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Jonah Goldberg: The Truth About the Tea Party

Roundup: Media's Take




[Jonah Goldberg writes a column for the LA Times.]

If you read the Op-Ed pages these days, you'd be forgiven for thinking that the GOP and the conservative movement have been taken over by know-nothing mobs, anti-intellectual demagogues and pitchfork-wielding bigots. There's no omnibus label for this argument, but it's a giveaway that a person subscribes to it if he or she describes the "tea party" movement as "tea baggers," an awfully telling bit of condescension from the camp that affects the pose of being more high-minded.

The case against the tea party movement is constantly evolving. Initially, they were written off as "astroturfers," faux populists paid by K Street lobbyists to provide damaging footage for Fox News' Obama coverage. Then, they were deemed racists who couldn't handle having a black president.

But now that the movement or, more broadly, the Obama backlash is so widespread, it's chalked up to populist anti-elitism. New York Times columnist David Brooks and others argue that the tea party movement is kith and kin of the 1960s New Left, because they share a "radically anti-conservative" hatred of "the system" and a desire to start over....

It's all so much nonsense. The Boston Tea Party would make a strange lodestar for an anti-American movement. The tea partyers certainly aren't "dropping out" of the system; if they were, we wouldn't be talking about them. And they aren't reading Marxist tracts in a desire to "tear down the system" either. They're reading Thomas Paine, the founders and Friedrich Hayek in the perhaps naive hope that they'll be able to restore the principles that are supposed to be guiding the system (to the extent they're reading radicals such as Saul Alinsky, it's because they've been told that's the best way to understand his disciple in the White House)....

The "elite" the restorationists dislike is better understood as a "new class" (to borrow a phrase from the late Irving Kristol). The legendary economist Joseph Schumpeter predicted in 1942 that capitalism couldn't survive because capitalist prosperity would feed a new intellectual caste that would declare war on the bourgeois values and institutions that generate prosperity in the first place. When you hear that conservatives are anti-elitist, you should think they're really anti-new class....
Read entire article at LA Times

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