Thursday, February 4, 2010

It's My Tea Party and I'll Cry if I Want to!

Vanity FairThis blog entry was inspired by Ernesto. He left a comment on the previous blog, and I responded, but decided at the last minute to turn the response into a blog entry, expanding it somewhat.

I won't quote him here, but sum up briefly the topic of discussion. He observed a malaise among voters, a political backlash of a sort that could translate into many voters staying away from the polls in 2010, as was the case in 1994 that ultimately swept Republicans into power in both houses of Congress.

I think that this is the gist of it. Correct me, if I've misspoken, Ernesto.

My response sought to examine why, at the moment, the country is looking backward for answers, rather than forward.

This is not a good trend, I wrote. If Democrats fail, I see a resurgence (let's say a hike) of those things that got us into this fix in the first place: laissezfaire economics, tax cuts for the rich, the continuation of a shadow financial system, and an expansion of our military presence around the world.

If they truly wish to restore our national economic clout among the world communities, these are the things that the Teabaggers, and Republicans, should be obsessed with destroying--those corporate forces that have hurt, and continue to hurt, our national preeminence--but that's not the case. Teabaggers, in particular, are obsessing over Obama and his suppose socialist agenda, and the federal government's big-spending appetite.

And that seems to be their primary concern. Yet, there may be other concerns hidden just below the surface. And that's what this blog entry will explore. The Teabagger movement may be a shill, smoke and mirrors, for something other than just interjecting fiscal responsibility into government.

Here's my thinking. If the Republicans can't find a way to co-opt the movement, the Teabaggers are poised to weaken the Republican party.

The Teabaggers are more a regressive movement than a conservative movement.

Their movement, as bogus as it is, stands to siphon off millions of voters, as it caters to this nation's biggest fear, in my estimation--whites becoming increasingly irrelevant as power brokers, and demographic bullies.

This could explain why some politicos are opposed to this year's census head count, and others are kissing up to the Teabaggers.

The Atlantic has published an excellent article examining this phenomenon. Under the title, "The End of White America?," the article probes the white resistance that might ensue from a shifting demographics that will see minorities in the majority, and the majority in the minority, encapsulated in this foreword:

"The Election of Barack Obama is just the most startling manifestation of a larger trend: the gradual erosion of “whiteness” as the touchstone of what it means to be American. If the end of white America is a cultural and demographic inevitability, what will the new mainstream look like—and how will white Americans fit into it? What will it mean to be white when whiteness is no longer the norm? And will a post-white America be less racially divided—or more so?"

Not all, obviously, feel threatened. Obama represents, not only the impending threat, but a coming to terms with this new American reality.

However, as the nation becomes more progressive in its outlook, less fearful of surrendering power to the minorities in its midst, and losing its European character, this reactionary trend will, in all likelihood, surface more and more, and voices will become more strident in declaring their disapproval.

Vanity Fair might be feeling the need to push back using it's March issue:

"Magazines have a tough time getting race right, but usually they manage to do a better job than Vanity Fair did in its March issue. The magazine, which is owned by glossy publishing house Conde Nast, recently delivered its annual Hollywood issue -- to howls of protest from around the blogosphere and the analog world.

"The problem: Of the nine supposedly up-and-coming starlets featured on the fold-out cover, not one is African-American, Asian or Hispanic. The average skin tone on display is as white as the new-fallen snow."


Is this more about some Americans resisting a losing of the America that gave them comfort, and power, including white privilege, and the economic advantage that goes along with that, than a government run by Democrats?

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The movement may be muddled about its intent, but what does stand out is its anti-Washington fervor, and a return to the Constitution as a guide for moving forward. Lost in the discussion is the role of the Supreme Court in interpreting the intent and purpose of our most revered document.

Yet, when two of their main speakers are Sarah Palin, and Tom Tancredo, you can't help but become increasingly suspicious of the Tea Party Movement's true motives. Inviting these two, they may have let the cat out the bag on their eventual direction.

"Tancredo, as well as the organizers at their news conference [Tea Party Convention], trashed former presidential nominee John McCain -- as did many Tea Partiers here. Tancredo, a hardliner on immigration, vowed to do whatever he could -- if he could do anything -- for J.D. Hayworth, McCain’s conservative primary opponent this year. Skoda said a McCain win would have been “a disaster” for the country."

Here's what I posted, somewhat indelicately, on another blog:

What they [Teabaggers] should be decrying is this nation's corpocracy, corporations that have this nation by the balls, and are squeezing hard, and will squeeze harder now that the Supremes have given them a much needed vise with which to make us all cry uncle, and not just Uncle Sam.

Uncle Sam won't be able to help us. At least not right away, if at all, and perhaps only in a limited way. A nice rant, but it misses the mark, just as the Teabaggers are missing the mark, and, from all indications, missing on purpose.


It's the Democratic agenda which Teabaggers fear (or claim they fear) and not corporate hegemony. What I believe have them in a partial dither is this: The Democrats are focused, for a change, on improving the living conditions of the middleclass and the underclass, regardless of race. And I believe that that rankles their rank and file. What they should have learned over the years is this:

Racial tolerance doesn't weaken us, it makes us stronger, regardless of who's in the majority. Multiculturalism won't dilute democracy, or automatically pit one group against the other, if we remember that we're all one--of the same race, the same human family, but with some differences. Those differences--which certainly may be used to divide us--should not be suppressed, but embraced, and celebrated. And they shouldn't be used to ascribe to some an inferior standing and to others a superior one.

As technology brings us closer, we learn that neighbors and neighborhoods take on a whole new meaning, that teacher and student can be miles apart, and that we can talk at length with people clear on the other side of the world with the same ease with which we may have an across-the-fence conversation with our next-door neighbor.

Some will, undoubtedly, seek to use this advancing technology to sow seeds of distrust, and division, but it will all be in vain. It's hard to hate those whose humanity reaches out to you with the same familiarity we encounter when we interact with neighbors, friends, and family.

20 comments:

msladydeborah said...

Interesting perspective on the Tea Baggers.

I think that 21st Century America is supposed to be different than the last century. Change in any form is always resisted by some portion of the national popoulation. Even when it becomes obvious that they are supporting a minority viewpoint. I also believe that this is not exclusive to any one race in our society.

I also sincerely believe that for many of the people who are supporting this movement there is a underlying sense of fear. In this case that fear is probably based on POCs paying them back for the past. I for one see no reward or gain by doing so.

The upcoming election cycle is going to be interesting and somewhat chaotic. It seems that this movement is going to be a disruptive force which might work in favor of more reasonable individuals being elected. I'm certainly going to be watching in my home state on what impact they will have on the elections.

Black Diaspora said...

I agree: fear of a takeover by people of color is at the heart of the resistance.

And payback? Very unlikely. Were that the case, the streets would already be red with blood, and, as you say, there's "no reward or gain by doing so."

I realize, too, that my thesis is controversial, but then I have to call it as I see it, whether there's solid evidence for broad support.

I think that that separates blogs and bloggers from the usual news-gathering guidelines, and cast us in the role of pundits. Beck, Hannity, O'Reilly, Limbaugh, et al, use the thinnest of facts to support their outrageous claims.

The next few years will give us more insight into the direction the country is going politically. And you're right: it will be "disruptive," and hopefully salutary.

Thanks for your insights, msladydeborah. I value your opinion.

Seda said...

I second msladydeborah, an interesting take on teabaggers. I've long had the sense that they are far more worked up than the actual policies and actions of Obama justify, and that they wouldn't be nearly so upset if, say, Biden had won. (I think they'd be at least, or nearly, as upset if Hillary won, though.) So far, Obama's administered like a left-wing Republican - just slightly right of center.

So what accounts for the overreaction?

I think it's racism - fear of the other, and, like you say, of the growing evidence of weakening white influence on the nation. Look at the corporate boards, though, and you know we've still got it pretty well sewn up, regardless of black presidents or RNC leaders.

For some of us whites, the loss of our majority is no big deal. The trend is going that way, but it's not imminent; if it were, it would still be no big deal. Because we're all American, and really, the mantle of the oppressor weighs like iron chains.

To me, the issue is not which race or gender or whatever is dominant - it's how do we shift from a domination model of society to a partnership model, where no one is oppressed?

Black Diaspora said...

Seda, thanks to you, I'm freed of a lifetime of all-or-nothing thinking where whites are concern--that is, expecting all whites to think a certain way (especially vis-a-vis blacks), and expecting nothing short of that, nothing in between.

The election of Obama began to break down some of that mindset. And if a vestige of it remains, your clearheaded view of race is the chisel that has chipped away all remaining preconceptions.

Hillary, for sure, would have met with some of the resistance with which Obama contends, but I'm just not sure it would have been so damn obdurate.

I'm told, women were pretty angry when Hillary didn't win the primary, and threatened not to vote for Obama.

I feel that, had she won the presidency, those very same women would have been a vociferous battering ram of counterattacks and blowback against attacks from conservatives and Republicans--more than Obama currently enjoys.

The Right demonized Hillary and Bill when he was president, and Rush Limbaugh kept a countdown calendar handy to remind us daily of the days remaining in Bill's tenure.

The shift from a Democrat to a Republican to lead this country hardly seemed possible at the time (We had a budget surplus, and a fairly good GNP.), and many still believe Bush stole the election thanks to a little help from his friends, the Supremes.

I've always believed that "separate but equal," a divided nation, stifled our economy and our vast potential, squandering vital creative energy, because of it, and because it was this nation's daily preoccupation.

How much energy, and person power was wasted on this effort to suppress blacks, and their aspirations! It had to have had a severe negative impact on the aspirations of the nation overall.

So, when I hear you say, "For some of us whites, the loss of our majority is no big deal," I take heart that you speak for millions, and that another layer from the onion of racially-hardened obstinacy has been peeled away, and hope for the future of this nation unfolds it wings.

As I've suggested, it takes energy to oppress, and an equal amount of energy to resist that oppression.

And if for no other reason than this, I pray your words are borne out, as we, all Americans, contemplate what it means to be Americans, and the price we pay to keep another down, and the folly of it:

Because we're all American, and really, the mantle of the oppressor weighs like iron chains.

You say: "To me, the issue is not which race or gender or whatever is dominant - it's how do we shift from a domination model of society to a partnership model, where no one is oppressed?"

The issue is paramount, and I like how you describe it in solution: "a partnership model."

We, together, will create our tomorrow. What we don't know is, whether we will follow the old construct ("a domination model"), or if we'll opt for a new one of racial cooperation, and "partnership."

It will depend largely on how we face what has always been this nation's biggest obstacle to change and progress--race relations.

I'm sanguine about our nation's future, and you're partly the reason for that sanguinity.

Seda said...

Good points, BD. I tend to agree with you about Hillary - initial blowback would be major, but it probably would be cushioned by many women supporters and by the fact that she's white. I think there would still be that "teabagger" bunch out there, who hated her when Bill was in office and always will.

Ernesto said...

BD...once again you provide a 7 course meal in terms of food for thought. Thanks for the links to articles I had not seen before. Here's some quick thoughts that come to mind:

The Teabaggers: There's no way this movement is threat to the power structure or it WOULD NOT BE on TV or in blaring headlines on mainstream internet news sites. Anything that is actually a progressive force for change gets ZERO coverage in our supposedly free press, which are owned by the same conglomerates interested in maintaining total control of the market, ie., our lives. In this regard, the letters "AP" do not stand for "Associated Press" so much as they do for "American Pravda". The other dead give-away that they are an astroturf, corporate controlled entity, is their total lack of decrying the Republican Party's war-mongering, which exploded the deficit. Ron Paul is one of the few Republicans who is not hypocritical on the deficit issue.

The fading of whiteness in demographics, against the persistent bleaching of skin in marketing: Hollywood fiercely refuses to give up its white ideal of beauty. Still, I'm puzzled about the all-white cast put forth by Vanity Fair. This may reflect more a lack of diversity in the editorial staff of that magazine than on a total lack of progress in representation of young, non-white actresses in 2010. All I can say here is the materialist paradigm is the same; Hollywood embraces whatever formula makes money. As people of color continue to become a larger market share, you will see a more racially diverse cast of entertainers. The bigger problem I fear, will be the same old dumbed-down, formulaic movie plots and vehicles which add nothing to our culture.

What will a non-white majority U.S. look like: I fear the example of South Africa, which we seem to have already been following. This is in terms of true representative democracy being bought out and compromised to the point where poverty still flourishes for the many so that opulence can exist for the few.

Black Diaspora said...

@Seda: "I think there would still be that "teabagger" bunch out there, who hated her when Bill was in office and always will."

I agree. I didn't mention it earlier, but thought it: How much would Hillary being a woman, seated by the electorate on a heretofore male throne, have been justification enough to attack her, just as Obama, being black, seem to have been sufficient justification?

c.c. said...

"Some will, undoubtedly, seek to use this advancing technology to sow seeds of distrust, and division, but it will all be in vain. It's hard to hate those whose humanity reaches out to you with the same familiarity we encounter when we interact with neighbors, friends, and family."

That is a great point, BD.

I am not so sure that Hillary would have gotten the same treatment.

Interesting, I just met a couple from South Africa in NYC, the man practically sneered when I asked him about his feelings on Barack Obama and his effect on global politics. So, I do think there is definately fear powering the tea baggers movement. What is really strange is how the tea baggers refer to "their constitution" I remember one of Emmit Till's killers refusing to give an interview after the trial, because "they might change the constitution."
Seda, I agree:"For some of us whites, the loss of our majority is no big deal. The trend is going that way, but it's not imminent; if it were, it would still be no big deal. Because we're all American, and really, the mantle of the oppressor weighs like iron chains."

Ernesto, I think the Vanity Cover is just part of the same picture, the same fear that is powering the tea bagger movement. I noticed a local advertisement during the holidays on the radio that surprised me, it was SO insulting to people who came here from other countries except Europe, implying that goods made in other countries are garbage.

c.c. said...

Blogger msladydeborah said..

I also sincerely believe that for many of the people who are supporting this movement there is a underlying sense of fear. In this case that fear is probably based on POCs paying them back for the past. I for one see no reward or gain by doing so.
_______________
Yes, I think you nailed it.

Black Diaspora said...

Thanks, Ernesto. Let me see if I can respond to some of your observations:

"The other dead give-away that they are an astroturf, corporate controlled entity, is their total lack of decrying the Republican Party's war-mongering, which exploded the deficit."

You're right. The more they deny it, the more obvious it becomes. A great deal of criticism has been leveled against Tea Partier's preoccupation with money, and not substance (their message), their internecine bickering, and a message that is as mottled as the group itself.

"This may reflect more a lack of diversity in the editorial staff of that magazine than on a total lack of progress in representation of young, non-white actresses in 2010."

I recall some outcry, recently, over a movie poster featuring actors from the movie, "Couples Retreat," where the black couple is edited out of the UK version, but left in for the American version.

What is truly interesting are the comments in the comment section. But then I stray.

I agree, diversity among the decision makers would have helped. But what disturbs me (and I wasn't there when the decisions were being made, so I can't say for sure) was the appearance of passing over a large segment of the actor/actress universe, and selecting a few of the brighter stars being formed, and ignoring--what surely must exist--some deserving rising ethnic stars.

Whether it was or not, the decision seemed to have been made consciously, or made with the tacitness of like-mindedness. It's hard for me to believe otherwise.

It's that kind of hubris which gives Hollywood a black eye, as well as KFC, or any other corporate body, that give blacks and other ethnicities short shrift as they cater to the larger audience.

Why alienate anyone, if it's your goal to fill seats, or sell chicken.

It's this dimissiveness, whether intended or not, that does the harm in our multicultural world.

We have yet to evolve to the point where race and ethnicity don't matter.

Groups are sensitive around issues of inclusion and exclusion. Past racial attitudes and practices are the villains, but, then, people are fed up with such practices, and aren't going to sit quietly and get passed over.

"Hollywood embraces whatever formula makes money. As people of color continue to become a larger market share, you will see a more racially diverse cast of entertainers. The bigger problem I fear, will be the same old dumbed-down, formulaic movie plots and vehicles which add nothing to our culture."

I agree. Money makes a difference. As a result, we're sure to see a whole new crop of entertainers, on, and off, the screen. Were these entertainers not selectively omitted in the past, because of racial concerns, it wouldn't raise one eyebrow whether a film was racially balanced, or whether it put forth an all-black cast, or an all-white cast.

It just wouldn't be the big deal it is now.

Black Diaspora said...

@c.c.: Thanks.

"Interesting, I just met a couple from South Africa in NYC, the man practically sneered when I asked him about his feelings on Barack Obama and his effect on global politics."

Interesting, indeed. South Africa didn't abandon its apartheid system because of a revelatory certainty of black equality, or because of a sudden benevolence, but because the UN imposed sanctions, and the country felt the resistance of a mostly peaceful revolution.

Black Diaspora said...

I subscribe to Team America e-mail updates. I thought I'd share with you excerpts from its latest offering.

I hope you have plenty of Alka-seltzers, or Tums handy to ward off an acid reflux attack.

"Dear Friend,

"The other night, Tom [Tancredo] gave the opening remarks at the Tea Party Convention in Nashville [...] they gave Tom three standing ovations.

"Speaking from his heart, as Tom always does, he spoke of the Founding Fathers and how they were part of a country divided into three groups--the Patriots, the Tories, and those who didn't care. It is no different today, Tom told the crowd. Today's Patriots, including the attendees of this convention, are fighting for our Republic, our religion and our civilization

"But those that won this election, Obama and his Democratic cronies in Washington, will bring about the destruction of our Republic if they have their way. And then there are those who don't want to get involved in the battle.

[...]

"Tom called for the US to change the law on who can and can not vote. He said in this past election, people who couldn't even spell "vote" or say it in English voted in our election and they voted for Obama, a "committed socialist ideologue." He called for "Civics Literacy" tests for all citizens who want to vote.

"It was this paragraph that got most of the press' attention. The media still can't abide any reference to Obama as a Socialist and they were laying in wait to characterize the Tea Party as racist and extremist. But there is no denying the fact that President Obama is a "committed socialist ideologue!"

"And no matter how radical the Left attempts to portray Tom, the Tea Party or Americans who went to the town hall meetings and rallies and voted to throw out the Democrats in Virginia, New Jersey and Massachusetts, they can't change the fact that the revolution has begun. And Tom and Team America is going to do everything we can to keep it rolling, and we will not stop until American Patriots have taken the reins of power from the establishment politicians in both parties.

[...]

My sincerest thanks,

Bay Buchanan"

Ernesto said...

"Whether it was or not, the decision seemed to have been made consciously, or made with the tacitness of like-mindedness."

I'm at a loss as to why they would consciously exclude non-whites unless they were targeting a lily-white demographic. I've only read a couple web-based articles in Vanity Fair and they were actually very hard hitting pieces on the looting of Iraq during our invasion.

Black Diaspora said...

@Ernesto: "I'm at a loss as to why they would consciously exclude non-whites unless they were targeting a lily-white demographic."

Could be! I can't say beyond cavil, Ernesto, why Vanity Fair decided as it did.

Have you noticed? The Vanity Fair story has gone mainstream. MSNBC has picked it up.

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