No True Teabagger

By Jesse Taylor
Wednesday, February 10, 2010 23:08 EDT
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imageMelissa Clouthier writes what’s become the standard Tea Party trope: the Tea Party is not responsible for anyone associated with the Tea Party, because no Tea Partier ever has to be associated with things they don’t like. In fact, it’s the central tenet of the Tea Party movement: no Teabagger is responsible for that except which he or she personally deigns to Teabag, and no true Teabagger would ever do something that whatever Teabagger is speaking doesn’t like.

Sarah Palin’s not a “leader” of the movement, because the movement has no leaders; it just has contributors. In a way, they’re like a living, breathing version of Marx’s dictatorship of the proletariat, except that they’re lying because folks like Palin, Limbaugh and Beck are all very clearly leaders of the movement and Marxists were almost certainly saner than most Tea Partiers.

But it speaks to the inherent power of the Tea Party’s postmodern incoherence. It’s a movement which claims millions but for which each member can deny every other member’s validity as a member per se, yet also make up that all those other people whose affirmative beliefs they deny in fact believe something else which reintegrates them back into the whole. It’s like the Borg, if the Borg operated by Calvinball rules where they could just land on a planet, point at a tree, a ceiling fan and a stereo playing Phil Collins and simply say “All of this – Borg”.

As Amanda pointed out, Teabaggers get handled with kid gloves. But it’s worse than that. In many ways, the Tea Party movement, a chaotic mess of people many of whom hate each other and can only unify around the sort of vitriolic conservatism that predated any effort on their part to organize or protest, benefits from the fact that the media is willing to build up the organization that they’re constitutionally incapable of constructing themselves.

When a gaggle of people show up to protest pimps and czars and the little moon men who give all the welfare to the crack babies, it’s hard to tease anything coherent or rational or mainstream out of that. But when the press is willing to show up and look at this group of crazies with the inherent presumption that whatever person this group of chaotic lemmings deigns to cheer for is a leader, it then creates the presumption that the leader is also leading something definable and real.

Because the Tea Party movement refuses to define itself in any real way – in fact, because it can’t define itself in any real way other than “batfuck nutso” – it ambles along with more credibility and less accountability than almost any major movement that has come before it. And I should know, because by some insane definition, I think I’m a Tea Partier, too. And so are you.

Jesse Taylor
Jesse Taylor
Jesse Taylor is an attorney and blogger from the great state of Ohio. He founded Pandagon in July, 2002, and has also served on the campaign and in the administration of former Ohio Governor Ted Strickland. He focuses on politics, race, law and pop culture, as well as the odd personal digression when the mood strikes.
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