The Republican Party, The Anti-Federalists And The Tea Parties

Devilstower, a great writer, pens a quite misguided piece about the tea parties, ascribing much more potential to it than it deserves. In particular, Devilstower is wrong to separate it from the Republican Party. Devilstower writes:

This wasn't a tax protest or a conservative movement, it was the semi-regular Gathering of the Disaffected. . . . Like the folks who backed Perot, the baggies are not Republicans. . . . What started on April 15th might actually be the beginning of a movement. And just because third parties haven't be successful in the last 150 years is no guarantee that they'll continue to be unsuccessful for the next 150, or even the next five. One of these days, candidates with letters other then (D) and (R) after their names will take their seats in Congress. One of these days we'll have a president from some party you've never heard of.

This strikes me as completely wrong. [More...]

The tea parties were clearly Republican Party rallies. Organized by Republican for Republicans, covered and marketed by the Republican news network, Fox News. The message delivered was the Republican message soundly rejected by the country last November - railing against taxes, for state rights and against the federal government. This is nothing new - it has been the Republican Party message since 1932, and especially since 1964.

It is now merely a quirk of fate that Alexander Hamilton was the founder of the modern day Republican Party and that Abraham Lincoln was the first Republican President. Today's Republican Party is the Dixiecrat Party of Strom Thurmond, the one Trent Lott pined for.

The true heirs of the anti-federalists are the Ron Paul movement. Consider the first anti-federalist publication written in response to the adoption of the Constitution by the Constitutional convention in July 1787:

To the Freemen of Pennsylvania.
Friends, Countrymen and Fellow Citizens,

Permit one of yourselves to put you in mind of certain liberties and privileges secured to you by the constitution of this commonwealth, and to beg your serious attention to his uninterested opinion upon the plan of federal government submitted to your consideration, before you surrender these great and valuable privileges up forever. Your present frame of government, secures to you a right to hold yourselves, houses, papers and possessions free from search and seizure, and therefore warrants granted without oaths or affirmations first made, affording sufficient foundation for them, whereby any officer or messenger may be commanded or required to search your houses or seize your persons or property, not particularly described in such warrant, shall not be granted. Your constitution further provides "that in controversies respecting property, and in suits between man and man, the parties have a right to trial by jury, which ought to be held sacred." It also provides and declares. "that the people have a right of FREEDOM OF SPEECH, and of WRITING and PUBLISHING their sentiments, therefore THE FREEDOM OF THE PRESS OUGHT NOT TO BE RESTRAINED. " The constitution of Pennsylvania is yet in existence, as yet you have the right to freedom of speech, and of publishing your sentiments. How long those rights will appertain to you, you yourselves are called upon to say, whether your houses shall continue to be your castles; whether your papers, your persons and your property, are to be held sacred and free from general warrants, you are now to determine. Whether the trial by jury is to continue as your birth-right, the freemen of Pennsylvania, nay, of all America, are now called upon to declare.

. . . All the blessings of liberty and the dearest privileges of freemen, are now at stake and dependent on your present conduct. . . . The wealthy and ambitious, who in every community think they have a right to lord it over their fellow creatures, have availed themselves, very successfully, of this favorable disposition; for the people thus unsettled in their sentiments, have been prepared to accede to any extreme of government; all the distresses and difficulties they experience, proceeding from various causes, have been ascribed to the impotency of the present confederation, and thence they have been led to expect full relief from the adoption of the proposed system of government, and in the other event, immediately ruin and annihilation as a nation. These characters flatter themselves that they have lulled all distrust and jealousy of their new plan, by gaining the concurrence of the two men in whom America has the highest confidence [the writer refers to Washington and Franklin, who were persuaded to support the Constitution] , and now triumphantly exult in the completion of their long meditated schemes of power and aggrandisement. . . .

If the tea parties organized by the Republican Party had any connection to the Anti-Federalists, then a discussion of civil liberties would have been central to their movement - great protests against warrantless wiretapping would have occurred. The national security state apparatus would have been decried. It was not. That's because the Tea Parties took their cues from the Republican Party of today - against taxes, and representing the grievances of "real americans" (read white folks.) They shared nothing in the way of the philosophy of the anti-Federalist movement of the Constitutional debates.

Devilstower makes reference to a statement about the Constitution by Ross Perot in 1992:

Keep in mind our Constitution predates the Industrial Revolution. Our founders did not know about electricity, the train, telephones, radio, television, automobiles, airplanes, rockets, nuclear weapons, satellites, or space exploration. There's a lot they didn't know about. It would be interesting to see what kind of document they'd draft today. Just keeping it frozen in time won't hack it.

Perot is a rather dim man when it comes to understanding the Constitution, which was designed to stand the test of history and time. I've written often on this original design, our Living Constitution. Too many deny this history. But the Tea Parties were not about that. The Tea Parties were not relitigating the Constitutional Debates, were not adopting the argument of the anti-federalists:

Mr. Adams's sine qua non of a good government is three balancing powers, whose repelling qualities are to produce an equilibrium of interests, and thereby promote the happiness of the whole community. He asserts that the administrators of every government, will ever be actuated by views of private interest and ambition, to the prejudice of the public good; that therefore the only effectual method to secure the rights of the people and promote their welfare, is to create an opposition of interests between the members of two distinct bodies, in the exercise of the powers of government, and balanced by those of a third. . . . Suppose a government could be formed and supported on such principles, would it answer the great purposes of civil society; if the administrators of every government are actuated by views of private interest and ambition, how is the welfare and happiness of the community to be the result of such jarring adverse interests?

Therefore, as different orders in government will not produce the good of the whole, we must recur to other principles. I believe it will be found that the form of government, which holds those entrusted with power, in the greatest responsibility to their constituents, the best calculated for freemen. A republican, or free government, can only exist where the body of the people are virtuous, and where property is pretty equally divided; in such a government the people are the sovereign and their sense or opinion is the criterion of every public measure; for when this ceases to be the case, the nature of the government is changed, and an aristocracy, monarchy or despotism will rise on its ruin. The highest responsibility is to be attained, in a simple structure of government, for the great body of the people never steadily attend to the operations of government, and for want of due information are liable to be imposed on_If you complicate the plan by various orders, the people will be perplexed and divided in their sentiments about the source of abuses or misconduct, some will impute it to the senate, others to the house of representatives, and so on, that the interposition of the people may be rendered imperfect or perhaps wholly abortive. But if, imitating the constitution of Pennsylvania, you vest all the legislative power in one body of men (separating the executive and judicial) elected for a short period, and necessarily excluded by rotation from permanency [the first term limits proposal], and guarded from precipitancy and surprise by delays imposed on its proceedings, you will create the most perfect responsibility for then, whenever the people feel a grievance they cannot mistake the authors, and will apply the remedy with certainty and effect, discarding them at the next election. This tie of responsibility will obviate all the dangers apprehended from a single legislature, and will the best secure the rights of the people.

(Emphasis supplied.) We heard nothing like from the Tea Parties because we hear nothing like this from the Republican Party. In any event, the Federalists won the debate then. The Constitution was adopted by the requisite 3/4 of the States. And as the Anti-Federalists understood, federal supremacy become the law of the land:

To put the omnipotency of Congress over the state government and judicatories out of all doubt, the 6th article ordains that "this constitution and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof, and all treaties made, or which shall be made under the authority of the United States, shall be thesupreme law of the land, and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, any thing in the constitution or laws of any state to the contrary notwithstanding."

By these sections the all-prevailing power of taxation, and such extensive legislative and judicial powers are vested in the general government . . . If the foregoing be a just comment_if the United States are to be melted down into one empire, it becomes you to consider, whether such a government, however constructed, would be eligible in so extended a territory; and whether it would be practicable, consistent with freedom? It is the opinion of the greatest writers, that a very extensive country cannot be governed on democratical principles, on any other plan, than a confederation of a number of small republics, possessing all the powers of internal government, but united in the management of their foreign and general concerns.

Before his endorsement of the principle of secession, Texas Governor Rick Perry and the Tea Parties advocated for the Republican Party view of the Tenth Amendment:

Of course, when it comes to the issues that the Tea Parties are supposed to be about - federal taxation and regulation - the Tenth Amendment is irrelevant. Nothing in the Tenth Amendment jurisprudence will help the Tea Partiers. Their problem is with the New Deal, the Commerce Clause jurisprudence and the Sixteenth Amendment.

That's why Perry' ratcheting up of the rhetoric by endorsing the principle of secession makes logical sense. It truly is the only way, outside of winning the next election and actually rolling back the federal government, to address the Tea Parties' "concerns."

But this is all silliness really and I was surprised to see Devilstower buy into it. There is no movement or ideas represented by the Tea Parties other than a desire for more Republican rule - more Bushism. It is ridiculous to pretend otherwise.

Speaking for me only

< Will Your DNA Soon Be in a Government Database? | Sunday Afternoon Open Thread >
  • The Online Magazine with Liberal coverage of crime-related political and injustice news

  • Contribute To TalkLeft

  • Display: Sort:
    I know you are (5.00 / 2) (#3)
    by Jjc2008 on Sun Apr 19, 2009 at 12:06:57 PM EST
    speaking only for yourself, but I must say, your words reflected my feelings, my sense of it, and you provided the historical references to prove the point. I thank you.

    As I watched the Sunday news shows, I was appalled at the blatant spinning of the purpose of the tea parties to support the elitist pundit class' desire to keep the status quo of the oligarchy they wish to retain.

    But in fact, I believe, the writers of the Constitution greatly feared the power of the wealthy in controlling government.

    As a side note, in my city, there were nearly 1500 tea party participants....people who have been convinced that the "common good" is bad for them.   They were tax hating republicans (that group has pretty much taken over the republican party here).  And yet even when confronted with the facts, they refuse to concede.  They were 99.9% white and 80% male.  They believe guns and god are on their side and have been convinced that anything less than getting rid of income taxes is socialism.  They believe this because their leaders have told them this.......

    I don't think it is a strong movement in most places but here.......one can be convinced it is but then this city is in the shadow of Focus on the Family and has been gerrymandered into the reddest district in the state.

    Wow! (none / 0) (#4)
    by bocajeff on Sun Apr 19, 2009 at 12:31:55 PM EST
    Short of the Klan and Communist Dolts I rarely have a problem with people assembling to redress their government. I refrain from telling people they are voting against their best interests because I have no idea what their best interests are as they may live by a different ethic than I do.

    I believe that when you get around 500,000 people to protest in the middle of the week at their government then it's a sign that they are angry. Secondly, I don't believe people hate government (with the exception of Kdog and a few others) but they hate BAD government. And that's where the Perotistas come from and why they were put into the original article.

    To paraphrase BTD, these people that marched were manipulated by the Republican Party to go against their own interests. "They aren't wrong; they are stupid" - as all people who don't agree with BTD.


    I don't have a problem with protests (5.00 / 4) (#14)
    by Jjc2008 on Sun Apr 19, 2009 at 01:20:11 PM EST
    Been in quite a few myself!

    So please get off your high horse and stop implying any criticism of this particular incident makes one against the notion of protest.
    At the one I referred to, signs carried were littered with lies, provable lies.  The speakers have lies and spun here for years.  And still they had the right to free speech, to carry signs, to arouse the wrath of those ignorant of the truth.

    One speaker, our congress person, spoke loudly against all taxes even though he himself has sponsored MORE earmarks than any other congress person in our state.  But his earmarks were all for military expenditures....so he considers them righteous.

    As well, he represents the interests of the religious right, calling himself "God's man in Washington" while his followers depict Obama as Satan.  But it is still acceptable free speech as is mine.


    The anti-war protests (3.00 / 4) (#25)
    by bocajeff on Sun Apr 19, 2009 at 01:50:52 PM EST
    were infected with the 9/11 Truth movement, Communist groups, anarchists, etc... Would one be right to say that the message of those marches wasn't anti-war but that Bush was responsible for 9/11? (BTW, how do you get Anarchists to march together?). Was AIDS created by the U.S. Government to kill African Americans (seen at the Million Man March). Or that Jews control the Fed (seen at Anti-Iraq War rallies?

    And I'm not on a high horse, but I feel that the right and left make a great mistake by not listening to the anger in the streets and ignoring them by calling them names (Teabaggers? or Commie-Homos?). This only marginalizes fellow citizens who may be wrong.


    You are so off the wall and off topic (5.00 / 1) (#63)
    by Jjc2008 on Sun Apr 19, 2009 at 05:18:24 PM EST
    I don't really know what your point is.

    I do not remember any particular group at any anti war movement being set up by, promoted by plutocrats.....
    and yes, all groups have their extremists.  I know that and am not arguing that.

    But this particular "anger" was promoted by political right wingers....and yes, some legitimately angry folk, some extremists of many ilks, joined in.
    But if you are denying the involvement of the mainstream republican party, and their network FOX NEWS in promoting this as an anti tax movement you are not paying attention.

    I know of many "Obama's going to take away our guns and he has raised our taxes" folks that helped get this started.  They lied and spun this and are still spinning it.

    I remember when the anti war marches talked loud and clear about the lies the government was putting out to the public about Vietnam and it turned out the anti war people were write.  Now if it turns out that every one is having their taxes raised they way the FOX people and the right are spinning it, you have a point.

    Yes, people are angry.......lots of us are and have been for the last 8 years....only now are the right wingers coming out.   It is blatantly bogus and partisan.


    Uh? (5.00 / 4) (#16)
    by Addison on Sun Apr 19, 2009 at 01:26:51 PM EST
    An obvious question, if they hated "bad" government -- even if one defines that narrowly as a government which runs up debt and government spending -- where were they during the past 8 years?

    Driving around with "W: The President" stickers on their bumpers.


    Non-sequitor (2.00 / 1) (#28)
    by bocajeff on Sun Apr 19, 2009 at 01:56:41 PM EST
    Your comparing wanting one party over another as an endorsement of that candidate is wrong. No different that many on this site who vowed never to vote for Obama after what his campaign did to Clinton, but then did so anyway. Or a UAW worker who drives a foreign car (go to Dearborn sometime).

    Was it FDR or Truman who said, he may be a son of a bi**h, but he's ours?

    Most Republicans hated Bush for his spending because they knew that it was bad for the economy (by not balancing it out with tax increases). But they supported him over Kerry because they thought Kerry would be worse. Were they hippocrates? Uh, who isn't.


    Right... (5.00 / 4) (#35)
    by Addison on Sun Apr 19, 2009 at 02:06:29 PM EST
    ...Republican candidates are their SOBs. They are registered as Republicans and vote for Republicans: they are Republicans. And as long as Democrats exist they will continue to be Republicans. So I don't view your argument as a persuasive one because I don't see much of a difference between one person who votes Republican 100% of the time and another person who votes Republican 100% of the time. No functional difference.

    As a separate point,

    Most Republicans hated Bush for his spending because they knew that it was bad for the economy (by not balancing it out with tax increases)

    (a) Most Republicans did not hate Bush. There is no proof for that assertion at all and (b) assuming they did hate him the idea that this hate was founded on the fact that Bush wasn't balancing out his spending with tax hikes is insane.


    So what's your point..... (none / 0) (#65)
    by Jjc2008 on Sun Apr 19, 2009 at 05:20:26 PM EST
    why are you even on this blog that is openly left?

    I don't even get what you are trying to do other than insult those of us who don't follow your libertarian mentality!


    "Most Republicans" (none / 0) (#76)
    by jondee on Mon Jun 22, 2009 at 01:21:43 PM EST
    As in, a relatively slender faction -- which was bolstered by a larger faction concerned with them I-raqis who attacked us, humasexual marriage and the coming Rapture.

    So-called "fiscal conservatives" weren't the peoplwe who elected Bush -- either time.


    Well, make that maybe 5 years (none / 0) (#20)
    by Cream City on Sun Apr 19, 2009 at 01:38:17 PM EST
    of pro-Bushism . . . until there must have been the beginning of a turn away since, of course, the Dems took Congress.  And then the tide of anti-Bushism attracted an increasing number of  former fans, or the Dems would not have won the White House.

    Republicans didn't turn away... (none / 0) (#22)
    by Addison on Sun Apr 19, 2009 at 01:41:49 PM EST
    ...in large numbers. Independents did. And independents didn't show up in large numbers to the tea parties, Republicans did. I don't think it's a good idea going forward to view Democratic gains in 2006 and 2008 as the result of disaffected Republicans.

    Is there a place that's posted the statistics... (5.00 / 1) (#31)
    by EL seattle on Sun Apr 19, 2009 at 01:59:43 PM EST
    ... for the Dem/Rep/Ind turnout for the various teaparty events?  (Or for the historic Obama campaign events for that matter.)  It would be fascinating to sort through some accurate D/R/I numbers, rather than assume things based on extrapolations of anecdotal reports and spin.  If there's a site that's cataloging all of this, I'd love to look at it.

    In case there's some misunderstanding... (none / 0) (#62)
    by EL seattle on Sun Apr 19, 2009 at 05:10:46 PM EST
    ... here, when I type historic Obama campaign events, I mean that those were truely very historic events last year and I wanted to stress that aspect of their nature.  People of all sorts, D, R & I, went to see and usually show support for Obama at those campaign events.  (If I'd meant to be snarky, I would have called them "historic" events with plain 'ol air quotes.  Or used a /snark tag or something liike that.)  

    Having HTML tags available is good, but it sometimes using italic or bold text doesn't leave too much room for subtlety.


    We're reading different analyses, then (none / 0) (#29)
    by Cream City on Sun Apr 19, 2009 at 01:56:53 PM EST
    and in my state, Republican certainly -- and quite deliberately -- went for Obama in the primaries, and some again did so in the general election.  In the latter, though, analyses I've read found that a factor nationally was the Repubs who stayed home.  Those did not turn to Dems, but they sure turned away in dismay from the wreckage they had wrought through Bush.

    Certainly, bringing Independents into the mix is important, and perhaps more significant in the elections -- but the post does not argue that the anti-tax rallies were Independent rallies.  It is about Republicans, so I responded to that.


    Indy shift. (none / 0) (#40)
    by Addison on Sun Apr 19, 2009 at 02:30:07 PM EST
    CNN's exit polls (not a perfect measurement, but pretty good for trends) for a swing state, Virginia:

    Democrats voted 92/8 for Kerry
    Republicans voted 95/5 for Bush
    Independents voted 54/44 for Bush

    Democrats voted 92/8 for Obama
    Republicans voted 92/8 for McCain
    Independents voted 49/48 for Obama

    Now, there was a small shift among Republicans in Virginia and that was mirrored across the board. But that isn't why he won states like Virginia. Self-identified Liberals were more numerous and Independents aligned themselves with the Democratic argument for governance.

    As far as Republicans staying home, yes. That is true (although it's a little hard to tell because Democratic turnout was higher, depressing the apparent percentage of GOP turnout). I think (based on listening to Republicans throughout last year) that had a lot to do with McCain's candidacy and not necessarily a rejection of Bush or Bushism (which would be the same policies but without the publicly toxic figurehead). But there is evidence in the numbers for the "stay at home" argument.


    Manipulated? (none / 0) (#6)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Apr 19, 2009 at 12:36:16 PM EST
    Hardly. They were marching for what they believed in - Republicanism.

    I was demurring from the view expressed that they were arguing for something different.

    Please do not distort my words.


    Really? (none / 0) (#23)
    by bocajeff on Sun Apr 19, 2009 at 01:44:35 PM EST
    Maybe this is anecdotal, but the people I know that went to these tea parties were genuinely p**ed off about the bailouts, runaway spending, Bush's runaway spending, and higher taxes (whether real or perceived). They didn't feel as if they were going to Republican Party rallies as some were Dems and Independents. Many of the people were just a p**ed off at Republicans and found them to be just as much of the problem.

    What they did find were liberals and progressives who feel as though they weren't sincere or were their to purely go after Dems and Obama. Now, while there were many people who chose to take this opportunity for political swings at Obama, I am not "distorting your words" by saying they were arguing for something different.

    In fact, you are the one saying that they are arguing for Republicanism. I don't think that's the message.  There was just anger at government ineffectiveness (whether real or perceived).


    I agree somewhat (5.00 / 1) (#58)
    by Rashomon66 on Sun Apr 19, 2009 at 04:18:19 PM EST
    I'm with you on this...a bit. Some people who went to protest may not have been aware that this was essentially a Republican / FOX News event. They may have just heard about it from a friend and gone to protest.
    I know many people who voted the Democratic ticket who are upset about the bailouts. People like them may have gone to protest not knowing, of course, that they played right into the Right wing hype machine. But what can you do? People have a right to protest even if they don't know everyone who sponsors the protests. In fact, I recall going to anti-war protests that were organized by far left groups who I probably don't share political philosophies with. Didn't stop me from going.

    Merely anecdo0tal is correct (none / 0) (#33)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Apr 19, 2009 at 02:04:28 PM EST
    This was a Republican gathering, marketed and promoted by Republicans.

    An extension of the 2008 campaign.


    I agree (none / 0) (#64)
    by delandjim on Sun Apr 19, 2009 at 05:18:30 PM EST
    It was a lot of people from all sides more republican & indie than dem. But a lot of pissed off, scared people trying to get their voices out there.

    It will be interesting to see how it goes on July 4th. I think that is the next rally or protest date.

    I think the republican party tried to take over the movement. Some places it was successful and some they were told to get lost.

    I also feel the dems are making a big mistake pigeonholing all the protesters as extreme or republican. There was a pretty heavy group of Indie voters there. I think the 2010 elections will be very interesting.


    We know there is a libertarian (none / 0) (#66)
    by Jjc2008 on Sun Apr 19, 2009 at 05:23:25 PM EST
    part to this game.  That's obvious.  Again what is your point?  All government is bad?  All politicians are cheats and liars?  What?  That has been the libertarian cop out for years....whine and blame government in an effort to destroy it with nothing to replace it.  But then it is pushed by the neocon republican plutocrats because the love that mentality....gated communities, no public goods, no commons.

    No thanks


    I disagree with thgis notion: (5.00 / 2) (#5)
    by EL seattle on Sun Apr 19, 2009 at 12:33:51 PM EST
    There is no movement or ideas represented by the Tea Parties other than a desire for more Republican rule - more Bushism.

    I think there is a strong anti-Democrat emotion that's driving the folks that are showing up at these rallies.  They're not pro-Bush-legacy for instance, but they're sure against heavier and heavier cigarette taxes, which they associate with the majority Democrats.  

    The folks I talked to that were interested in the tea parties were not anti-Obama as such, but they seemed to revile Pelosi, Reid, and the local examples of Democratic party leadership with the same sort of venom they had for Bush's obvious Katrina incompetence.  

    Not mutually exclusive (5.00 / 2) (#8)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Apr 19, 2009 at 12:37:35 PM EST
    Indeed, quite likely going hand in hand.

    Agreed. There is more (none / 0) (#11)
    by Cream City on Sun Apr 19, 2009 at 12:45:16 PM EST
    motivating this, and I heard the same anger about new taxes -- going against Obama's campaign promise, as they posit it -- and Congressional, gubernatorial, etc., Dems.  

    And on those counts, I have to agree with them.


    What's the "more?" (none / 0) (#18)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Apr 19, 2009 at 01:36:57 PM EST
    You just acknowledged it (none / 0) (#26)
    by Cream City on Sun Apr 19, 2009 at 01:51:49 PM EST
    or whatever it is that you see going hand in hand, etc.  As for what I heard from participants, some are in my comment above (and others in previous threads).

    Is there anything more to it? (none / 0) (#42)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Apr 19, 2009 at 02:46:13 PM EST
    Anti-Dem/Obama is certainly consistent with pro-Republican, anti-tax, anti-federal government.

    Indeed, as you say, they go hand in hand.
    That was McCain's message last fall.


    I don't know (none / 0) (#45)
    by Cream City on Sun Apr 19, 2009 at 02:58:32 PM EST
    more than I know from what I already posted and what I read about it.

    And I didn't say the hand-in-hand point, as I wouldn't know that -- I was quoting you.  


    Ex NM Gov. Gary Johnson at Santa Fe Tea Pty (none / 0) (#52)
    by Ben Masel on Sun Apr 19, 2009 at 03:21:18 PM EST
    Santa Fe New Mexican

    Attendees were much more in tune with former Gov. Gary Johnson, who was elected to two terms as a Republican but, as often was the case when he was in office, did not give a party-line talk Wednesday.

    Dressed in a gray T-shirt with a peace symbol, Johnson said, "I'm really disappointed in the Republican Party of the last eight years. We had the presidency and the Congress, and we rang up record deficits."

    He also criticized the war in Iraq. He said the U.S. shouldn't have gone to war if it had to resort to massive deficit spending.

    While those criticisms didn't win him big applause, the crowd ate it up when Johnson talked about government waste, high taxes and the possibility of runaway inflation.

    be careful about criticizing perot (5.00 / 1) (#24)
    by Turkana on Sun Apr 19, 2009 at 01:46:41 PM EST
    he may have you investigated...

    these were media driven small gatherings of the lunatic fringe. frightening in their insanity but not in their numbers.

    Media-driven? (5.00 / 1) (#30)
    by rdandrea on Sun Apr 19, 2009 at 01:58:22 PM EST
    I don't know about you, but I got robocalled the day before the Tea Party in my home town.  This was pure astroturf, driven by the same people who drive political campaigns in even-numbered years.

    I think it was both. (5.00 / 5) (#34)
    by Dr Molly on Sun Apr 19, 2009 at 02:04:54 PM EST
    As I said the other day, I had the distinct un-pleasure of listening to right-wing satellite radio all day (the day before the tea parties) in a rental car.

    The tea parties were ginned up by Hannity, Beck, Limbaugh, and all the other nutjobs. And it was nothing but ginned up anti-liberal crap for the tea party agenda - all day long on the radio. It wasn't debt and taxes; it was evil liberals, homosexuality, secularists, environmentalists, the angry left-wing agenda, etc. etc.. And, oh yeah, debt and taxes.

    I believe the whole thing was a desperate flailing attempt to gin up some interest in a pathetic, dying republican party.


    You may find this shocking (none / 0) (#67)
    by wagnert in atlanta on Sun Apr 19, 2009 at 06:53:53 PM EST
    but you can tune satellite radio to other stations.  You don't have to listen to Rush.

    You may find this interesting (none / 0) (#73)
    by Dr Molly on Mon Apr 20, 2009 at 06:36:12 AM EST
    but inane, non-sequitor responses are not exactly intellectually compelling.

    Yes - I certainly could change the station, and finally convinced the driver to do so. But not before I had the unfortunate experience of listening to that toxic windbag.

    Do you have a point other than to be snide? No, I didn't think so.


    You may find this shocking (none / 0) (#74)
    by Cream City on Mon Apr 20, 2009 at 09:21:47 AM EST
    but it would be rude to do so when you're a guest in a car, as it turns out was the situation.

    Or maybe you would be as rude in the car as you were here.  


    Can we stop calling any group a movement? (5.00 / 4) (#32)
    by kempis on Sun Apr 19, 2009 at 02:02:09 PM EST
    A movement is more than a gathering of people who share strong feelings for or against something. The word was used loosely by Obama-supporters during the primaries, and it's used loosely again in Devilstower's post.

    Feelings dissipate. Movements have structure and a philosophical foundation that is strong enough and coherent enough to win arguments and significantly change the status quo. The Civil Rights Movement, the grandaddy of all modern movements, was about so much more than making a sign and hitting the streets. The fact that King's "Letter from Birmingham Jail" is anthologized as an example of a rhetorically masterful, classic argument reveals something about the rigors of the movement: intellectually and spiritually.

    Successful movements are based not only on emotion but on reality and reason and evidence for the need for change and a reasonable plan for change. But, aside from strong emotion, all of that seems to be missing from some contemporary definitions of "movements."

    "Yes, we can" and a charismatic leader are not sufficient for a movement. There has to be a coherent plan for change--what is needed and how to get there. That was missing in the Obama "movement" and it's missing in any effort to brand the tea baggers as a "movement."

    A movement is more than a gathering of excited people.

    Both Sides Right (5.00 / 2) (#38)
    by pluege on Sun Apr 19, 2009 at 02:24:54 PM EST
    The tea parties were mostly republican contrivance trying to rally support for failed republicanism and failing that, at least trying to ding Obama's armor - BTD's correct position.

    But there were also a small percentage of the partiers that were not invested in the sop and theater that the republicans and Fox drummed up in the guise of the tea parties (to undermine Obama).  

    Some "tea Partiers" were there as much for venting general anger as they were anything. People under stress get angry. The unknowns created by the economic crisis - unknowns associated with massive government spending and bailouts, unknowns associated with people losing their jobs...these create great stress in people and they lash out.

    The lashing out isn't necessarily rational. Republicans know this and they take advantage of it. In fact their entire rise and maintenance of power for 28 years rested on the voters being uninformed and irrational.

    Participants versus organizers (5.00 / 1) (#59)
    by gyrfalcon on Sun Apr 19, 2009 at 04:25:00 PM EST
    My sense was that, as you say, there's no "movement" here, but that the initial impulse for this protest and many of the people who came was pretty inchoate.

    A fair number of the local organizers I saw interviewed were Libertarian.  One of the bigger boosters, Fox Business's sophomoric Cody Willard (who famously "dropped the F-Bomb on Obama), has been railing nightly for months about the "Republican Democrat socialist fascist regime" and exhorted the crowd in Boston, as he has on his show every day, to never support or vote for any Republican or Democrat or Libertarian ever again but to look for somebody outside the current party structure.

    But the Republicans and Republican media figures like Hannity and Cavuto, etc., got into it halfway through in an effort to coopt this inchoate "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore" energy for the Republican Party.  After all, what else do they have right now?

    So my sense is the crowd was a mixture of people with different agendas and no real agenda at all other than spouting off their frustration.  There's no coherent "movement" to be made out of that, there isn't even a potential coalition.  To the extent they can make a "movement" out of it, it'll be nothing more than a movement of pissed-off hard-core Republicans. <yawn>


    A lot of people simply don't feel represented (5.00 / 1) (#43)
    by esmense on Sun Apr 19, 2009 at 02:51:59 PM EST
    That applies to people all across the political spectrum. And you know what, they are right. The representative branch isn't representative of, and rarely really represents the true interest of, average people in their district. They represent the monied interests in their district, and they identify with those interests, not with the average constiuent. People may have a lot of wrong headed ideas about what to do about this state of affairs -- but they aren't wrong in their basic assumption.

    Back in '94, prior to angry and disaffected voters throwing our Senator and Democratic majority leader out of office, I was on the receiving end of seemingly endless angry diatribes about the need for term limits from, sometimes it seemed, almost every white male I encountered in the course of doing business. Not wanting to get in a fight with these people, but not wanting to support a stupid idea, I came up with a rejoinder that always, after a moment's thought, made them laugh and calm down. I'd say, "Naw, we don't need term limits -- we need to limit congressional pay to no more than 3 or 4 times the per capita income in their district. They don't get a raise unless constiuents get a raise."

    The fact is, the average congress critter enjoys a 3 or 4 time increase in income when they take office. And most enjoy pay MANY times -- certainly much more than 3 or 4 times -- the per capita income of their constituents. Whether they deserve such pay or not isn't the issue (back in the early 90s Sen. Alan Simpson justified Senatorial pay and benefits by explaining to Leslie Stahl that he and his collegues were actually "CEOs"). The point is that people understand fully that this is no longer in any true sense a "representational" democracy, and they resent it.  

    Wonderful rejoinder, and (none / 0) (#61)
    by Cream City on Sun Apr 19, 2009 at 04:38:25 PM EST
    it reminds me of reading this week of a local alderman in a town nearby who made a motion to reduce by $100 the monthly pay, $350, of himself and the other members of the city council.

    It was a very short article.  After all that above, the rest of the story was:  The motion was tabled.


    I paid as little attention as humanly possible (5.00 / 2) (#44)
    by ruffian on Sun Apr 19, 2009 at 02:57:52 PM EST
    after seeing how much it was rightie 'think'tank and Fox-driven rather than grassroots.  From what I did see, it did seem largely  a Republican effort, with little real independent flavor, as much as Peggy Noonan would like to have us believe otherwise.

    Yes (none / 0) (#48)
    by Cream City on Sun Apr 19, 2009 at 03:03:41 PM EST
    but then, after reading the histories of many reform movements over centuries, I have yet to find one that wasn't driven by some group -- and at the same time or soon afterward, by some media.

    Yet again and again, despite that evidence, I see movements described as "spontaneous," as "coming from nowhere."  (It often just means that the historian or journalist hasn't wanted the hard work of working with anything other than the only newspaper well-indexed for must of our past.  So it really means that the movements didn't come from the New York Times.)


    Insane (5.00 / 1) (#47)
    by nellre on Sun Apr 19, 2009 at 03:00:55 PM EST
    Am I the only one who thinks these so called conservatives are out of their minds?

    Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
    Albert Einstein

    How do you represent the insane?

    Here, the Liberetarians and Paulistas (5.00 / 1) (#51)
    by Ben Masel on Sun Apr 19, 2009 at 03:12:23 PM EST
    were planning a tax day event, secured the permits, then, after Fox and the regular republicans got interested, allowed them to join. Then, they were cut out of speaking slots, and are now quite steamed.

    That finally explains (none / 0) (#54)
    by Cream City on Sun Apr 19, 2009 at 03:25:17 PM EST
    the sizeable turnout in Madison, Ben.  Thanks.

    Statewide. (none / 0) (#56)
    by Ben Masel on Sun Apr 19, 2009 at 03:41:27 PM EST
    Busses from Appleton, Fond du Lac, Eau Claire, Milwaukee.

    Yes, it was Milwaukeeans (none / 0) (#57)
    by Cream City on Sun Apr 19, 2009 at 03:47:01 PM EST
    with whom I mainly talked, before they went.  And then I heard from others from around the state that there had been groups going from several cities.

    The convergence on Madison explained, too, why the crowd of those who stayed in Milwaukee was not the same -- several hundred.  But mad as h*ll.


    There you go (none / 0) (#60)
    by gyrfalcon on Sun Apr 19, 2009 at 04:27:37 PM EST
    I think the initial impulse from this did not come from the Republican Party or Republican organizers, but the Republicans stepped into it and tried, in many cases pretty successfully, to take it over.

    Coverage (none / 0) (#1)
    by Cream City on Sun Apr 19, 2009 at 11:54:02 AM EST
    in Christian Science Monitor, an analysis by scholars of social movements, offered a different and thoughtful perspective.  (Can't link anymore here, owing to some @#$%!! computer update, but the article can be googled).  

    Here's the Link (5.00 / 1) (#27)
    by daring grace on Sun Apr 19, 2009 at 01:56:09 PM EST
    Thanks; that's it. (none / 0) (#37)
    by Cream City on Sun Apr 19, 2009 at 02:24:40 PM EST
    You linkwhiz, you. :-)

    I think you should attend one (none / 0) (#2)
    by TeresaInSnow2 on Sun Apr 19, 2009 at 12:01:45 PM EST
    and see what it is for yourself.  I've heard personal accounts that conflict with what you've said here.

    People see what they want to see (5.00 / 2) (#7)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Apr 19, 2009 at 12:37:00 PM EST
    But tell me what you think the message of the Tea Parties was.

    Indeed (none / 0) (#12)
    by Catch 22 on Sun Apr 19, 2009 at 12:59:42 PM EST
    "People see what they want to see".

    And no one here is excluded from that.


    What did you see? (5.00 / 1) (#19)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Apr 19, 2009 at 01:38:04 PM EST
    What was the message of the "tea parties?" what did I miss?

    No answers forthcoming... (1.00 / 1) (#36)
    by Thanin on Sun Apr 19, 2009 at 02:17:46 PM EST
    what a surprise...

    Answers already posted (none / 0) (#39)
    by Cream City on Sun Apr 19, 2009 at 02:25:44 PM EST
    in previous comments by Teresa and others; why do so again, if only to get such a dismissive response?

    Anti-Obama/Dem (none / 0) (#41)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Apr 19, 2009 at 02:44:08 PM EST
    Is that really the sum total then? What is your point CC?

    Wait -- (5.00 / 2) (#49)
    by Cream City on Sun Apr 19, 2009 at 03:07:20 PM EST
    before this goes further, to no useful point at all . . . let's not bother, as we have different agendas here.  You're looking at it politically, with a political bias -- which is what the blog is about, of course.  I'm looking at it more in the context of political science and history, the context of social movements.  So I don't see the utility of "ridicule," although it has utility for you.

    So go ahead and ridicule, and I'll just watch the responses, which are so intriguing in their agendas -- or lack thereof.


    Which point? (none / 0) (#46)
    by Cream City on Sun Apr 19, 2009 at 02:59:30 PM EST
    I'll tell you (none / 0) (#53)
    by Catch 22 on Sun Apr 19, 2009 at 03:23:51 PM EST
    what I didn't see. I didn't see it as the big deal you that you do. In the big scheme of things I didn't didn't see it as important at all.

    You mistake me (5.00 / 1) (#55)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Apr 19, 2009 at 03:39:41 PM EST
    with someone else. I said it wasn't a big deal before, during and after.

    As Casy Stengel said, you could look it up.


    Quite (2.00 / 1) (#69)
    by Catch 22 on Sun Apr 19, 2009 at 08:03:52 PM EST
    a long post for you make for not being such a big deal! I'm sure the tirade about the GOP was - well - no big deal. I don't buy it.

    Like Yogi Berra said:

    "You can observe a lot by watching"


    Ask the tea-partiers... (none / 0) (#9)
    by Dadler on Sun Apr 19, 2009 at 12:41:25 PM EST
    ...who the richest man in America was when George Washington became our "first" president.  I'd be surprised if more than a few, if any, knew it was Washington himself.  Their view of history seems a tad off kilter, tho, like BTD, I can't criticize their going out and protesting, when, in reality, that is the only thing that makes a free country free -- the right to say no to those in power.

    I sincerely doubt (none / 0) (#68)
    by wagnert in atlanta on Sun Apr 19, 2009 at 07:08:34 PM EST
    that George Washington was the richest man in the United States in 1789.  For one thing, much of "his" property was actually held in trust for Martha -- a trust he did not set up and could not break.

    Agreed. (none / 0) (#10)
    by MaryGM on Sun Apr 19, 2009 at 12:42:44 PM EST
    Great post, BTD.

    This is a distinction that you rarely see made in the mainstream media.  They typically break things down to the simplistic "more/less government" dichotomy, and totally avoid any Dixiecrat discussion for fear of being labeled partisan (or, worse, being accused of having depth!).

    Hamilton, Lincoln, Roosevelt (T) - none of these principled leaders would stand with these post-New Deal "Republicans."  Their shared party is nothing more than coincidence.  The Tea Parties were also, as you said, a perfectly exceptable means of voicing an opinion, but they've been given far more press than they deserve.


    Look at who they are reacting against. (none / 0) (#13)
    by Addison on Sun Apr 19, 2009 at 01:02:13 PM EST
    Many of the Republicans around me were involved in "tea parties" and I agree that it was not an event that was outside the orbit of the Republican Party.

    It was essentially a reactionary display against Obama (notably Obama is the Republicans' opponent, not necessarily the anti-federalists' opponent).

    "Obama is not my mama" was the nonsense chant at some of them, alluding to the fact that it wasn't that they didn't want a parental federal government, it's that they didn't like the Democratic president's version of it.

    If Devilstower had been to some of the protests and/or known Republicans who had gone he would have no stated what he stated. But even absent that the coverage by FoxNews should have been a tip-off. And even absent that you can always tell the locus of a "movement" (artificial or not) by their personification of the "enemy."

    Devilstower link inoperative... (none / 0) (#15)
    by oldpro on Sun Apr 19, 2009 at 01:24:49 PM EST

    Fixed, thanks (none / 0) (#17)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Apr 19, 2009 at 01:35:38 PM EST
    Just (none / 0) (#21)
    by Ga6thDem on Sun Apr 19, 2009 at 01:39:34 PM EST
    from personal experience here and not scientific it was very anti-Obama. Rev. Wright made people believe that these are Obama's beliefs and they are using that as one of the rallying points. No matter what Obama says on that subject they can't overcome the fact that he went there for 20 years. There's also a large hatred of Pelosi and Reed but that's not anything new. It's been going on for quite a while. And then there's the hatred of Democrats in general for various and sundry reasons.

    IMO, in the end these people really didn't do the GOP any good but never underestimate the simmering anger that may make itself known at the polls in '10. It's the same kind of anger that was focused on Bush in '06 and '08 in a lot of ways.

    Good post (none / 0) (#50)
    by andgarden on Sun Apr 19, 2009 at 03:08:34 PM EST

    You've got it backwards (none / 0) (#70)
    by abdiel on Sun Apr 19, 2009 at 09:56:58 PM EST
    I don't think this was the Republican Party organizing rallies.  You present absolutely no evidence as such, other than some correlations that don't connect well.  I think this was largely a case of angry taxpayers protesting and the Republican Party trying to jump on the bandwagon and take credit.  The Republicans are trying to seize the mantle of fiscal conservatism again, which you may or may not regard as a good thing.  

    I agree it isn't anything to worry about because Republicans aren't serious about real change.  The tax parties weren't pro-tax cuts either, which is something to remember.  

    What I find really ironic is why anyone here is worrying about the GOP.  If anything, you should be happy the GOP is flubbing another issue and guaranteeing that Democrats keep their majority in 2010.

    Talk about no evidence (none / 0) (#72)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Apr 19, 2009 at 10:32:54 PM EST
    Let me introduce you to two organizations at the center of the Tea Parties - FreedomWorks and Fox news.

    I have a hard time discussing this with some of yu. You deny obvious facts.


    i disagree with this BTD: (none / 0) (#71)
    by cpinva on Sun Apr 19, 2009 at 10:14:52 PM EST
    It is now merely a quirk of fate that Alexander Hamilton was the founder of the modern day Republican Party

    mr. hamilton would instantly recognize the present day republican party, the party of the rich, well connected and large corporations. it was, after all, his actions, as the first secretary of the treasury, that precipitated the whiskey rebellion. this resulted in the first use of the US military (led, initially, by none other than president george washington) on home soil, against US citizens. general pershing would reprise this action a little over a century later.

    hamiliton had enacted high excise taxes on small distillers, with the express purpose of driving them out of business, to the benefit of larger operations. if that isn't the type of thing the current republican party would support, nothing is.

    the april 15 "tea bag" parties were organized and led by republicans, and most of the participants were just angry people, angry about pretty much everything. most couldn't clearly articulate what the supposed purpose of the event was, since most didn't really seem to have a clue.

    in that respect, they were probably very representative of the population as a whole.

    I disagree partly (none / 0) (#75)
    by Randy Rowe on Mon Jun 22, 2009 at 12:40:59 PM EST
    Id have to disagree slightly, It was originaly organized by what was left of ron paul supporters.. Then it kinda got hijacked by main stream media "FOX" But we still have a significant presence there. We even had a few speakers here in phoenix. Somwhere back east there where so many of what you call "Anti federalist" that a regular republician who vote for the bail out was booed of stage...