Pity Party

I haven't been a big booster of the tea-parties.  Hell, I haven't been a small booster.  I think that protests and street theater are, while a sacred civil right, usually counterproductive.  And I don't have much sense of identification with either the right wing grass roots, or the organizers.

But the left wing response to the tea parties is stirring my sympathy.

 

People are calmly assembling in the public square, waving barely legible signs, delivering stilted speeches, and cheering at each other.  The wave of vitriolic contempt, nay rage, that this has unleashed is wholly inappropriate.  The federal government is ratcheting up spending to massive levels, with no corresponding plan to pay for it.  Even taking out the stimulus, Obama's projected deficits outpace Dubya's for the next decade

You may think that the programs are worth the price.  But dissent from that view is not unreasonable.   And given that there is little representation in Congress for their views right now, the dissenters can be forgiven for taking (extremely politely, AFAICT) to the streets in an attempt to make their views heard.  Whether the topic is war or taxes, telling honest citizens to shut up and do what the government tells them is not the act of a sound democratic society.

(Full disclosure:  as I've mentioned, before we dated, my boyfriend worked for Freedomworks.  Freedomworks is one of the organizers of the tea parties, though not, as some would have it, a shadowy secret organizer--it's on the front page of their website.  Neither Peter nor I have now, nor ever have had, any involvement with the tea party movement, though some of our friends have organized and attended them.) 

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Megan McArdle is a columnist at Bloomberg View and a former senior editor at The Atlantic. Her new book is The Up Side of Down.

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