Democratic officeholders should be afraid.
Republican officeholders, too.
For many a year now, officeholders of both major parties have worked hard to earn the distrust of ordinary Americans. It appears that they finally have succeeded.
If only ordinary Americans hadn't been so inattentive. If only ordinary Americans hadn't been so trusting. If only ordinary Americans hadn't been so damnably nice, the country would be in a better position to manage its finances today.
But when have Americans not tried to look for the good in every situation? When have we not been slow to recognize the need to deal with forces, foreign or domestic, aligning against our best interests?
Better late than never, a lot of ordinary Americans are waking up to the sobering reality that there really is no one they can trust. Not Democrats. Not Republicans. Not government. Not corporations. And certainly not corporations in league with government.
The people who are angry today are more in tune with this nation's founders than ordinary Americans have been in decades.
The United States has an intricate system of checks and balances, and a government structure based on a separation of powers, and a Bill of Rights that safeguards the rights of states and the rights of the people precisely because the greatest collection of political talent and philosophical insight ever assembled on this continent -- and maybe anywhere on this planet -- looked at the concept of government and said, "We need to make a really small cage for this thing, then be careful not to overfeed it."
We seem to have lost the care-and- feeding instructions about a century ago. We let government out of its little cage and it has been consuming everything it can lay its paws on ever since. In the last 45 years, it has been on a real binge, and in the last year and a half, it has taken bigger bites than a lot of people thought possible.
Ordinary Americans who care about freedom are finally getting a clue and -- horrors! -- they're hollering at members of Congress. That's right: Nice, trusting, formerly inattentive Americans are getting in the faces of the political class and calling them names.
Big (Joe Biden expletive deleted) deal. If members of the political class are too tender to endure a little well-earned rudeness from the people whose hard-earned money they like to "spread around," then they ought to get out of politics. Maybe their successors will find the voice of the people less irritating.
A very, very few ordinary Americans are going so far as to threaten members of the ruling class with physical harm or property damage. That's not fine.
All that does is damage the cause of the people who are loudly but peaceably petitioning their government for the redress of a growing list of very real grievances.
It also allows politicians on the left, including a president who now taunts opponents of his new health care law every time he speaks, to cast themselves simultaneously as victors and victims.
Finally, threats from the right allow the left to lump every proponent of individual liberty, self-reliance, limited government and limited government spending -- the Tea Party movement, in general -- in with nuts who might actually do some harm.
Don't doubt for a second that the left is hoping desperately for someone to step all the way out of line. They thought they had their man -- and early news reports said they did -- when Joseph Stack crashed his Piper Dakota into an IRS building in Texas.
As it turned out, Stack proved to be a Marx-quoting lefty -- the wrong flavor of nut.
So the left has to settle for a little name-calling of its own: "ignorant," "racist," "homophobes," "hooligans," "extremists." The list, as you know, goes on and on.
It's bunk, but it's the script.
Tea Party folks are just patriots worried, with good reason, about the future of the country they love. They're vocal and they're inspiringly unaffiliated.
They scare the hell out of both political parties, because they've embraced distrust.
The Democrats fear them because they see through the left's empty promise of utopia in exchange for freedom. The Republicans fear them because they're pushy and because they're loyal to their principles rather than to a party.
They make everyone uncomfortable. That's healthy.
Thursday, April 8, 2010
Who's afraid of a little Tea Party? Everyone, fortunately
From Kevin O'Brien at the Cleveland Plain Dealer: