Here are two perspectives on the Tea Party movement that offer tea some sympathy. Both writers are alive to an important trend, the degree to which privilege among Democrats (and there is a clear class break between blue states and red ‘uns) has separated them from populist concerns– including the concern that their children will be killed in Afghanistan. Visionary Milton Friedman wanted this to happen by eliminating the draft; he wanted the elite not to have to decide to murder its own children; and he has got his wish.
First Chris Hedges, “The Phantom Left,” at truthdig:
The Rally to Restore Sanity, held in Washington’s National Mall [last Saturday, Jon Stewart and Stephen Coulbert], was yet another sad footnote to the death of the liberal class. It was as innocuous as a Boy Scout jamboree. It ridiculed followers of the tea party without acknowledging that the pain and suffering expressed by many who support the movement are not only real but legitimate. It made fun of the buffoons who are rising up out of moral swamps to take over the Republican Party without accepting that their supporters were sold out by a liberal class, and especially a Democratic Party, which turned its back on the working class for corporate money.
Justin Raimondo at The American Conservative says the tea partiers are the heirs of the antiwar movement that Obama sold out:
The anti-establishment force behind Obama was one that had lain dormant for a generation: the grassroots Left. It was reawakened by the same causes that had first given it life in the 1960s—opposition to war and demands for civil liberty. Torture, executive secrecy, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan filled the roles once played by segregation and the war in Vietnam. In 2008 as in 1968, the essence of the activist Left was its antiwar faith.
…It was only in response to great shock—the 9/11 terrorist attacks and George W. Bush’s subsequent crusade to democratize the Muslim world—that these ex-Trotskyites-turned-suburbanites woke from their narcotized sleep. The resurgent Left had an ongoing drama to validate its concerns: the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the spectacle of untrammeled executive power running roughshod over the Constitution.
…Obama dogged Hillary over her vote in favor of the Iraq War and made an explicit appeal to the netroots and the antiwar movement. That gave him the momentum to snatch the crown from her brow. It didn’t matter that he justified his opposition to the war on the grounds that we were prosecuting the “wrong” war and vowed to fight on the Afghan front with greater vigor than his predecessor. At that point, the anti-interventionist base of the Democratic Party was ready to nominate anybody but Hillary.
…The antiwar Left defeated itself by electing a Democrat little different from Bush. And now Barack Obama is dismantling his own party by repudiating the causes that animated his base—the opposition to war and fear of the imperial presidency. In the run-up to the midterm elections, Obama tried instead to mobilize his party around the weakest items on its agenda: big government and cultural issues….
The Democrats’ decline owes nothing to Republican leaders like John Boehner or Mitch McConnell; it is entirely the result of Obama betraying the antiwar Left at the same time as the grassroots Right finally returned to its economic principles. Should Republicans proceed again as they did under Bush, the cycle will repeat—another war, another resurgence of the Left.
Both parties, in spite of their strenuous efforts, have failed to carry off a political realignment.