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Mar. 25 2010 - 12:34 pm | 11,381 views | 0 recommendations | 60 comments

Organic ACORNs: The Tea Party Has Done What ACORN Never Could

Supporters of the Tea Party movement demonstra...

Image by AFP via Daylife

The demise of ACORN has occasioned no small amount of grief from certain quarters of the American Left. Laura Flanders of the Nation lamented the death of the organization, as did Steve Cobble of the Huffington Post, and True/Slant’s own Laurie Essig. Those three scribes are right to mourn ACORN’s untimely death. The organization’s mission, which was to empower the disenfranchised – that is, to foster genuine democracy in America – was a worthy one.

ACORN’s record of actual success, however, was scant. In the forty years that it was in operation, there was not much of an uptick in political participation. The purchasing power of the working poor remained stagnant or even shrunk, and painful cuts were made to the social services that many of ACORN’s constituents relied on. It may be tempting to simply say, “Heckuva job, ACORN,” and scoff at the organization’s incompetence. But, in truth, ACORN’s failure was not (entirely) of its own making. Rather, the group’s losing track record indicates a fundamental truth: it is extremely difficult to build a genuine democratic movement from the top down. Actually, it’s a contradiction in terms. The genuinely democratic movements must, by their very nature, grow from the bottom up. (From the “grassroots,” as the hackneyed phrase goes.)

The much-maligned Tea Party represents that democratic ideal. It’s diffuse, unstructured, disorganized, and oftentimes confused. It’s messy. Sometimes it’s ugly. But it’s real. The Tea Party has done what ACORN never could: it has unified and engaged a significant group of Americans who have felt disaffected and underserved by their political class. That is democratic, in the truest sense of the word.

Yet, bizarrely, those supposed champions of grassroots democracy who mourned the death of ACORN have no patience – let alone tea and sympathy – for the Tea Party. In the same post where Laurie Essig eulogized ACORN for its efforts at “inculcating democracy,” she also caricatured the Tea Party as a group of “white supremacists.” Allison Kilkenny, another True/Slant blogger, called the Tea Partiers racists and “white ignoramuses.” This is the same Allison Kilkenny who, just a few months ago, was defending ACORN. Jerry Lanson, yet another True/Slant colleague of mine, called the Tea Partiers “racists.”

These are strange epithets to hurl at the Tea Party – especially when the most common complaint leveled at the group is that it has no coherent set of principles. How can all of tea partiers be motivated by the same thing, when they can’t even agree among themselves what they stand for? But the attacks reveal something important. That is: many who praise ACORN for inculcating “democracy” have a strange definition of the term. For them, democracy means “organizing and registering people who agree with me and will vote the way I would.” When tea partiers get together and form a genuine democratic movement, they get no sympathy from the supposedly democratic minded. It’s a classic case of “democracy for me – and not for thee.” I can understand why Burkean reactionaries like Andrew Sullivan would despise the very nature of the Tea Party. But those who claim to want to foster democracy certainly shouldn’t.

When it comes to promoting democracy, the supporters of ACORN have fallen very far from the tree.


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  1. collapse expand

    The much-maligned Tea Party represents that democratic ideal. It’s diffuse, unstructured, disorganized, and oftentimes confused.

    How do you figure? These events are organized by “Tea Party” companies, you know, that pay to bus in attendees to pad the numbers. There’s nothing “grassroots” about teabaggers, it’s an entirely corporatized, monetized political action arm of the conservative movement.

    Jerry Lanson, yet another True/Slant colleague of mine, called the Tea Partiers “racists.”

    Because they generally are racists! That came out this past week, when teabaggers were hurling racial epithets at black Democrats.

    There’s nothing “democratic” about a movement that openly calls for the subversion of democracy by assassination of duly elected politicians.

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      I don’t know what’s worse, an occasional racial slur or someone willing to post a sexually derogatory negative euphemisms on a publicly access website. I want to read about political views and not sexual acts performed with someone’s testicles (perhaps I just don’t share your odvious facination with them). An opposing view does not give anyone carte blanche to infuse derogatory sexually explicit statements into publicly accessed writing. Doing so is perverted and reprehensible.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
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        not sexual acts performed with someone’s testicles

        Who said anything about testicles? You won’t find that term or any synonym in my post. “Teabagger” is the self-chosen appellation by individuals associated with that movement; so chosen because they used tea bags as a mark to identify themselves. If they didn’t Google the term first, or if people like you leap immediately to the filthiest possible interpretation, that’s not my problem. There’s no sexually explicit content in my post whatsoever.

        In response to another comment. See in context »
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          I think you missed the tongue-in-cheek nature of dbroms’s comment. Wait a minute- TONGUE IN CHEEK? Now I’m doing it too… Damn you, dbroms, look at what you made me do…

          In response to another comment. See in context »
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          No Justin, the term is a derogatory euphemism (a derivative for a sexually explicit act). Look, all I’m saying is, people should have a bit more respect for the public speaking. I actually heard a congressman using this slang on the floor of congress. That is reprehensible behavior. It is just as inappropriate and reprehensible as people screaming out or publishing the “N” word. Look, I’m no saint, and after reading your post, I’m certain that I could come up with a few choice words to express my opposition, but let’s keep our arguments civil and show respect for apposing views. Name calling adds no value to debate. The TEA Party is a grass roots effort that consists of concerned citizens. They warrant the same respect that their opposition expects for voicing ideas regarding “fundamental transformation.”

          When arguing for the left, remember that a lot of us are not in favor of the direction that the current administration is steering this country. And when I say a lot, I mean a majority. The polls show that a majority of people in this country where opposed to this current health care law. Like them or not, I’m encouraged that there are people in this country that will not only pay lip service to their beliefs but get off the couch and take action. That’s just good citizen stewardship. One could argue that Acorn was acting in a like fashion, and I’m sure there were some good deeds done within the life of that organization. However, that organization spoiled, and demonstrated publicly instances of unethical behavior that any reasonable man would not dispute. But that’s not the focus of this article. This article compares the movement’s formation and development and Ethen knocked out of the park. He’s spot on.

          In response to another comment. See in context »
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            Dude, you are way off the beaten track with this. A large number of Tea Party members proclaim themselves teabaggers, even now that they all realise what it actually means.

            I have seen more than one photo of a middle-aged woman wearing a t-shirt proclaiming ‘Teabagger and proud of it’. I believe they are approaching the issue with some self-deprecating humour; a characteristic you appear to be lacking to a tragic degree.

            The comment that you originally replied to used the word just once, and used it simply as a noun in a sentence.

            The sentence wasn’t about the name ‘teabagger’ any more than this sentence: ‘dbroms is a humorless douchebag’ is about female sanitation devices.

            As for the actual issue of the Tea Parties being astroturfed; The problem isn’t that people say democratic groups *aren’t* corporate-funded. The problem is that 99% of Tea-Party members have no idea Just who is providing the money, what their true agendas are, and therefore are protesting in favour of people whose only objective is to steal every cent they have.

            Do some research on the ‘Koch’ family empire – a $100 billion a year group of companies owned entirely by two old men who are almost perfect examples of the modern-day robber barons. These guys astroturf hundreds of conservative AND democratic movements, who they pit against each other, following the very basic strategy of ‘divide and conquer’.

            And the Koch guys have a dozen conservative groups they fund that are intimately involved in the Tea Parties.

            What makes the Tea Party sad is not that it’s mostly astoturf, but that they are astroturfed and manipulated by the very corporations and people they are supposed to despise.

            In response to another comment. See in context »
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            Taniwha – the women you see in a brothel don’t count! LOL As for the self-deprecation, maybe, maybe not. I think you missed the point; I don’t care how the words are used in a sentence. I don’t think there is any value in using them in a public forum (certainly not on the house floor). But hey, I don’t make it a habit to call anyone names, regardless of interpretation. Some people feel they need to do that, I’m just not one of them.

            In response to another comment. See in context »
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          Tea party protesters have registered their displeasure with being referred to as “teabaggers.” Throughout history terms have been used to describe groups of people which were briefly embraced by those groups, but then became unfashionable and even offensive. Terms which come to mind are, “colored”, “negro”, “indian”, and even “fagot”.

          Google it.

          In response to another comment. See in context »
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      No, tea parties are not attended by paid people. Where did you read that, the Daily Kos? You have obviously never been to one. The acusations of racial epithets are unsubstantiated. In a large crowd bristling with cameras and recorders, not one such epithet was recorded. The Black Caucus members clearly were trying to provoke behavior they expected to find, and when they did not, they just lied about it. Because they know gullible suckers like you, their base it seems, will simply parrot the charges. And how do you substantiate your silly accusation that the “movement” “openly calls for the assassination of duly elected politicians?” Do you just simply uncritically accept every ranting, baseless charge made by your fellow tribe members on hate blogs? You have obviously never been to a tea party, so your comments are simply dismissed out of hand by anyone who actually knows something about them. Who do you think you’re convincing with this childish screed?

      In response to another comment. See in context »
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      Typical liberal swill, calling people with a genuine viewpoint teabaggers, corporate, and generally racists. If there’s nothing democratic about calling for the assassination of politicians what did you say about calling for the assassination of conservatives and especially President Bush? I bet you said Jack Squat. Overgeneralizations, adhominem attacks, the specialty of liberals like you.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
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      “Because they generally are racists! That came out this past week, when teabaggers were hurling racial epithets at black Democrats.”

      Claims were made that this occurred but there has been no evidence that it did. The spitting incident claimed by Rep. Cleaver, recorded and posted on youtube, turned out to be a case of “say it, don’t spray it.” Rep. Cleaver did more damage to his own credibility among serious, thinking people than he did to the Tea Party movement. It was when I saw the footage of the protester cupping his hands over his mouth, yelling, “Kill the bill!” and Rep. Cleaver over-dramatically yelling, “you spit on me!” that it began to dawn on me that the entire march, and perhaps all the claims of racial abuse were nothing but political theater.

      If you go back and read the original report by William Douglas at McClatchy, you will find that, contrary to every talking-head on TV and blog post on the subject, John Lewis never once claimed that the racial epithet was hurled at him. It was Rep. Cleaver of “you spit on me!” fame who claimed it. If he embellished for effect once, he could do it again. Furthermore, Jesse Jackson, Jr. was walking through that crowd, also behind Rep. Lewis. His picture was made holding a mobile phone as though he was recording the march. He later posted videos of his father walking into the protester crowd where he spent a few minutes before attempting to grab a sign from one participant. So it has been established that his phone was recording that day. Jackson, Jr. has not yet posted the march video.

      That event was the only example you used to demonstrate your opinion that the tea party protesters are “generally racists.” Even if the events had occurred as Rep. Cleaver claimed (and at least one is demonstrably false through video evidence and Capitol Police interviews), you seem to be arguing that 2 or 3 people behaving poorly in a crowd of thousands permit you to generalize about the entire group.

      I find that kind of thinking to be far from progressive, liberal or logical. I think if you were being more honest as to why you call these people “teabaggers” and “generally racists” you would have to admit, even if only yourself, that the tactic is more about ridicule and alienation than honesty and openness.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
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    Pot, meet kettle. You’re both black.

    Most grass roots political movements have a certain kook factor. Look at some of the “anti-war” protests out there and you’ll see what I mean.

    As for astroturfing, there is no shortage of that on one side or the other. The myth that liberals don’t have money is just as much a myth as it is that every conservative is a multi-millionaire who seeks to buy the very best government for the money.

    Pull your head out of the sand and have a look at the process. Then look at the positions and see what lines up with your political views. I think you’ll find there is much to be ashamed of on both sides of the isle.

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    What do you mean when you say that the Tea Party is real (3rd para), but ACORN isn’t?

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    ACORN lasted a long time – 40 years. It has done a lot of good things for poor people who needed help to pull themselves up. ACORN helped organize tutoring for adults & kids. It organized legal advocates on issues to help them & tax preparers to assist in filling out forms, etc. Registering poor people to vote meant a lot of new Democrats came on board, and then Republicans began looking for forms filled out incorrectly or duplicates. This happens in any registration campaign but doesn’t mean they were cheating.

    I register voters in my community . We always weed out errors. Always. And some slip through we didn’t catch.

    The Tea Party seems disingenuous since they didn’t complain about the huge government growth during the Bush era and now seem to want to blame the Democrats for the big mess left from an administration that allowed it to happen. It all seems to feel like a big temper tantrum because a non-Republican was elected… and racists join because the hate the thought of a black person in the White House.

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      Actually, they did. Conservatives across the land bitterly complained about pork, graft and the rampant growth of government under Bush, who was far more of a progressive than a conservative, the hysterical accusations of the Left notwithstanding. They saw McCain as more of the same and therefore did not turn out to vote. Now, we have the catastrophic reign of Obama to live through. They realize their mistake, too late, and are now seeking to correct it. they are sick of the uncontrolled growth of government, and they seek to stop it. Tough to understand?

      In response to another comment. See in context »
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      You say the the Tea Party is disingenuous because they didn’t complain during the Bush era, well how could they since the Tea Party movement has only existed for a year. The Tea Party movement began because of a huge debt thrust upon the American people. If Obama hadn’t increased the size of government so rapidly, the Tea Party movement might never have started. But the shock of the government spending trillions, the looming cap and tax bill, healthcare, the take over of GM and big banks, and the creation of unaccountable czars for controling peoples lives was far too much for the American people to stand. It was the domestic equivalent of the bombing of Pearl harbor. If you ever attend a Tea Party event, what you will see is middle America and people concerned with what is happening to their country. These are law biding people that do not riot nor destroy. They believe in the rule of law.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
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      This has become a standard kind of argument on the Left. It is akin to the “chicken hawk” argument at the beginning of the Iraq war: if you yourself (and probably your own children too) have never been to war, then you can have no legitimate argument in favor of going to war, ever, for any reason. In this case, the permutation of the argument is: if you did not object to deficit spending level X (a level you deemed accetable,) then you have no legitimate right to object to deficit spending level 4X, or presumably any other level.

      But this argument doesn’t even apply in many cases to “Tea Partiers” or others currently alarmed at levels of deficit spending every rational person know are unsustainable and potential catastrophic for the nation. Because many of thoise people, certainly fiscal conservatives, DID in fact object, continuously and strenuously to levels of spending during the Bush administration they thought too high. Conservatives saw Bush as a big government Republican, not a conservatives. Because those on the left insisted on seeing Bush as an arch conservative, which he was not in any meaningful sense, they assume anyone who voted for him, as opposed to even bigger-government Democrats, must have had no problem with his pending. That is simply false.

      But even if it were true, it would not disqualify them from objecting to the vastly higher levels of spending we are seing from the Democrats.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
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    Most Tea Party members are republican. They hate Obama. They fear change. They have mindlessly accepted inane talking points distributed by people who could care less about them. They are less a grassroots movement and more grass eating, Sh*t spewing, sheep. No offense.

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      No, they fear the destruction of the institutions they respect and that have made this nation great. They fear bad change, not merely change. They have opinions about how much government they want controlling their lives. They also object to fine-sounding government programs they know are unsustainable. They object the the rapid bankrupting of the nation with levels of debt undreamed of only two years ago. The sheep are those who think “change” is somehow good, no matter what kind of change it is. Or that “hope,” undefined is a glassy-eyed substitute for ideas that can sustain a nation. No offense.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
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    RE:These are strange epithets to hurl at the Tea Party – especially when the most common complaint leveled at the group is that it has no coherent set of principles

    Don’t you mean the democrat party?

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    Wow, just wow. Your logic is . . . nonexistent. Perhaps you are confused by what “a coherent set of principles” is. The racism that the Tea Party folks evince on a self-evidently regular basis isn’t really a principle. It’s mere incoherent phobic rage. One can of course make coherent speculations about what leads the Tea Party types to infer from HCR the assumption that Obama is a socialist / Kenyan-born / fascist / what-have-you; but the effect of making claims on such a bizarre chain of associations is not to lend them the dignity of “coherence.”

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      You’re talking about birthers, a small fringe group you conflate with conservatives and the tea parties in general, because it is easier for you to dismiss them that way. Do you want “progressives” dismissed because of some truthers? Like other bitter posters here, you have obviously no experience with tea parties. You read one post somewhere that claims someone at a tea party somewhere, some time supposedly said a racist thing, and you gleefully claim that all tea partiers are racist. Did the SEIU member who beat up a disabled black man in St. Louis last summer, while calling him the “n” word (on tape all over YouTube) mean that all Progressives” are racist?)

      The “racism” charge is just something leftists say like parrots when they disagree with someone and have no actual argument to make. You might as well say “with,” because that is what you really mean. You can’t make actual arguments about, say, what the optimum income tax rates should be, or whether the health plan is financially sustainable, or what level of control government should have in peoples’ lives. You would have to actually read and think to make such arguments. But you would rather scream epithets and feel self righteous. So you call people names so that you can dehumanize them and feel justified in ignoring them and disrespecting them.

      Who do you think you are convincing with this stuff? It isn’t those who actually participate in the tea party movement and know these silly accusations are not true. You simply discredit yourself with them and make them more determined to kick your representatives from office. But hey, rage on, dude.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
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    Have you gone to any “tea parties”? I have, and I strongly recommend doing it, because you’re wrong about a few things, and you would realize that if you’d spent some time at one of these.

    As for it being an “diffuse, unstructured” movement, that’s just demonstrably, objectively false. I know that gets in the way of your trademark “provocative/unorthodox!” headline, though, so I understand the omission.

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      Sorry to be snappy. I actually wanted it to be organic and not-racist, because there are some genuine populist aspects mixed in there. But it wasn’t organic; it was, at times, literally a Fox News pep rally, with Fox commentators soliciting call-and-response boos for different names they dropped (ratings competitor MSNBC was a big target, with the giant weapons contractor GE guilty of liberalism and/or communism by association…if that gives you any idea of the inanity). And there was plenty of racism, too, albeit generally comically inept. But then, I could laugh, because I’m white. Others, maybe not so much.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
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    You write: “it has unified and engaged a significant group of Americans who have felt disaffected and underserved by their political class. That is democratic, in the truest sense of the word.”

    Is it really? It could certainly have been said the KKK in its heyday unified and engaged a significant group of disaffected and underserved Americans in the South. The only problem was that in doing so this group marginalized and terrorized members of another group, black Americans. It murdered Civil Rights workers, too.

    Now we’re starting to see the ugly underside of an organization whose members in some cases compare the president to Hitler (an odd comparision), believe him a muslum (contrary to all fact-based evidence), believe him a foreigner (contrary to all fact-based evidence) and, in their milder comments, categorize him as a “socialist” (though his policies are generally criticized from the left for their centrism).

    Thirteen percent of Americans, according to a new Harris Poll, even consider the president the “anti-christ.” How do such utterly irrational beliefs stimulate democratic dialogue and discussion? How do shouts such as “baby kiler” from the House floor and racial and homophobic taunts from demonstrators outside stimulate democratic discussion or action? These are acts of intimidation, not democracy.

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      Uh, Jerry, remind me, but didn’t a teensy number of people compare Bush to Hitler? Remember “Bushhitler”? I would say therefore that we were seeing the ugly underside of an organization (the Left) whose members in some cases compared the president to Hitler. I know you would want me to point this out due to your no doubt fastidious commitment to intellectual intergrity and consistency.

      i wonder what percentage of the enlightened Left thought Bush was the secular equivalent of the anti_Christ? The person in the House shouted that the bill was a baby killer, Stupak (but then, I guess they didn’t mention that on the Daily Kos, hmm?) Never mind, it’s all about the narrative, Jerry. I wonder what you might have said or thought about Dick Cheney? Or Rumsfeld, or any of your favorite boogeymen? Might an indiscrete epithet have ever emerged from your cultured lips? But of course, that’s different, because you can play by different rules, and when you are indisputably right and righteous, you get to say anything. Right?

      In response to another comment. See in context »
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    A razor is not the instrument I would use to analogyze Mr. Epstein’s power of analysis. To begin with, ACORN was primarily offices where community organizers could interface with the people they were there to serve (whatever their mission statement was). As someone who works in groaning ghettoes, I can tell you that the friendly face of ACORN workers will be sorely missed. The Tealiban, on the other hand, is the misbegotten spawn of the militia movement that dogged Bill Clinton and has an extra vitality owing its hatred of the fact that the United States has elected a Black man with an exotic name President. In addition to the vacuity of any and all of the beliefs its members claim to uphold is fundamental dishonesty. They pretty much disappeared during the Bush years then re-discovered concerns over expanding government powers and deficits when Obama was elected. In reality they are a quasi-religious, supernationalist outfit that bears a strong resemblance to Germany’s National Socialist German Workers’ Party. That’s right, I’ll say it! The historical parallel that most accurately describes them is the Nazi Party! They love to throw that analogy around themselves but are too lazy to have ever learned the difference between Nazism and Communism! There simply is no comparison to made between them and ACORN!

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      I lost you at the end there. So TEA Partiers should be calling Acorn and/or the current administration Communist organizations rather than Nazi’s? Did I read that right?

      I agree with quasi-religious, and super-nationalist fits, but I don’t think a majority of the TEA Partiers give a rats patuty what color the President is or what his name is. Frankly, most white folk like me thought we’d be past the ‘race-card’ when Obama got elected (especially because we’ve seen it played against us our whole lives and never did a thing warrant it). No, the race thing is over and Obama is proof that any black American can, with focus and perseverance, succeed in this country; but hey, that’s just one dumb cracker’s view. From what I’ve seen TEA Partiers are concerned about action. I’m not a TEA Party member so I’m sure I’ll get this wrong, the TEA Party (Taxed Enough Already) are against government interference in day to day life. They, like Republicans and Libertarians, view the fundamental transformation as an unconstitutional infringement on civil liberty.

      I caution the left on using race to antagonize the right. This country has come a long way regarding racial equality. That rhetoric is potentially damaging to the hard work of past generations. We don’t need to worry anymore about the “Starz on Tharz.”

      In response to another comment. See in context »
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        The Nazi analogy may be hyperbolic, I admit, but I don’t doubt that the Tealiban are a bunch of racists. If I’m mistaken, it’s because they hold up signs with pictures of Obama with a bone through his nose!

        In response to another comment. See in context »
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          I’m sure you don’t. And you haven’t the slightest curiosity to actually, you know, find out. It’s more comfortable for you to demonize “the Other.” How come you leftists aren’t “afraid to talk with your enemies,” so long as they are foreign terrorists, but can’t talk to conservatives who live next door? Why can’t you “honor diversity” of ideas and opinins, instead of simply people who look differently but who think identically to you? And what about that whole thing of demonizing the Other?

          In response to another comment. See in context »
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    Go back to writing about China. You’re clueless when it comes to American politics.

    I’d take the teabaggers more seriously if they had been around for Bush’s spending orgy, but they didn’t seem to mind anything until Republicans were out of power.

    I’d take what you write about Acorn seriously, if they hadn’t been brought down by a teabagging faker, that used edited video to fool Fox News and in turn, congress, to defund them.

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      This is a joke right? You’re doing a ‘not so cute’ characterization? Right? I only ask because I could never believe for an instant that someone would actually believe that the public evidence presented to this country regarding Acorn was anything but damming. Hey, you have every right to love the organization, but be honest with yourself. As for the perversion in your rant, I think I’m wasting my breath on this on.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
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        Spoken like someone for whom the problems faced by ghetto residents are as remote as on some far-away island!

        In response to another comment. See in context »
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          I don’t have to live the “ghetto” to form an opinion about what Acorn was filmed doing. Sad part is, that organization knew, I repeat, knew they were being targeted by the right; and yet these people were still caught behaving unethically. Sell the conspiracy theory to somewhere else. I saw an interview with Acorn’s CEO and she never alleged any film conspiracy. I seem to recall, she was taking steps to punish or even relieve the offenders. End’s don’t justify means. I concede that Acorn may have done some good community works, but that doesn’t justify unethical or unlawful behavior.

          In response to another comment. See in context »
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      No you wouldn’t. Because you don’t care about substance. You only care what tribe someone belongs to. You don’t care what ACORN did and still does illegally all over the country, because they are in your tribe. And you have no problem simply hurling childish, name-calling insults at people whom you deem to be in another tribe. People who think government should be smaller, are not just wrong to you. No, they have to be racists too, and you have to dehumanize them by calling them a name you think is insulting.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
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        Just to remind you, we didn’t make up “teabagger”; that’s what they called themselves, when they were using tea bags as their symbol (in reference to the Boston tea party.) They were too dumb to Google it first, I guess. It’s really just a hilarious coincidence that “teabag” also means… what it also means. It’s not some conspiracy on our part, it’s what you guys decided you were called (until you learned why we thought it was so funny.)

        In response to another comment. See in context »
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    The dems are doing a good job of dividing the people. Latinos, African Americans and poor whites should be working together to demand justice but now they are effectively divided
    The NYTimes is painting all opponents of the health care bill as racists, while actual opponents may want single payer. Some people just cant afford to pay for anything

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    This is absurd, sloppy thinking. The foundational premise of the Tea Party is that a tiny minority of extreme anti-government discontents has the right to disrupt the actions of a duly elected legislative majority, all while claiming that they represent the “American People”, when in fact the American People voted en masse for the things the Tea Party frequently call “tyranny”.

    I defy you to produce a definition of “Democracy” that involves threatening violence to coerce a legitimate government to ignore the will of the majority (as in the majority who voted for a President who ran on a program of fiscal stimulus, health care reform, immigration reform, education reform, and climate change legislation). What that’s called is “terrorism”.

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      Actually I don’t think that people voted for what the congress and Obama are doing.
      I see a big difference between his promises and his actions.
      He has annoyed some liberals without winning over conservatives
      He has annoyed anti-war gps without winning over pro-war McCain voters

      In response to another comment. See in context »
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      I have been to several Tea Party events and never once have they threatened violence on anyone. If you bothered to check, you would see that the fundamental core of the movement is fiscal responsibility, limited government, free markets, and the belief in the constitution. Why are all of you so threatened by this?

      In response to another comment. See in context »
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    As Jonathan Raban pointed out in The New York Review of Books, the tea party is an uneasy conclave of Ayn Rand secular libertarians and fundamentalist Christian evangelicals; it contains birthers, Birchers, racists, xenophobes, Ron Paulites, cold warriors, Zionists, constitutionalists, vanilla Republicans looking for a high and militia-style survivalists.

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    The Mad Tea Party
    By Richard Kim

    This article appeared in the April 12, 2010 edition of The Nation.
    March 25, 2010

    (attribution for preceding post)

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    If Ethan Epstein was an angler, and comments were fish, this piece would be a mighty effective bait.

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    I wouldn’t say ACORN was without accomplishments. They heavily participated in voter fraud during the last (and mostly many other) election. They were complicit in blackmailing lending institutions to make loans everyone knew would default. And the list goes on… They aren’t gone – just reorganized with Obama’s other thugs.

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    Wow! Excellent. I probably don’t agree with your politics, Ethan, but it’s nice to read something objective about the subject. Most people are just spouting what they’ve been told, and believing the things they want to believe.

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    Whatever good ACORN has done over its 40 years have been overshadowed by at least three serious problems. (1) They have engaged in rampant voter fraud in many states, on a repeated basis. This was not just a few bad eggs in an otherwise pristine organization, but an active campaign to subvert the Democratic process. The tea parties have done nothing of the kind, nor has there been any remotely comparable GOP-aligned group engaging in systematic voter fraud nationwide. (2) Their emphasis on intimidation, terrorism and blackmail was itself destructive of the social fabric. Which was exactly part of their plan. Barging into business offices, terrorizing business people and their families at their homes—these are the tactics of thugs, not well-intentioned “grassroots” do-gooders. (3) They had a significant hand in the political corruption of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. One of their principal efforts was to get the nation to lend money to people who had no means to pay it back, under the guise of ending “discriminatory lending” (now known as “predatory lending,” of course.) The list goes on: corrupt and illegal relationships with SEIU chapters in numerous cities, busing in paid agitators. This is an organization corrupt to its heart.

    The tea parties are no such thing. The contentions of some, like the preposterously ignorant claims of Justin St. Giles Payne above, are made by people who either have no actual experience with tea partiers or who are simply spreading disinformation they read on some website, or both. These people have no interest at all in what tea parties are, who goes to them, what their concerns are or what motivates them. They simply project their own vile imaginings on them. it doesn’t seem to occur to those seeking to discredit the tea parties by lying about them that the people who go to the tea parties know they are being lied about. Do the slanderers think this bleeds support from the tea parties, rather than themselves? I guess they don’t think, they merely emote and act out. They will be swept aside.

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    I’ve never done any protesting or organizing in my life and this April 15th I’ll be attending a local Tea Party. Here’s my situation, not that the truth from a soon-to-be “tea partier” will stop dishonest people from propagating generalizations and outright lies.

    *I wasn’t invited by any corporation or organization. No one will be “busing” me in.
    *I believe Barack Obama is an American citizen, by birth.
    *I am not in the least bit racist towards any race or ethnicity. It was pretty cool to see a black man become president.
    *I believe the President wants to do what he thinks is best for the country. I simply disagree with his philosophy and most democrat’s vision for America.

    That’s the truth about me, and it won’t affect one bit the narrative those one the left want to spin. They will continue to paint all Tea Partiers as racists, corporate tools, birthers, etc. because that’s all they have. No proof, no argument, just epithets.

    • collapse expand

      First of all, there’s a huge difference in what the local tea party meetings are like across the country. That’s a big part of the problem of their media portrayal. I think if they last much longer they will start to splinter a lot.

      But, I’d like you to return here after the meeting and tell use if it was what you expected, whether you identified with the rhetoric you heard and what part of the country the meeting was at. Also how many people were there and what percentage of them you thought were the type that give the movement a bad name.

      Because, whether it’s true or not, the public face of the Tea Party definitely has a kooky 2nd-amendment-loving, birth-certificate-doubting, town-hall-meeting-ruining flavor to it, and if that’s not correct then you have a lot of work to do to turn that around.

      Don’t blame the media for how the tea party is portrayed, blame the moderate members who let the kooks get all the air-time.

      Of course, you may just find out at your meeting that the kooks are the vast majority.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
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    The Tea Party movement does have core principles and they happen to be fiscal responsibility, limited government, free markets, and a belief in upholding the constitution. For a movement that has been around for a less than a year, there are an aweful lot of people fearing it. The members of the Tea Parties are generally middle class and very law abiding. They do not riot, destroy, or otherwise hurt anyone. They don’t call people by the n word nor the f word. When 2 million of then marched on Washington last year, they left the place in better condition than when they arrived. The Tea Party members love there country and the principles for which it stands.

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      Couple things I take issue with in your comment:

      1) Fiscal responsibility? Like Reagan’s deficit? Like Bush’s deficit- one war fought in a negligent manner so that it cost much more money that needed? An unnecessary war, entered into under false pretenses, and badly wrong suppositions, that has actually de-stabilized the Mideast, that will cost over 1 trillion dollars before it’s over? A 1.4 trillion $ tax cut over a decade that overwhelmingly favored the top 1% of income earners? (Don’t say you don’t support Bush now, you sure did back then.)

      Limited Government? Like Reagan’s or Bush’s increase in government size? Face it, those guys grew government like mad.

      Free Markets? Like the one that, freed from regulation, sent millions of good jobs overseas forever, that crushed your 401Ks, that would have wrecked the world economy without massive government intervention?

      Upholding the Constitution? After Bush? Seriously, are you kidding? The only areas where Obama could be threatening to the Constitution are the Bush era policies that he’s trying to keep, like warrantless wiretapping- and even he isn’t advocating and practicing torture (which, by the way, as interrogation simply doesn’t work at producing actionable intelligence).

      2 million? Those Liberal-Leftists at the Washington DC Fire Department said 70,000.

      No use of the N-word? Well, all sides have their hotheads, but I’ve seen and heard the N-word used by your side.

      Sorry, friend, but your heroes are sharks, and you are chum in the water. condolf, I’m sure you’re a nice guy and all, but the straight-faced assertions you just made tell me that you don’t have a very high level of self-awareness. You’re being played.

      There. Venting done for the day. Hey, Epstein- what do you think of the recent Quinnipac poll that places a majority of Tea-partiers in the Republican, rather than the Libertarian, bloc? I’d be vexed if Dick Armey walked in and took over my movement. Good thing I’m not a Goldwater/Paul/Barr Libertarian- it’s not my problem that Libertarian ideals are being used to bolster an increasingly desperate and irrational Republican Party.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
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      “…core principles and they happen to be fiscal responsibility, limited government, free markets, and a belief in upholding the constitution”

      Little late on the ball getting outraged. If these are indeed your issues, you should be thrilled right now. Oh wait, you want lots of government handouts to and collusion with corporations. You think maybe government should have a free hand in rigging markets for their wealthy donors, doling out our resources to human pigs with nothing to show for it, and using the military for wasteful wars of ego.

      Your comment sounds good, but i can’t help but read in a certain disingenuousness. That’s a nice way to say, i think you’re lying about who you are and what you believe.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
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    The Tea Party was stared by a GOP operative – Dick Armey – who lobbies for terrorists.

    This is not a grass roots organization.

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    About Me

    I'm a writer based in Portland, Oregon. My work has appeared in the Weekly Standard, the American Spectator, the New York Press, The Big Money, sp!Ked online, the Epoch Times, the Daily NK, and others. From 2005 to 2007, I wrote a column on culture and politics for the (alas, now defunct) Seattle-based Internationalist Magazine. In so doing, I filed dispatches from Berlin, Seoul, Paris, New York, and, yes, Reno - among other places. In 2009, I reported on business from Shanghai. I attended Reed College, in Portland, Oregon.

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    Location:Portland, Oregon