Monday, October 25, 2010

Why Tea Partiers piss me off

I've been struggling to explain -- to myself as much as to anyone else -- why the Tea Party, whatever it is, pisses me off so much. I think I've found somebody who has put his finger on the nub: Mark Warren at Esquire, in his 22 Oct 2010 blog entry, "The Questions We Have Refused to Ask of the Tea Party".

Warren looks at Sharron Angle, the Tea Party candidate running against incumbent Nevada senator Harry Reid.
Sharron Angle has advocated "Second Amendment solutions" should the elections not go to the tea partiers' liking, adding darkly, "If we don't win at the ballot box, what will be the next step?" Sharron Angle has said that Social Security and other government programs have replaced God and so are in violation of the First Commandment. As a consequence, she has said that she wants to do away with Social Security. Sharron Angle has said that there ought not be a separation between church and state, and that furthermore, there is no Constitutional basis for one. Sharron Angle has said that the Department of Education is "unconstitutional." Sharron Angle believes that insurance companies shouldn't be required by law to pay for anything. Sharron Angle thinks that autism is a big-government conspiracy. Sharron Angle harbors the delusion that several American metropolitan areas are governed by Sharia Law. Sharron Angle doesn't believe that it is the role of a United States Senator to aggressively advocate for his or her state.
If this is the kind of person the Tea Partiers nominate, what are the Tea Partiers themselves like? Warren has met enough of them to notice some commonalities:
They are outraged — outraged — at the growth and reach of the federal government and the explosion of the debt and deficit. And they are equally outraged — beyond outraged! — at the prospect of the services they demand and rely on being cut by Washington. (And that is but the central contradiction. Oh, but there are many, many more.) And of course, they operate in a fever dream in which the Constitution has been raped and all their freedoms are gone. Starting from the second that Barack Obama was sworn in. They cannot point to a single right or privilege or Constitutional provision that has been so attacked, but to say that is to be a stickler in today's journalism.
To sum up:
When you have no idea of your own history (are proudly ignorant of it, in fact), and have warped ideas compelled by your warped resentments, then you either are Sharron Angle or you are drawn to figures like Sharron Angle.
As Warren notes, "It's impossible to win an argument with an ignorant man." And yet here we are, having to argue at the ballot box with these manifestly and defiantly ignorant people.

What the hell is the matter with the rest of us that we have allowed them to hijack the national conversation?

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