Trying To Understand The Tea Party, Ctd


Meredith Blake interviews Jill Lepore on her new book, The Whites of Their Eyes: The Tea Party's Revolution and the Battle Over American History:

The only lesson history teaches, in the end, is humility. Everyone who has written about the Tea Party this year will eventually be proven wrong. This is a diffuse and dynamic movement. Yes, its version of American history is quite strikingly narrow. And, yes, founding a politics in that history looks to me decidedly anti-pluralist, although perhaps even to see it that way is to get it backwards: it’s an anti-pluralist politics that has gone in search of a history.

Presumably, after [the election], Tea Partiers will think more about governance. Maybe their style of governance will prove more pluralist than their account of the past. I sure hope so. I would like to be proven wrong sooner rather than later.

Earlier coverage of Lepore's book here. I don't think the spirit of this sprawling movement has anything to do with governance or governing. It is its opposite, which is why it is incarnated most effectively in talk radio hosts, Malkinesque bloggery, and Fox News shows. It is revolutionary in intent and reactionary in aspiration. Or as David Bromwich puts it in the NYRB, a core aspect of the Tea Party's message can be found

in lyrics written and sung with a yell by Martina McBride, which Hannity plays to open every half-hour:

Let the weak be strong, let the right be wrong
Roll the stone away, let the guilty pay, it’s Independence Day.

The plot of the song casts a garish light on the words of that refrain. A daughter is telling how her mother heroically murdered an abusive husband by burning down their house, with him in it, on the Fourth of July. The state, in this vision of things, is the abusive father, and its power to hurt the mother and daughter must now be destroyed.

Barack Obama grew up thinking government the most natural thing in the world. These are people who think government unnatural.

(Image: A handful of anti-abortion demonstrators stands outside the Cannon House Office Building on Capitol Hill on November 5, 2010 in Washington, DC. The demonstrators demanded that House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH), the presumed speaker of the House, pass aggressive anti-abortion legislation or they will find candidates to challenge the Republican leaders in the next primary elections. By Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)