If you think the Tea Party represents real people who are mad as hell about real issues, you might want to know that it just had its first rally under the Beverly Hills sign over the weekend.
I found out about the rally when I showed up for a 10 o'clock news debate and singer Pat Boone was on the other side dressed in his "Beverly Hills Tea Party" sweater. If you want to know what the Tea Party's really about, listen to Boone croon about the "free market" and "deregulation" like it's a new idea.
The patriotic Americans who dressed up like Henry Lee at the rally want us to remember the founding father's cautions about government power, but their agenda in 2010 is only to turn back the clock to Reagan era deregulation and the Wild West free market that brought us the financial meltdown.
You have to be a wearing a Beverly Hills Tea Party sweater to be able to say the free market will save us with a straight face--just watch Boone do it.
The sad thing is that these angry people are being taken advantage of by old boy petroleum magnates like the Koch brothers who are simultaneously funding the Tea Party and trying to repeal California's greenhouse emissions cap. Boone says he never heard of them. I don't think he's lying, but that means his head is stuck so far into the landscaping behind his mansion that he can't see beyond its wrought iron gates.
He's certainly not seeing what the rest of us are: good people who can't find a job and are living out of their cars with no food to eat or other shelter to sleep in. All thanks to deregulation on Wall Street. Only the government can help them, but the Tea Party wants to straightjacket it so that it can no longer act to lend a helping hand.
Across America the Tea Party may look like Main Street, but in Beverly Hills you can see where its plan will take us: back to Reagan, Pat Boone, and the policies that play to the interests of folks who can afford homes and office space near Rodeo Drive.
Jamie Court is the author of The Progressive's Guide to Raising Hell and the President of Consumer Watchdog, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to providing an effective voice for taxpayers and consumers in an era when special interests dominate public discourse, government and politics. Visit us on Facebook and Twitter.