It’s been a while since I commented on the civic squalor that is the modern Tea Party movement. But with the Kentucky GOP primary victory of Rand Paul (son of the inexplicably popular Ron Paul), I felt compelled to re-enter the fray.
First of all, his name is fucking Rand. Like that intellectually poisonous witch Ayn Rand — perhaps the most corrosive “thinker” in modern times. Now, I’ve heard tell that Paul the Younger is actually named after Randy Travis. Which is slightly less unfortunate. But you can’t tell me that, given his father’s Libertarianism, Rand isn’t aware of what he’s telegraphing by dropping the “y.”
By now, All Good Progressives will have seen Rand’s appearance on Rachel Maddow where he says that businesses should be allowed to discriminate against minorities because it’s their First Amendment right to do so. Forget about those lunch counter protests — In Rand’s view, the Civil Rights Act is a classic case of government meddling in the private sector. In case you missed it:
This is a typically Libertarian/Objectivist line of thought — government out of everything. Unless it comes to armies and badges, that is, in which case our rights are secondary. OK, I’ll admit that this is a gross generalization about Libertarianism, of which there are many flavors. Sort of like Ben & Jerry’s but without the commie-pinko leanings.
Despite the breast-swelling pride that comes from Defending Liberty! and Trumpeting Individual Freedom! the tragedy of Libertariansim lies in the impossibility of its real-world application. We can all agree that unicorns are awesome, but have you ever seen one in real life?
But back to the real wingnuts.
The three-way between the Tea Party, the Republicans and Libertarians points to a troubling future for American conservatism, particularly on issues of race. By blindly adhering to discredited free market ideologies and fusing it with a xenophobic mistrust of the Other, today’s right wing is playing a dangerous game for short-term political gain. It’s a deal with the devil, essentially.
To outsiders, the Tea Party looks like a bunch of willfully ignorant white folks who, instead of debating the issues, abuse the English language (which they want everyone to speak) via colored-sharpie “protest” signs. Most insulting is that they pretend to understand the intent of our country’s founders. I’m pretty sure most of them couldn’t pass junior high civics. But if you’re a member, like Rand Paul, it’s a powerful movement to restore America’s greatness.
The glue that holds these factions together is a desire to return to an America that never actually existed. European fascism took root by exploiting a similar yearning. This desire, coupled with the general mistrust of anything alien, is a psychological affliction common to right-leaning groups and individuals throughout history. The Tea Party is just the latest manifestation.
The GOP, bereft of any credible policies of their own, have embraced this virulent ideology in order to win elections. Their strategy may pay short-term dividends, but looking at long-term demographic shifts in America, it’s a recipe for irrelevance.
The current administration missed several opportunities to close down the rhetoric currently being spouted by teabaggers and their ilk. One of Obama’s biggest mistakes since taking office was not exploiting the “fear vacuum” to his advantage. Conservatives of all stripes could have easily been cowed had he been willing to get his hands a little dirty. The Right, with their sadomasochistic tendencies, typically respond best to authority. By allowing an opposition to foment, the administration helped pave the way for Tea Partiers, Birthers and assorted morons who bleat and screech about issues they don’t even understand.
Where were these Freedom and Liberty loving Americans during the Bush years? You know, like when the NSA was listening to their phone calls? I don’t recall once hearing the words “tyranny” from their side. You cannot simultaneously decry the erosion of freedom when policymakers attempt to set limits on corporate abuses but lay down for serious and egregious offenses against our civil liberties.
Just like you can’t scream about small government and then support a national security/military industrial complex that literally eats up the majority of our budget. By the way, this sector is the biggest statist group there is. It’s all handouts and subcontracts. Sucking on Uncle Sam’s tit as the government’s core competencies and essential services are completely hollowed out.
Well, you could be outraged about one thing and not another. But then you’d be a big, dumb, smelly hypocrite.
Not too long ago (around four decades), conservatives were against the kind of government bloat I described above, because they saw it as contrary to our nation’s principles. After WWII, however, profiteering — war and otherwise — became normalized, even encouraged. Since then, the country has steadily moved from its roots as a Republic to a global Empire. And both parties have played a role in this shift.
I’d like to think that a credible third party could emerge, but it isn’t the Tea Party.
And it’s certainly not going to be led by anyone named Rand.