Tea Party Cynics at the Polls

Violent, angry, racist, fascist -- all of these charges have been unjustly brought against the tea party movement. But along with these more colorful and far-fetched accusations, there is the broader and more corrosive suggestion of cynicism.

An opinion piece in a recent issue of the Washington Post is typical: "the rise of the Tea Party," Professor Thomas Bateman insists, is why "cynicism towards our leaders and institutions is running rampant."

According to Webster's, cynicism is defined as "deeply distrustful" attitudes often combined with "a sneering disbelief in sincerity and integrity." I would admit that the tea party is distrustful and evincing disbelief -- distrustful of socialism and evincing disbelief in a government takeover of the economy. But those who distrust and disbelieve the motives of the Democratic leadership are not cynics: They are the true patriots of our time.

Now, as the June 8 primaries conclusively show, these patriots control the fate of politicians in the November elections, and those who call them cynical had best reconsider. With the nomination of tea party candidates in Nevada, South Carolina, Arkansas, and other locations, grassroots conservatives are poised to take the country back. This great exercise in democracy expresses the irrepressible idealism of the American people.

The left has greatly underestimated the determination of the tea party to reclaim the country. The tea party protests, to quote the president, are "illegitimate" because they stand in the way of necessary change. This great revolution, however, is nothing more than a contemptible program of income confiscation and redistribution, and despite the administration's rhetoric to the contrary, the middle class is the target of this redistribution scheme.

This is especially true of those who are approaching or in retirement. Having accumulated assets from a lifetime of work and savings, seniors are generally better off than the young and the welfare underclass who have never worked. Obama's plan, in a nutshell, is to confiscate wealth from the middle class and from affluent seniors and, in return for votes, to hand it over to those who have never worked. It is called "patronage," and it is the oldest, rawest, and most regressive form of politics ever practiced.

For the tea party, there is another fundamental issue: health care reform and the appointment of Dr. Donald M. Berwick as director of Medicare and Medicaid. Berwick's published comments suggest his belief that painful joint conditions can be treated with nothing more than a steroid injection, and late-stage illnesses can be handled with a shot of morphine. That, apparently, is how he and Ms. Pelosi plan to save half a trillion dollars from Medicare.

According to the president's twisted logic, these frugal, hardworking, responsible tea partiers are just a bunch of cynics because they do not wish to entrust their health care and retirement savings to the government. Imagine the effrontery of wishing to live a year or two longer, or to retain control over one's 401k and IRA accounts. Don't American workers and retirees want to sacrifice their all for the greater good? Steny Hoyer, top aid to Nancy Pelosi, seems to think they should. He called the tea party "un-American" for opposing higher taxes, runaway debt, and Obamacare.

All of this is bad enough, but there is something else that is much more frightening about the left's attack on the tea party. It is the left's attitude that no one has a right to criticize its policies because these policies purportedly serve the greater good (though always at the great expense of many, if not most). Obama, Pelosi, and Reid were genuinely shocked when the tea party rose up out of nowhere and stood bravely against nationalized health care. These leftists were shocked because they believe that the American people are stupid and that they -- the political elite -- must rule on their behalf. As "progressives," they think they are in the vanguard of a grand revolution, and they are the only ones who can bring it about. If the tea party stands in the way of their revolution, too bad.

The most frightening thing about the left's attack on the tea party, in other words, is what it reveals about the mindset of the political elite. Those who rule Washington have become tyrants who no longer believe in representative government. They prefer to silence opposition by accusing opponents of racism, fascism, or homophobia. They are fond of expressions like "boot on the neck," "whose ass to kick," and the like, and these crude comments all have one thing in comment: an underlying fantasy of absolute power. "Boot on the neck" is the sort of thing one would expect from Chávez, Castro, or Stalin. It has no place in democratic discourse, and those who use it should be repudiated.

But it is not just the president who fantasizes about strutting around in jackboots. Nancy Pelosi's frantic reaction to the tea party -- first calling it "Astroturf" and then fascist -- was a blatant attempt to silence her opponents. Silencing the opposition is the sort of thing that takes place all the time in Pyongyang, Havana, or Harare. Within our democracy, however, it is simply disgusting and dangerous. It should not be tolerated, and neither should Democrats who accuse loyal Americans of the worst sorts of motivations.

By any fair definition, the tea party is not cynical. There is nothing in the way of "sneering" or "disbelief in sincerity" among members of the tea party, but there is a good deal among their liberal opponents.

At one tea party event that I attended, a nicely dressed, middle-aged woman -- the sort of individual one might encounter at Sunday school or in the Target check-out line -- held a sign that read: "No Socializm." OK, so she couldn't spell, but she knew that socialism would destroy America, which is more than the president knows. The idea that this lady is cynical, or that she is motivated by racism, homophobia, or fascism, would be laughable were it not so offensive.

There are plenty of cynics out there -- persons with "a sneering disbelief in sincerity and integrity." They are the ones attacking the tea party.

Dr. Jeffrey Folks taught for thirty years in universities in Europe, America, and Japan. He has published many books and articles on American culture and politics.

Violent, angry, racist, fascist -- all of these charges have been unjustly brought against the tea party movement. But along with these more colorful and far-fetched accusations, there is the broader and more corrosive suggestion of cynicism.

An opinion piece in a recent issue of the Washington Post is typical: "the rise of the Tea Party," Professor Thomas Bateman insists, is why "cynicism towards our leaders and institutions is running rampant."

According to Webster's, cynicism is defined as "deeply distrustful" attitudes often combined with "a sneering disbelief in sincerity and integrity." I would admit that the tea party is distrustful and evincing disbelief -- distrustful of socialism and evincing disbelief in a government takeover of the economy. But those who distrust and disbelieve the motives of the Democratic leadership are not cynics: They are the true patriots of our time.

Now, as the June 8 primaries conclusively show, these patriots control the fate of politicians in the November elections, and those who call them cynical had best reconsider. With the nomination of tea party candidates in Nevada, South Carolina, Arkansas, and other locations, grassroots conservatives are poised to take the country back. This great exercise in democracy expresses the irrepressible idealism of the American people.

The left has greatly underestimated the determination of the tea party to reclaim the country. The tea party protests, to quote the president, are "illegitimate" because they stand in the way of necessary change. This great revolution, however, is nothing more than a contemptible program of income confiscation and redistribution, and despite the administration's rhetoric to the contrary, the middle class is the target of this redistribution scheme.

This is especially true of those who are approaching or in retirement. Having accumulated assets from a lifetime of work and savings, seniors are generally better off than the young and the welfare underclass who have never worked. Obama's plan, in a nutshell, is to confiscate wealth from the middle class and from affluent seniors and, in return for votes, to hand it over to those who have never worked. It is called "patronage," and it is the oldest, rawest, and most regressive form of politics ever practiced.

For the tea party, there is another fundamental issue: health care reform and the appointment of Dr. Donald M. Berwick as director of Medicare and Medicaid. Berwick's published comments suggest his belief that painful joint conditions can be treated with nothing more than a steroid injection, and late-stage illnesses can be handled with a shot of morphine. That, apparently, is how he and Ms. Pelosi plan to save half a trillion dollars from Medicare.

According to the president's twisted logic, these frugal, hardworking, responsible tea partiers are just a bunch of cynics because they do not wish to entrust their health care and retirement savings to the government. Imagine the effrontery of wishing to live a year or two longer, or to retain control over one's 401k and IRA accounts. Don't American workers and retirees want to sacrifice their all for the greater good? Steny Hoyer, top aid to Nancy Pelosi, seems to think they should. He called the tea party "un-American" for opposing higher taxes, runaway debt, and Obamacare.

All of this is bad enough, but there is something else that is much more frightening about the left's attack on the tea party. It is the left's attitude that no one has a right to criticize its policies because these policies purportedly serve the greater good (though always at the great expense of many, if not most). Obama, Pelosi, and Reid were genuinely shocked when the tea party rose up out of nowhere and stood bravely against nationalized health care. These leftists were shocked because they believe that the American people are stupid and that they -- the political elite -- must rule on their behalf. As "progressives," they think they are in the vanguard of a grand revolution, and they are the only ones who can bring it about. If the tea party stands in the way of their revolution, too bad.

The most frightening thing about the left's attack on the tea party, in other words, is what it reveals about the mindset of the political elite. Those who rule Washington have become tyrants who no longer believe in representative government. They prefer to silence opposition by accusing opponents of racism, fascism, or homophobia. They are fond of expressions like "boot on the neck," "whose ass to kick," and the like, and these crude comments all have one thing in comment: an underlying fantasy of absolute power. "Boot on the neck" is the sort of thing one would expect from Chávez, Castro, or Stalin. It has no place in democratic discourse, and those who use it should be repudiated.

But it is not just the president who fantasizes about strutting around in jackboots. Nancy Pelosi's frantic reaction to the tea party -- first calling it "Astroturf" and then fascist -- was a blatant attempt to silence her opponents. Silencing the opposition is the sort of thing that takes place all the time in Pyongyang, Havana, or Harare. Within our democracy, however, it is simply disgusting and dangerous. It should not be tolerated, and neither should Democrats who accuse loyal Americans of the worst sorts of motivations.

By any fair definition, the tea party is not cynical. There is nothing in the way of "sneering" or "disbelief in sincerity" among members of the tea party, but there is a good deal among their liberal opponents.

At one tea party event that I attended, a nicely dressed, middle-aged woman -- the sort of individual one might encounter at Sunday school or in the Target check-out line -- held a sign that read: "No Socializm." OK, so she couldn't spell, but she knew that socialism would destroy America, which is more than the president knows. The idea that this lady is cynical, or that she is motivated by racism, homophobia, or fascism, would be laughable were it not so offensive.

There are plenty of cynics out there -- persons with "a sneering disbelief in sincerity and integrity." They are the ones attacking the tea party.

Dr. Jeffrey Folks taught for thirty years in universities in Europe, America, and Japan. He has published many books and articles on American culture and politics.