The national Tea Party movement is little more than the micro-minority of Ron Paul/John Birch Society enthusiasts, bolstered by opportunistic talk radio hosts and Republican operatives/politicians into something approaching a minority.
That's not how they view themselves, of course -- as representatives of a majority of "We the People", modern American patriots, the only real liberty- and freedom-lovers, etc.
An excellent example of their delusions is this column in the American Thinker by D-list columnist/blogger Kyle-Anne Shiver of Birmingham, AL, which I was alerted to by the local teabaggers.
The column, headlined "Tea Parties: Misunderstood and vastly underrated", tells of her experiences at Tea Party Express events in Birmingham and Atlanta (she caught a ride on a TPE bus) Monday.
Delusional details, below.
First, a little background about the Tea Party Express, which Shiver caught up with on its third national anti-Obama bus tour. (There's more about TPE at Richard Cranium's recommended diary about trouble in teabagger paradise.)
These bus tours have been extensively promoted on Fox News and talk radio, and are bankrolled by the California conservative Republican group Our Country Deserves Better PAC. They feature a variety show format of speeches and music, and "stars" unemployed radio talk show host Mark Williams, "Marine Mom" Deb Johns, and a handful of otherwise unknown entertainers. (I've seen the show, and diaried about the September stop in Albany, where the above photo comes from.)
Despite these connections, and the well-known Tea Party leadership of other Republican front groups like Americans for Prosperity, Shiver claims, based on her interviews with Monday's attendees, that there is nothing planned or partisan about Tea Parties.
This may be the movement Americans truly have been waiting for. It's the real deal, the genuine article. It comes from the groundswell of the people, not from the power-broker elites in political, corporate, or religious America.Well, the Tea Party movement may have started out that way back in April, but such a description of the Tea Party Express in November (Shiver's only personal Tea Party experience) is pants-on-fire.
The Tea Party messages are clear and strident.
Party operatives? Not welcome. Political candidates? Keep your mouths shut and your ears open. Prefer a D or an R after your name? Not here, not on our time, or on our dime.
The clear message: This is the people's movement. Outsiders, opportunists, and party pols are vehemently not invited.
Though Shiver claims that everyone she spoke with was an "independent," they clearly shared Shiver's conservative preference in politicians:
The only political figures for whom there was a visible shred of professed admiration were Ronald Reagan, Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, and Joe Lieberman. Sarah Palin was roundly regarded as a Ronald-Reagan-style "rogue." Michele Bachmann was getting lots of kudos for two reasons: her stand against government overreach and her willingness to be public and visceral in her denouncements. Joe Lieberman is becoming the new hero to the Tea Partiers for his willingness to stand alone with the voice of freedom on the health care power-grab.Yeah, that's right -- "with-us-on-everything-but-the-war" LIEberman is now a hero to Southern wingnuts because he's standing tall for health insurance companies. Though I doubt he could win an election for dogcatcher in Alabama.
Since this is the South, Shiver had to include some God stuff, like this:
If there is a shared ideology among them, it is the one espoused by our Founders, simply put: God and Liberty.Shiver obviously believes the teabaggers are the vanguard of a rising tide of conservatism:
God rests firmly in place as America's only King.
Does America have any leaders capable and humble enough to be led by the people? Answer I got from the Tea Partiers: God will provide.
It's a movement, all right. A true red-white-and-blue citizens' movement.Again, Shiver and other Tea Party propagandists are deluded about that.
And it is not likely to fizzle the day after elections are held because these folks are entirely self-motivated.
The spirit of 1776 reigns at Tea Parties. It's awfully hard to argue that there's anything whatsoever un-American about this movement. And while President Obama mocks these crowds of independent American voters as "extremists" and the "tea bag, anti-government" people, he more and more resembles a petulant European monarch who is clueless about the strength of the people's resolve.
Americans are on the march. Like it or not, they're a force to be reckoned with. And they're here to stay.
The teabaggers' essentially Bircher hatred of government remains a micro-minority view, and they're at a point where the more media attention they get, the less likely they are to attract more adherents.
No matter what a few hundred people in Alabama think.