Sunday, April 24, 2011

Tea Party of Doom

One thing I've come to believe about the Tea Party phenomenon that's currently in vogue is that while it may initially have been propelled on traditional small "c" conservative notions of limited government and fiscal discipline -- sort of a mutated strain of Randian Objectivism -- the "Tea Party" tag has since become more like an ideological catch-all -- the political equivalent of that filter you throw on top of your sink drain to catch the debris and schmutz so it doesn't screw up your garbage disposal. Just this past week, we saw a glaring example of how the movement encompasses idiotic so-racist-they-don't-even-realize-they're-racist racists, and how Donald Trump, marginalizing himself further from the mainstream with his every utterance, has built up a loyal Tea Party constituency with his Birther nonsense.

And as the recent congressional budget battle nearly stalling out over the less-than-1% of the budget allotted to Planned Parenthood (Abortion! Oh nos!) should make clear, the Religious Right's particular, peculiar brand of social conservatism has now found itself a seat at the Tea Party table right alongside fiscal conservatism, Birtherism, racism, and plain ol' batshit crazy-ism. Now, looking at this group -- banded together from far-flung ideologies and aligned (almost) solely by their singular hatred for President Obama -- they're sort of like the Legion of Doom from the old Super Friends show, where Lex Luthor, Brainiac, Riddler, et al, would team up to defeat their common foes, but whose differences of ego, agenda, and yep, sanity would inevitably lead to their latest scheme imploding.

The situation with the Tea Party is pretty much the same (even though they're wearing the wrong costumes). I just don't see how so many fundamentally different views of the world can hang together in anything resembling a cohesive fashion without falling in on themselves. The Tea Party's initial argument about excessive government spending, however wrongheaded it may be, is still by and large one the general public can go along with, but once you toss the Molotov cocktails of abortion and gay marriage and other social agenda stuff into that mix, folks start to peel off fast. Garrett FitzGerald at makes much the same point, breaking down how the renewed Religious Right's attempt to rebrand Biblical teachings as Randian dogma may prove the Tea Party movement's eventual undoing, Legion of Doom-style.


Ray Nowosielski said...

Excellent analysis, Zaki. I liked everything but "however wrongheaded it might be". :) When I first knew you in college, you seemed to have a strong libertarian bent. We all change, of course, but do you really not believe that government spending is currently excessive?

Otherwise, we certainly are on the same page. Many of the Tea Party people are not my, ahem, cup of tea.

Zaki said...

I can agree as a general principle that government spending is excessive. Where I label the Tea Party as wrong in their approach is the laserlike focus on slashing social safety net programs while keeping defense spending and tax cuts & subsidies for corporations and the extremely wealthy out of the conversation. That, in my view, is wrongheaded.

Ray Nowosielski said...

Absolutely. How can any principled person who wishes to cut spending see that 54% of the budget goes toward past & current military expenditure and then say, "Now guys, we're going to have to roll up our sleeves and make some hard decisions here. We have to lose NPR.."