I’ve always been a bit confused as to whether I ought to view the Tea Party as the over-hyped creation of a self-interested corporate media, as I’m inclined to do, or a serious threat to Democracy that requires forgiving Obama and the Democrats their many sins lest fascism come to America wrapped in a Gadsden flag and carrying Glenn Beck’s latest manifesto.
You’re probably just as confused as me if you’ve been reading liberal columnist E.J. Dionne, who like much of the left-leaning (for international readers: right-leaning) blogosphere can’t seem to decide whether to be mildly amused by the reactionary movement or to wet his pants. If you haven’t been exposed to Dionne’s thoughts on the matter, well, good for you. But if you’re interested, here’s a quick collection on what the Washington Post pundit — who, while probably not the worst offender out there, actually gets paid for this stuff so I’m going to go ahead and pick on him — has written about the totally fake but serious fascist threat that’s yesterday’s news but oh no they’re back and they’re carrying dynamite Tea Party:
“The Tea Party is nothing new. It represents a relatively small minority of Americans on the right end of politics, and it will not determine the outcome of the 2010 elections.
In fact, both major parties stand to lose if they accept the laughable notion that this media-created protest movement is the voice of true populism.”
“No matter how much liberals may poke fun at them, Tea Party partisans can claim victory in fundamentally altering the country’s dialogue.”
“From the beginning, too many Republicans (and too many in the media) saw the tea party as a broadly based movement whose extreme anti-government views reflected the popular will.
This was never true. The tea party consisted of citizens on the right end of politics who were always there but got angrier and better-organized after Obama was elected.”
“The tea party’s followers have endangered the nation’s credit rating and the GOP by pushing both House Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor away from their own best instincts.”
To recap: The Tea Party is a media creation with no popular support; the Tea Party has fundamentally changed political discussion in the U.S.; the Tea Party is over and done with and, again, has no popular support; and the Tea Party is back, has so much support it can dictate the actions of GOP leaders, and it’s threatening to blow up America.
Any questions before the quiz?
My two cents: Politicians would have pursued the same policies, “Tea Party” or not. But the existence of the faux-mass movement, hyped by its corporate media partners, allows Democrats and Republicans alike to justify their actions by pointing to a form of populism that, in truth, isn’t all that popular.