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Thread: Why the Left Doesn't Get the Tea Party

  1. #1
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    Why the Left Doesn't Get the Tea Party

    Interesting Op/Ed from the Wall Street Journal today. The author makes some good points.

    Why Liberals Don't Get the Tea Party Movement

    Our universities haven't taught much political history for decades. No wonder so many progressives have disdain for the principles that animated the Federalist debates.
    By PETER BERKOWITZ

    Highly educated people say the darndest things, these days particularly about the tea party movement. Vast numbers of other highly educated people read and hear these dubious pronouncements, smile knowingly, and nod their heads in agreement. University educations and advanced degrees notwithstanding, they lack a basic understanding of the contours of American constitutional government.

    New York Times columnist Paul Krugman got the ball rolling in April 2009, just ahead of the first major tea party rallies on April 15, by falsely asserting that "the tea parties don't represent a spontaneous outpouring of public sentiment. They're AstroTurf (fake grass-roots) events."

    Having learned next to nothing in the intervening 16 months about one of the most spectacular grass-roots political movements in American history, fellow Times columnist Frank Rich denied in August of this year that the tea party movement is "spontaneous and leaderless," insisting instead that it is the instrument of billionaire brothers David and Charles Koch.

    Washington Post columnist E. J. Dionne criticized the tea party as unrepresentative in two ways. It "constitutes a sliver of opinion on the extreme end of politics receiving attention out of all proportion with its numbers," he asserted last month. This was a step back from his rash prediction five months before that since it "represents a relatively small minority of Americans on the right end of politics," the tea party movement "will not determine the outcome of the 2010 elections."

    In February, Mr. Dionne argued that the tea party was also unrepresentative because it reflected a political principle that lost out at America's founding and deserves to be permanently retired: "Anti-statism, a profound mistrust of power in Washington goes all the way back to the Anti-Federalists who opposed the Constitution itself because they saw it concentrating too much authority in the central government."

    Mr. Dionne follows in the footsteps of progressive historian Richard Hofstadter, whose influential 1964 book "The Paranoid Style in American Politics" argued that Barry Goldwater and his supporters displayed a "style of mind" characterized by "heated exaggeration, suspiciousness, and conspiratorial fantasy." Similarly, the "suspicion of government" that the tea party movement shares with the Anti-Federalists, Mr. Dionne maintained, "is not amenable to 'facts'" because "opposing government is a matter of principle."

    To be sure, the tea party sports its share of clowns, kooks and creeps. And some of its favored candidates and loudest voices have made embarrassing statements and embraced reckless policies. This, however, does not distinguish the tea party movement from the competition.

    Born in response to President Obama's self-declared desire to fundamentally change America, the tea party movement has made its central goals abundantly clear. Activists and the sizeable swath of voters who sympathize with them want to reduce the massively ballooning national debt, cut runaway federal spending, keep taxes in check, reinvigorate the economy, and block the expansion of the state into citizens' lives.

    In other words, the tea party movement is inspired above all by a commitment to limited government. And that does distinguish it from the competition.

    But far from reflecting a recurring pathology in our politics or the losing side in the debate over the Constitution, the devotion to limited government lies at the heart of the American experiment in liberal democracy. The Federalists who won ratification of the Constitution—most notably Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay—shared with their Anti-Federalist opponents the view that centralized power presented a formidable and abiding threat to the individual liberty that it was government's primary task to secure. They differed over how to deal with the threat.

    The Anti-Federalists—including Patrick Henry, Samuel Bryan and Robert Yates—adopted the traditional view that liberty depended on state power exercised in close proximity to the people. The Federalists replied in Federalist 9 that the "science of politics," which had "received great improvement," showed that in an extended and properly structured republic liberty could be achieved and with greater security and stability.

    This improved science of politics was based not on abstract theory or complex calculations but on what is referred to in Federalist 51 as "inventions of prudence" grounded in the reading of classic and modern authors, broad experience of self-government in the colonies, and acute observations about the imperfections and finer points of human nature. It taught that constitutionally enumerated powers; a separation, balance, and blending of these powers among branches of the federal government; and a distribution of powers between the federal and state governments would operate to leave substantial authority to the states while both preventing abuses by the federal government and providing it with the energy needed to defend liberty.

    Whether members have read much or little of The Federalist, the tea party movement's focus on keeping government within bounds and answerable to the people reflects the devotion to limited government embodied in the Constitution. One reason this is poorly understood among our best educated citizens is that American politics is poorly taught at the universities that credentialed them. Indeed, even as the tea party calls for the return to constitutional basics, our universities neglect The Federalist and its classic exposition of constitutional principles.

    For the better part of two generations, the best political science departments have concentrated on equipping students with skills for performing empirical research and teaching mathematical models that purport to describe political affairs. Meanwhile, leading history departments have emphasized social history and issues of race, class and gender at the expense of constitutional history, diplomatic history and military history.

    Neither professors of political science nor of history have made a priority of instructing students in the founding principles of American constitutional government. Nor have they taught about the contest between the progressive vision and the conservative vision that has characterized American politics since Woodrow Wilson (then a political scientist at Princeton) helped launch the progressive movement in the late 19th century by arguing that the Constitution had become obsolete and hindered democratic reform.

    Then there are the proliferating classes in practical ethics and moral reasoning. These expose students to hypothetical conundrums involving individuals in surreal circumstances suddenly facing life and death decisions, or present contentious public policy questions and explore the range of respectable progressive opinions for resolving them. Such exercises may sharpen students' ability to argue. They do little to teach about self-government.

    They certainly do not teach about the virtues, or qualities of mind and character, that enable citizens to shoulder their political responsibilities and prosper amidst the opportunities and uncertainties that freedom brings. Nor do they teach the beliefs, practices and associations that foster such virtues and those that endanger them.

    Those who doubt that the failings of higher education in America have political consequences need only reflect on the quality of progressive commentary on the tea party movement. Our universities have produced two generations of highly educated people who seem unable to recognize the spirited defense of fundamental American principles, even when it takes place for more than a year and a half right in front of their noses.

    Mr. Berkowitz is a senior fellow at Stanford's Hoover Institution.

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    Too bad this article doesn't represent the people running for office within the Tea Party and having Palin as their front person doesn't help their cause.

    Rand Paul used to represent this article, but he too is becoming one of "them".

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    Quote Originally Posted by cr726 View Post
    Too bad this article doesn't represent the people running for office within the Tea Party and having Palin as their front person doesn't help their cause.

    Rand Paul used to represent this article, but he too is becoming one of "them".
    Rand Paul might win his election (might), but I don't care what you or anyone else says -- Sarah Palin is largely irrelevant. The left's obsession with her is a little sad. She's a high priced guest speaker who riles up a crowd by serving them up red meat, but beyond shouting bumper sticker slogans she's nothing. She'll never win another election for the rest of her life, and she'll fade into obscurity within the next 5 years. Anyone who matters thinks she's a joke, and it's only a matter of time before even the biggest tea party loons thinks she's a joke, too.

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    Quote Originally Posted by pauliec View Post
    Rand Paul might win his election (might), but I don't care what you or anyone else says -- Sarah Palin is largely irrelevant. The left's obsession with her is a little sad. She's a high priced guest speaker who riles up a crowd by serving them up red meat, but beyond shouting bumper sticker slogans she's nothing. She'll never win another election for the rest of her life, and she'll fade into obscurity within the next 5 years. Anyone who matters thinks she's a joke, and it's only a matter of time before even the biggest tea party loons thinks she's a joke, too.
    Palin is a major money maker for the Tea Party, pretty simple.
    The ones who matter and think she is a joke, would/will answer the phone when she calls and invite her to raise cash. That makes her relevant.

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    Quote Originally Posted by cr726 View Post
    Palin is a major money maker for the Tea Party, pretty simple.
    The ones who matter and think she is a joke, would/will answer the phone when she calls and invite her to raise cash. That makes her relevant.
    I may be wrong, but I doubt very much that whoever runs for President on the Republican ticket will be inviting her to speak at fundraisers. Besides, the tea party masses aren't what the big money candidates depend on for cash -- they go right to the Wall St. execs, power attorneys, etc, at venues like someone's living room or a private party at a restaurant in NY or DC. Not exactly the kind of venue where Palin would fit in.

    I still think she's a fringe lunatic and a sideshow, good for riling up the crowds and nothing else. She's not a money maker for anyone but herself.

    Just a personal example -- there's a tea party candidate running in a pretty close Congressional race in my own district, and she has never even mentioned Palin. And she's doing fairly well against a Democratic incumbent who's been in Congress for 24 years. The only tea party candidates you hear about on TV are the crazy ones (like Christine O'Donnell), but there are many others out there who are actually good candidates.

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    Quote Originally Posted by pauliec View Post
    I may be wrong, but I doubt very much that whoever runs for President on the Republican ticket will be inviting her to speak at fundraisers. Besides, the tea party masses aren't what the big money candidates depend on for cash -- they go right to the Wall St. execs, power attorneys, etc, at venues like someone's living room or a private party at a restaurant in NY or DC. Not exactly the kind of venue where Palin would fit in.

    I still think she's a fringe lunatic and a sideshow, good for riling up the crowds and nothing else. She's not a money maker for anyone but herself.

    Just a personal example -- there's a tea party candidate running in a pretty close Congressional race in my own district, and she has never even mentioned Palin. And she's doing fairly well against a Democratic incumbent who's been in Congress for 24 years. The only tea party candidates you hear about on TV are the crazy ones (like Christine O'Donnell), but there are many others out there who are actually good candidates.
    And they are working on getting their teeth straightened and praying to God to rehab their underprivileged DNA.


    This Tea Party movement is one of the biggest frauds in the history of American politics. Where were these Constitutional liberty fighters when George W. Bush's administration made a joke of the 4th amendment? Where were these deficit hawks when Bush Jr increased our nat'l debt by 50%?

    2000-2008 the Tea Party does not exist. Obama gets elected all of a sudden we are oppressed and all government spending is bad and blah blah blah.

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    Quote Originally Posted by pauliec View Post
    I may be wrong, but I doubt very much that whoever runs for President on the Republican ticket will be inviting her to speak at fundraisers. Besides, the tea party masses aren't what the big money candidates depend on for cash -- they go right to the Wall St. execs, power attorneys, etc, at venues like someone's living room or a private party at a restaurant in NY or DC. Not exactly the kind of venue where Palin would fit in.

    I still think she's a fringe lunatic and a sideshow, good for riling up the crowds and nothing else. She's not a money maker for anyone but herself.

    Just a personal example -- there's a tea party candidate running in a pretty close Congressional race in my own district, and she has never even mentioned Palin. And she's doing fairly well against a Democratic incumbent who's been in Congress for 24 years. The only tea party candidates you hear about on TV are the crazy ones (like Christine O'Donnell), but there are many others out there who are actually good candidates.
    High profile Tea Party rallies rely on her. Aren't we in the same District?

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    Quote Originally Posted by VincenzoTestaverde View Post
    And they are working on getting their teeth straightened and praying to God to rehab their underprivileged DNA.


    This Tea Party movement is one of the biggest frauds in the history of American politics. Where were these Constitutional liberty fighters when George W. Bush's administration made a joke of the 4th amendment? Where were these deficit hawks when Bush Jr increased our nat'l debt by 50%?

    2000-2008 the Tea Party does not exist. Obama gets elected all of a sudden we are oppressed and all government spending is bad and blah blah blah.
    Well, you could compare the political climates now vs. 9 years ago. Congress (not Bush) pushed through sweeping reforms in a matter of weeks that drastically changed the shape of our intelligence community, for better or worse. The Patriot Act passed not only with bipartisan support, but almost unanimously.

    In the same vein, all of that money spent was on two wars -- wars, at that time, which also received bipartisan support in the House and Senate. That's where all our debt came from. These weren't policies that gun-toting, flag-waving people were going to speak out against.

    Compare that to what the tea partiers speak out against in terms of spending, mainly:

    - stimulus packages that are still being debated to whether they were effective or not
    - a universal healthcare bill that was so hotly contested that the President had difficulty bringing some Democrats on board, and the Speaker of the House saying, "We have to pass this bill to find out what's in it"

    So, understandably, some people began to become a little upset.

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    Quote Originally Posted by cr726 View Post
    High profile Tea Party rallies rely on her. Aren't we in the same District?
    hmm... I don't think so. I would guess your Congressman is Chris Smith, a Republican incumbent. Mine's Frank Pallone.

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    Quote Originally Posted by pauliec View Post
    Well, you could compare the political climates now vs. 9 years ago. Congress (not Bush) pushed through sweeping reforms in a matter of weeks that drastically changed the shape of our intelligence community, for better or worse. The Patriot Act passed not only with bipartisan support, but almost unanimously.

    In the same vein, all of that money spent was on two wars -- wars, at that time, which also received bipartisan support in the House and Senate. That's where all our debt came from. These weren't policies that gun-toting, flag-waving people were going to speak out against.

    Compare that to what the tea partiers speak out against in terms of spending, mainly:

    - stimulus packages that are still being debated to whether they were effective or not
    - a universal healthcare bill that was so hotly contested that the President had difficulty bringing some Democrats on board, and the Speaker of the House saying, "We have to pass this bill to find out what's in it"

    So, understandably, some people began to become a little upset.
    1. All of our debt came from OIF and OEF? Granted, some of it did but George W. Bust inherited a $6 billion nat'l debt to go along with a $250 billion surplus which he increased to $9 trillion and transformed into a $500 deficit that he gave Obama.

    2. Universal healthcare bill? Healthcare reform is not universal it only gives 30 million more Americans health coverage while reducing ourdeficit by $150 billion over the next ten years. It actually was a pretty conservative reform bill in that tort reform was a major part of it as well as making Americans buy health insurance coverage instead of just taking advantage of the system anytime they go to an ER and passing off the bill to everyone else.

    3. The stimulus package is not a be all end all solution. Just like Bush's excessive and debt exploding tax cuts for the rich turned out to be an unmitigated disaster. How many jobs get lost if Obama doesn't bail out the American Auto Industry? 1 million plus? Yeah, what a communist motherf*cker.

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    Quote Originally Posted by pauliec View Post
    stimulus packages that are still being debated to whether they were effective or not
    Yeah. They should have spoken up when the first stimulus was passed.

    They did not.

    They're frauds.

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    Quote Originally Posted by PlumberKhan View Post
    Yeah. They should have spoken up when the first stimulus was passed.

    They did not.

    They're frauds.
    Most didn't, that's true, but some definitely did.

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    they did and do...its' called Moveon.org....

    when moveon were running half priced ads in the NYSlimes on "General Betrayus" and false ads on GWB going awol in the national guard or looking to michael moore-on as their leader, the clowns at Rolling Stone applauded them and called it "patriotic dissent".....

    when conservatives start a grass roots movement its' called "hate"...

    go figure...

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    Quote Originally Posted by PlumberKhan View Post
    Yeah. They should have spoken up when the first stimulus was passed.

    They did not.

    They're frauds.
    lol- who didn't speak up when the first stimulus package was passed???

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    Quote Originally Posted by VincenzoTestaverde View Post
    And they are working on getting their teeth straightened and praying to God to rehab their underprivileged DNA.


    This Tea Party movement is one of the biggest frauds in the history of America politics. Where were these Constitutional liberty fighters when George W. Bush's administration made a joke of the 4th amendment? Where were these deficit hawks when Bush Jr increased our nat'l debt by 50%?

    2000-2008 the Tea Party does not exist. Obama gets elected all of a sudden we are oppressed and all government spending is bad and blah blah blah.
    That would be you Vinchenzo (T.V.I.) saying you were once a conservative.

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    i wonder about a group that protests taxes when the American tax burden is the lightest it's been for about 60 years.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bitonti View Post
    i wonder about a group that protests taxes when the American tax burden is the lightest it's been for about 60 years.
    Source?

    And (as best as I can tell) it's not just "taxes".

    It's Government spending. Government power over the individual. Government waste and mismanagement.

    Basicly, it's the argument that the Government takes too much, spends too much on things it shouldn't, and has too much power over us, the people.

    It's an argument I tend to agree with, but that no Liberal I know will ever agree with. At their heart, most Liberals support a Euro-style social-welfare-state, if not outright Socialism. A trade of freedom for comfort and fiscal security. A state where all basic needs are met by the state regardless of the actions of the indvidual, and paid for by high taxes, resulting in a divide between tax payers and tax-welfare-recipients who pay (net) nothing to the support of the state.

    Most Libs I know despise, and would love to also eliminate, the concept of the Corporation. Few are specific as to how they'd replace it, but one must assume they prefer some form of State-controlled power over the means of production, in the interest of fairness and keeping "special interests" out of control, right?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Warfish View Post
    Source?
    http://www.upi.com/Business_News/201...4091273594893/

    Quote Originally Posted by Warfish View Post
    And (as best as I can tell) it's not just "taxes".

    It's Government spending. Government power over the individual. Government waste and mismanagement.

    Basicly, it's the argument that the Government takes too much, spends too much on things it shouldn't, and has too much power over us, the people.

    It's an argument I tend to agree with, but that no Liberal I know will ever agree with. At their heart, most Liberals support a Euro-style social-welfare-state, if not outright Socialism. A trade of freedom for comfort and fiscal security. A state where all basic needs are met by the state regardless of the actions of the indvidual, and paid for by high taxes, resulting in a divide between tax payers and tax-welfare-recipients who pay (net) nothing to the support of the state.

    Most Libs I know despise, and would love to also eliminate, the concept of the Corporation. Few are specific as to how they'd replace it, but one must assume they prefer some form of State-controlled power over the means of production, in the interest of fairness and keeping "special interests" out of control, right?
    I don't have much faith in the tea party's understanding of government. Or of the word Socialism. If they did understand what they were asking for, Medicare and SS would be gone. The nation building wars would be over. No more dams will be built. When a national weather emergency happens, the government is not going to show up. Wildfire? let it burn.

    Why aren't these requests a tenet of tea-party-ism?

    Cause the tea-party only wants to get rid of the big government that they don't use. Don't tough "their" free-bies, there will be hell to pay.

    as for the abolish of corporatism in some liberals... well that's dumb too. 2 wrongs don't make a right. These horses have already fled the barn.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bitonti View Post
    http://www.upi.com/Business_News/201...4091273594893/



    I don't have much faith in the tea party's understanding of government. Or of the word Socialism. If they did understand what they were asking for, Medicare and SS would be gone. The nation building wars would be over. No more dams will be built. When a national weather emergency happens, the government is not going to show up. Wildfire? let it burn.

    Why aren't these requests a tenet of tea-party-ism?

    Cause the tea-party only wants to get rid of the big government that they don't use. Don't tough "their" free-bies, there will be hell to pay.

    as for the abolish of corporatism in some liberals... well that's dumb too. 2 wrongs don't make a right. These horses have already fled the barn.
    lol...of course its' only topped by the faith people have in your understanding of the Tea Party- but hey; whatever the talking points of the day are for the left...

    btw- few, if any in the Tea Party have said medicare should be gone....its' a benefit people pay for...it is in fact the left which are calling for medicare benefits to be shut off at a point they deem to be necessary- as we've seen in another thread.... but just like the assinine wildfire example its' much easier to make sh!t up than face the truth....
    Last edited by Come Back to NY; 10-19-2010 at 11:36 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bitonti View Post

    I don't have much faith in the tea party's understanding of government.
    Funny, reading your post, I (once again, like the fire dept. thread) would question that you have ANY understanding of Libertarian Conservatvism.

    You appear to have almost no understanding at all, given your laughable examples of what you think they "should" support.

    Or of the word Socialism. If they did understand what they were asking for, Medicare and SS would be gone. The nation building wars would be over. No more dams will be built. When a national weather emergency happens, the government is not going to show up. Wildfire? let it burn.

    Why aren't these requests a tenet of tea-party-ism?
    Because "Tea Party" =/= Anarchist. Because Libertarian Conservativism =/= Anarchist. Building Straw Men and then knocking them down only exposes your own ignorance of their beliefs and ideals Bit.

    There is a legitimate debate to be had about the need for Trillions in Govt. spending and deficit running, arguments to be had for how much welfare-state is too much welfare-state. Arguments about the role of Govt., and the power it should have over the individual.

    None of these are "all or nothing" debates, and couching them as such as you do is simply missing the point and beating up non-existant straw men.

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