Wednesday, April 15, 2009

What's wrong with this picture?

Glenn Beck is weeping. Rush Limbaugh is foaming at the mouth. (Natch.) Ron Paul is fretting about "economic fascism." Samuel Joseph "Joe the Plumber" Wurzelbacher is pretending to be a journalist again.

And on this April 15th, tens of thousands of American sheep are holding "tea party" rallies. It's at once laughable and serious.
Some of the issues being raised -- corporate welfare, staggering national debt, erosion of constitutional rights -- are real. Beck is sincere and smart, at least, if misguided. Paul's consistent unpopularity is testimony to his integrity. The rest, however, is nothing but convenient populism -- which is to say, it's bullshit.

I'm not (necessarily) dismissing the validity of the messages -- I'm indicting the credibility of the messengers.

Many of the people now decrying America's fall into ruin were conspicuously silent when Bush-Cheney often brought us far closer to real fascism than Obama-Biden will to the brand of fascism invented by talk radio. So-called "socialized capitalism" has been practiced by our government for decades, and only now it's cause for alarm?

If free speech and the rule of law are so vital to the future of our republic -- and they are -- where was the right-wing froth when a Republican administration engaged in wholesale decimation of individual liberties?

The national debt was crushing our children and their children long before January 20th of this year. Today's fashionable "tea parties" are commendable exercises in free speech, but anyone who claims to be demonstrating against "taxation without representation" displays both an ignorance of history and a slippery grip on reality.

The present fervor has been whipped up by conservatives in disarray, for the most part, those flailing legions who haven't yet figured out that satirist Jon Stewart was right when he said,

"I think you might be confusing tyranny with losing."
"That’s democracy. See, now you’re in the minority.
"It's supposed to taste like a shit taco."
Anyone, whether they're conservative or liberal, who raises his voice in praise or protest only after hoisting his finger into the wind has no credibility with me. Defense of principle doesn't waver with the breeze -- and a political ideology is not a principle.

As our laws address actions and not persons, so critical thought is guided by facts and not affiliations. The fear merchants who oppose the president at every turn, like those who laud his every breath, are imprisoned by their beliefs and led by poseurs.

For independent citizens in a modern society, that's more than just a squandering of free will -- it's a joke.

Or, to borrow a popular metaphor: It ain't grassroots -- it's AstroTurf.

This nation faces clear and present dangers, both from within and without. Our government does not serve us well and We, the People, must reclaim our power. Raising our voices in dissent is an essential part of that.

Getting sucked into mindless populism and bowing to opportunistic ideologues, however, do more to harm liberty than to preserve it.