04. October 2010 · Comments Off on Tea Party and Times Changing · Categories: Ain't That America?, General, Local, Politics, Tea Time

So, after a year and three-quarters of the existence of the political entity known as the Tea Party (only it isn’t really a party, just a sort of decentralized mass movement) said movement is getting a little respect. Fearful respect, to be sure – but ever such an improvement on crude and ignorant denigration! Oh, we’re still getting the denigration, but it has become a little more muted lately, and use of the epithet t******er is not as frequent as formerly, possibly because the media personalities who delighted in using it may have discovered that a good-sized subset of the viewing audience took exception and offense . . . which might have affected ratings, and audience share and the sales of advertising time. Myself, I can deal with fearful respect, and so – no doubt – can the rest of those scattered the length and breadth of the Land of the Free Home of the Brave who cherish Tea Party principles. Especially when the fearful respect comes from the likes of Dick Armey . . . or from RINO squishes who come to love the perks of office so much they will do anything, and say anything to stay there. Yes, it was most especially amusing – since I have not the slightest shred of a doubt that the senior GOP strategists and long-serving office holders were quite absolutely sure – right up until the last few weeks – that Tea Party principles would automatically translate into votes for Republican candidates. Booted, spurred and ready to ride, they seemed to think that all was necessary to do was to saddle that Tea Party mustang, and it would obey.

The Dems also assumed – and trumpeted it loudly and often – that the Tea Parties were nothing more than great swaths of GOP Astroturf; the GOP’s sudden horrid discovery vis-à-vis the biddability of Tea Partiers is presumably as much of a surprise to them as well. I can only assume they were goggle-eyed with horror, upon making this discovery, since you’d have thought a canny strategist would have known the words of Sun Tzu.

If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle. If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.

Ah, yes – the dear old Donks, they may know themselves but, I am pretty sure they do not know Tea Party: they know only a caricature of the Tea Party. I derived some innocent merriment these last few months, visualizing the expressions on the faces of various political operatives in the current administration, the higher reaches of the Democrat Party and their water-carriers in the media, as they tried to counter the Tea Party – and discovered that none of their favored tactics worked. I swear it’s been like Wily Coyote, Super-Genius trying to catch the Road-Runner. The results were pretty much uniform; Wily Coyote scorched to a crisp, forming a neat crater at the bottom of a deep ravine, or augered in by a falling 5,000 lb weight – and meanwhile, the Tea Party elements pause for a brief moment, shout meep-meep and zip on, unfazed and . . . more to the point, un-distracted.

So, one more time, just to make everything clear: The Tea Party is a loosely organized, essentially leaderless and distributed political insurgency, holding these things as our highest values: fiscal responsibility, strict adherence to the Constitution, small government and free markets.

Everything else is secondary: believe me when I say this. Everything else is secondary. People who hold to those principles may also have strong convictions about illegal immigration, social issues, gun rights, home schooling or any number of other current rights-and-issues brangles; some of these Tea Party supporters may have had a long history of advocacy with regard to these issues, but they are not the Tea Party’s main motivating influence. And even though the Tea Party did not exist in anything like the currently accepted form, there were some of us whose concern with federal government excess – to include ill-advised regulations and ballooning deficits – predated the anointing of President Obama. It’s just that damn few in the media, or anywhere else outside the blogosphere gave a rat’s ass, and most of us were lone voices, crying in the wilderness. Just because it didn’t make the headlines doesn’t mean such concerns didn’t exist before 2008.

And just so that we can get that straight – when it comes to President Obama, it’s not the color of his skin, it’s the content of his character, and his admittedly thin resume. (And his weird Chicago friends, his effortless rise to the top unassisted by actual accomplishment, and of late, his propensity for vacations and golf days.) Which a scattering of us were pointing out in 2008, for all the good it did come Election Day. Curiously, in many of the admittedly libertarian/fiscally conservative/veteran circles in which I have been hanging out since 2002; a President and Commander in Chief of color was pretty well accepted – it’s just that we all thought then that Colin Powell or Condi Rice would have been a better bet, as well has having a much more reassuring resume and some, you know, real-world experience. Demanding that Tea Party leaders do, or denounce, or disavow something or other, just to prove something-or-other? Good luck with that. Leaderless, distributed political insurgency, strong emphasis on the leaderless, high value given to individual personal initiative and responsibility. Think D-Day, when everything on the beaches had gone to s**t, but individual NCOs and soldiers stepped out and did what they knew had to be done.

Some of the Tea Partiers I began to know over the last year came from a strong evangelical Christian background, which in this part of the world is hard to avoid. A casual observer might assume that the Tea Party is an evangelical Christian movement – and the casual observer would be wrong. Frankly, not too many of us had any heartburn over Bristol Palin’s baby, Scott Brown’s college pinups, or Christine O’Donnell’s flirtation with witchcraft. Seriously, the evangelical Tea Partiers were supposed to get all bent out of shape over all that? OK, I realize that a lot of people took their ideas about Evangelical Christians from Saturday Night Live’s Church Lady . . . but what did I say about Sun Tzu, again? One more time – the main thing is fiscal responsibility, small federal government, free market, strict adherence to the Constitution. Social issues – secondary importance. A good few other Tea Partiers were cranky and independent libertarian types, and not conventionally religious in any way. In fact, in our own quiet way, a lot of us are pretty worldly. Quite a few are military veterans, small and medium-sized business owners, a good few were bloggers, and well-versed in the ways of the internet as a means of informing and coordinating.

About Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and Fox News? Not our leaders. Sarah Palin? Not our leader either. Personally, I never cared much for the first two, never watch the second unless there’s some local disaster – but I did think that picking the fourth for the VP slot on the GOP ticket for 2008 was a stroke of genius. So, mayor of a small town, effective governor of a pretty large state – and with high local approval ratings; nah – don’t believe the lady is an idiot, a fascist or an ignorant hillbilly, not for a moment. But if it satisfies something in the soul of those of the progressive persuasion to think so . . . well, Sun Tzu again. Or whoever it was that advised never interrupting your enemy in the process of making a complete douche of him or herself.

So, after a year and some of being constantly belittled as ignorant, closed-minded bitter clingers and racists – how do I feel? That holding to that line has probably bounced back and resoundingly. Because those of us who are Tea Partiers know it isn’t true. And those who are close to us – friends, co-workers, neighbors and kin; I think they have probably figured out by now that it isn’t true also. Those of us within the Tea Party movement – we can keep our cool, and be a bigger person about the mindless abuse and constant rain of accusations – but don’t for a moment think that we have forgotten, or will ever forget the names of the worst offenders.

So, everyone clear on the concept? Good. I can see November from my house. And until then, a musical interlude. Enjoy.

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