Wednesday, April 15, 2009

High Tea on Legislative Plaza

Posted By on Wed, Apr 15, 2009 at 2:21 PM

click to enlarge Now that's political discourse!
  • Now that's political discourse!
After spending an hour of quality time with the happily cranky folks downtown this afternoon, one comes away wondering whether anyone really believes this is conservatism's path out of the deep woods of defeat and humiliation. The mix of scattershot populism and anti-government fervor on display at Legislative Plaza was far more frightening sociologically than politically. It looked like a rally against pretty much everything (taxes, Obama, spending, welfare, communism, immigration) and for nothing (except some obtuse and largely unarticulated notion of "freedom").

click to enlarge Still trying to figure this one out.
  • Still trying to figure this one out.
It's always gratifying to see people take to the streets to insist that they're mad as hell and not going to take it any more, but in this case one labors to understand what the "it" is that won't be taken. Socialism, for crying out loud? Is right-wing dissent in this country right now so hollow that they can do no better than a populist movement built on intellectual falsehoods about the ideology of the governing party? How is a healthy deliberative democracy enhanced by public spectacle that showcases political and philosophical vapidity on a public stage, but articulates no concrete agenda other than unbridled opposition to everything?

click to enlarge teapic0.jpg
If it weren't for the fact that the state legislature is spending all of its time giving these citizen-patriots the ability to carry guns in more places, this would all be almost reassuring for liberals. With these tea parties the far right shows itself to be engaged and ready for action in some theoretical sense, but blissfully devoid of any specific policy ideas that would actually address genuine problems that real humans are facing these days.

From what I could hear through a muddy and ineffective sound system at the Plaza (their intellectual ignorance of economic history is matched by their technical ignorance of the audio dynamics of amplification), none of the speakers were actually proposing things that would concretely expand employment, improve education, diminish poverty, or fix health care. They want government to just ... stop. It's pretty clear that about two-thirds of the country thinks differently. That's not a reason to silence a dissenting voice, but it could be grounds for rethinking the message.


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