Tuesday, September 22, 2009


Glenn Greenwald makes a couple of good points in this post about the Beckistas and 9/12ers, but this is really, really naive:

...[the] anti-Obama sentiment [of the protesters] is being exploited by run-of-the-mill GOP operatives who have no objective other than to undermine Democrats and return the Republicans to power -- manifestly not the goal of many of the protesters.... In many ways, [the movement's] leadership (both organizationally and in the media) is fundamentally at odds with the participants. How can people who cheered on the Bush/Cheney administration and who want to re-install GOP leaders in power (i.e., Fox News, Limbaugh, the right-wing blogosphere, GOP House members) possibly make common cause in any coherent way with those who are in favor of limited federal government power, reduced debt, privacy, and Constitutional protections -- all the things on which the GOP relentlessly waged war for years?

Oh, please, Glenn.

Look: out in the heartland, "limited federal government power" means limited social programs; the heartland doesn't consider wiretapping and, say S-CHIP to be in the same universe, much less in the same narrow category of "interventionist government." (Hell, in the heartland, Social Security and Medicare are exempted from curses aimed at "big government," even though it makes no sense.)

Angry people in the heartland like what they like: Medicare, Social Security, God, apple pie, and a star-spangled foreign policy. They don't like anyone they think is a "Kumbaya"-singing hippie, domestic programs that are less than forty years old, or people with funny names who seem to fall into the former category or advocate anything in the latter category.

So, yeah, it's true, Glenn G., that the tea-partiers are

the by-product of a completely different dichotomy...: between system insiders and their admirers (those who believe our national political establishment and its elites are basically sound and good) and system outsiders (those whose anger is confined not to one of the two political parties but who instead believe that the political culture itself is fundamentally corrupted and destructive).

But the tea partiers are not (as Greenwald wrote in a phrase I edited out above) "the by-product of a completely different dichotomy that is growing in importance" -- because the dichotomy isn't growing in importance. Greenwald goes on to say:

There are people typically identified as members of either the conventional Right or Left who are, in fact, more accurately described as eing in this latter group: those disenchanted with the political culture itself. Anger over the Wall Street bailout and corporate excesses was one example where that trans-partisan disenchantment was evident.... that trans-partisan rage is clearly playing an important role in driving these protest movements.

But lefties who hate Wall Street enough to actually punish Wall Streeters -- regulate them, limit their ability to prey on ordinary citizens, limit their ability to make more and more while repeatedly putting the rest of us at risk -- aren't ever going to be welcome in Beck's movement. Beck's movement resents Wall Street up to the point where we might consider taking action, and then it's time for the Antichrist that's as comfortable as an old shoe for these people: big government run by liberal Democrats.

Sure, some of these people could conceivably be tipped leftward -- but Democratic politicians aren't trying to build a genuine movement based around them, lefty groups aren't trying to recruit them, and most of them are happy just where they are, railing against the usual enemy. And I don't really care how much they (or Beck himself) claim to hate both parties -- they'll vote Republican a year and three years from now because Republicans will know enough to say, "I hate the people you hate," and Democratic pols won't run against the powerful in any compelling way.

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