Constitutional 'Tea Parties'

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Joined: 25 Apr 2006

PostPosted: Wed Apr 15, 2009 7:15 pm    Post subject: Constitutional 'Tea Parties' Reply with quote

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Joined: 29 Apr 2006
Location: North Carolina

PostPosted: Tue Apr 28, 2009 6:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

We've had these teabag parties in our city. All the Republicans come out and protest Obama's policies. I'm all for Free Speech but some of the signs they put up are quite disgusting and without merit.
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 28, 2009 6:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

do you know what teabagging means?

It's a pretty rude term if you want to check it out - so to hear this news report being so cheeky was quite something!
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 28, 2009 6:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ha ha ha! Never heard that term before. Thinking of it - here they call them Tea Parties...they must have picked up on the double entendre.

Thanks for the info - I'll be thinking of them in a new light form now on!!
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Location: by the sea

PostPosted: Mon Jun 14, 2010 10:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bogus, Misdirected and Effective
The Tea Party movement is steeped in misinformation and denial. But it has a lot to teach the left.

In the Netherlands a movement based on paranoia and the fleecing of the poor looks set to join the government. In the United States one of the biggest exercises in false consciousness the world has ever seen - people gathering in their millions to lobby unwittingly for a smaller share of the nation’s wealth – has become the playmaker in Republican primaries. The radical right is seizing its chance. But where is the radical left?

Both the Freedom Party in the Netherlands and the Tea Party in the US base their political programmes on misinformation and denial. But as political forces they are devastatingly effective. The contrast to the leftwing meetings I’ve attended over the past two years couldn’t be starker. They are cerebral, cogent, realistic – and little of substance has emerged from them.

The rightwing movements thrive on their contradictions, the leftwing movements drown in them. Tea Party members who proclaim their rugged individualism will follow a bucket on a broomstick if it has the right label, and engage in the herd behaviour they claim to deplore. The left, by contrast, talks of collective action but indulges instead in possessive individualism. Instead of coming together to fight common causes, leftwing meetings today consist of dozens of people promoting their own ideas, and proposing that everyone else should adopt them.

It would be wrong to characterise the Tea Party movement as being mostly working class. The polls suggest that its followers have an income and college education rate slightly above the national mean(1). But it is the only rising political movement in the US which enjoys major working class support. It voices the resentments of those who sense that they have been shut out of American life. Yet it campaigns for policies that threaten to exclude them further. The Contract from America for which Tea Party members voted demands that the US adopt a single-rate tax system, repeal Obama’s health care legislation and sustain George W Bush’s reductions in income tax, capital gains tax and inheritance tax(2). The beneficiaries of these policies are corporations and the ultra-wealthy. Those who will be hurt by them are angrily converging on state capitals to demand that they are implemented.

The Tea Party protests began after the business journalist Rick Santelli broadcast an attack from the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange on the government’s plan to help impoverished people whose mortgages had fallen into arrears(3). To cheers from the traders at the exchange, he proposed that they should hold a tea party to dump derivative securities in Lake Michigan in protest at Obama’s intention – in Santilli’s words - to “subsidise the losers”. (I urge you to watch the broadcast – it is the most alarming example of cheap demagoguery you are likely to have seen. It continues to be promoted by Santelli’s employer, CNBC(4)).

The protests which claim to defend the interests of the working class began, in other words, with a call for a bankers’ revolt against the undeserving poor. They have been promoted by Fox News, owned by that champion of the underdog Rupert Murdoch, and lavishly funded by other billionaires(5). Its corporate backers wrap themselves in the complaints of the downtrodden: they are 21st Century Marie-Antoinettes, who dress up as dairymaids and propose that the poor subsist on a diet of laissez-faire.

Before this movement had a name, its contradictions were explored in Thomas Frank’s seminal book What’s the Matter with Kansas?(6) The genius of the new conservatism, Frank argues, is its “systematic erasure of the economic”. It blames the troubles of the poor not on economic forces – corporate and class power, wage cuts, tax cuts, outsourcing – but on cultural forces. The backlashers could believe that George W Bush was a man of the people by ignoring his family’s wealth. They can believe that the media is a liberal conspiracy only by forgetting about the corporations (CNBC, Fox etc) and the conservative billionaires who run it. The movement depends on people never making the connection between, for example, “mass culture, most of which conservatives hate, and laissez-faire capitalism, which they adore” or “the small towns they profess to love and the market forces that are slowly grinding those small towns back into the red-state dust.”

The anger of the excluded is aimed instead at gay marriage, abortion, swearing on television and latte-drinking, French-speaking liberals. The working class American right votes for candidates who rail against cultural degradation, but what it gets when they take power is a transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich.

In the Netherlands, Geert Wilders’s Freedom Party performs a similar conjuring trick, persuading working and middle class voters that their real enemies are Muslims, while demanding tax cuts, abolition of the minimum wage and reductions in child benefits(7). It is only because of the general political doziness of the British electorate that such movements – despite the UK Independence Party’s best efforts – have not yet taken off here. Give them time.

Though most of what they claim is false, one of the accusations levelled by both the Freedom Party and the Tea Party rings true: the left is effete. This highlights another contradiction in their philosophy: liberals are weak and spineless; liberals are ruthless and all-powerful. But never mind that: the left on both sides of the Atlantic has proved to be tongue-tied, embarrassed, unable to state simple economic truths, unable to name and confront the powers that oppress the working class. It has left the field wide open to rightwing demagogues.

The great progressive cringe is only part of the problem; we have also abandoned movement building in favour of Facebook politics. We don’t want to pursue a common purpose any more, instead we want our own ideas and identity to be applauded. Where are the mass mobilisations in this country against the cuts, against the banks, against BP, unemployment, the lack of social housing, the endless war in Afghanistan? In the US the radical right is swiftly acquiring ownership of the Republican party. In the UK the left is scarcely attempting a reclamation of the Labour Party, even as opportunity knocks.

Bogus and misdirected as the Tea Party movement is, in one respect it has an authenticity that the left lacks: it is angry and it’s prepared to translate that anger into action. It is marching, recruiting, unseating, replacing. We talk, they act.

It strikes me that in the US the greater opportunities lie not in confronting the Tea Party movement but in turning it. As its mixed responses to Sarah Palin and Ron Paul show ( 8 ), it remains fluid and volatile. There’s an opening here for trades unionists to move in and agree that an elite is indeed depriving working people of their rights, but it is not an intellectual elite or a cultural elite or a liberal elite: it is an economic elite. The radical right has something to teach us on this side of the Atlantic as well: the world is run by those who turn up.




It’s interesting to note how the language has been changed to make these policies sound more acceptable. The original text is here:


4. ibid.


6. This was published in the UK with the title What’s the Matter with America. Secker and Warburg, 2004.


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 03, 2010 9:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Tea Party has just begun
Once derided and ridiculed by those who thought they knew best, the Tea Party bandwagon can no longer be ignored

A little over a year ago, Nancy Pelosi, then Speaker of the House of Representatives, launched an attack on the "un-American" Tea Party movement. "We call it Astroturf," she said. "It's not really a grassroots movement."

Today Pelosi is former Speaker and a carpet of what she dismissed so haughtily as Astroturf is being laid on the floors of both chambers of Congress. Tea Party-backed politicians – Marco Rubio in Florida, Rand Paul in Kentucky, Pat Toomey in Pennsylvania, the list goes on – are no longer shouting into megaphones in windswept parking lots; they are packing their bags for Washington and sharpening their flick-knives for the bloody battles ahead.

The Tea Party movement, which 21 months ago did not exist, and which has been widely derided and ridiculed by those who thought they knew best, can no longer be ignored. Once seen as little more than fodder for Saturday Night Live and the Daily Show, it is now a voice that will dominate congressional debates and direct budget deliberations.

Nowhere was the seismic impact of the Tea Parties more evident on election night than in the speech of Pelosi's Republican replacement as Speaker, John Boehner. Though he did not use the words "tea" and "party", his whole address was like a declaration of love to the movement.

The results of the ballot, he said, were a "repudiation of politicians who refuse to listen to the people". Republicans had been given a second chance to get things right. Rubio, who won the Florida Senate race with Tea Party backing, ousting both a Democrat and a moderate Republican in the process, also used the "second chance" phrase, but in his case as a threat. "We make a great mistake if we believe that these results are somehow an embrace of the Republican party. What they are is a second chance."

With top politicians in Congress scrambling to get on board the Tea Party bandwagon, the influence of the movement is assured for months, maybe for years to come. "We've just got started," said Jenny Beth Martin of the Tea Party Patriots. "Tuesday night was a victory for liberty and for the principles for which we stand."

The rise and rise of the Tea Parties makes the job of understanding them all the more urgent. A month spent among them, starting in Boston, scene of the original 1773 Tea Party, passing through Delaware, Virginia, South Carolina, Chicago, Texas and Nevada, and ending up at Rand Paul's acceptance speech in Kentucky, has given a sense of what they are and what they could become, of their strengths and their flaws.

Yes, Pelosi was partially right that there are top-down elements that seek to control the movement in order to forward the self-interests of big business. The Tea Party Express battle bus on which I travelled is the creation of a veteran political consultant from Sacramento who is deeply embedded in the Republican establishment.

FreedomWorks, which has led efforts to train and groom Tea Parties across the country, is run by a former top Republican congressman and accepts secret donations from undisclosed private sources. Americans for Prosperity, another crucial Tea Party incubator, was founded and is funded by the Koch brothers, billionaires dedicated to cutting the taxes they pay and rolling back regulations that restrict their energy companies.

But to stop there, as Pelosi did with suicidal consequences, is to grasp only half the truth. It is to fail to realise that the message that the Tea Parties have implanted across America speaks to millions of ordinary voters, not just Republican ones.

At each of the stops we made aboard the Tea Party Express bus we would be greeted by crowds of unremarkable Americans who had gathered in the heat of Texas and the cold of Nevada on a pilgrimage to have their inner convictions reinforced. Copper miners, doctors, proud housewives and mothers, college students, ranchers, Vietnam veterans, small-business owners, computer technicians – all walks of life were represented.

The average age was probably over 50 and pensioners were amply represented among the crowd. But also present was Wes Messamore, a self-proclaimed "humble libertarian" from Nashville who at 23, with hair down to his shoulders, did not fit the crusty old stereotype. He thinks the movement is cool. "You'd be surprised how many young people are into the Tea Parties because they feel disenfranchised with an out-of-touch Washington."

Or listen to Jim Smith, from Reno, Nevada, a committed Democrat until 2008 now fired up by the cause. "I voted Democrat every election until Obama came along, but then I found out that he was trying to take America into socialism."

The greater truth is that once you step outside the liberal havens of New York and Los Angeles, and into the "fly-over states", the Tea Party bible of cutting taxes and balancing budgets no longer sounds radical or extreme. It sounds like the norm. "The idea that there should be less government spending and that politicians should listen more carefully – well, most Americans share those views," said Scott Rasmussen, pollster and co-author of the Tea Party book Mad as Hell.

There are cautionary lessons for the Tea Parties from Tuesday night that they will also have to take on board if they are to continue their explosive growth. Christine "I am not a witch" O'Donnell in Delaware and Sharron "privatise social security" Angle in Nevada both proved too wacky for most voters even in these Tea-Party-heady times.

But those considerations lie ahead. For now, the Tea Party movement can revel in its new-found clout. And revel it will.

"We will be holding the newbies accountable as they arrive in Washington," said Amy Kremer, president of the Tea Party Express, referring to the new breed of Tea Party-backed politicians the Tea Parties helped to create. "These people need to know that they work for us and we will be holding them accountable. We are not going to forget."
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 03, 2010 10:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Teabagging... going for nuts. Laughing

Most likely he is not aware of the term on this side of pond. On a serious note Chomsky's recent talks do make me worry about them somewhat.
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