The Tea Party As Secular Fundamentalism
USA Today does some polling and reporting. Some thoughts. There is still no positive set of proposals on offer. What you get are complaints but no solutions; we know what they are against. They wanted no stimulus, no bailouts of the banks, no new access to private healthcare insurance for millions ... if any of these meant government action. My own view is that unemployment could be well over 12 percent by now - and probably worse - if this had occurred. But one can see how they have a no-risk position: if that had happened, they would have blamed Obama anyway. Nonetheless, I like their broad philosophy:
"We've been running deficits for years, and we've been saying we're doing it to win the Cold War or to fight terrorism and fight poverty," says Michael Towns, 33, a linguist from Tallahassee who was among those surveyed. "I think our Founding Fathers are rolling in their graves because they never would conceive that we would do this."
I just don't think the movement merits serious examination until it fleshes out what it's actually for. Then this:
Citing links to the Revolution has been a mainstay of American politics since the nation's beginnings, Lepore says, but the way the Tea Party uses those symbols and language is original. "It is a fundamentalist way of thinking of the past: The founding documents are gospel; they come alive for us," she says.
This is a form of secular fundamentalism - the analog to "originalist" versions of constitutional interpretation. Now, I feel I understand it better. Having tried Biblical fundamentalism, the GOP is now trying secular fundamentalism. As a psychological response to a bewildering modernity with lots of least-worst options, this is a powerful force. As a practical politics, it is just performance art.