Angry Tea Partiers are not the Moral Equivalent of Compassionate Democrats

Just to enter an objection to the increasing tendency of the mainstream media to equate the Tea Party on the American right wing with supposedly “angry” activists on the left wing of the Democratic Party. And moreover to point out that the Corporate Media pet narrative of the Rise of the New New Right and the decline of the Democrats was not borne out by the primaries held on Tuesday. The Dems kept Murtha’s seat. The left of the party defeated Arlen Specter and forced Blanche Lincoln into a run-off. But the Tea Party in Kentucky will get all the press.

Are the people who elected Sestak as Democratic candidate for senator in Pennsylvania really like the Tea Party that backed Rand Paul for the senate in Kentucky?

When is the last time you saw leftwing Democrats taunting disabled people, or weeping, or shouting that “their” country had been stolen by “those people”?

What did the Democratic left want? Universal health care with a public option. That is angry? Isn’t it just common decency? But the Tea Party opposed both measures, largely because they feared that some white money might get spent on minorities. (It is apparently not enough for them that the economic gap between blacks and whites has quadrupled since the Reagan administration.)

The Tea Party leader came on Letterman and decried an “anti-business” atmosphere in the country. The Democratic Left wants the lack of regulation and oversight that led to the bank meltdown redressed.

The Tea Party is secretly corporate-sponsored, whereas the Democratic left wing is independent and penniless.

The Tea Party largely supports Arizona’s ‘papers please’ law requiring racial profiling. The Democratic left opposes such a) Big Government interference in our lives and b) making race the basis for initiating a search.

There isn’t a moral equivalence here.

22 Responses

  1. Compassionate Democrat is as meaningful a phrase as Compassionate Conservative. No, wait, it’s a much less meaningful phrase, because Liberals are supposedly bleeding hearts, but as Obama has proven, with his war crimes so well supported by the Libs, Liberals like to see others bleed. Only, their pieties, instead of being ‘we are killing them for their freedom’ are more like ‘ we are killing them to save the women’.

  2. Most people who read your blog agree and understand the clear difference and know of the distortion corporate media is continuing by emphasis on things that benefit corporate dominance.
    What you don’t mention is the neded to take “personhood” away from these bastards and to push for publicly financed elections….if we (the Democratic left) keep doing what we have been doing then we will keep getting what we have gotten!

  3. [...] Angry Tea Partiers are not the Moral Equivalent of Compassionate Democrats — Juan Cole on Your Liberal Media’s continued false equivalency of political narratives. When is the last time you saw leftwing Democrats taunting disabled people, or weeping, or shouting that “their” country had been stolen by “those people”? What did the Democratic left want? Universal health care with a public option. That is angry? Isn’t it just common decency? [...]

  4. What a fine piece, this morning. The ‘even-handedness’ of the press is purely maddening, when it does things like equating the ‘extremists’ of both parties, ie.tea-partiers and left wing democrats. Thanks for writing. We need re-assurance again and again that we are not alone.

  5. And the day before the oil catastrophe in the Gulf, the Right was bitching about too much government regulation and the horrors of the “nanny state”. 24 hours after they were bitching about the lack of government (Obama’s, not Bush’s) oversight, regulatory control, and adequate response. Their, dreamed of, tiny government would have no problem coping with the disaster, “what’s a few dead turtles?”.

    Heads I win, tails you lose

  6. In this environment, leaving out big, I mean really big chunks of relevant facts on issues of the day just doesn’t get it anymore. People are against the wacky Health Care bill because they see that if elected officials from Canada come here for ground breaking operations, where are we going to go when we adopt a Canadian system at the same time Canada is rethinking OHIP(Ontario Health Insurance Program).

    Please keep trying to marginalize and adopt the Hispanic vote. There is one group that values freedom, and most importantly small business. Look at the amazing work ethic and familial loyalty Hispanics enjoy. That is certainly not a Liberal trait. Quite the contrary. And may I point out that the party that really ‘cleans up’ at the donation trough from the ‘criminal’ banking and tort industry has a donkey in their logo.

    The problem with the new media is that heretofore hidden agendas and ideas on Government that were in the past the province of the nomenklatura, are now accessible by the people that actually go out and pay the bills. That is a problem, is it not? Much better when the lights were out, wouldn’t you say?

    But of course there is always hope on the Left for Governmental (mental?) intervention like ‘Net Neutrality’ or maybe the ‘Fairness Doctrine’ to level the playing field and keep the Proletariat down on the farms in flyover country, enabling their betters (read Liberals) to handle the weighty problems of the day. Good luck.

  7. The “Tea Party” baggers are NOT some manner of independent movement. They are a Republican’t front group. Owned and operated. High financed and given free reign to ride roughshod over our countryside spewing hate and discomfort. Historical precedent might be Germany’s brownshirts pre-WWII the really big one. The xenophobes that gave our world Hitler. The ‘baggers’ care signs and guns. Loaded guns. You know, cause they’ve a “right” to. The baggers “champion” that tried and feeble ‘white makes right’ motif. Sarah Palin is their queen? Baggers feed on fear and ignorance. Of course, that is their right. Under what little is left of America’s Constitution. However that would not include a “state’s right” to turn the clock back to those precious days of antebellum idiocy and impose evangelical fascism on a trembling America.

  8. I have already seen Press Reports calling Specter’s defeat a defeat for President Obama. What a crock! Congressman, soon to be Senator, Sestak has been and will be a better supporter of President Obama Policies than Specter ever was. After all, the Ad that really beat Spector was the one showing Bush endorsing Spector and Spector endorsing Palin. The “Tea Party” folks in PA will flock to Toomey who is to the Right of Former Senator Santorium.

  9. Excellent article–right on the money (no pun intended)! Let’s all spread the word as widely as possible. Part of the problem is that the main media has been getting away with painting liberals/progressives as “far-left fringe” and “socialist” (a word the mm has twisted into something dirty to be feared). If wanting a more equitable society is being a socialist, I’m proud to be one. Perhaps, if we start using the term as a badge of honor, it will become more widely seen that way.

  10. And please note with apprehension the viciously racist rhetoric in Mr. Rand’s victory speech in that Kentucky country club. Mugabe and Morales are of course polar opposites when it comes to democracy, and neither has exactly gotten any slack from Washington DC, but Paul tied them both to Obama from the fact that the three of them attended the climate summit in Copenhagen. I wonder why? McCarthyism meets Gone With the Wind.

  11. Classic Strawman Argument.

    Comparing your personal and idealized view of the far left in the Democrat Party with a caricature of a grassroots movement; with the intention of convincing your audience of two things:

    a) That the caricature of the Tea Party Movement you put forth is accurate, and;
    b) That it represents the far right of the Republican Party.

    I’m sure that the audience you intended that essay for (Progressives) will agree with you wholeheartedly.

  12. “What did the Democratic left want? Universal health care with a public option…The Tea Party largely supports Arizona’s ‘papers please’ law requiring racial profiling. The Democratic left opposes such a) Big Government interference in our lives and b) making race the basis for initiating a search.”

    A couple of questions, Prof. Cole–If the left indeed opposes Big Government interference, how would it go about implementing a universal health care program that does not serve to glut and bloat Washington?

    Also, why is it that leftists are so overwrought over Arizona enforcing preexisting national laws against illicit immigration but will not likewise denounce Mexico’s stringent immigration policies, which appear downright draconian in contrast as Pat Buchanan makes plain. “For where Arizona has made it a misdemeanor to be in the country illegally, in Calderon’s country it is a felony that can get you years in prison. Where illegal aliens in America regularly protest under Mexican flags, no foreign resident of Mexico may demonstrate against the regime. Where immigration is changing the ethnic balance of this country, in Mexico immigrants are not allowed in who could upset “the equilibrium of the national demographics.” Where Americans demand we treat illegal aliens firmly but fairly, Guatemalans caught in Mexico are often treated with a brutality bordering on sadism.” There does not seem to be any moral equivalence here either.

    I raise these points only because I would like to see how the left (assuming you identify with the left) responds to these points since they rarely do.

  13. “The Tea Party is secretly corporate-sponsored.”

    Do you have any further information about this? This is intriguing.

  14. Rand Paul isn’t as good on these things as his father, but he’s way better then Barack Obama and other so-called progressives.

    Paul is against invasions and other aggression without a declaration of war, unlike Obama, who is as enthusiastic about such behavior as Bush was.

    Paul is against bailing out the banksters at the expense of the American people, unlike the Obama-Bush administration.

    Paul is against massive secret government, torture, kidnapping, warrantless spying, and assassination even of American citizens at the personal whim of Barack Obama.

    Paul seems to have some understanding, although less than his father, why people in places like Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq resent barbarians that bomb them randomly from the sky, break into their homes and murder them at night, poison their ground with depleted uranium, and sow misery and death in their countries in order to subject them to the rule of corrupt American puppet governments – since Americans wouldn’t like to be the targets of such behavior themselves. Obama and his servants, if they have a clue, are determined not to act on such knowledge.

    I have some problems with Rand Paul, too, but if progressive means ending imperialism and domestic tyranny, so that common people get a break now and then instead of Obama’s pals such as Geithner, Summers, big oil, big pharma, the war contractors, and the banksters – all of whom he serves at our expense at least as faithfully as Bush did, then progressives could do worse than having Rand Paul in the Senate. Indeed we are doing so at this moment.

  15. I wouldn’t say that the democratic left is penniless. Doesn’t George Soros fund many of the Democratic Left’s websites and groups?

  16. Well put.

    I rarely comment though I’ve read your site daily for a few years.

    The Rand Paul happening is very curious. I think he’s gonna lose. And here in my home state we have the ex banker lobbyist ex Senator Dan Coats. Go figure.

    I’ve said it a long time. I’m far from convinced November is going to be bad for progressives.

  17. Wow, say anything against the Paul dynasty and suddenly you’re a Commie.

    Health care: if free markets work so well in health care, then why has every civilized country abandoned them? I mean, every one. And every one is spending a smaller % of GNP on health care, and almost every one has a longer life expectancy than the United States. Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, and Costa Rica are following Switzerland in making health care a right, not a market reward. Ask Switzerland how it did it without “serving to glut and bloat” Bern.

    As for Rand ending the empire, he also wants to take America back to the 1800s. In the 1800s, churches censored books, ranchers held the power of kings over Mexican serfs, corporations used hired thugs and a bought & paid-for National Guard to slaughter striking workers, immigrant women burned to death in unsafe factories, the Five Corners of Manhattan were as bad as any slum in modern India, and a terrorist organization ruled the South, lynching blacks but sometimes also persecuting labor organizers for its wealthy sponsors. Rand keeps claiming the free market will make everything wonderful. Didn’t we have a free market back then?

    And dirty little secret: where did the capital to build America’s railroads and industries come from? Mostly the British empire, otherwise known as the world’s biggest drug cartel. So much for our self-sufficiency.

    Pons Seclorum: Note that Mexico has a right-wing, pro-free enterprise government. Are you willing to have us denounce Mexico’s immigration policies if it means the country falls into the hands of the Socialists, or worse, the scary Zapatistas who dare to point out the collapse in the living standards of the Mexican poor since “market-based reforms”?

    redneckdago: Plenty of small businessmen supported the New Deal. Their ethnic groups were crowded into ghettoes with no hope of improvement, their savings accounts were wiped out by frequent collapses of unregulated banks, and well, they had a certain sense of decency that was offended by someone like Herbert Hoover, who before becoming President said that “If you haven’t made a million dollars by the time you’re 30, you’re not much of a man.”

    The following 25 years were the greatest explosion of economic growth our country has ever seen. Those small businessmen did very well for themselves, as did the rich and every other class. Adjusting for inflation, wages are now lower than they were when Reagan took office. Where has that left small businessmen? The capitalist pimp rag The Economist admitted two years ago that America has less class mobility than much of Europe, and that its small business sector is now a smaller part of the national economy than France’s.

    But of course, the solution to every failure is to go even further to the Right, where our infallible sacred traditions lie. Just what they used to say in the Spanish Empire and the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the Ottoman Empire.

  18. .
    There are 2 different “T-parties.” One is an entity within the GOP, funded by billionaires and led by Dick Armey. They try to fool the other T-party into thinking they are of like minds. The other T-party, the one that came first, has no national leaders, only local organizers. They are conservative, and do not consider the GOP to be conservative.

    Some folks who identify with the T-party no doubt are racist and want to keep whatever they can of their income from going to the poor, even that portion of their income that derives originally from taxes on those same poor.
    But the reasons that I have heard given by T-party sympathizers for opposing free health care for all is that nothing is free, and that the costs, and who will pay those costs, is being hidden in order to pretend that it will be free. While it may have happened, I never heard of a proponent of “public option” explain how it was going to be paid for, not in “rubber meets the road” detail. I assume that’s because those advocates assumed that most of the voting public would not go along with the proposal if they understood it.
    .

    • You pay for public-financed health care with a Value-Added Tax. In my country, health care is not a federal matter, it is provincial with the feds never contributing more than 25% of it. Where are the States in the US on this matter? Why doesn’t one of them set up a public option?

  19. Yes, Rand Paul has backtracked from his own past and his father’s positions a little. But Prof Cole hasn’t castigated the progressives for going easy on Obama on the Afghan war and other adopted accourterments of the Cheney regieme. Now, Glen Greenwood has done so, yet Greenwood has also has kinder things to say about wings of the tea party. Perhaps Prof Cole has less right to be harsh in light of his own failure to come out foursquare against Bush’s invasion of Iraq-as the libertarian and Buchananite wings of the tea party did before the inception of the war.

  20. Plain words are welcome in a time of obfuscation, which is the thrust of a lot of what Orwell wrote.

    How did the project for getting foundational Enlightenment and American Independence literature translated into Arabic get along?

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