Thursday, October 28, 2010

John B. Judis:

The Tea Party is an accretion of various movements of the past decades, including the Christian right and, as Wilentz shows, the older anti-Communist Right. But it fits above all into the framework of American populism, which has always had right-wing and left-wing variants, and which is rooted in a middle class cri de coeur—that we who do the work and play by the rules are being exploited by parasitic bankers and speculators and/or by shiftless, idle white trash, negroes, illegal immigrants, fill in the blank here.
There's an ugly mood in the political air these days. Times are hard and the public is looking for someone to blame. The tea partiers are blaming -- who? Mostly, they blame Democratic politicians, despite most of the perceived problems occurring on a Republican watch. Regardless, my sense is that the "tea party movement" is more about scapegoating than anything else. And whether it is scapegoating to further Republican or Libertarian aims, this movement is certainly taking advantage of a weak economy to further such right wing partisan goals.

What worries me is that, the last time a national public was looking for someone to blame for bad economic times, we ended up with the Germans electing Hitler as Chancellor of Germany. And the internal group that got blamed for the disastrous German economy was, well, you know. While it hasn't happened yet, the ever-cyclical nature of anti-semitism suggests that, sooner or later, someone's going to try to lay it all on the Jews. Or the Muslims, or the Catholics, or the Blacks. And so forth.

The irony is that, despite the apparent middle class domination of the "tea party movement," that same middle class is unlikely to be the beneficiary of the the "movement's" success: "What’s undeniable, though, is that those most likely to benefit from right-wing middle class insurgencies are not the embattled middle classes, but the business interests and the wealthy associated with the Republican Party. That was certainly true of the 'Reagan Revolution,' which put an end to the movement toward income equality that had begun in the 1930s. So who benefits from these movements is not the same as who controls them on a day-to-day basis."

There's an ugly mood in the air.

1 comment:

d said...

The problems with your caparisons to pre-war Germany are these; There was no massive welfare state in prewar Germany where only 50% of the population paid taxes. That is not the same as unemployment.
and the Jews were citizens.
I would like the Mexicans(90% of illegals) to go home, not in any painful way, just on an air-conditioned Greyhound or something.
When any other country enforces their border security is it some sort of fascist or Nazi action? If we enforce our laws, are we sliding into the abyss?
We don't have the money to support Mexico in this way anymore.
Do you by any chance have real contact with the welfare underclass? I do. It breaks my heart that our largess is spread so thin that we cant properly take care of the people who really do need to be supported.