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It’s too early to determine the significance (and staying power) the tea party phenomenon of citizens across this great country organizing to protest the ever-increasing size of the federal government and the ever higher taxes the spending to pay for that government will require.
Personally, I think we’ve just seen the beginning of this movement which could reshape American politics, perhaps forcing Republicans to offer a new Contract with America to show their commitment to the principles which once guided our party. At last count over 550 protests springing up across the country.
An the theme of these rallies is similar to those of protests and political movements throughout American history, going back to the first Tea Party 236 years ago and little uprising which ensued a few yeas later. There have been numerous movements protesting the power of the federal government ever since, including most recently the Barry Goldwater campaign of 1964, Jimmy Carter’s run in 1976 (he ran on anti-Washington, D.C. message), Ronald Reagan’s bid in 1980 and even (to some degree) Barack Obama’s successful campaign for “change” last year.
So, why can’t some on the left accept that this as a legitimate phenomenon? For them to deny the sincerity of the protesters would be similar to conservatives denying the sincerity of all those who protested the Iraq War.
Law Professor William Jacobson* finds that instead of understanding people’s legitimate opposition to the the president’s spendthrift spending proposals,
Liberal bloggers and media groups can’t get the Tea Party phenomenon out of their heads. It wasn’t supposed to be this way, to them. Ordinary people getting together to protest against the liberal establishment. There is a cognitive disconnect. There must be a plot; the vast right-wing conspiracy at work.
They rush to define a grassroots movement as a right-wing conspiracy. Are they so narrow that they think energetic opposition to Obama must needs be the product of some nefarious plot cooked up in the bowels of FoxNews studios?
Dan Riehl contends that “The Left can’t quite figure out the script for the Tea Party movement because there isn’t one beyond what is being written as it grows.” Maybe that’s why they’re so upset, demonizing that which they don’t understand. I think what they fear is related to something else Dan brought up that “the Tea Party movement is currently on track to be the largest genuine grassroots movement America has seen since the Sixties.”
We don’t know yet whether it will be such a grassroots movement, but it could be. We’ll have a better idea on Wednesday when reports from across the country start coming in. If on a weekday, these protests attract more than 224,000 people, we’ll know there really is something to it. A quarter-million participant would suggest it’s more than just a flash in the pan.
And that, I think, is what has gotten so many left-wing bloggers (and left-of-center commenters to this blog) whipped into such a frenzy and eager to discredit/infilitrate the protests. They don’t like the idea of a grassroots conservative movement. They want to define us a pawns of a corporate media elite or as unbalanced rubes similar to those who see black helicopters circling above their farms at night (or waiting for the UFOs to land).