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Hullabaloo


Friday, February 12, 2010

 
Movements And Coalitions

by digby


There's been a lot of chatter about an impending implosion within the tea parties centering on Sarah Palin's lack of libertarian sensibilities and her desire to co-opt the movement for the GOP, thus opening up an opportunity for making common cause with the disaffected libertarians of the movement. This post from one of the many tea party organizations would seem to bear that out:

I am sending an alarm to the Tea Party membership! Be alert to turncoats and deceivers being herded into the Tea Party by usurpers from the weakened Republican Party for the sole purpose of capturing our populist movement. Our political ideals were once theirs and our immense growth has created a lusting for their good old days!

Sarah Palin’s well delivered speech and her attractive demeanor is little more than a veneer for her less attractive political philosophy. She seems more like a duck out of water among true Conservative Constitutionalists. Palin demonstrates her NeoCon flippant viewpoint and her naïveté as she seems envious of the swelled numbers of Patriots pledging their allegiance, to of all things, AMERICA and not to a kool-aid ridden political dinosaur.

What Republican wouldn’t want 10 million angry voters marching in the streets shouting, God Bless The Republican Party, where a few months before the same voices sang, God Bless America!

Sarah Palin is not dense or erroneous in her view of the Tea Party, just the opposite. She represents a growing insider’s attack to the heart of the Tea Party. Very much like a wolf in sheep’s clothing entering in at the gate as an ally, but for all intents and purposes there to seize and capture, not only one or two stray sheep, but the whole flock!

Instead of the Republican Party endeavoring to return to what made them great, it appears they are trying to take the low road, by attempting to commandeer someone else’s dream, the American dream forged by blood sweat and tears. Is the Faith of the Tea Party being replaced by folly and our Patriotism being replaced by Party-ism?

[...]

Many Tea Party members are concerned with the complicity of Big Business and Big Government, Wall Street Bail-outs and Mortgage Mogul sweet-heart deals. My concern grows as I observe the open and deliberate adulteration of the U.S. Constitution by those who proudly boast their allegiance to ‘Party’ principles. The difference is startling, the Tea Party places restoring the Republic and returning America to common sense government as our core platform...


Ron Paul himself would probably see this person as one of his original tea party adherents who is rejecting the neo-con worldview. After all, he sees through Palin and understands that she and the Republicans are trying to co-opt their movement. Seems like fertile ground for some progressive messaging about the Wall Street bailouts and the "Mortgage Mogul sweet heart deals."

But I'm guessing it probably wouldn't work short of some progressive concessions that would be unpalatable. The tea party patriot goes on to expound on what truly matters:

Has the Tea Party reached its zenith? Was all of our work, hope and fire expended to only stop Obama-Care?..

I can see the possible evisceration of the Tea Party by recent shifts in ideology. For example: Would the Tea Party knowingly endorse a candidate who believes in Amnesty masquerading as a “pathway to citizenship”?

Of course not! However, it is being considered!

What shall we do next? Turn a blind eye to the 20 million or more illegal aliens who demand citizenship because they believe they have earned it by nefariously entering our beloved nation and who continue to break the law by staying here?

The Republican elite say “Yes to amnesty!” But, I believe the Tea Party will not reward law breakers, especially with our most sacred commodity – ‘Citizenship in our beloved nation.’

Yet, Sarah Palin says, “Yes we can!” Proving my point is her endorsement of Open-Borders McCain. Why would any Tea Party member “want to be” on the same side of Obama-Amnesty?

Point well taken.

Has the Tea Party forgotten the tax hikes poised and ready to crush the American people? How can we fail to remember the unrelenting line of gun grabbing legislation continually snaking its way through Congress?

Yet, where is the outrage?

[...]

The Tea Party is famous as a movement of ragtag, unorganized independent, politically hungry libertarian style Patriots holding fast to a Conservative belief in America. The Tea Party is something fresh, unique and alive.

Did our march on Washington with over 1 million strong, Town Hall meetings in major cities and millions of Pink Slips with tens of Millions of Tea Bags, countless E-mails, and phone calls to our elected Representatives mean nothing?


So just what is this teabagger's core set of beliefs?


Illegal Aliens are illegal.

Pro-Domestic Employment is indispensable.

Stronger Military is essential.

Gun ownership is sacred.

Government must be downsized.

National Budget must be balanced.

Deficit Spending will end.

Bail-out and Stimulus Plans are illegal.

Reduce Personal Income Taxes a must.

Reduce Business Income Taxes is mandatory.

Intrusive Government Stopped.

English only is required.

Traditional Family Values are encouraged.

Common Sense Constitutional Conservative Self-Governance is our mode of operation.

….and Yes, we are a Christian Nation!


Perhaps this person is an outlier. But I doubt it. I would bet that the vast majority teabaggers are only libertarians to the extent they believe in the no-taxes, no social insurance, no government spending (for others) portions of the platform --- which pretty much defines the core of both right libertarianism and conservatism.

I'm not seeing a lot of daylight for progressive movement politics (as opposed to discreet legislative initiatives, which are always possible)to find common ground. The clear deal breakers of bigotry, nativism, and social conservatism aside, on what basis does the progressive movement ally with those who also believe fervently in deregulation, elimination of taxes and the destruction of the social safety net?

And aside from civil liberties, I don't think progressives have much in common with right libertarians on much of anything but the government bailouts. And even on that, the issue is muddied because they hate the bailouts of the auto companies even more than the bailouts of Wall Street and have come to define the stimulus as a bailout as well. I'm not sure we are talking about the same thing when we rail against bailouts anymore. (And on civil liberties, it should also be noted that most teabaggers have absolutely no problem locking up and torturing anyone with skin darker than George Hamilton if they look at them sideways.)

Left libertarians are already voting for the most liberal politicians and back liberal legislation. Most right libertarians are already voting for conservatives, and the few principled citizens who voted for Obama out of revulsion for the civil liberties abuses under the Cheney torture regime will never endorse progressive economics beyond a a distaste for bailing out wealthy banks. The teabaggers are obviously far right conservatives who are the least likely to vote for progressives of all. So, this proposed alliance and coalition is difficult for me to see.

Movements can be organized on the basis of single issues, of course. In fact, most liberal movements have been organized on that basis in the past, most recently the coalition that formed against the Iraq war. But they aren't sustainable. Once the issue is resolved ---- or loses its salience --- the movement disappears. I believe that's why the modern conservative movement has been successful where the modern progressives have fallen apart ---- or fail to congeal in the first place: the conservatives have organized around common values and ideology, not issues. They band together out of a common belief system and worldview and as that tea party activist illustrates, that worldview remains strong even when the party to whom they've previously pledged their allegiance fails. It provides them the organizational structure to regroup and come back in the face of defeat and work as a bloc in party politics. (Of course, their wealthy benefactors and media machine help immensely...)

Their movement is as much a matter of identity and tribe as it is politics. This tea partier may believe that he's part of something "unique" and "fresh" but the American far right is the same as it ever was: angry, resentful, bigoted, xenophobic and nativist, afraid of change, anxious to blame those who they perceive to be undeserving and the elites who defend them. Guess who those undeserving and elites are?



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