Monday, December 21, 2009

Why the Tea Party Movement Sucks, Expanded version

Last week I talked about the chance of the Tea Party movement sabotaging itself like the 60s radicals did back in the good old days, when the protestors were young, liberal, and fuckable. That might be true—it's hard to imagine that nominating Sarah Palin, for example, would be a step in the right direction for right-wingers—but I don't think I explained the reasons I find the Tea Partiers so personally distasteful, so I'm revisiting the topic.

Now, I'm not one of those liberals that gets irrationally angry at the mere mention of conservative policies, or brands any critique of Obama as “racist.” Libertarianism appeals to me for many of the same reasons Anarchism does, and we certainly need criticism from both ends of the political spectrum to keep everyone busy and to test our convictions and arguments. To push for fiscal responsibility, to ask whether this country should continue borrowing money to finance a war and expand the social safety net—those aren't nutty propositions.

But the Teabaggers (as the left-wing blogs have dubbed them) are nutty, just like any mass organized protest group is nutty. If they weren't on the fringe of political opinion, they wouldn't feel need to protest to make their opinions heard. Some of them dress in crazy outfits, wave openly apocalyptic banners, and make vague threats of violence, like, “Sure, you can take my gun—take the bullets first.” (That's from the comment boards on Redstate.)

The 60s protestors were nutty too. But they were utopian nuts. They wanted to build a perfect society, founded on their principles of peace, democracy, and fucking each other pretty much all the time. They had hope for the future, and even though their ideas were a little off-kilter—taking a bunch of drugs, plotting terrorist bombings—their ideals were intact.

Teabaggers don't aspire towards utopia. Instead, their rhetoric is focused on denying dystopia, which is an altogether more depressing proposition. They believe that we are in a slow spiral towards a Stalinist state in which the individual will have no rights, and they care less about building something than they do making sure the “Socialist” society never gets built.

As a cause, this fucking sucks. Their passion is not progress, not the advancement of man or peace, but a sort of conspiracy-theory-driven anti-tax movement. “Don't take my money!” is their rallying cry—what's more empty and materialistic than that? Are they saying that a small change in the marginal tax rate denies them their rights? Or that earning a thousand dollars more a year would make them happy? Will defeating a bill to grant a subsidy to uninsured people make the world a better place? In a perfect universe where Tea Partiers could have all the tea they wanted, what would they do?

Maybe they would abolish the federal government, or the entire government, in which case I would say, “Go get 'em, guys!” But that sounds a lot like Anarchism, and I have the feeling that the Teabaggers want to keep the police and the military relatively intact. Their ideal world would probably be a bit like Galt's Gulch in Atlas Shrugged, where the free market has magically done away with poverty, only with Christian morality somehow mixed in there. That does not sound like a fun place to spend time.

It may sound a little trivial to criticize a protest movement for not being “fun” enough, but when you look back on the real accomplishments of the late 60s, you have to admit the best thing to come out of those radical, weird days was the music, the clothes, and the art—the fun stuff. I doubt the Teabaggers will achieve the political goals on their agenda (which is basically just stopping Obama's agenda), and unlike those 60s radicals, they won't have made much of a mark in the cultural fields either. Or at least I hope they don't. After all, this is the kind of painting they like, and this is the kind of protest song they like. “Fortunate Son” it ain't:

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