The Tea Party? Oh, It is to Laugh!

Tea Party Protester

But Rush Told Us That Tea Bags Magically Keep Away Liberals

Once upon a time, I associated tea parties with little girls and teddy bears sitting on little chairs around a tiny table. That cute little image has been permanently ruined by a bunch of raging morons marching around with tea bags hanging off their hats. Tea Parties are now associated with bullies tossing dollar bills at a sick man. What’s worse is that now tea parties are associated with screaming racism.

Things became absolutely surreal when the left wing press started calling the Tea Party, populist. When I first saw this on an Alternet article, I could not believe what I was reading. The Tea Party is no more populist than Goldman Sachs or the Democratic Party. The Tea Party is an AstroTurf  movement organized by the same Wall Street crooks who tanked the economy. The Tea Party is nothing but a smoke screen. Sean Hannity and our darling Sarah Palin are using time honored advertising techniques to whip the right wing true believers into a lynch mob. The stupid, the bigoted, the ignorant, and the arrogant are frightened. The economy has tanked, their retirements are in jeopardy, their mortgages are foreclosing. Their health care is inadequate. Credit card limits are dropping. Rather than organizing against the Wall Street criminals who caused it, they are organizing against their fellow victims. The poor, the minorities, the educated, and the progressive are all targets of Tea Bagger rage instead of the real cause of their problems.

Populism and populists movements have never been middle class. They have never had the support of Wall Street talking heads. Throughout American history they have been poor people’s movements. When the middle class gets involved it is for reasons of personal ethics, as illustrated by the Abolitionist and Civil Rights movements. The earliest recorded American populists were the Regulators. In the days before the Rapture was created, a large group of religious non-conformists got together to use government as a means of establishing the Millennium. Poor farmers, freed slaves, and wealthy plantation owners joined together to establish just laws that included abolition, progressive taxation, land ownership for tenant farmers, and free elections.

While the Regulators were finally wiped out in the Whiskey Rebellion, Populism lived on through the Abolition movement. Abolition was a movement that never died and still exists today. Despite attempts by the libertarians and John Birchers to rehabilitate the South, slavery was one of the main reasons the South tried to leave the Union. Abolitionists simply did not give a fiddler’s damn about state rights. Slavery was an abomination and the Abolitionists were out to end it. Like their Regulator grandfathers, the Abolitionists were using the power of the Federal Government to end a monstrous injustice.

Jump forward a few decades and look at the beginnings of the labor movement in the United States. I cannot think of a better example of a Populist Movement. The beginnings of the labor movement can be found in the churches. Free Methodists, Western Baptists, Congregationalists, and even Catholics were amongst the leaders of the early American unions. While there was a socialist labor movement going on in Europe, it had very little to do with the American movement until the beginning of the twentieth century. While the American press was yelling “anarchism” during the 19th Century, the unions were anything but. They were organized by their churches and they were not calling for the end of the American government. Rather they were demanding their voices in the American government. They were demanding that the government oversee safety standards, collective bargaining, and that the rich be taxed the same as the poor.

Here is another reason that the Tea party is not populist. Populist movements were never anti-tax. They knew that government did not happen by magic. All the populist movements from The Regulators to the Civil Rights movements of the 1960s knew full well that it was going to take tax money to make their dreams come true. The difference is that the populists were demanding that the rich be taxed the same as the poor. The income tax was a populist movement. The entire idea behind the income tax is that the corporations pay as well as the poor. “I’m a taxpayer and I have my rights” would mean the same to the poor as well as the rich.

Populism are movements that demand that special privileges become universal privileges. Nothing demonstrates this more than the Civil Rights Movement. Abolition neither died nor went to sleep after the civil war. Citizens of African descent continued to live in conditions little better than slavery. Jim Crow simply rubbed salt into the wounds. Separate can never be equal. Dr. King demanded that the vast resources of the US government be used to correct this injustice. Part of the correction that Dr. King demanded was that more tax money be placed into education and affirmative action.

That’s right, libertarians. Dr. King was behind affirmative action. I know this is not true in your fairy tale world of George Washington meets John Galt, but in the real world, Dr. King demanded affirmative action. The reaction of the bigots was to run around screaming “states rights” while turning the fire hoses on peaceful protesters. I mean really, what relevance do states rights have in the 21st Century? It was an idea that made sense in the 18th Century when it took weeks to travel from Philadelphia to New York by land. By the 19th Century such inventions as the telegraph and the railroads made states rights irrelevant. The civil war showed the practical limits of states rights.

The entire purpose of the Constitution was to establish a national tax base, place the armed forces under one command, and to establish a uniform code of law. Under the Constitution, the DEA has every right to come into California and close dispensaries. We may not agree with what they are doing, and I feel it is just wrong. However, it is constitutional and we are not going to accomplish anything by ignoring that unfortunate fact.

During the Whiskey Rebellion, George Washington sent tax collectors and marshals into Pennsylvania to enforce federal law over states rights. The president was made into the commander and chief of the armed forces. Under the Constitution, the state militias were called out to put down the Whiskey Rebellion. The militias of Pennsylvania were called up and those who did not support the Federal Government, were declared outlaw.

So there is nothing populist in the Tea Party movement. First of all, populist movements don’t really care about the Constitution. Quite often, like the income tax and women suffrage, populist movements demand changes in the Constitution. Populist movement are not anti-taxation but demand a fair tax burden and a fair distribution of tax money. But most telling of all, populist movements are all about justice and equality. The Tea Party exists to protect white middle class privilege.

It is fear of change more than anything else that inspires the Tea Party and other libertarian organizations. They live in a fantasy world where the western expansion is still happening and free market capitalism still works. Once again, Wall Street has proven the sham of the free market. Rather than accept this, the Tea Party has dived into a never ending pool of denial, and they have Fox News and Libertarian Radio to egg them on. If the Tea Party was reacting to reality, they would be preparing to dip Rush and Sean into a vat of tar and cover them with feathers.

Nothing exemplifies the American oppression of minorities more than the Tea Party. They cannot see beyond the color of the president’s skin. They ignore the fact that each of them pay more in taxes than Rush Limbaugh, and focus on the fact that minorities demand equality. Like the bigots in Alabama and like Barry Goldwater, they concentrate on non-existent states’ rights and ignore the basic racism of their arguments. They cry over being denied the special privileges enjoyed by Wall Street insiders. Rather than get angry with White Privilege Wall Street, they get angry at a non-existent “Gangsta Government”, demand a return to a Constitution that only exists in their imaginations, and they get ready to kill liberals.

The Tea Party Populist? It is to laugh.

Sarah Palin

Sieg Heil

11 Comments on “The Tea Party? Oh, It is to Laugh!”

  1. […] post: The Tea Party? Oh, It is to Laugh! « Grumblings From A Grumpy Old Man Laugh along with and the new fun feature « Letters HomeReflections: Have the […]

  2. Montana says:

    The simpleton Birthers along with the Tea baggers are the same whiners that were crying when the McCain/Bailin ticket lost. Now that their yelling and screaming failed to stop the health care debate and the bill from passing they are crying again. Let’s face it the Republicans had eight years to deal with health care, immigration, climate change and financial oversight and governance and they failed. The Republicans are good at starting wars (two in eight years, with fat contracts to friends of Cheney/Bush) but not at winning wars as seen by the continuing line of body bags that keep coming home. Instead of participating in the health care debate of ideas the Republicans party turned inward to their old fashion obstructionist party (and their Confederacy roots). In my opinion the Republican Waterloo loss was caused by the party allowing a small portions (but very loud) of the republican party of “birthers, baggers and blowhards” to take over their party. I will admit that this fringe is very good at playing “Follow the Leader” by listening to their dullard leaders, Beck, Hedgecock, Hannity, O’Reilly, Rush, Savage, Sarah Bailin, Orly Taitz, Victoria Jackson, Michele Bachmann and the rest of the Blowhards and acting as ill programmed robots (they have already acted against doctors that perform abortions). The Birthers and the Tea party crowd think they can scare, intimidate and force others to go along with them by comments like “This time we came unarmed”, let me tell you something not all ex-military join the fringe militia crazies who don’t pay taxes and run around with face paint in the parks playing commando, the majority are mature and understand that the world is more complicated and grey than the black and white that these simpleton make it out to be and that my friend is the point. The world is complicated and people like Hamilton, Lincoln, and Roosevelt believed that we should use government a little to increase social mobility, now it’s about dancing around the claim of government is the problem. The sainted Reagan passed the biggest tax increase in American history and as a result federal employment increased, but facts are lost when mired in mysticism and superstition. Although some Republicans are trying to distant themselves from this fringe most of them, having no game plan/ vision for our country, are just going along and fanning the flames. For a party that gave us Abraham Lincoln, it is tragic that the ranks are filled with too many empty suits. But they now claim they have changed, come on, what sucker is going to believe that? All I can say to you is remember Waterloo.

    • billdunlap says:

      Are the Democrats any better? Personally, I am utterly disgusted about the way the Democrats have allowed John Birch Reactionaries to take over their party. I am utterly disgusted at the way Democrats have embraced both wars and have confused the cold blooded murder of civilians with helping the population. I am utterly contemptuous of every Democrat who supported Obama’s sham health care bill that does nothing except guarantee larger profits for the corporations and penalizes most of the population who will not be able to afford health care even after the bill goes into effect. Then there were the bail-outs.

      The problem is that the Republican Party is in the 18th Century and the Democrats are in the 19th. Alexander Hamilton was a god damned crook who used his office to rob and steal from the American artisans and farmers. He set the scene for other crooks such as Paulson and Geithner. Abraham Lincoln was an incompetent who became president because, like Reagan, he was a willing party puppet. Roosevelt enacted the New Deal because it was the only way to avoid a Socialist Revolution.

      It’s the 21st Century, Montana, not the 18th. Social mobility is a dead issue. The living issues are human rights. Housing, health care, food, and clothing are not “social mobility” issues. They are human rights issues. Along with true representative democracy, they make up the hallmark of the modern state. The Democratic Party is as reactionary as any African Dictator, and as long as American children go without shelter, and American parents go without employment, and Americans are denied basic human rights, this country is nothing but a dictatorship. The Democrats are just as much a part of the dictatorship as the Republicans.

      This is why I refuse to vote for a Democrat as much as I refuse to vote for a Republican. I only vote for third party candidates. From where I sit, Democrats are as toxic as Republicans, and I don’t care which ones take the country.

  3. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Joe Revolution. Joe Revolution said: The Tea Party? Oh, It is to Laugh! « Grumblings From A Grumpy Old Man: The reaction of the bigots was to run aroun… […]

  4. colson says:

    Still grumpy fortunately. A very informative entry and a treat to read.

    Btw: Though obviously American populism is not middle class, it is/was different in Europe. Nazism was a populist movement by your definition. I guess. The movement’s backbone were millions of angry, narrow-minded, racist, disappointed, frustrated lower middle class people in Germany.

    • billdunlap says:

      You are very much mistaken, Colson. The Tea Baggers are a fascist movement and not populist. The difference is that Populist movements are inclusive and fascist movements are exclusive. During the Revolutionary Period, the Regulators included slaves and Native Americans. The Federalists were all rich white guys. Dr. King’s movement grew in scope from African Americans to all poor people. My Jewish grandfather marched right behind Dr. King in the NYC poor people’s march.

      Populist movements are progressive. Fascist movements are reactionary. The Regulators and the Civil Rights movements envisioned a future where everybody was equal under the law and everybody had the same rights under the law. Fascism tries to make the clock move backwards to a time that only existed in folktales. Hitler tried to return Germany to the brave days of Charlemagne. The Tea Baggers are trying to return America to Libertarian Wonderland where George Washington met John Galt.

      See the difference?

  5. James Quinn says:

    “You are very much mistaken, Colson. The Tea Baggers are a fascist movement and not populist. The difference is that Populist movements are inclusive and fascist movements are exclusive.”

    Hmm, I suppose that the early Christians would be an example of a populist movement? This was part of the reason for the immense power of Christianity, at least in the beginning. Anyone regardless of nationality or social stature could be a Christian, and reap the rewards of an afterlife.

    The Romans quite rightly believed that Christianity was very dangerous to the Roman state, since it appealed mostly to the slaves of Rome. The Romans were terrified of the prospect of a slave revolt, such as the one that Spartacus began.

    Eventually, Christianity was one of the contributing factors of the collapse of the (corrupt) Roman Empire.

    When I think of ‘populism’, I think of the film “Mr. Smith goes to Washington.” I thought this was an interesting comment on the populism of Frank Capra films, specifically “Mr. Smith goes to Washington.”

    “For example, “Mr. Smith” not only is a touching comedy showcase of the values upon which the U.S. is based, with James Stewart’s career-making turn as a young patriot, the movie is most rewarding when it freely illustrates flaws in the system. Throughout the years, a hallmark of American populism has been a willingness to show the weaknesses as well as the positives of a democratic state.

    Other characteristics associated with populism include embracing rural and small town life, mythic-like leaders who have risen from the people, an adherence to traditional values and customs, a faithfulness to honest labor, a general optimism concerning humanity’s potential for good, the importance of family, and underlining the importance of the individual. Put more succinctly, populism defines people as inherently good.”

    I agree with Bill that the difference between the Democrats and the Republicans is like the difference between Coke or Pepsi.

    Obama may be a vast improvement over George W. Bush, but all of his advisors are the same people. Henry Kissinger, Gates, etc. The change is primarily cosmetic. You can paint a blue house with a new coat of red paint, but it’s still the same old house.

    The Tea Party really does seem like nothing more than a group of bigots who can’t handle having a black man as President.

    I know this organization (loose term) got their name from the Boston Tea Party, when revolutionaries dressed up like Indians to toss British tea into the harbor. This was to protest the ‘stamp act’, where American colonists had to pay a tax to England for things produced in their own colony. The modern day Tea party were presumably another ‘tax revolt’ party.

    The Tea Party folks, don’t like the idea of a ‘single payer’ health care system, since they think their income tax will increase as a result.

    However, there is a big difference between having to pay taxes to support the wars of a country overseas on goods that are produced locally, and having to pay income tax to finance roads, schools, hospitals, sewers, etc. that will be placed in and directly benefit your own local communities.

    I think that the ‘Tea party’ folks would be more comparable to the ‘Firebrand’ people, which started the American Civil war simply because they protested the election of Abraham Lincoln.

  6. billdunlap says:

    James, I find it fascinating to see how Canadians view us. It must scare the crap out of you guys that we are south of your borders. You know what? I don’t blame you a bit. The United States is a monster. It is a huge shambling corpse made up of thousands of different religious sects, nationalities, customs, races, philosophies, and a leavening of individuals. The spark that gave it life was an armed revolution that enabled a handful of the wealthiest to take charge. The Constitution is a kludge that contradicts itself in every clause. The two party political system was a perfect image of the British Parliament of 1790. From the beginning, the US was a thief, a slavemonger, and a rapist. At first it was only US citizens which were stolen from. Hamilton and the Whiskey Tax is one example of the Founding Fathers ripping off the citizens. Then came the Native Americans. If the Iroquois had any brains, they would have attacked right after the revolution rather than waiting for England to join them. George Washington was the first European to deliberately break treaties with the Native Americans, and he would have gone to jail for it had it not been for the American Revolution. The African Slave Trade would have died had it not been for the Founders. England outlawed slavery in 1774 and the ban was going to apply to the colonies. Washington, Jefferson, Adams, and others would not have been able to maintain their lifestyles if they had to pay for labor. America has grown into a monster that takes what it wants without regard to the rights or needs of others. If I was Canadian I would be very much afraid of us.

    Populism was the spark of hope that somehow, someday, things would get better for everybody. Unfortunately populism was a Christian religious movement. Christian movements do not seek to organize. They do not seek new ideas. They do not envision progress, or even true equality. In the case of the Regulators, they were looking to tidy things up so that Jesus could return to a nice clean world. Populists do not seek to become leaders. America might be a very different place had Herman Husband sought to be a leader instead of looking for the leader on the white horse. George Washington was the leader for many years until he became president. Barack Obama follows the tradition of Presidential turn coats who achieve high office through the wave of popular support, only to become the world’s biggest chiseler. Washington was the first. I think Kennedy remained a hero because he was shot.

    America has grown to the point where there is more than one Populism. There is Christian populism, secular populism, capitalist populism, racial populism, there are as many populisms as there are factions, and each and every one of those bastards are waiting for the leader to lead them to victory. They are waiting for the christ figure to bring them to the promised heaven on Earth, and every Public Relations or marketing company is more than willing to supply them with their leader. Obama is simply one more Populist president that was created by weasels. Reagan was another. Warren G. Harding was the first of the modern populist saviors. Every American is convinced that there will be a great leader that will make the world just the way he wants it. It is part of the American religion that is also part of the Christ myth. Americans don’t want a president. Americans want Jesus and until they realize that they are not getting Jesus, they will continue to get screwed along with the rest of the world.

  7. Tom says:

    I find your article entertaining and, while I agree with your right to say and think these things, I must respectfully disagree (but would fight to the death to defend your right to say/think these things) and do acknowledge you great historical knowledge, although I disagree with some of the interpretations of the events and people.

    First, your interpretation of the Tea Party is off (in my humble opinion) on several points. The participants of Tea Parties are well educated (on the whole — and, yes, there are some examples of wackos and idiots in EVERY movement or party), regular, concerned citizens of this country who feel that neither party adequately represents them and both parties have departed from the design of the Constitution (regardless of what YOUR interpretation of the Constitution is). In fact, more participants, nation-wide, identified themselves as Democrats or Independents. It’s that simple, no conspiracy, no fascism, etc. I know the media has taken delight in trying to read more in to it than that and has taken every opportunity to discredit them and look for the fringe elements, but that’s it. If you attend a Tea Party, you will find that these people simply love their country and feel they are no longer adequately represented and are, frankly, fed up that no one in Washington seems to be listening.

    I also find it interesting your claim that the DEA is within its Constitutional authority to close California dispensaries. I assume you are using what has become known as the Commerce Clause to justify this. However, that is a gross miss-application of the Commerce Clause that the courts, unfortunately, have upheld. It was intended to “make regular” commerce between states, not what we moderns (through changes in the meaning of words over time) have come to think of as regulation. The average person of that time understood this difference, but language changes over time. The States were given authority within their own borders to decide this.

    Anyway, nice article, but I most respectfully disagree.

  8. billdunlap says:

    Tom, I find it frightening to see a well spoken person like you defending a racist, fascist movement like the Tea Party. You have no concerns about me attending a meeting, unless the police provide me with a wire so that may gather evidence of firearm violations. Please don’t give me any crap about the press giving you a bad rap, because I have heard Glen Beck and Sarah Palin. Until you tie those morons into a sack and toss them into the first turnip truck out of town, The Tea Party will have absolutely no credibility. They will only be a bunch of loud racist bullies, just like their ancestors in the John Birch Society and the KKK.

    The Tea Party is an AstroTurf movement based on ignorance, racism, and fear. The fear is of a changing world. Only American client states like Haiti give any credence to the unregulated market place. All racism is based on fear. America is rapidly becoming a two language nation. All the guns and fascist immigration laws will not stop this. The cause of your fear is ignorance. The Tea Party spouts elementary school propaganda that has no basis in reality.

    The country that the Tea Party is trying to take back is the one that fell in 1790. The United States under the Constitution has nothing to do with the failed revolution of 1776. The Constitution was written because of problems collecting taxes, a military that turned state against state, lack of a uniform code of law, and lack of a cohesive court system. If you actually read the Constitution, you would know that law enforcement has nothing to do with the commerce clause and everything to do with establishing a uniform federal system of law. States can establish any damned laws they want, but they cannot stop the enforcement of federal law in any state in the Union, and that’s the way it is.

  9. billdunlap says:

    Today I received a comment by somebody who logged in as Luke Skywalker. It was the most racist bunch of idiocy I have ever seen. I make it a point to post all comments which do not have a commercial message. I will even post comments which are critical to me personally. I have been called a pig, and I posted the comment.

    I will not post racist comments. This blog is not a safe place for neonazis to express their paranoid psychosis. The person has been reported for hate speech, and that’s the way it is. I don’t care who does not like it.

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