The Progressive Tea Party that Never Was
Trump Derangement Syndrome is real, it’s deadly serious, and it appears to be metastasizing. And don’t expect calls for unity after the attempted assassination of a Republican lawmaker to help encapsulate it, either. The disease is far too virulent for the crazed actions of a single individual to stop it.
After the election of Barack Obama, those of us to the right of center were sufficiently motivated by our beliefs -- and fears -- to coalesce for change; it was called the Tea Party Movement. It was intense, to be sure, and often loud, but mostly it was nonviolent political street theater. We were, compared to many of those suffering from TDS, model citizens. We cleaned up after our rallies, which were always peaceful. We respected private property. We believed in the rule of law and the Constitution, and acted accordingly. We strongly discouraged, oft-times to the chagrin of some of our more in-your-face followers, not only violence, but even any rhetoric that, taken out of context, might appear to promote violence.
Birth certificate issues aside, the vast majority of tea party devotees believed we had to play the cards we were dealt in November of 2008, voicing our displeasure but recognizing that the next time we could win a hand was Election Day, 2010. This led, of course, to the Tea Party wave election that drowned the Democrat majority in the House of Representatives and led to a six-seat gain in the Senate.
To my mind, that is how political opposition is supposed to work in 21st century; indeed, the peaceful transition of power is something of which we have been justly proud for over two hundred years. However, we seem to have reached a point where the existence of TDS has many people questioning whether or not we can keep that streak alive. If this presidency, properly won in a proper election, is stolen by coup, violent or otherwise, the United States as we know it will become a memory.
The Tea Party Movement, to the best of its ability, was fairly diligent about purging itself of its dangerously zealous members, believing correctly that they would pollute our message and damage our brand. At no time did we wish to appear as if we were on the fringe -- principally because we knew that a) the mainstream media desperately wished to portray us as such and did so daily, with or without provocation, and b) we knew in our core we were not a “fringe,” but rather the heart and soul of the republic.
A Progressive mirroring of the Tea Party Movement is the thing I feared most after the election of Donald Trump, and for obvious reasons. We saw in 2010 what a difference-maker an “enthusiasm gap” could be, and watched with delight as Progressive attempts to blunt the Tea Party tsunami with rallies of their own flopped miserably. We saw that such a level of engagement could change the face of Congress. And finally, candidate Hillary Clinton saw firsthand that such a gap could not be overcome despite her “inevitability.”
Progressives could have started such a movement -- there is no disputing they have the numbers. But they didn’t, and here’s why: what passes for the Progressive Movement in the United States today lacks any real message, which is one of the principle reasons their candidate was on the short end of an enthusiasm gap in the first place. We protested the abuse of the Constitution and espoused the rule of law -- not the election of Barack Obama. That then, is the chief difference. We objected to the man’s actions; they object to the man.
It is this distinction that makes clear the reasons why the so-called “antifa” operates in a completely different manner than did the Tea Party Movement; our goal was to flip Congress via the ballot box at the next election; theirs is to flip the Presidency via any means necessary, and immediately.
The very existence of Donald Trump is an offense to them. The fact that he is now the duly-elected President of the United States is, by definition, the cause of TDS. To the infected, Donald Trump is a cancer on the body politic and must be expunged; no treatment is too extreme, not even one that might kill the host. That he won so handily an election he was supposed to lose is something Progressives are unable to comprehend, so the only logical explanation for them is that he did not, in fact, win it. They will leave no field unplowed in an attempt to discover how he stole it.
Further, because there is no way to deny that President Trump received tens of millions of votes, Progressives assume those voters must be deranged. I will not bore you with the list of things they despise about MAGA men and women, I’m sure we are all depressingly familiar with them. To TDS sufferers, the simple declaration that America used to be and could again be “great” is unfathomable, so far from their worldview that those who espouse it must be flawed, unintelligent and vile human beings, unworthy of respect or common decency. Worse, they have even taken it to a higher degree: Trump supporters are deemed to have forfeited their right to free speech and assembly, and violence has become an acceptable response, particularly at those former bastions of free thought -- college campuses.
I wish the Left had started their own version of the Tea Party Movement -- I would have loved to be fully engaged with them on the battlefield of ideas, debating with them the proper role of government in our lives. But instead, the fierce spread of TDS has forced us to face another frightening, and perhaps far more deadly, possibility: the only ground remaining in their fight to oust the President is on a more literal battlefield, even if to the naked eye it looks like nothing more than a baseball diamond.