I’m making a point not to ridicule the Tea Baggers movement because I think it’s far sadder than it is funny, and a very worrying trend that could have some awful consequences. While the video above is in some parts side splittingly hilarious, it is also equally tragic. The movement is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of what is happening in America, confusing the tyranny of corporate power with that of government. It’s a potent mixture of extreme anger, resentment and ignorance channeled expertly by fraudsters like Glenn Beck towards the wrong entity. And it doesn’t look to be going anywhere anytime soon.
Americans have a right to be pissed off at their government – but not because it is overreaching it’s authority. They should be angry at their government for not protecting them from the ravages of free market capitalism and mega corporations that have systematically robbed them for decades. The system of economics first envisioned by Ronald Reagan has ripped America apart, funneling wealth upwards towards the wealthy and stripping the working poor of basic necessities. The middle classes have suffered greatly as well. Wages have stagnated while the cost of living has increased, and states no longer have the funds to provide it’s citizens with decent roads, education or public sector jobs.
The myth that perpetuates in American culture is that of the free market system – low taxes, high growth and minimum government. This combination has failed spectacularly because in reality, none are linked together. In modern economies, growth cannot happen without government. The evidence for this is overwhelming (the collapse of our financial sector should erase any doubts), yet politicians and media buffoons try to convince us otherwise. The Tea Baggers are a product of this myth, convinced that some magical place exists where roads and schools are built by self interested corporations and free markets will protect them from pollution, disease and disaster.
It is so very sad to see the disenfranchised rallying against their own interests, joining a movement that will only hurt them and prolong their misery. And should the government continue to fail to protect them, the movement could easily get out of control and spiral in a direction far more dangerous than it’s current trajectory.
So be warned – ridicule and ignore the Tea Baggers all you want, but we do so at our own peril.
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.