A Protest Against New Ideas

Woman with sign that reads 'Revolt Against Socialism'

The headline says it all; "Modern-Day Tea Parties Give Taxpayers Chance to Scream for Better Representation" at FOX News. It's actually a much better headline than the reliably biased FOX might've expected, since the word "scream" almost perfectly captures the shrill, panicked stupidity and gullibility of the "teabaggers" (go ahead and snicker at that word, I'll wait). These people don't protest, they don't demand, they just freak out. The only way this headline could've been better is if it had said the protesters "shriek."

FOX has been shameless in promoting the "Tea Bag Protests" to be held tomorrow on tax day. This isn't much of a surprise, since these protests are pure astroturf -- put together by conservative front groups and corporate lobbyists. No doubt, many of the protesters themselves are sincere, but there's just as little doubt that many of the protesters themselves are chumps. In the conservative movement, you never have much trouble finding gullible fools to dance around angrily for TV cameras. If you can convince someone that handing out federal money to capitalists is "socialism," you can convince that person of anything. You have to tell your average movement conservative what they're supposed to be angry about, because it's a sure bet they wouldn't know without the heads-up.

"The grassroots phenomenon, while largely ignored in the mainstream press, has caught fire on the Internet, where platforms like Facebook and Twitter have served as launching pads for demonstrations," says FOX's article. The truth is that if it weren't so heavily promoted by right wing media, it's likely few would know about it.

I say that because the numbers show that people are pretty confident that Barack Obama -- not the lunatic talking heads on FOX News and talk radio -- has the best ideas when it comes to the economy. Asked by Gallup how much confidence they had in Washington's ideas for the economy, respondents said that the teabaggers favorite idea factory came in dead last. 71% of respondents said they had either a "great deal" or a "fair amount" of confidence that President Obama would "do or recommend the right thing for the economy." In contrast, 38% said the same of Republican leaders in Congress.

In other words, there's going to be a big protest tomorrow against popular ideas and for an unpopular status quo. That ought to work out about as well as you'd expect. In fact, this sort of thing is losing them Republican support. When you look at the breakdown by party ID, Republican respondents only give GOP leadership 57% confidence. Writes Justin Gardener of Donklephant, "What does it say about the GOP when they can’t even get 2/3rds of their own party to trust them on the economy?"

"To me, this points to one thing and one thing only... Republicans need some new ideas and fast," he goes on. "Otherwise they risk slipping into irrelevancy. They think that because they’re out of power they can simply be the opposition, but I think the numbers we’re seeing tell a much different story."

New ideas? This is the Republican party, you know... Conservatives are against new ideas. It's literally the definition of the word; the first definition of "conservative" at Princeton Wordnet is "a person who is reluctant to accept changes and new ideas." They don't have new ideas. It's just not in their nature.

Which, of course, explains why there aren't any new ideas in this ginned-up "tea party movement." It's all about being against the economic ideas we're pursuing. The Republican party, for their part, can't seem to come up with anything other than tax cuts, but the plain truth is that Bush's tax cuts did nothing to stimulate the economy and it's crazy to believe that they'd magically start working now.

[Paul Krugman, New York Times:]

...Republicans have become embarrassing to watch. And it doesn't feel right to make fun of crazy people. Better, perhaps, to focus on the real policy debates, which are all among Democrats.


One way to get a good sense of the current state of the GOP, and also to see how little has really changed, is to look at the "tea parties" that have been held in a number of places already, and will be held across the country on Wednesday. These parties -- antitaxation demonstrations that are supposed to evoke the memory of the Boston Tea Party and the American Revolution -- have been the subject of considerable mockery, and rightly so.

But everything that critics mock about these parties has long been standard practice within the Republican Party.

New ideas? The Republican party is fresh out of those. Even this "tea party" idea is an old one, as inapt as the parallel is to the original Boston Tea Party. They don't have new ideas because they don't like them. They prefer the old ideas, no matter how obvious it's become that they've failed.

So the newest "new idea" is to scream; to scream about how much they hate new ideas. It'll work about as well as all their other recycled ideas.


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