Teabagging America

Ever since debate began over a big government stimulus plan I’ve been thinking about how irrelevant the GOP has made itself. Their idea of stimulus . . . isn’t one. Tax cuts can sometimes lead to business reinvestment and long-term growth in revenue, but not in the middle of a banking crisis. Cut corporate taxes during hard times and they’re much more likely to build up their war chest, sitting on the money rather than putting it back into circulation. After the last eight years, Republican claims of fiscal discipline and small, responsible government seem not just baseless, but actively clownish. OldKentuckyShark, a poster on RPGNet, explained it well in a post about the embarassing teabag protests.

The truly appalling thing is that they threw a protest without the protest.

What were the teabaggers standing against?

High taxes? Obama just cut taxes. Try again.

The rising national debt? It’s going up, but it’s been going up for the past 8 years (or twenty years, or fifty years, depending upon who is counting); why stand up and grow a pair now, of all times? Where were these voices last April? And even setting that aside, what do they propose to do to stop it?

The Bailout/TARP/Stimulus Plan? Well, all right, those are perfectly valid targets for debate… but there’s been no debate, just diffused, unfocused anger. That doesn’t make for a protest, it makes for a hissy fit.

Now, traditionally, on April 15th, libertarians all across America make a little to-do over taxes. Libertarians hate taxes: it’s their thing, it’s what they do. Now, I may not like the libertarian philosophy — I may despise and loathe some of its core precepts from the bottom of my soul — but I will give them this: they, at least, have an argument. They have consistency. They proceed from certain axioms along a line of logic towards a hypothetical future that is, to my mind, hellish, but at least they move in straight lines. They have their own golden path, and the best of them actually walk it, bless their hearts. Real libertarians, from what I have heard, were disgusted by what they saw as a co-opting of their traditional grinding axes.

The teabaggers had none of that. They spouted nonsense. They had conspiracy theories about Obama’s nationality and bad math and worse puns and teabags. One man had a sign declaring the stimulus package unconstitutional: when challenged, he had never even read the constitution. One woman had a sign declaring democrats to be socialists: when pressed, she couldn’t identify what socialism was. Thousands of people gathered in city capitals today over nothing. Nothing. They held up their persecution complexes like red badges of courage. They waved their impotent rage like an American flag, as if puling incoherence was a moving argument. They wore their paper-mache pig hats with absurd pride.

They’ve been called the party of No and the party of no ideas, but this went beyond all that. On April 15th, 2009 Republicans officially went all Bret Easton Ellis on us: totally less than zero.

There’s no there, there in the right wing any more.

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