The Tea Party Is Typical Right Wing Extremism, Not Anything New

Frank Rich has a column today on the rage from the right, tracing it largely, but not entirely, to the economic collapse:

That wave of anger began with the parallel 2008 cataclysms of the economy’s collapse and Barack Obama’s ascension. The mood has not subsided since. But in the final stretch of 2010, the radical right’s anger is becoming less focused, more free-floating — more likely to be aimed at “government” in general, whatever the location or officials in charge. The anger is also more likely to claim minorities like gays, Latinos and Muslims as collateral damage. This is a significant and understandable shift, if hardly a salutary one. The mad-as-hell crowd in America, still not seeing any solid economic recovery on the horizon, will lash out at any convenient scapegoat.

The rage was easier to parse at the Tea Party’s birth, when, a month after Obama’s inauguration, its founding father, CNBC’s Rick Santelli, directed his rant at the ordinary American “losers” (as he called them) defaulting on their mortgages, and at those in Washington who proposed bailing the losers out. (Funny how the Bush-initiated bank bailouts went unmentioned.) Soon enough, the anger tilted toward Washington in general and the new president in particular. And it kept getting hotter. In June 2009, still just six months into the Obama presidency, the Fox News anchor Shepard Smith broke with his own network’s party line to lament a rise in “amped up” Americans “taking the extra step and getting the gun out.” He viewed the killing of a guard by a neo-Nazi Obama hater at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington as the apotheosis of the “more and more frightening” post-election e-mail surging into Fox.

He argues that the rage from the Tea Party will continue regardless of the results of the election:

Don’t expect the extremism and violence in our politics to subside magically after Election Day — no matter what the results. If Tea Party candidates triumph, they’ll be emboldened. If they lose, the anger and bitterness will grow. The only development that can change this equation is a decisive rescue from our prolonged economic crisis. Not for the first time in history — and not just American history — fear itself is at the root of a rabid outbreak of populist rage against government, minorities and conspiratorial “elites.”

While a  bad economy, along with a black president, does contribute to this rage, Blue Texan makes a point which I’ve also made many times in the past: The Tea Party is just the most recent expression of the same right wing rage which we’ve had for decades and which becomes nosier whenever there is a Democrat in the White House. Multiple polls have shown that demographically the Tea Party is primarily made up of affluent older white male Republicans. They are just recycling many of the old beliefs spread by the John Birch Society and every other right wing movement of the past several decades. Blue Texan wrote:

Anyone who thinks the Teabaggers’ unhinged “anger and bitterness” will subside in the face of an improving economy really needs to take a closer look at objective polling on the Teabaggers and review the 1990s.

The ’90s was a time of economic prosperity, but because there was a Democrat in the White House, the far-right was in full freakout mode. Back then, Clinton/Gore’s black helicopters were coming for their guns and right-wing “patriots” like Tim McVeigh and Eric Rudolph roamed the countryside.

But they weren’t called the “Tea Party.” They were the Angry White Men.

“These angry white men are one legion in a grassroots movement that has rewritten the political equation of the 1990s, and in the process helped to transform the Republican Party … An army of conservative grassroots groups has mobilised middle-class discontent with government into a militant political force, reaching for an idealised past with the tools of the onrushing future: fax machines, computer bulletin boards, and the shrill buzz of talk radio. They have forged alliances with the Gingrich generation of conservatives and strengthened their hand as the dominant voice within the GOP family.”

Sounds familiar, yes? It’s the same crowd.

Polls have shown that Teabaggers are lilly white and well off. They’re not the people getting kicked out of their houses by the banksters. They’re not unemployed. They’re not bearing the brunt of the Great Recession. They’re just doing what they do when Democrats are in charge. Obama’s death panels and FEMA camps have replaced Clinton’s black helicopters.

And of course, the fact that this president’s middle name is Hussein and he’s Muslim and black, well, that’s just a few extra scoops of nuts on the wingnut sundae.

These are John Birch Society types, and the crashing of the global economy — a direct result of the plutocratic “free market” [sic] orgy they helped usher in — is just a convenient excuse to act out.

That’s all it is.

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4 Comments

  1. 1
    Gloria says:

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  2. 2
    PLepp says:

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  3. 3
    Tea says:

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  4. 4
    Christopher LeJeune says:

    RT @RonChusid: The Tea Party Is Typical Right Wing Extremism, Not Anything New #p2 #p21 #topprog http://bit.ly/c6C0lr

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