Tea Parties, Rage and Optimism

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A fellow named Rick Moran on The Next Right is troubled that the energy behind the Santelli Tea Party rant and movement is generated by rage. He opines that while rage may be politically useful in a transient populist way – it may even win an election or two – it can’t provide a solid foundation for a rebirth of limited government. Moran suggests that a more promising motif is optimism. (A colleague of mine has more regard for the power of rage to light a fire, but acknowledges that it’s hope which ultimately provides the fuel.)

 

What’s interesting is the contrast between optimism and the policy mix that’s being served up by our political class these days. Their policies are founded on a profoundly dismal and pessimistic view of the prospects and capabilities of America and Americans. The underlying assumptions are that Americans are victims who need to be “taken care of,” that business and entrepreneurs are threats from which the people must be protected, that “American exceptionalism” is an outdated and possibly dangerous myth, and that in general that America is going down.

 

Maybe we shouldn’t be surprised that this view has some resonance with the public, given the persistent talking-down of our economy and prospects by the mainstream media over the past eight years, much of it politically motivated by their Bush-hate.

 

Some recent sources of middle-class angst are real, too. Globalization and other “evolutionary” economic trends have unquestionably increased feelings of insecurity and a sense that things are “out of control” (never mind that it was an illusion that they were ever really “under control”).*

 

On top of all that, now comes a so-called “stimulus” bill that drives home the extent to which the people have lost control of their government: It’s been seized by an inbred, self-perpetuating, self-serving and bipartisan** political class, which is itself an arm of the government class – the permanent welfare/regulatory state bureaucracy and their unions, bulging with political muscles nourished by tax dollars.

 

This reality explains why the stimulus bill is so heavy in expansions of bureaucracy and government programs, and so light on bricks-and-concrete infrastructure projects – the measure is self contradictory even under the flawed logic of Keynesian “pump priming.”

 

The authors of this bill – the entire political class from top to bottom – are no longer even pretending to act in the public interest. Everyone can see that they are pursuing their narrow class interest at the expense of the rest of us, behaving like a “rat that’s fallen into the rice bag.” The widespread rage is that of the ruled being reminded of their helplessness in the face of a new level of looting by their rulers.

 

So here’s the Really Big Question: Is American optimism over? The source of that optimism has always been a feeling of self-efficacy – I am capable of managing my own life and affairs by myself,  I believe that I can and will “get ahead” in the word, I believe my children will have a better life than myself.

 

Optimism is a deep current in the American psyche, and I wouldn’t really want to place a “things are different now” bet against it – but I won’t automatically dismiss the lower-probability potential that they are different.  

 

 

~~~~~~~

 

 

* While the left’s “collapse of the middle class” doomsaying has been grossly exaggerated, after untangling many confusing cross currents one does get the impression that the economic status of the middle class has at best stagnated over the last decade. Example: Middle-quintile income this decade before the current recession was only up marginally; consumer goods are cheaper thanks to “Walmartization,” but people are also paying much higher health insurance co-pays.

 

** Congressional Republicans were just dying to vote for this stimulus bill; with the tiniest of policy fig-leafs from the other side they would have been so there, and the essential reality of the ugly monstrosity would not have changed a whit. American Princess: “I’m going to treat (unanimous House Republicans who opposed the stimulus) like the dog that manages to poop outside (rather than on the living room rug). . . If (next time) they do what I expect them to do and miss the target, I won’t be surprised.” You said it, Princess.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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4 Responses to “Tea Parties, Rage and Optimism”

  1. Jason Gillman Says:

    Optimism..

    I am optimistic that the numbers involved in the Tea party movement will draw attention to the major power grabs the ruling elite are attempting.

    I am also optimistic the those numbers will “marginalize” the marginalizers” and demonstrate the reality that not everyone is on board with the looting of our nations wealth in the name of “social justice.”

    Rage..

    I can hardly claim to be free of anger that I have had no proper representation in the Senate. Some would argue that our guys lost, so “that is the way it goes.” I agree, except that the constitutional controls which would prohibit this out of control train wreck of government are being all but ignored. So that anger, from the frustration that no one speaks for me or for the law… can be seen as rage.

  2. Lounge Daddy » Ready For The Tea Party Says:

    […] Jack McHugh has some thoughts on another righty who is being a bit nervous about all the “rage.” You can read the entire pots by following the link to McHugh’s blog. A fellow named Rick Moran on The Next Right is troubled that the energy behind the Santelli Tea Party rant and movement is generated by rage. He opines that while rage may be politically useful in a transient populist way – it may even win an election or two – it can’t provide a solid foundation for a rebirth of limited government. […]

  3. Ready for the Tea Party | Lounge Daddy will be back Friday, March 6 Says:

    […] Jack McHugh has some thoughts on another righty who is being a bit nervous about all the “rage.” You can read the entire pots by following the link to McHugh’s blog. A fellow named Rick Moran on The Next Right is troubled that the energy behind the Santelli Tea Party rant and movement is generated by rage. He opines that while rage may be politically useful in a transient populist way – it may even win an election or two – it can’t provide a solid foundation for a rebirth of limited government. […]

  4. How to Get Six Pack Fast Says:

    I noticed that this is not the first time you write about this topic. Why have you chosen it again?

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