The populist tea party movement is the absolute epitome of passion politics. It’s the kind of movement that plucks the string of angry discontent in an ever growing population of folks who are just losing. They are losing their jobs. They are losing their faith in quality of their government. And worst of all they are losing faith in the once unbeatable financial titan that was the US economy.
As a Philadelphia sports fan I understand the anger and disappointment that stew after a loss. Every time the Eagles get booted from the playoffs, I rant and rave about how Andy Reid is a moron who doesn’t understand how to coach the big game. And he doesn’t, but in the last ten years, under Reid’s steady hand, the Birds’ have made seven post season appearances, 5 of which led to an NFC championship game and one of which led to a superbowl. Andy Reid’s team is the height of prolonged success, my emotions were, in a word, unproductive.
I don’t mean to say that the tea party movement is unproductive. Just not a party for governance. Anger just isn’t an effective emotion for decision making. That’s why Sarah Palin is such a natural fit as the tea party movement. She can stir up a populist fervor with only a few words, but would any of us trust her with the launch codes?
But the interesting thing is that the real tea party isn’t Sara Palin and “Don’t Tread on Me Flags!” The tea party isn’t the 5,000 wackado’s on Boston Common earlier this week chanting “Freedom Isn’t Free!”, and railing against Democrats. Only 18% of self-identified tea partiers align themselves with Republicans. Most don’t think Sarah Palin is qualified to watch the West Wing, let along live in it. They are, in effect, all of us.
But they’ve lost, so they’re angry. And who can blame them. But that doesn’t mean I want them running the country. But that also doesn’t mean that the tea party isn’t a fairly accurate representation of an undercurrent in American society that is hell bent on upsetting the normal party line trends.
What I’m saying is that just because tea party express looks crazy on the outside, doesn’t mean it’s crazy on the inside.