Thanks Tea Party: America Now Held Hostage
It’s the Tea Party spirit distilled: pose as the champion of Joe America, while actually ripping him off (Johann Hari)
Now that the midterms are over, and the smoke has cleared, it is time to take stock of where we are as a country and a society. It is obvious that there is a lot of anger and disappointment out there coming from a variety of sources and from all points along the political spectrum.
From the right, there has been anger really since the winner of the Presidential election was announced at 11:01 pm CDT on November 4, 2008 after the polls closed in California. The core of mostly white, middle-aged Red State America took immediate umberage to having a black man in the White House and the wealthy Wall St. and corporate interests that were so well treated under the Bush Administration, also realized immediately that for them, the jig was essentially up.
Not wasting any time, a number of very smart, clever, and essentially dishonest power brokers from Rupert Murdoch to Dick Armey saw that there was an opportunity to meld these two unhappy forces into something that they could wield against the new President, coming up with the ‘Tea Party Movement’ that in effect, enlisted the disaffected core of angry white-middle America to rise up against anything that remotely impacted the Wall St. and corporate interests that had made their fortunes and gained enormous power by exploiting American consumers and workers for decades. That such a movement would seem to be counter intuitive given that it would require people to basically fight for the very things that diminished their lives and hurt them financially and spiritually was of little consequence. The forces behind the movement were smart enough to realize that Americans had really not been paying attention for the better part of the last quarter century or so and that for the vast majority, reality TV in the guise of Survivor, Big Brother, Hell’s Kitchen, American Idol, and other similar nonsense had become more real and more important to Americans then such mundane and boring matters like how their tax dollars were being spent, how their children were being educated, whether or not the food they ate or the cars they drove were safe, or if their sons or daughters would be sent off to fight and die in wars to benefit multi-national corporations or to satisfy a President’s oedipus complex.
As we now know, this plan has worked out perfectly. The recent midterms were their crowning achievement with the GOP, always on the lookout for expedient means to obtain and hold power, hitching their fortunes to the Tea Party movement and riding it back to relevance.
So where does this leave us as we move ever closer to the 2012 elections? Well, with the angry right flush with victory and righteous revenge, the left distraught and wondering what happened to the momentum that seemed so strong two short years ago, and the independent middle confused to the point that they find themselves voting for people they have no faith in, the collective emotional mood of the nation has been so elevated, it makes it virtually impossible for America to step back and objectively look at what has transpired and accurately evaluate where we now stand as a country.
However, such is not the case for the rest of the world. Looking at the U.S. from abroad allows for a much more objective view of recent events. Plus, one gets the sense that people in other parts of the world have a greater tendency to pay attention to meaningful reality as opposed to the false reality Americans worship. As a result, non-Americans often have a better grasp on what is happening in America than Americans themselves.
If you want proof, just look at how recent events in the U.S. and the results of the midterm elections are viewed from abroad. Johann Hari of the British newspaper The Independent accurately described the current situation we now find ourselves in with the ascent of the GOP as follows…
This is the story of the modern Republican Party. They use the cultural signifiers of the good people of Middle America to get their emotional identification, meanwhile they pillage Middle America and redistribute its wealth to the rich. Sarah Palin is the queen of this cause. She presents herself as a warrior for hockey moms and Momma Grizzlies, while spreading fictions to stop those very people supporting social programs that could save their lives: remember her claim that Obama’s healthcare plan involved setting up “death panels” to execute the old and disabled? Her true slogan is Shill, Baby, Shill..
In one paragraph, he has basically distilled into simple terms that which so many pundits and talking heads in America make out to be the complicated moral and political dilemmas facing our leaders and our citizenry. To him, it is pefectly clear what has occurred and why. Case closed.
And in explaining how such a ridiculous and seemingly implausible political reality came to exist in America, Mr. Hari goes on to clearly and accurately articulate the essence of the Tea Party movement that helped to get us to this point, a movement which looks insane to the rest of the world but that somehow has become not only accepted in America, but is now considered normal:
The essence of the Tea Party…can be seen most plainly in Glenn Beck. Just over a decade ago, he was a drug-taking, pro-abortion, perpetually drunk DJ on morning radio. One of his famous “pranks” was to ring up the wife of a radio-show rival a few days after she had a miscarriage and taunt her about her loss. But then he stumbled into political commentary. After 9/11, Beck began to articulate a blubbery, blubbering hysteria, calling for the shooting of Michael Moore and the poisoning of Nancy Pelosi. He announced that any government program helping ordinary Americans was a step towards “communism”, and prophesied: “The country may not survive Barack Obama? If he does fundamentally transform America, we’re done. You don’t have to worry about a 2012.” He shot up to be the second highest rated show in cable news, and assembled hundreds of thousands to a rally on the Mall. At times seems quite conscious of the manipulation: “They’re getting so tired of me saying there’s a Marxist in the White House, I gotta take it up a notch,” he reportedly said to one private audience.
In looking at these different perspectives from outside America, one begins to realize just how scary it has gotten here, and just how frightened many around the world are on our behalf. What is taking place in the United States defies logic and common sense, yet it is happening and looks like it will continue to happen for the forseeable future as the powerful forces that created, grew and now manipulate the Tea Party grow more and more powerful with every lie, every deceit and every deception. Americans on all sides are now so close to it, that ours has become a warped reality, sort of a mass Stockholm Syndrome with large groups of Americans, like those in the Tea Party, expressing adulation and having positive feelings towards those interests that for all intents and purposes, enslave them to middle-class existences with little hope of ever really attaining what was once regarded as the American Dream.