The papers are full of stories this week about the latest right-wing insurgency to threaten American civilization: the angry and bloated members of the libertarian splinter group known as the Tea Party. Aside from their bastardization of a beloved Bostonian historical event, this movement doesn’t bother me nearly as much as other right-wing thrusts before an election.
Ask a liberal what they dislike the most about the Republican party and its affiliated corporate and religious interests and you may get mixed reactions. Some may point to their record of provoking and barrelling into unnecessary foreign wars. Some may point to the growing income inequality (and dramatic rise in poverty levels), or the 2008 financial collapse, and how deregulation pushed by Republicans is a major cause of both.
But despite my personal views (which are backed by economics and a general feeling that war is the Worst Thing Evar) these are not the reasons why I loathe the Republican party. (They’re reasons why I loathe both parties.) The real kernel in my eye socket is the Christian religious agenda and its close personal ties to white racism, anti-Semitism, heterofascism and censorship. These currents run strong through the heart of conservative America, whether my Dad likes it or not. These are why regardless of how my views on economic and military policy might change as I get older, I will never associate myself with the Republican Party and their political assassins who manipulate fears of diversity (and Damnation) to get their cronies elected.
The Tea Party doesn’t seem to be about that, at least not in its squishy middle. Sure, it’s got its share of racists, many of whom don’t know that by saying “Take our country back x 1,000,000,000″ they reveal the deeply held motivations that push them from their seats in front of the television. But the core ideals that drive the movement are economic, not social, and in a democracy like ours we have an obligation to represent ourselves and our fiscal views in a legislative body. They’re standing up to a government which their intuition tells them is out of control. It’s true that much of macroeconomics is counter-intuitive (like how spending gets you out of a recession), but we can’t expect everyone to do the math for themselves. We just have to beat them in elections.
Just listen to this interview from today’s Morning Edition. Steve Inskeep interviews two conservatives with opinions on the Tea Party and its future. One is the leader of a local Tea Party organization, the other is a spokesperson for a ‘family’ group whose agenda is to degrade and disenfranchise homosexuals. Listen how the Christian threatens the Libertarian, saying how the Tea Party will fail if they don’t support restrictions on abortion and gay marriage. The poor woman just wants to cut government spending to zero, she doesn’t need you scaring off the Paulists with your ancient superstitions!
The great thing about all of this is that the Tea Party is actually winning. This summer, they took down a number of ‘centrist’ Republicans and forced themselves onto ballots all over the country. I obviously hope they lose their general elections, but slapping those smug plutocrats on their way is an easy way into my heart. Sarah Palin is a bully, but it’s fun to watch bullies beat up other bullies, isn’t it? And as long as the libertarians are tearing down the Republican fundraising establishment while making themselves unelectable, why wouldn’t I cheer them on?
I disagree with fiscal conservatism because their science is flawed and it allows capitalism to steal labor and public wealth and hand it to privileged individuals. I despise the intrusion of religion and racism into American politics because it is incompatible with a modern, secular and pluralistic society and causes fear, conflict, and disenfranchisement. For decades, the Republican party has represented both of these movements very effectively. But as long as the libertarians are fighting the war-mongers and bible-thumpers and stay true to their ‘Constitutionally limited’ economic delusions, then they won’t suffer any more ire from me. Unless they win.