Tuesday, August 31, 2010
The tea partiers are as good as you and me
[P]eople feel legitimate anger toward their government. They sense that the vague democratic ideals they have held since childhood have been traduced and betrayed. And they have.
We live in a post-manufacturing society, but this has different implications for different people.
Communities whose wealth came from manufacturing operations have had to replace that with some service-sector alternative. You're going from $30-an-hour jobs to minimum wage.
Then you have a wave of immigration from Mexico: you've got people willing to work for less than minimum wage -- people who get picked up by van services in the mornings, get robbed by their employers, and then pay a fee to the van service to bring them home.
Naturally, if you're going from some decent union job to competing with desperate immigrants for work, you're going to be pissed. Sure, you want to "take back your country," and you probably don't have good things to say about Mexicans, either. Meanwhile, you're listening to Beck and Limbaugh, because they're making sense of what is happening to you. No one else is addressing your concerns, so you tune into the people that do.
If we judge the Tea Party-types by the racism they display while bearing the brunt of the pain that comes from NAFTA and a move away from manufacturing, and put them up against all the progressively-minded people in corporate America who helped bring these things about, I don't see much of a moral distinction to get worked up about.
The only meaningful distinction comes from people who do something to challenge these trends.
I think your application of Eco’s list is spot on with one exception: Sense of Humiliation. The enemies–the humiliators–of the modern right are the vaguely defined “elites” that they rail about, the mainstream media, urban professionals, college professors, latte sippers, Volvo drivers, Northerners. It’s classical American anti-intellectualism tied to the Southern and Midwestern resentful inferiority complex. They know that someone is out there looking down on them and they resent that faceless mocker. They try to turn the tables by appropriating the mantle of “real American” for themselves, to say that they deserve to be the elite. But deep inside they know the “elites” won’t let them into the club. Stoking these fears and angers for temporary political gain is what the politics of resentment are all about.
Like Neiwert, I think were seeing pre- or proto-fascism in the angry right. These groups have always been out there, but they have never had this much prominence in the United States. We have never had one of the major parties pandering to them and adopting their pathologies as its platform.
I guess it’s time to reread Hoffstetter’s “Paranoid Style in American Politics.” It’s a good idea to read it every election year.
Ambos tem um ranço contra a zelites.