Thursday, April 22, 2010

Tea again

Kevin Drum says something I've been thinking for a while:
The tea parties ought to be covered, and liberals should fight back against them. But treating them as some kind of massive new movement misses the point. These people have been around forever, and they're always upset when liberals take over. In fact, if there's anything new about the tea partiers it's that the movement is smaller, less organized, and less influential than either the Birchers of the 60s or the anti-Clinton wingnuts of the 90s. That is, the power of populist conservatism has actually declined over time.
The whole post makes other points and deserves to be read. I think what most people seem to get wrong about the Tea Parties is that it is not a political movement. The politics are, at best, tangential to the thing. This is a cultural movement, a last stand of sorts. The continuity with past similar movements is strong, but the overwhelming trend is the diminishing returns of the whole thing. In the late 70s, antiliberal backlash was enough to get Reagan elected. In the early 90s, it was enough to win Congress but not enough to win the presidency. We'll see how it works out this year, but my guess is that it doesn't even win the GOP either chamber of Congress. The reactionary hold on our politics is indeed waning. That's some cause for hope.

The Man, The Myth, The Bio

East Bay, California, United States
Problem: I have lots of opinions on politics and culture that I need to vent. If I do not do this I will wind up muttering to myself, and that's only like one or two steps away from being a hobo. Solution: I write two blogs. A political blog that has some evident sympathies (pro-Obama, mostly liberal though I dissent on some issues, like guns and trade) and a culture blog that does, well, cultural essays in a more long-form manner. My particular thing is taking overrated things (movies, mostly, but other things too) down a peg and putting underrated things up a peg. I'm sort of the court of last resort, and I tend to focus on more obscure cultural phenomena.