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Randall Amster Headshot

Tempest in a Tea Party

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Is it over yet? These Tea Party shenanigans have had their fifteen minutes already, and it's time to move on. Pundits may want to keep them viable for the purported controversy and inherent tomfoolery involved with the TP, but it seems more to the point to be dusting off history's dustbin for their imminent arrival. If this "much ado about nothing" party is what passes for principled political debate in America, then it's truly a sad day and no amount of tea is going to make it all better.

Luckily, the teabaggers are such a self-parodying lot that all one really needs to do, a la Tina Fey, is let their own words do the talking. Of course, as we've seen in Arizona's hate-filled legislative spate of late, the results can be damaging and disheartening, and yet the basic sense of inanity and self-defeatism that is the hallmark of the TP is strongly in evidence there as well. How else to explain the Governor's repeated disavowals of racism coupled with cracks like "they're mostly drug mules anyway," or the "this is not about race or ethnicity" mantra recited even as Ethnic Studies programs were being banned? On some level, this is lowbrow comedy passing as politics, and we ought to consider laughing it all the way out the door.

In this spirit, a new music video is making the rounds that nicely captures the serious/sardonic dualism that is embodied by the Tea Party movement (such as it is). Drawing from the TP's own platform and rhetoric, the video looks at the bizarre implications of TP logic and the sham-like manner in which it is presented. The song is called "T.E.A. (Taxed Enough Already?!)" by the powerful folk duo Emma's Revolution. Folks may know them from their anthemic songs like "Peace, Salaam, Shalom" and "Swimming to the Other Side," but in this instance they have something more whimsical and irreverent in mind. Check it out:

One of the most cogent insights amidst the parody is the intention to bring about a libertarian paradise of full-on privatization in which the public sphere is completely supplanted by a "pay to play" notion that is thoroughly perverse, to say the least. Here's how the song sums it up:

Are you feeling taxed enough already?
So am I and here's what I propose
Make 'em private schools and private libraries
Private firemen, each with a private hose
Call a private cop when you're in danger
Drive on private roads, if they exist
Let's make it one for one and none for many
You're taxed enough already, I insist.

The next TP straw-person to be eviscerated is the Socialism bogeyman that is repeatedly invoked in order to whip the populace into a neo-Commie frenzy of jingoism. The song blows this one up:

This sidewalk where I stand was built by Socialists
Communists installed each traffic light
That street sign near your house, evil unions
I tell you, friends, it really isn't right
A man has got to be an individual
That's why you should follow every word I say
Let's make it one for one and none for many
Let's take "united" out of USA.

There's more along these lines, and the chorus nicely sums up the innate illogic:

Let's make it one for one and none for many
You build the fire, I'll bring the bags of tea
Let's make it one for one and none for many
You're taxed enough already, just like me
Let's make it one for one and none for many
In the land where only markets should be free!

Much has been written about the Tea Party in recent months, and yet nothing in either the platform or ethos has even remotely justified the expenditure of ink and/or electrons. This is not a bona fide movement in American politics -- it's a tempest in a tea party, a final refuge for dead-end dinosaurs looking to couch their selfishness and divisiveness in free-market rhetoric. Indeed, this cup of tea is highly unpalatable and has the bitter aftertaste of saccharin, but at least now there's a song in the air to help us get through the stale, strange brew that's been flooding our still-public airwaves lately.