Friday, September 16, 2011

One Word Turns the Tea Party Around

From the Weekly Sift courtesy of a facebook friend:

This last year or two I’ve been feeling that way about the Tea Party — not the corporate lobbyists who run the organizations or the billionaires who fund them, but the rank-and-file types who wave signs and bring their babies to rallies. A few are the stereotypic gun-toting racists, but a lot of others are low-to-middle-class folks who have figured a few things out:

•Honest, hard-working Americans are seeing their opportunities dry up.
•The country is dominated by a small self-serving elite.
•Our democracy is threatened.
•The public is told a lot of lies.
•People need to stand up and make their voices heard.
•If we stand together, we’re not as helpless as we seem.

I could go on, but you get the idea. They’re on to something. The country needs people like this carrying the ball, if only they weren’t running the wrong way.

How they should turn around is pretty easy to describe. Tea Partiers think:

The threat to our way of life comes from government, and the solution is to shrink government while freeing corporations from government control.

Just flip government and corporations in that sentence:

The threat to our way of life comes from corporations, and the solution is to shrink corporations while freeing government from corporate control.

Perfect. Now you can explain things like too-big-to-fail banks gambling trillions on the unregulated credit-default-swap market, sinking the economy, and then getting the taxpayers to cover their losses.

More here.

This is a pretty brilliant rhetorical tactic in its simplicity. Indeed, what's so appealing about it is that it doesn't really change much of the existing rhetoric; it just nudges it a bit. So you don't really have to go back to the very beginning. You don't have to risk eyes glazing over as you recite the history of worker/capitalist relations. You don't have to get bogged down by various niggling bogus criticisms. You hit the ground running, which allows slashing at the jugular in quick order.

What's most important to understand here is that, as observed in the excerpt above, Tea Party activism, while wildly misguided, is motivated by very real social grievances, the kind of stuff that has, historically, been the meat and potatoes of the Democratic Party. Amazingly, though, the Republicans are apparently the only ones who actually know how to talk to these people, and are filling their minds full of toxic lies and bullshit. That is, the Tea Party really ought to be a Democratic phenomenon, but it's not. I mean, it would be if the Democrats offered a coherent narrative about the way the world works, but they've been too bought off by corporate influence to speak anything but gibberish these days. But it's so amazingly simple: the Tea Party take on the American decline is essentially correct except for one freakin' word!

I'd call on the Democrats to embrace this simple wisdom, but I know it would never happen. We really are all going to Hell.