The TEA Party: No Chain of Command, No Hierarchy, No Accountability & No Common Sense

By Peggy Noonan

This fact marks our political age: The pendulum is swinging faster and in shorter arcs than it ever has in our lifetimes. Few foresaw the earthquake of 2008 in 2006. No board-certified political professional predicted, on Election Day 2008, what happened in 2009-10 (New Jersey, Virginia and Massachusetts) and has been happening, and will happen, since then. It all moves so quickly now, it all turns on a dime.

But at this moment we are witnessing a shift that will likely have some enduring political impact. Another way of saying that: The past few years, a lot of people in politics have wondered about the possibility of a third party. Would it be possible to organize one? While they were wondering, a virtual third party was being born. And nobody organized it.

Here is Jonathan Rauch in National Journal on the tea party’s innovative, broad-based network: “In the expansive dominion of the Tea Party Patriots, which extends to thousands of local groups and literally countless activists,” there is no chain of command, no hierarchy.  (This is not totally true. There is Sarah Palin who abused power as an elected official and then quit to profit personally seems to be leading this mob! And, to encourage no chain of command, no hierarchy, no real ideology is not a relevent or a viable way of changing an established standard of thought)

We’re teetering on the brink of some vast, dark new world—states and cities on the brink of bankruptcy, the federal government too. The issue isn’t “big spending” anymore. It’s ruinous spending that they fear will end America as we know it, as they promised it to their children.

So there’s a sense that dramatic action is needed, and a sense of profound urgency. Add drama to urgency and you get the victory of a tea party-backed candidate.

That is the context. Local tea parties seem—so far—not to be falling in love with the particular talents or background of their candidates. (It appears to me that the TEA Party people are looking only at populism ie:charisma in a candidate and not principal or good character) 

It’s more detached than that. They don’t say their candidates will be reflective, skilled in negotiations, a great senator, a Paul Douglas or Pat Moynihan or a sturdy Scoop Jackson. These qualities are not what they think are urgently needed. What they want is someone who will walk in, put her foot on the conservative end of the yardstick, and make everything slip down in that direction.

Nobody knows how all this will play out, but we are seeing something big—something homegrown, broad-based and independent. In part it is a rising up of those who truly believe America is imperiled and truly mean to save her. The dangers, both present and potential, are obvious.

A movement like this can help a nation by acting as a corrective, or it can descend into a corrosive populism that celebrates unknowingness as authenticity, that confuses showiness with seriousness and vulgarity with true conviction. Parts could become swept by a desire just to tear down, to destroy. (Having no chain of command, no hierarchy is reason enough to believe that there is NO accountability associated with this movement. There is NO positive or corrective aspect to this mob rules mentality!)

But establishments exist for a reason. It is true that the party establishment is compromised, and by many things, but one of them is experience. They’ve lived through a lot, seen a lot, know the national terrain. They know how things work. They know the history. I wonder if tea party members know how fragile are the institutions that help keep the country together.

One difference so far between the tea party and the great wave of conservatives that elected Ronald Reagan in 1980 is the latter was a true coalition—not only North and South, East and West but right-wingers, intellectuals. Some who were former leftists, and former Democrats. When they won presidential landslides in 1980, ’84 and ’88, they brought the center with them. That in the end is how you win. Will the center join arms and work with the tea party? That’s a great question of 2012.

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. WakeUpAmerica
    Sep 20, 2010 @ 23:04:49

    The tea-brains have no platform, no ethics, and no solutions. Nuff said.

    Reply

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