Saturday, June 19, 2010

Brilliance On Tea

Philosophy professor J.M. Bernstein has perhaps the most brilliant and clear insight to date into the forces truly driving the Tea Party movement. His telling NY Times piece truly takes one's grasp of the current developments to the next level, explaining the foundation underneath all of the hatred and racism we see on the waving signs.

When tea baggers howl about wanting their “country” back, they are in fact crying for a return to the illusion that they are self-sufficient and in control of their destinies, an illusion shattered by a wave of catastrophes for the most part enabled by deregulation and the sheer incompetence of the most disastrous presidential administration in US history, that of George W. Bush. From 911 to Enron to Katrina to the financial nightmare, and now, a black president!, they are getting that it matters, and that they are not in control.

Tea baggers long to return to the illusion that they are self-sufficient,that left to themselves without interference, they would enjoy safety and prosperity where food is fit to eat, water fit to drink, air fit to breathe, medicine safe to take. Children educate themselves and people are poor because they're lazy. Roads and bridges self-build and self-maintain, and since crime doesn't pay there won't be any. Don't let a nasty oil spill in the gulf get in the way of your “common sense” (i.e. superficial and empty) conservatism that screams for a balanced budget without raising taxes or cutting Medicare, Social Security, or defense budgets.

The illusion of rugged independence has been sheer fantasy for decades. Without bogging down in details, the natural progression of the pertinent relationship here is from dependence to independence to interdependence. We have been in the final stage for over a century. Independence is an illusion enjoyed by those with the good fortune to have been born into wealth and privilege, never laid off, never hit by medical catastrophe, never put out of business, never... must be nice. Inside of this fantasy, they say they want smaller government, but even from this la la land the position is a lie. In truth they want plenty of government so long as it's helping them. The health care bill is socialism, but don't touch MY medicare.

The picture will continue to grow clearer. Interestingly if not ironically, diversity has perhaps emerged as a "tell" in the interdependence conversation. While the statistics have yet to catch up in the workplace, women now outperform men in higher education (some fields excepted) and nothing suggests this will change. The sun is setting on the "boy" in “white boy day” and dusk is fast approaching on "white."

Rand Paul and Sharron Angle do not represent the future direction of the country. They represent the scream against the death of an illusion. Both candidates will be defeated in November, and as Florida starts drowning in oil this summer, look for tea's Rubio to fall as well against Governor Crist.

Bernstein notes, "In truth, there is nothing that the Tea Party movement wants; terrifyingly, it wants nothing."

From Mark Lilla's The Tea Party Jacobians: It appeals to petulant individuals convinced that they can do everything themselves if they are only left alone, and that others are conspiring to keep them from doing just that. This is the one threat that will bring Americans into the streets.

Welcome to the politics of the libertarian mob.


Anonymous Dustin said...

I read that article too. In my mind it is as goo an explanation as any. People just don't realize how interdependent everyone really is.

The most obvious example would be the gulf spill. This will affect the entire country. It will hit the gulf coasts first, and hardest, but those shocks and tremors will hit everyone.

All these disasters, ecological and financial alike, are hurting people that had no hand in the decisions that led up to them.

Where is the individuality in that?

6/22/2010 5:38 AM  
Blogger The Navigator said...

Never underestimate the power of denial. Conservatives desperately cling to the illusion that they are self-sufficient, until a Katrina hits their neighborhood, until an oil well leaks, until a company steals their pension. Then, of course, the government doesn't do enough.

6/22/2010 8:14 AM  
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8/17/2010 4:44 AM  

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