The growth of the tea party movement isn't really due to the recession (in fact, polling evidence shows that tea partiers are generally better off and less affected by the recession than the population at large). It's not because Obama is black (white Democratic presidents got largely the same treatment). And it's not because Obama bailed out General Motors (so did George W. Bush). It's simpler. Ever since the 1930s, something very much like the tea party movement has fluoresced every time a Democrat wins the presidency, and the nature of the fluorescence always follows many of the same broad contours: a reverence for the Constitution, a supposedly spontaneous uprising of formerly nonpolitical middle-class activists, a preoccupation with socialism and the expanding tyranny of big government, a bitterness toward an underclass viewed as unwilling to work, and a weakness for outlandish conspiracy theories.
And I found it interesting to compare the Tea Party of today with another Venezuelan phenomenon occurring, with much greater resistance and difficulty, against another socializing madman, the redoubtable fatboy Hugo Chavez:
For a movement short of money, with limited access to broadcast media, run almost entirely by volunteers and vilified daily by official media, this is highly impressive. Slowly, over the last twelve years, the opposition has learned some basic lessons about democracy and what it takes to champion it in the face of an autocratic onslaught. The first has to do with unity: a movement long riven by personal rivalries and intractable clique dynamics finally pulled together to put forward a single, unified slate and campaign with an impressive degree of message discipline. The kinds of feuds and splits that had earned them a well-deserved reputation for haplessness simply vanished in this cycle.
The second (related) lesson has to do with message discipline: the opposition finally grasped the need to get control of the agenda by picking a powerful theme and sticking to it. This time, with public concern mounting over an unprecedented crime-wave that has left Venezuela with a murder rate four times higher than the death toll for civilians in Iraq, the opposition pushed hard on crime and the government's failure to deal with it. With food inflation clawing back many of the gains in living standards the poor had made earlier in the Chávez era, the opposition put the government on the offensive, highlighting recent scandals in the state-owned food distribution network. Most importantly, the opposition managed to stay on its bread-and-butter message in the face of any number of government attempts to shift the focus of the debate.
The Demonrats are trying to shift the focus of debates, starting with shouts of "racists!" and then continually trying to shift the subject of the conversation away from the horrendous health care bill egomaniac Pelosi and helpless dweeb Reid passed under ridiculous aberrations of House and Senate rules.
And the old-school RINO aristocracy is now beginning to assert themselves, trying to head off Joe Miller by keeping spoilsport Murkowski on Senate committees. What's that all about? Looks like the GOP is going to have to go through what used to be called a "rolling reassessment" as they position themselves chaotically for 2012. Hopefully, they take the House, but if Murkowski stays in the Senate because the Old Guard pulls the rug out from under Joe Miller, an Iraqi vet, and gives the baton to a machine-politico family like the murkowski clan---all bets are off for 2012.