IMO, "teabaggers"—all whopping 600 of them--gathered in Nashville this weekend for the movement’s first national convention are making a crucial mistake in claiming (over and over) that it was their grass-roots voice that tipped Ted Kennedy’s old Senate seat into Republican hands for the first time in decades.
In reality, contrary to devout claims by Fox News, the teabaggers’ ground influence in Massachusetts was (at best) marginal as arrogant Democrat Martha Coakley was as much a factor in her loss to underdog Republican Scott Brown as he himself was. But to hear it from the Nashville teabaggers today, one would think it was they who ushered Brown to victory on the star-spangled wings of their righteous movement.
But here’s the reality: they’re utterly wrong.
The mythic influence of teabaggers in state and national elections, while not non-existent, has been overblown--and heavily exploited--by the flag-waving likes of Glenn Beck, Dick Armey, Sarah Palin, Tom Tancredo, and Michelle Bachmann (among others). It isn’t teabaggers who are causing Washington to wet its pants in fear these days. It’s a potent, national fatigue over the “Great Recession” mixed with a painfully slow realization that no president nor party (nor tax cut) can fix the US economy overnight – much less in 365 days or anything close to it. Thus, such frustration has fueled a heavy vibe of anti-incumbancy, one which no elected official likes to feel.
Furthermore, no dramatic cut is Federal spending is going to help us either as America’s treasury remains deeply in debt to the Chinese due to the Bush Administration using foreign sales of T-bills to fund the Iraq War on credit, credit for which the Chinese are steadily growing inpatient on a repayment date. And until that elephantine debt is settled, the deficit we currently enjoy isn't going anywhere.
This example (any many others) is why I have so little respect for the “teabagger” movement, and insist on referring to them as such: their simple-minded grasp of why the US economy is where it is today, how it got here, easy placement of blame, and demand for a quick solution rooted in late 18th century romanticism rivals that of ignorant children.
This said, do Americans have the right to be frustrated with government today? Absolutely, yes.
The current Congress is an enraging model of dysfunction - featuring one party (Democrats) which despite large majorities cannot lead, and another (Republicans) pathologically driven by obstructionism so it can employ the same fruitless policies of the past decade. Or in other words, today’s voters have no quality options in either congressional party. And despite my continued respect for him, Barack Obama is saddled trying to steer this ship of fools – not that John McCain (had he been elected in ‘08) would be in an even remotely better position today.
Does this mean I think the US is doomed?
No, we’ve been through difficult national times before, and we’ll get through this one as well once Wall Street banks—the same parties which enabled the Great Recession, and I am convinced learned nothing from their downfall—open new credit lines to businesses so they can begin rehiring.
Yet by the same token, we could probably endure faster if we had citizens--not to mention brainless pundits and elected officials--addressing national issues with a basic knowledge of what they were talking about.