18 April 2010

Got a Polish email in my pocket...

Stephen F. Hayward:
Surprisingly, the survey reveals Tea Partiers to be slightly more economically secure than the general population. Combine those findings with the fact that Tea Partiers are a well-educated cohort, and the narrative that the Tea Partiers are a bunch of pitchfork populist rubes becomes harder to maintain.
Hayward presumably means this as a defense of Tea Partyism, but says it only one paragraph after approvingly asserting the Teabaggers populist bona fides. Consequently, his own narrative that tea marchers are spontaneously organized bands of working people genuinely concerned that over-taxation is grinding them into poverty also becomes rather hard to maintain. As Michael Lind succinctly puts it elsewhere in the Times compilation, "Tea Partiers put the “petty” in petty bourgeoisie."

The Tea Parties have arisen (in such cases as where they are not simply a rebranding of local Republican Parties) out of an honest concern that their privileged position in American political and economic life could be threatened by the present moment. Naturally, then, there's little they fear more than an organization of the working class, thus even such modest organizations such as the SEIU or the late ACORN play a pivotal role in Teabaggers' conspiracy lore. Like most self-proclaimed advocates of liberty, their principled stand against the tyranny of federal governments erodes quickly when it comes to the dissolution of voluntary mass organization along class lines. It's instructive to compare their rhetoric of liberty to that of Eugene Debs in 1895 righteously upbraiding government intervening on behalf of the Pullman car company. Certainly libertarians wouldn't be nostalgic for such days of tyranny would they?