Republican Party.”

I love it when leftists give Republicans advice. Somehow it always comes down to, “If you don’t conform to us, you will suffer.”

Daily Kos is all over the Tea Party protests in full mockery mode. (Pardon me as I do a little mocking back at them.) Devilstower is kind enough to write, “Dear Conservatives, We’re Sorry You’re So Crazy.”

In “My Trip to Crazy Town – Updated,” Jorogo writes about his meeting with actual Republicans:

I came prepared with questions, but dared not speak them, partly out of sympathy for what was already on the plate of this unfortunate man, but also a bit of concern for my own well being. Reason was as foreign as an “illegal” in this turbulent atmosphere, and I could see the concern in his eyes as he repeatedly advised the crowd that inciting hatred does no good.

Somehow this brave liberal survived the ordeal of being in the presence of disturbed right-wingers, and walked away without a scratch!

Maimonides is remarkably broad-minded about the protesters:

They’re Americans too, albeit selfish ones.

You say that, Maimonides, as if selfishness were a bad thing.

Over at Democratic Underground, Mari333 posts, “Fake Teabaggers Are Anti-Spend, Anti-Government: Real Populists Want to Stop Banks from Plundering America.” To paraphrase Stalin, Mari333, how many battalions do the banks have? Me, I’ve never had a banker put a gun to my head and demand I open a checking account. On the contrary, the only threat of force I live with is the state. But then, I’m a crazy, selfish right-winger.

Christy Hardin Smith sees, especially at Fox News, cynicism and selfishness:

That any of these people dare to compare themselves to the Founding Fathers of this country? Beyond disgusting. You’d have to be an utter rube to think the likes of any of these folks aren’t about one thing and one thing only: promoting themselves.

There could not possibly be anything about Obama’s massive expansion of state power that any rational person would honestly want to protest! These people are “beyond disgusting.”

There are some rational assessments of the Tea Party protests today. Jeff Scialabba of the Ayn Rand Institute writes,

The protests are right in spirit, but are lacking the clear and consistent principles necessary to sustain a real change in the culture.

The Ayn Rand Center’s comment on the Tea Parties reads,

Today, thousands of Americans are joining modern day tea parties, named after the Boston Tea Party of 1773. They are protesting a government that, in the wake of today’s financial crisis, is rapidly strangling their freedom, with endless bailouts, mounting regulations, reckless spending, and the promise of a crippling tax burden. Correctly sensing that the American system is being discarded, they seek to battle this trend by taking to the streets to register their outrage.

But today’s statist onslaught is the result of a deeply entrenched set of ideas about the proper purpose of government. Virtually everyone today believes that unrestricted capitalism is immoral and dangerous, and that the government’s role is to actively intervene in the economy in order to achieve the “public good.” So long as these ideas remain unchallenged, and no positive alternative is offered, no protest will be able to change the country’s course.

What’s needed today is not a tax revolt, but a revolt against today’s intellectual mainstream. On these pages, ARC experts provide a rational alternative to the ideas behind today’s march toward statism. They argue for a return to the Founding Fathers’ view of the proper role of government: that the purpose of government is not to exercise control over our lives for the “public good,” but to protect our rights to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness. They show that the only economic system consistent with the Founders’ ideal is laissez-faire capitalism–and that it wasn’t capitalism, but massive government intervention that led to today’s crisis. They show that only by embracing capitalism as a profoundly moral ideal can we truly resist Washington’s assault on freedom, and return the country to liberty and prosperity.

I cannot improve on that statement, but I’ll give my opinion of the Tea Party protests. Benjamin Franklin thought that a government that taxed people 10% of their income would be a tyranny. We’ve come a long way since the 18th century. Today if you count all taxes at all levels of government, we are paying, last I read, around half of our income in taxes. For every day an American works for himself, he works a day for the welfare state.

This is intolerable. It is unjust. It is an enormous waste of resources. No one profits from this but those in power or those who live on handouts from the state.

Today’s protesters sense that something is wrong. They see that America is rapidly losing its freedom. They are using their rights to free speech and assembly to make their voices heard against the encroaching state. You can call them misinformed, you can call them hypocrites for not protesting under Bush, and you can note where they are wrong, but you can’t call them crazy. There is something wrong in America today that they have seen and judged accordingly; this is not insanity.

Yes, we need a philosophical revolution to make lasting, fundamental cultural change. In the long run, the Tea Party movement might not amount to much, but the outrage its participants feel is real and it is justified.

UPDATE: This is good news from Jennifer Rubin:

But Republicans should not be rejoicing quite yet. Many protesters went out of their way to say they are upset with both parties and hold George W. Bush equally responsible for launching the now never-ending stream of bailouts. And the crowd, if anything, was libertarian in bent rather than conservative. These people are advocating less government, restraints on federal power, and a return to “constitutional government.” Social conservatives who seek expansion of state power on issues from abortion to support for faith-based programs may find themselves at odds with a newly invigorated movement to shrink government and enhance individual liberty.

4 Comments so far ↓

  • Hal

    I think it’s great to see American’s doing things like this.

    I’m seeing a lot of leftwingers all bent out of shape over the tea parties and don’t get why.

    Just stopped by one blog who said it was because “right wingers” have suddenly gotten the idea that their taxes are too high.

    I think he’s missing the point. It’s the spending and out of control government erasing freedoms that I think has all these Tea Party goers upset.

    It’s a statement that’s trying to be made by people.

  • madmax

    What strikes me about this is that at all those leftist sites that Myrhaf links to, the only real sentiment that is being expressed is altruism. That’s it. That’s all that leftism is, the consistent political implementation of altruism. (Conservatism is the belief that one can have altruism and somehow have a relatively free America as well.) All that these liberals have as an argument is “right-wingers are mean!” Therefore “right-wingers” are crazy.

    But why is altruism so damn dominant? Besides the fact that it has been institutionalized by Christianity, I think it is the subjectivism of modern philosophy. Because induction has been so vilified, if you believe in forming principles based on general observations, the secular left will equate you with religious fanatics because “only the religious believe in absolutes.” This is why the Left thinks we are insane when we mention Rand and objective morality and free market principles. Leftism is at root the rejection of absolutes.

    But tragically, the only culturally acknowledged defender of absolutes is religion and the Conservatives. However, their absolutes are nothing more than mystical dogma based on fantasies and story book mythological tales. And we get lumped in with them.

    The more I experience this culture, the more I see that it is essentially pointless to try to argue with leftists. They just don’t speak the same language we do. They might as well be speaking Chinese while we speak Greek.

  • Jeffery Small

    If you are interested in a follow up action that can extend the impact of the Tax Day Tea Parties, go to the web site and participate in the Atlas Shrugged Books-to-Politicians Campaign.


    Jeffery Small

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