I went to a Tea Party protest near my office last night. Overall, a well behaved, reasonably well dressed, normal-looking middle class crowd. Lots of Gadsen Flags. But it was a pretty disorganized affair, with the constant speechifying of a Flat Tax advocate seemingly unaware that a national sales tax would not necessarily cure our ills, which are driven by spending. The tax code is only a symptom. More important, since so many taxes are paid by the wealthy, who consume relatively less than the poor, any consumption tax would have to force the poor and middle classes to pay substantially more in taxes than they do now. This would probably be a good thing, as nearly half of Americans pay no income tax, but it would also be unpopular and hurt many of the middle class people at these protests. And it wouldn’t reduce the tax burden over time. A better system would be a more transparent and deliberately painful tax, perhaps a monthly bill and no withholdings. The current system, with its rebates for the approved classes, conceals how much we pay in taxes and allows various increases to be hidden in relatively small impacts on biweekly paychecks. A national sales tax would have the same problem; a penny raise here and there would not be noticed. We’d be boiling the frog.
I think the Tea Party movement overall is pretty healthy. Unfortunately, it seems already to be under the threat of hijacking by the Sara Palins and GOP establishment figures of the world. The kryptonite of accusations of racism has already been employed to good effect by critics. And the limited focus on government spending ignores the many other ways that Obama is a very bad president, such as his contempt for America’s historic people, limits on the office, and our proper relationship with non-European countries like Iran or China. Ultimately, if the movement is not connected to a more comprehensive political program, one that looks not only to government spending but demographic and moral drivers of national decline, then it is little more than a noisy fringe of the vaguely anti-government Republican Party.
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I understand why people like Palin; she’s one of them: white, middle class, alienated from elites, not afraid to work with her hands, patriotic, and socially conservative. But a leader needs to be both of the people and above them in a certain sense, able to lead, wise, able to connect feelings with policy. She seems to lack this skill set altogether. Her entire schtick is to be herself. Her rhetoric flatters her audience, with the dropped “ing”s and its folksy hyperbole. Reagan never spoke like this, nor did Washington, Roosevelt, Robert Taft, or Barry Goldwater. There never was a feeling among those men that to have contempt for anti-American elites and unconstitutional government one must also have contempt for education, ideas, and the like. The fact that Palin’s little speech this weekend was for the turn-coast John McCain is all the more telling. Her presence at Tea Party events and rallies is unfortunate, coopting the radicalism, anger, and anti-welfare-state enthusiasm of the group’s main supporters. The fact that she is also incoherent, ignorant of most public policy issues, and easily coopted by Invade-them-All neoconservatives makes her unrepresentative of the group that she is speaking to and unable to realistically further their small stage agenda.
I hope this quitter fades away before she does lasting damage to the Republican Party and to the nascent anti-government revolt among the peasantry.
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Camille Paglia notes how anti-dissent the left has become:
And I remain shocked at the priggish derision of the mainstream media (locked in their urban enclaves) toward those events. This was a moving spectacle of grassroots American democracy in action. Aggrieved voters have a perfect right to shout at their incompetent and irresponsible representatives. American citizens are under no duty whatever to sit in reverent silence to be fed propaganda and half-truths. It is bizarre that liberals who celebrate the unruly demonstrations of our youth would malign or impugn the motivation of today’s protestors with opposing views.
Of course, this hatred of anyone that upsets the apple cart of liberalism is apparent to anyone who has been to college in the last twenty years. Some hippies went on to live in the hills of Vermont, but a great deal more went on to poison several generations of youth.
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Probably one of the most amazing examples I’ve ever seen of media bias and shilling for Obama. I had a “tea party” outside my office and was impressed with the numbers. Sure, the John Birch types were in evidence, not so unlike the folks you see at any gun show, but most were middle class looking people who were fed up with big spending, big taxes, bailouts, and a government that is willing to sell out our future for short-term gain. In the video below, it’s startling how hostile the reporter is and how she can’t fathom that we don’t want to be “bought off” with stimulus dollars.
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