Philosophical Conversations Public Opinion Junk for code
parliament house.gif
Think Tanks
Oz Blogs
Economic Blogs
Foreign Policy Blogs
International Blogs
Media Blogs
South Australian Weblogs
Economic Resources
Environment Links
Political Resources
South Australian Links
"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

Albrechtson: Tea Party dreaming « Previous | |Next »
October 6, 2010

In her Thirsting for a sip of the amazing American brew in The Australian Janet Albrechtsen says that Australia could do with a sip of the imported American tea party brew.

teaparty.jpg Albrechtsen understands the Tea Party to be a genuinely grassroots movement committed to simple ideas about smaller government and personal freedom.

On her account this Tea Party anger in Australia means fuelling a return to commonsense ideas (ie libertarian) about cutting spending and reducing the size of government.

She adds that if the Liberals had finessed their message along similar lines before the August election, they may have picked up seats they should have won to take government.

Should have won? Really? Who is kidding who? There was a swing to the left-of-centre parties.

Albrechtson is dreaming about the Tea Party. The on-the-ground reality political reality of the Tea Party movement is that the Tea party events were organized and financed by the conservative wing of the Republican Party, which was quietly working to co-opt the new movement and deploy it to the GOP's advantage.

We can see this on-the-ground reality political reality from Matt Taibbi's Tea & Crackers in Rolling Stone. He says that beneath the surface, the Tea Party is little more than a weird and disorderly mob, a federation of distinct and often competing strains of conservatism that have been unable to coalesce around a leader of their own choosing. Its rallies include not only hardcore libertarians left over from the original Ron Paul "Tea Parties," but gun-rights advocates, fundamentalist Christians, pseudomilitia types like the Oath Keepers (a group of law- enforcement and military professionals who have vowed to disobey "unconstitutional" orders) and mainstream Republicans who have simply lost faith in their party.

Taibbi describes a Sarah Palin rally thus:

Scanning the thousands of hopped-up faces in the crowd, I am immediately struck by two things. One is that there isn't a single black person here. The other is the truly awesome quantity of medical hardware: Seemingly every third person in the place is sucking oxygen from a tank or propping their giant atrophied glutes on motorized wheelchair-scooters...A hall full of elderly white people in Medicare-paid scooters, railing against government spending and imagining themselves revolutionaries as they cheer on the vice-presidential puppet hand-picked by the GOP establishment. If there exists a better snapshot of everything the Tea Party represents, I can't imagine it.

In the Tea Party narrative, victory at the polls means a new American revolution, one that will "take our country back" from everyone they disapprove of. Everyone who disagrees with them is a radical leftist who hates America. Taibbi adds:
At the voter level, the Tea Party is a movement that purports to be furious about government spending — only the reality is that the vast majority of its members are former Bush supporters who yawned through two terms of record deficits and spent the past two electoral cycles frothing not about spending but about John Kerry's medals and Barack Obama's Sixties associations. The average Tea Partier is sincerely against government spending — with the exception of the money spent on them. In fact, their lack of embarrassment when it comes to collecting government largesse is key to understanding what this movement is all about

A loose definition of the Tea Party might be millions of pissed-off white people sent chasing after Mexicans on Medicaid by the handful of banks and investment firms who advertise on Fox and CNBC.

So Albrechtson's understanding of the Tea Party movement is highly selective.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 8:22 AM | | Comments (11)


Gary, the Loon Pond has a great take on this rant by Janet.

Where would Australian wingnuts be without their US mentors to feed them material? Someone should explain to Albrechtsen that we had our own Teabaggers years ago - they were called Pauline Hanson's One Nation. The Libs adroitly shifted to the loopy right to accommodate them, just as the Republicans are doing now in the Land of the Free.

Shrill ranting about the size of government gets a more receptive audience in a country where deficits are forecast to go on growing indefinitely than it does here, where a return to surplus is expected with three years. Albrechtsen's doctorate is in law, a field in which she may well be stunningly gifted for all I know, but why anyone employs her to write about politics, economics and society remains one of life's outstanding mysteries.

Planet is Andrew Bolt with more syllables. She's paid to provoke.

The Loon Pond piece mentions Hanson and the twist on political correctness. Now it's apparently politically incorrect to call wingnuts for what they are.

Who knows how the Republicans will deal with the Tea Party, but we're not hearing much from its Australian cheer squad about Tony Abbott's role in Pauline Hanson's downfall.

re" your comment: "Who knows how the Republicans will deal with the Tea Party"

Matt Taibbi's Tea & Crackers in Rolling Stone says:

Since Paul won the GOP Primary in Kentucky, the Tea Party has entered a whole new phase of self-deception. Now that a few of these so-called "outsider" politicians have ridden voter anger to victories over entrenched incumbents, they are being courted and turned by the very party insiders they once campaigned against. It hasn't happened everywhere yet, and in some states it may not happen at all; a few rogue politicians, like Christine O'Donnell in Delaware, might still squeak into office over the protests of the Republican establishment. But in Kentucky, home of the Chosen One, the sellout came fast and hard.

The Tea Party's political outrage is being appropriated, with thanks, by the Goldmans and the BPs of the world.

There is no Tea Party party movement in Australia. We do have the presence of libertarian think tanks such as The IPA and CIS and blogs such as Catallaxy.

The Loon Pond post on Albrechtson's op ed.

If Albrechtson is paid to provoke, as Lyn suggests, then its pretty tame provocation.

Yep, the Republicans are being more astute than the Libs were at keeping the crazies inside the tent. They've had a lot of luck of course, first with the recession and secondly with the Palin phenomenon. They were clever enough to leverage Palin's populism instead of trying to disown her (and BTW does anyone think the Libs would disendorse Hanson again if they had their time over? I don't think so).

BTW I read that Christine O'Donnell is running ads confirming she is not a witch ... you have to admit that with all their faults, American politicians do tend to be a lot more entertaining than our grey robots.

"...we had our own Teabaggers years ago - they were called Pauline Hanson's One Nation. The Libs adroitly shifted to the loopy right to accommodate them..."

Yes indeed! We've got the bigotry, the sense of entitlement, the disillusionment, the feeling of victimhood, the pursed-lipped prudishness, the willful ignorance. No need to import it from the US. ....In fact, given the REAL state of our society, economy and culture... our paranoia and confected outrage outstrips that of our American cousins!

But... and this is the TRULY TRAGIC thing... Labor ALSO shifted to the loopy right to accommodate the loons. And I see no sign of them trying to shift back.

Actually, since they gladly gave up the left side of the swamp to the new tenants, I doubt they'd be capable of winning it back if they wanted to.

In Fear and Favor in The New York Times Paul Krugman says:

As the Republican political analyst David Frum put it, “Republicans originally thought that Fox worked for us, and now we are discovering we work for Fox” — literally, in the case of all those non-Mitt-Romney presidential hopefuls. It was days later, by the way, that Mr. Frum was fired by the American Enterprise Institute. Conservatives criticize Fox at their peril.So the Ministry of Propaganda has, in effect, seized control of the Politburo. What are the implications?

He replies:
Perhaps the most important thing to realize is that when billionaires put their might behind “grass roots” right-wing action, it’s not just about ideology: it’s also about business. What the Koch brothers have bought with their huge political outlays is, above all, freedom to pollute. What Mr. Murdoch is acquiring with his expanded political role is the kind of influence that lets his media empire make its own rules.

Fox News has decided that it no longer needs to maintain even the pretense of being nonpartisan.

Gary, there is a really well produced doco by an Australian chap which shows, ever so clearly, how un-grass roots like, the tea party mob really are.

It runs for one and a half hours but is well worth the time. Cheers

thanks joe2. I'll take a look.