Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The wisest analysis of the Tea Partiers I've seen lately

Rick Pearlstein, author of Nixonland, gets it right in What Tea Party Backers Want in the NY Times:
[T]hey are the same angry, ill-informed, overwhelmingly white, crypto-corporate paranoiacs that accompany every ascendancy of liberalism within U.S. government.

“When was the last time you saw such a spontaneous eruption of conservative grass-roots anger, coast to coast?” asked the professional conservative L. Brent Bozell III recently. The answer, of course, is: in 1993. And 1977. And 1961. And so on.
. . .
The same “spontaneous eruption” of folks never before engaged in politics. . . . The same blithely narcissistic presumption that the vast majority of Americans (or, at least, “ordinary Americans”) must already agree with them, and incredulity that anyone might not grasp the depth of the peril. . . . The same establishment conservative opportunists taking advantage, setting up front groups. . . . The same lunatic persecution fantasies.

Reading Nixonland in the early fall of 2008, in the midst of the campaign, I had a constant sense of deja vu - the ideological weapons of 40 years are still being used today. Nixon prospered throughout his career by convincing one group of Americans to hate some other group of Americans, and that successful strategy has become embedded in and corrupted the the soul of the Republican Party.

Unfortunately, if you start thinking about parallels with the past, you are reminded of the ugly fact that LBJ's Democratic liberal landslide of 1964 was followed four years later by the ascendancy of Richard M. Nixon.