Monday, September 20, 2010

Who Is Surprised?

Not only is the Tea Party taking America by storm, it seems to be taking a lot of folks by surprise.

Many pundits and regular folks are perplexed by the group's ability to generate and sustain momentum. Lots of folks apparently expected the group's members to flop in their bids for public office once voters got a chance to hear what they were saying, and consider their platforms.

Turns out, most folks who get paid to know what's happening were very, very wrong.

It's not surprising that political analysts miscalculated when examining the Tea Party. Insiders typically underestimate outsiders, and that's particularly true when the two groups disagree. It's easy to downplay arguments and ignore warning signs when the topic under discussion is one that seems so cut-and-dry. Also, most political experts are disconnected from the real world and the thoughts and feelings of real people. They don't understand "the masses" anymore than the politicians they are paid to critique.

Quite simply, the masses are angry, frustrated and looking for someone to blame.

The Tea Party taps into all that, and it doesn't bother with logic or facts when it comes to feeding folks want they so desperately want. People want to be reassured that it's not their fault, that they are still wonderful, that there is a definite and obvious bogeyman to blame. They want to be told they are smart, they are special, and that the world still operates according to the rules it always used.

Only, it doesn't and they're not.

It shouldn't be a surprise that the Tea Party has been able to tap into all of these latent phobias so many Americans have about their government and their neighbors. Anybody who has paid any attention to history should know that political movements often have tons of initial success by tapping into one form of paranoia or another. More importantly, it appears many political analysts underestimated just how much appeal naked racism still has to many Americans.

Tea Party members hate being branded racist, but it's the obvious truth. A simple analogy would be to consider a city neighborhood. When there are repeated crimes in a neighborhood that neighborhood gets labeled "bad." When a movement is full of racist appeals and rhetoric, the same thing happens. It cannot be avoided, and shouldn't be avoided no matter how often Tea Party supporters whine.

There is a powerful allure to hate regardless of the shape of that hate.The Tea Party has successfully tapped into the hatred many black folks always said was bubbling below the placid surface of American life, and that venom has propelled them into relevance. When things are going bad it is fashionable to hate "others", to blame them for your problems and hurt them whenever possible. That's the American way.

It's surprising that so many people are surprised.



Darth Whitey said...

I blame John McCain for all this. He brought out the monster that whipped up this up, a crazy person from Alaska who embodies all of this. God help us all if she wins the Republican nomination and then something really bad happens national security wise and the people flock to the non-thinking vengeance seeking war-mongerer. It's far less impossible than any of us dare imagine.

Mr. Noface said...

I'm going to reserve judgement on the "momentum" of the Tea Party movement until after the elections in November. These elections that Tea Party candidates are winning are primary elections and it's well known that primaries usually bring out the far left or far right of either party. So, primaries that occur during a shift in the Republican party from the far right (Bush era conservatism) to the extreme right (Palin era conservatism), it is to be expected that Tea Party candidates defeat establishment candidates in their bid for nominations.

A true litmus test of how far off the deep end American political thought has gotten will be in the general elections. Until then, the sky is not yet falling.

Brenda said...

Co-signing with Mr. Noface.

Big Man said...

i can respect the wait and see approach, but even if they lose, I think they've done something.

They've made certain ideas mainstream and they are quickly reshaping the national discussion on issues of race. Initially they were derided as "racists" but through hardwork, they've managed to reshape and distort the definition of racism to pretty much give themselves legitimacy and protection. I wouldn't be surprised to see someone build on that, even if they stumble in the elections.

Raving Black Lunatic