Saturday, July 17, 2010
"Small But Powerful Political Group"
I just did a quick search of NPR programming for references to "Tea Party" and found there were stories and references every day, sometimes several times a day, and so it has been for weeks.
What's the matter, aren't enough sharks in the water? And the missing white girl has already been rescued, right? So, like last summer, when the TeaBagger Rage was all over the media, especially in connection with their disrupting of congressional town halls, parading around with their guns and their "Obama=Hitler" signs, and their constant threats of insurrection if not outright revolution, we have daily TeaBagger updates on NPR (and one assumes the other media, which has nothing to report about the sharks and missing white girls, either) to keep the pot stirred.
But the story embedded above starts out by describing the TEA Party (to use their own term for themselves for once) as a "Small but Powerful Political Group," and I got to thinking about that. Why?
Why is such a small group so... powerful?
Of course NPR won't address that fundamental question, nor will the other media that constantly highlights the TeaBaggers and their Power. How is it that large political groups on the "left" are ignored by the media and are granted no power whatsoever?
How is it that a tiny group of malcontented white folk -- mostly well-off white folk -- are granted free rein to do what they will and given constant coverage for every little thing they say and do?
Of course it's summer, and during the summertime, the media is on vacation. Vacation time means fluff rules, and last summer, like this summer, the fluffing has been focused on the TeaBaggers, who, for reasons no one can quite understand, are able to dominate political coverage like no other fringe faction since the days of Jerry Rubin, Abbie Hoffman and the Yippies.
Except for the fact that the TeaBaggers don't have the theatrical skill and the sense of humor the Yippies and the others who protested in the '60ss and '70s did, the TeaBaggers are like a dark reflection of previous protests, and their supposed focus -- to the point of obsession -- on the Constitution is something of a mirror image of the "Constitutional Redemption" urge of Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights Movement and the subsequent anti-war and anti-draft movements and their offspring social and economic justice movements.
It all grew out of a sense of promise that was implicit in the Constitution. The Free Speech Movement 1964-65, which was the trigger for the student rebellion that swamped campuses nationwide, was based on the Constitution. The Free Speech Movement was the offspring of protests against the House Un-American Activities Committee Red baiting in San Francisco two years before, again based on the Constitution and its promise of free speech and association, for example.
The TeaBaggers aren't focused on the promise of the Constitution, they're focused on how the Constitution can be interpreted to restrict freedom for the many while offering free rein to the few. Their vision of the Constitution is that of the Confederate Constitution with its focus on property and its protection and defense -- especially property in slaves, but not exclusively so.
TeaBagging is Opposite World from the liberationist movements of the past.
But it is just as captivating to the media.