Wednesday, November 10, 2010


I've been hearing for more than a year that the tea party movement is "grassroots" -- that any focus on its ties to well-funded lobbyists or a certain media empire is a grotesque distortion of reality because it was built as a people's movement, maaaan! Now, I'll admit that perhaps the movement started with tiny meetings in church basements -- but I'm supposed to infer from that that it is what it is now exclusively because those hardy ordinary folk in those church basements built a mighty force for democratic protest all by their lonesomes.

Well, now we get to see that premise tested. Teabagger Joe Miller is about to learn his fate as the count of write-in ballots begins in the Alaska Senate race. Miller thinks he's going to be cheated because state law requires write-in voters to jot down a candidate's name "as it appears on the write-in declaration of candidacy"; Miller interprets that to mean that any vote with a misspelling should be rejected (or should be interpreted as a deliberate anti-Murkowski protest vote, because, y'know, voters who prefer Miller to Murkowski would rather waste their vote that way than actually vote for their preferred candidate). The state, alas for Miller, seems likely to consider "voter intent."

This would seem to be an excellent time for a bourgeois riot -- a gathering of teabaggers, certainly from throughout the state and possibly from all over the real, patriotic America, who would assemble in Juneau and vehemently demand that officials respect the letter of the law, or at least do things their way. FREEDOM! FREEDOM! FREEDOM!

Given the mighty force the tea party movement has become -- the mighty grassroots force, according to all respectable right-wing and mainstream journalists -- shouldn't that be possible, if not inevitable?

But it's not happening. The reason it's not happening is that this is a situation in which teabaggers are on one side and the vast majority of their big-macher allies (the GOP, lobbyists, Fox, Palin) are either openly hostile to them or indifferent.

So the Alaska GOP will accept misspelled ballots, Miller will lose, Miller will stamp his foot and probably sue, but life will go on, because the tea party movement on its own has no power. It's just a bunch of ordinary schmucks.

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