This post is in response to: The Tea Party: Populism of the privileged published April 19, 2010 in the Washington Post by: E. J. Dione
OK, Is that the new attack line? "fellow liberals, so now that we have analyzed who participates and sympathizes with the Tea Party we can feel better because we can now neatly fit them into a shoebox of old clichés". I understand this. The movement has generated a lot of buzz and for a while liberals everywhere were confused. I mean what in heaven’s name could be driving these people that they would even elect a Republican to the sacred blue states of New Jersey and Massachusetts.
So, instead of actually listening to the reasoning and argument of the people in the movement, now begins the (mis)characterization of the people of the movement. This is typical of the liberal eggheads media elite and consistent with the tactics of Saul Alinsky. Don’t engage in the discussion, instead characterize and demonize the participants.
Mr. Dionne, you have done this in a particularly clever manner because you hide your contempt around the mantle of academic study. This makes your tactics more refined, but at the end of the day, you are guilty of the same old cry to “ignore the message” “shoot the messenger”.
Yesterday I wrote in a commentary on a similar topic that the core values of the Tea Party Movement are:
- 1) Limited Government
- 2) Freedom and Responsibility
- 3) Lower Taxes for everyone
- 4) Living within our means at every level
You said: “Their (New York Times/CBS) findings suggest that the Tea Party is essentially the reappearance of an old anti-government far right that has always been with us”. Please see core value number 1. Limited government is not “anti-government”. It is our belief that government power should be wielded only when it is absolutely necessary. Our founding fathers understood only too well that concentration of power, especially in government becomes a breeding ground for corruption and abuse. What we are protesting here is not a mindless drive to anarchy, but rather a tempering of the drive by politicians to aggregate power in the name of the people. History shows that the more power is concentrated in the hands of the few, tyranny soon follows. So like Paul Revere before us, we cry out with arguments that are intended to alert the citizenry to the current and potential abuse of government power. Paul Revere stated “The British are coming” our cry might be “The ‘Government’ is coming.
Now let’s look at point number two. You said that the statement “…do you think too much has been made of problems facing black people…” Your evidence that the tea party “race is part of picture” comes from the results of the poll that 52% of tea party sympathizers agree with that statement. Further, you extrapolate a privileged elitism because 73% of tea party members believe that “providing government benefits to poor people encourages them to remain poor.”
The answer to both of these comes from principle #2. Freedom and Responsibility should be cornerstones of American values. There are few who would deny support to those who are truly needy. The question is not, should the poor and historically disenfranchised be abandoned and offered no support. That is the wrong question. The question should be “What is the most effective way to support those who have suffered from misfortune and bigotry?” “What role, (how much), should government play in providing this support?” Is it possible that when (government) support is offered that there are unintended consequences and potential for dependencies that keep in place the very thing that we are trying to eliminate?
Next up taxes. It was very interesting the way the NYT/CBS poll phrased the question…. “Asked about raising taxes on households making more than $250,000 a year to provide health care for the uninsured, 54 percent of Americans favored doing so vs. only 17 percent of Tea Party backers.” The very phrasing of the question paints a picture that supporters of the tea party are only concerned about taxes on the wealthy. Well, if you actually read what the tea party stands for it is for lower taxes on EVERYONE. However, since many in America pay no income taxes, this point gets muffled and obscured. the truth is that every day Americans, even those who pay no federal income taxes are seeing an ever increasing amount of their money being vacuumed up in government fees, sales taxes, social security and real estate taxes. So while many liberals such as yourself tends to focus on income taxes and the tea party stand against them, the facts are that tea party members and sympathizers are wanting EVERYONE to retain as much of their own money as possible.
Which leads to the fourth principle, Living within our means at every level. This is so much common sense that it is often completely ignored by liberal blowhards such as yourself. Nothing can exist forever with more money flowing out than flowing in. However, it is not simply a matter of raising revenue (taxes) to balance the books, even thoughtful economists such as Alan Greenspan note that raising taxes alone will not being the books into balance. We must make choices that will lead to spending cuts. Some of these are difficult and personal. I personally have an expectation that even though I have paid into the Social Security system for nearly forty years, I fully expect to see my benefits throttled.
I offer these as a principled argument. I ask you to respond to the argument rather than hide behind a curtain of (mis)characterization.