Tea Party Fanatics Believe the Means Justify the Ends: Just a couple of days after a Tea Partier, in an on-line conversation with me, criticized Democratic Party get-out-the-vote efforts, not only on the paranoid basis that it is a secret attempt to access personal information, but also because many voters “[have] no idea what the issues are or the qualifications of the candidate,” the Denver Post reports on increasing voter intimidation tactics by Tea Party fanatics (http://www.denverpost.com/ci_16441222). Actual violence by a (male) Rand Paul volunteer against a (female) MoveOn.org volunteer just before a debate between Paul and his Democratic opponent, a fortunately thus far exceptional event in American politics, may be just an isolated incident, or it may be indicative of the general disdain for democracy increasingly in evidence among Tea Party fanatics. Just yesterday I wrote about The Tea Party’s Mistaken Historical Analogy, drawing parallels between the Tea Party’s anti-intellectualism and disdain for the poor with mid-twentieth century European Fascism. Continuing evidence of the parallels should raise people’s awareness of how corrosive and dangerous this movement really is.
9News removed the anti-Perlmutter ad that the Denver Post had called “a whopper,” 9News had called “false,” and 7News called “fiction,” the last adding, “Perlmutter did not vote for a bill to allow rapists access to Viagra.”
(http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_16442793, Saturday Night Briefs: Deceptive Political Ads & Dogmatic Intolerance). Another example of the Far Right’s extreme tactics. Negative ads are one thing, but even some unfortunately mainstream excesses, such as taking quotes out of context don’t rise to this level of outright deception. The Tea Party is upping the ante in electoral deception and distinctly unethical conduct. Shadowy right-wing groups attacking Democratic candidates with outright lies so egregious that television stations have to pull ads (in another break from the previous standard, the groups themselves refuse to when called on the deception), along with the observations noted above and yesterday, need to start registering on the collective consciousness.
Not only does it mark a new level of outright deception and voter intimidation, but The Tea Party is based on the notion that we are better governed by the arbitrary opinions of uninformed lay people than by any degree of professionalization of governance (New Tea Party Bumper Sticker: “If It Isn’t Dumb, It Isn’t Right”, John Andrews Recommends Protecting CU From Intellectuals). The horrors of the rise of fascist and communist totalitarianisms in Europe and Asia in the early and mid-20th century were preceded by just such populist rejections of moderation and professionalism in governance, embracing instead demagogues who promised to cure government of those defects.
We have enjoyed, longer than any other country, a modern democracy characterized by a high degree of professionalism and moderation in our governance. We need to preserve and reassert our collective commitment to maintaining both, especially as such a distinctly immoderate and anti-professional movement is so passionately on the rise.