The TEA Party Movement As Seen By One Member Of The MSM

I've seen all kinds of reports and so-called exposés about the TEA party movement in MSM. Many were derisive, a few tried hard to be neutral, a few more were big supporters, and some were outright hostile.

But then, out of nowhere, comes a piece that even a cynic like me has to admit was pretty well balanced, and from a source I never would have thought of as fair.

Ben McGrath does a pretty good job covering the rise of TEA party activism for the New Yorker, resisting the urge to paint everyone involved with the TEA party activities as inbred right-wing rednecks beholden to Big Oil, Big Finance, and Big (place name of latest scapegoat du jour here).

My first immersion in the social movement that helped take Ted Kennedy’s Massachusetts Senate seat away from the Democrats, and may have derailed the President’s chief domestic initiative, occurred last fall, in Burlington, Kentucky, at a Take Back America rally.

About a thousand people had turned up at the rally, most of them old enough to remember a time when the threats to the nation’s long-term security, at home and abroad, were more easily defined and acknowledged. Suspicious of decadent élites and concerned about a central government whose ambitions had grown unmanageably large, they sounded, at least in broad strokes, a little like the left-wing secessionists I’d met at a rally in Vermont in the waning days of the Bush Administration.

If there was a central theme to the proceedings, it was probably best expressed in the refrain “Can you hear us now?,” conveying a long-standing grievance that the political class in Washington is unresponsive to the needs and worries of ordinary Americans. Republicans and Democrats alike were targets of derision.

Adressing McGrath's last pint, more than a few Republicans have made the mistake of thinking the TEA party movement is a phenomenon automatically supportive of the GOP. They're wrong. Most Americans are sick and tired of being ignored or marginalized by both political parties. TEA party activists like me see both the Democrats and Republicans as being part of the problem, so GOP congresscritters, governors, and state legislators are no more immune from our displeasure than Democrats. (It's just that there are so many more Democrats in office these days that they're taking the brunt of our pushback.)

McGrath credits Rick Santelli, a CNBC reporter, as being the spark that started the TEA party fire with his rant on the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange last February. The rant, reminiscent of Peter Finch's portrayal of Howard Beale in the movie Network, expressed the frustration so many of us were feeling at being ignored by the very people we put in office to serve us. Instead, they decided that we served them, and as such, all that was ours was theirs to use or misuse as they saw fit.

They were wrong.

And so the movement grows, as McGrath has shown.

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