"Kill the bill--n****r!", shouted the white Tea Partier to black congressman John Lewis. The bill, of course, was the health-care measure passed on Sunday.
Krist Novoselic's column on music and politics runs every Tuesday on Reverb. Check back on Friday when he writes about what he's been listening to.
Because I am such a promoter of political and civic association, I was fascinated with the Tea phenomenon. I believe there's power when regular people come together. It's a counterweight to those in government and the entrenched interests that support them. But the Tea Party seems more and more like a forum for political obsessives.
I don't just read and write about politics, I go to meetings and other happenings where people are trying to accomplish things. Attending events, I've never heard any racial epithets like the one above. I have seen people on both the right and left be unsophisticated regarding politics. There's no excuse for spewing racial hatred and using the n-word. The person who said that is a fuck-head and I don't know what is going to change them. When I talk about political association, it is about getting together in a sophisticated way with others to have an impact. If you don't like government, fine. So how about building structures outside of the state?Americans will talk to you up and down about freedom and democracy, but when it comes to forming political groups, too many are happy to be herded into either of the two dominant parties in the United States. Freedom is the right to live without government intrusion and control. And democracy is about the voice of the people. With Tea Partiers, you get the voice--an angry one at that--but that seems to be the extent of their contribution to our democracy.
The Tea Partiers need to take a cue from the Rock Party and adopt a coherent plan for organizing people in an enduring way. But they're too busy obsessing over their red-baiting notions of socialism. It's one thing to hang an effigy of Lenin, quite another to advocate policies that will dismantle longstanding public structures. When you take away the rage against the machine, the real work starts and the fun stops--and that's why I think the Tea Party will fizzle out.
It's with great delight that I make my next point. (Think of it as shoving the n-word-shouting racist's face in a huge cow pie.) The biggest irony about the Tea Party is how these anti-socialists will participate with state-controlled nominations in GOP primaries. The Democrats and Republicans are technically private organizations. They have been in power for a long time and are so integrated with government that they're virtually state parties. The Soviet Union, its puppets in Eastern Europe, and even China today are or were state party systems. Unlike Tea Partiers, we Rock Party people reject this notion. Instead of having some lumbering state structure control political association, we're into innovation and embracing new technologies within our assemblage. I think the Tea Partiers might get this also--but too many are distracted by their petty anger to see it.
Tea Partiers are sure to be folded into GOP state primaries, where they will find more business-as-usual politics. They could still make an impact this fall in the few districts that are competitive. In the process, see how professional politicians and entertainers / pundits will fan the flames of Tea Party-ism for profit and power. Business and politics as usual.