Another day, another Tea Party governor who has approvals in the low 30s. This time it’s Rick Scott of Florida, in yet another entirely predictable twist in the narrative. At this point, it seems reasonable to conclude that all the states where the Tea Party gained significant power in the midterms are the states where the central Tea Party personalities have become toxically unpopular. There is not any exception that I’m aware of.
This makes me think about something tangential. I’m always surprised by arguments to the effect that the inability of any government to make Communism work somehow disproves the theories behind Communism. Those theories are indeed false, but they are false because its underlying assumptions are incorrect, not because a random set of countries tried them out and failed. Haiti has tried out democracy for quite some time, does its failure say something about democracy? Ultimately, wealth and power do indeed corrupt, but they were as capable as corrupting the new, poor leaders as they were the prior ones. Communism couldn’t accept this critique and failed for that reason.
The Tea Party has been greeted everywhere it’s been empowered with rapid hostility from the public. But, unlike Communism, there’s not even a real theory behind the movement. There’s been many vague arguments against spending, and lots of rhetoric about taking the country back or what not. It was, fundamentally, a cultural movement disguised as a political one. Just look at ace Teabagger Michele Bachmann:
Michele Bachmann served up red meat to the crowd at the Iowa conservative principles conference Saturday, slamming President Barack Obama as a Jimmy Carter retread, dissing the Mitch Daniels “truce” call for social issues, and saying she wants a “waiver” from the last two years of White House leadership.
Talking loudly and waving her hands, a pumped Bachmann used a slide presentation of various numbers — the national debt, the cost of a gallon of gas two years ago the day before Obama took office, the corporate tax rate — to make her points and pull the crowd in.
Suggesting that Iowa caucus voters had the power to halt Obama, Bachmann wrapped up her speech by asking, “Are you in? Are you in for 2012?”
Lots of rhetoric, here, bolstered by numbers free of context. This isn’t a policy argument, it’s cultural grievance with a thin veneer of truthiness. There’s no there there, nothing to really think about or engage with. There’s no conversation to be held about the ideas of the Tea Party because there are none, and after two years, none appear to be forthcoming. It’s more strategy than substance, more attitude than rigor (hence Chris Christie as a mascot of the movement), and to the extent it has any policy objectives, they are either politically-motivated or completely arbitrary (Drum has a good example of how arbitrary the Tea Party objective on discretionary spending is).
Put simply, unlike Communism, I think the Tea Party movement can be dismissed by saying that it’s failed everywhere it’s been tried. I know some thoughtful people who sympathized with the budget-cutting ideas and hoped the movement would mature and turn into something better. That rarely happens with dogmatic movements. Pennyslvania’s Tom Corbett’s plan of cutting education and spending more on prisons seems paradigmatic at me. Nearly three months in, it seems clear enough to me that the real objective isn’t to shrink government and return more power to local communities, but on the state level to seize control over school systems and other local entities and impose inflexible top-down control over them, while funneling money to preferred corporate supporters and punitive programs. Power to the people, I guess. And the people hate it. The whole thing is a rapidly passing fad, in my view, a short-lived enthusiasm whose certainty appealed to desperate voters at a desperate time. In the clear light of day, the ideas aren’t so appealing.
As for Florida, I’ve always wondered how such a perennially-competitive state was so thoroughly Republican at all levels. I came to the conclusion it was because the Florida Republican Party was more moderate than most, which might be why it’s generated a number of national Republican politicians in recent years. After all, Charlie Crist convinced them to start a cap-and-trade system in the state a few years back. Rick Scott could wind up doing damage to that standing in addition to his state in general.
“The suspicion is that Mr Obama, desperate both to build some broken fences with big business and to make progress on connecting every American home to the internet, will give in.”
Can I just ask everyone a simple question? What quantifiable measure shows that has Obama done anything to hurt “big business” during his time in office? I mean, seriously…
For why I’m so nonplussed, dig this inconvenient block of facts from Glenzilla:
Since Obama was inaugurated, the Dow Jones has increased more than 50% — from 8,000 to more than 12,000; the wealthiest recieved a massive tax cut; the top marginal tax rate was three times less than during the Eisenhower years and substantially lower than during the Reagan years; income and wealth inequality are so vast and rising that it is easily at Third World levels; meanwhile, “the share of U.S. taxes paid by corporations has fallen from 30 percent of federal revenue in the 1950s to 6.6 percent in 2009.” During this same time period, the unemployment rate has increased from 7.7% to 8.9%; millions of Americans have had their homes foreclosed; and the number of Americans living below the poverty line increased by many millions, the largest number since the statistic has been recorded. Can you smell Obama’s radical egalitarianism and Marxist anti-business hatred yet?
The only thing that explains to my satisfaction this whole “Anti-Business Obama” zombie meme is the apparently stellar ability of the Republican mind control apparatus to implant complete fabrications in the minds of both the media establishment and its viewers. Any other ideas? WTF?
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