I attended a tea party fundraiser a few weeks ago. It was a very good spaghetti dinner and all the tables were decorated in patriotic cloths and ribbons and Lee Greenwood’s “Proud to be an American” and other patriotic songs were playing the background. I wonder now if I could have brought someone like Cindy Sheehan to this gathering, fresh off of attacking President Obama for continuing the Bush II/Cheney policies in Iraq and Afghanistan. Would they throw her out, or would she have walked out anyway at what she saw and heard?
It’s interesting that at the same time tea partiers were in Washington the week of the vote for the healthcare bill in Congress, another group of protesters, including Sheehan, were also in Washington protesting the seventh anniversary of the start of the Iraq war. Did any of these protesters meet? Did they talk, discuss ideas or even just say hello? Do they even realize they face a common foe?
If either side, war protesters or tea partiers, came to this realization, they could be quite a formidable coalition as Justin Raimondo says, capable of splitting apart Obamanation on the war issue. But if the nationalism of the tea partiers turns off libertarians, as Kelly Vlahos says it does, it hard to see them reaching out further than their own backyard, let alone welcoming all critics of the “Empire” as comrades-in-arms.
It would sad to see such an opportunity pass by. Glenn Beck bashes and taints progressivism in the eyes of tea partiers, yet does or any of them know that the original progressives and populists (not the Wilson-Roosevelt kind) were the first to decry the intersection between government and business, and extended their critiques to U.S. foreign policy as business interests used the flag to demand protection for their rackets in the Caribbean and Latin America as Smedly Butler once said. That focus turned to munitions makers who profited from the useless and foolhardy First World War as the Nye Commission said they did. If North Dakota’s prairie populist NPLer Republican Sen. Gerald P. Nye and Gen. Butler were around today they, would be attacking Halliburton and Blackwater for the same reasons. Would anyone dare call such persons anti-American or anti-patriotic? And would anyone think such companies believe in “small government” when big government and interventionism benefit their bottom line?
The whole tea party movement faces a window of both great opportunity but also great peril. If they ignore foreign policy and do not understand why interventionism prevents the downsizing of the federal government like they say they want, they face the real risk of being trapped in a Republican/”conservative” ghetto where they will be no more than the puppets of the RNC with Conservative INC. emptying their wallets, misdirecting their outrage and encouraging them to fruitless, wasted activism. They need to look around and see their real allies are those libertarians and leftists who also share their same opposition to the “Empire” instead of the republic of the Founders. That’s patriotism is it not?