The often reprehensible David Brooks has a column today titled “The Tea Party Teens“–which, BTW, sounds like Brooks’ favorite late-night website–that actually contains an argument based on empirical data. That alone makes it worth mentioning, but also, much as it pains me to write this, his conclusion about the teabaggers is hard to argue with.
“In the near term, the tea party tendency will dominate the Republican Party. It could be the ruin of the party, pulling it in an angry direction that suburban voters will not tolerate. But don’t underestimate the deep reservoirs of public disgust. If there is a double-dip recession, a long period of stagnation, a fiscal crisis, a terrorist attack or some other major scandal or event, the country could demand total change, creating a vacuum that only the tea party movement and its inheritors would be in a position to fill.
Personally, I’m not a fan of this movement. But I can certainly see its potential to shape the coming decade.”
Whether or not this white nationalist movement will have any electoral success remains to be seen, but they’re certainly taking up space on the nation’s Op-Ed pages. Other than the Brooks column, on Sunday Dana Milbank wrote about Glenn Beck’s horrifying popularity, and, today, both Richard Cohen’s and Bob Herbert’s columns implicitly discuss the baggers.
Though some of that group’s grievances are legitimate, if misguided–their distrust of “elites,” their feelings of marginalization–it’s important to remember just how distasteful this so-called “right-wing populism” really is. Dale Robertson, founder of teaparty.org, is now being rightly criticized for a picture taken of him at a protest aaaaalllllll the way back in February of 09. If you haven’t seen it yet, don’t look while you’re drinking a glass of water:
Yes, paying taxes IS exactly like the institutionalized ownership of other human beings. Good to be reminded on occasion.
Robertson claims to be the original teabagger, though that’s debatable, seeing as the “movement,” as it were, is a strange conglomeration of media figures, nutty politicians, and bitter, bitter white people.
That a confederacy of lunatics, resentful of the changing demographics in America exists is not surprising. What IS surprising is that a recent poll put their favorability at 41%, higher than both mainstream parties. Pictures like the one above should bring that number down, but seeing as this is far from the first racist act that group has committed, the question then becomes: what if that number doesn’t come down?