Anti-Authoritarians for Authoritarianism

I learned today that one of the items in the tea party grab-bag is repeal of the 17th Amendment. In other words, they want to go back to having U.S. senators chosen by state legislatures instead of voters. Evan McMorris-Santoro writes:

The “Repeal The 17th” movement is a vocal part of the overall tea party structure. Supporters of the plan say that ending the public vote for Senators would give the states more power to protect their own interests in Washington (and of course, give all of us “more liberty” in the process.)

If you feel a need to go take your blood pressure meds, I’ll wait.

McMorris-Santoro describes some Republican politicians caught between trying to appease the Baggers by rubber stamping their agenda and trying not to frighten away general election voters, who tend to be, you know, sane.

But if the tea baggers think the Senate is too “elitist” and corrupt now, just wait until Senate seats go back to being plums handed to cronies, fundraisers and relatives.

Really, this does reveal how twisted wingnut psychology has become. Even as they march around screaming about ending elitism and supporting freedom, their actions support elitism and diminish freedom. They are authoritarians spouting anti-authoritarian rhetoric in the service of authoritarianism.

I began a recent post by referring to James Madison’s Federalist #10. You might remember that much of the Federalist Papers amount to Madison, Hamilton and Jay reassuring people that a representative republic would not turn into “mob rule.” Most of the founders were well-educated, moneyed aristocrats — the elites of their time — and the last thing they wanted was for an uneducated rabble to be able to choose leaders and make policy.

Thus, senators were chosen by the states, and the Electoral College was envisioned as a panel of Wise Elitist Men who would choose the president and vice president instead of voters. That’s not how it turned out, but that’s what it originally was supposed to be.

One suspects that if the founders saw the state of politics today, they would have set up a monarchy.

I thought of those old dead aristocratic white guys yesterday when I read about the tea baggers at the Maine GOP convention who trashed the classroom in which they were caucusing:

The Republican convention was at the Portland Expo, but participants went to the nearby King Middle School to hold their caucuses. While there, they went through eighth-grade teacher Paul Clifford’s items, opened sealed boxes, stole a prized poster, and vandalized the room with Republican slogans. Some details on what they did:

– For seven years, Clifford has had “a collage-type poster depicting the history of the U.S. labor movement” on his classroom door. He uses it “to teach his students how to incorporate collages into their annual project on Norman Rockwell’s historic ‘Four Freedoms’ illustrations.” When Clifford returned to his classroom on Monday, after the GOP caucuses, the poster was gone; in its place was a sticker reading, “Working People Vote Republican.”

– Republicans opened a “closed cardboard box they found near Clifford’s desk” and later objected to the fact that it contained copies of the U.S. Constitution donated to the school by the American Civil Liberties Union.

– After the caucuses, “rank-and-file Republicans who were upset by what they said they had seen in Clifford’s classroom” began calling the school, objecting to student art they had seen and a sticker on a filing cabinet reading “People for the American Way — Fight the Right.”

I bet that’s one classroom full of kids who will grow up to be liberals.

Elsewhere — I found a column in the Cleveland Plain Dealer about the recent primaries in Ohio that made some interesting points. The Ohio “establishment” candidates soundly trounced the “tea bag” candidates, and the columnist noted that it’s in caucuses and conventions that tea baggers most effectively promote their candidates. We really haven’t yet seen that the tea baggers can consistently deliver elections. The Massachusetts “miracle” of Scott Brown winning Ten Kennedy’s seat may have been a fluke, IMO, caused by a very poor Dem candidate — apparently widely disliked in the state — losing narrowly to a Republican who is proving to be less radical than the tea baggers would like.

21 thoughts on “Anti-Authoritarians for Authoritarianism

  1. I’m guessing that repealing part of the Constitution is about as difficult as amending it, and so this is probably an idea that will go nowhere. Up till now, I’ve resisted calling these people “TeaTards” as Ed at does, but after this latest Living in the Past genius idea, I’m more inclined to adopt this most appropriate moniker.

    What’s sad and hilarious at the same time, is that the aristocracy for whom the closed boys club of The Senate was originally designed, would love to have these TeaTard suckups as serfs and retainers, but obviously not as full blown citizens, with all the rights and prerogatives thereof.

    Boy did they ever choose the wrong classroom for their little gathering. Early in their meeting they must have decided the classroom decorations were all the work of a leftist teacher, and were therefore fair game for defacing. It should be interesting to see how the reaction plays out in Maine.

  2. So the dimwitted teabaggers want to turn the US senate into our equivelent of the british house of lords? Yeah that not too elitist, WTF?

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  4. I guess everyone else is too polite to say it, so I will: the teabaggers are useful idiots. They are dupes for the megacorporate power elite, who rile them up with god, guns and gays, and set them marching in lockstep to economic suicide at the ballot box. Anyone who isn’t a millionaire and votes republan (sic) is very, very stupid.

  5. Go, Ray! You’ve nailed them.

    And now to bring up a favorite explanation about authoritarian followers, check out FindLaw John Dean 2007 part 2 of a 3 part article. I keep recommending this to people because it gets into the thought process that leads to our current state of ineffective “reform” advocates who have no coherent plan other than to surrender themselves to serfdom in the name of freedom.

  6. When I participate in forums (a bad habit), I have encountered blowback from teabaggers that the US is not a democracy – it’s a ‘Republic’. I press hard on the issue because moderates to mid-conservatives do NOT favor having LESS of a voice in government.

    Somebody seems to have realized the claim that the US is not a democracy is NOT going to win support for the teabaggers. It may be that the repeal the 17th is & was part of that anti-democracy swill.

    Looking at how the teabaggers used the caucus/convention in Idaho to eliminate the incumbent (who was the most popular in polls) you see how the ultra-conservatives in the minority are trying to control the options that the voters will have. Only a few states (Idaho and Arizona) are radical enough for TP candidates. Teabaggers were crushed in primary elections in Texas in March.

    Incumbents are in for a rough time in November. There are 2 high-profile Senate races where the Democrat has slim-to-no chance and I would love to see both teabaggers lose to moderate republicans. That means I support McCain in AZ and Crist in FL to shut out the teabaggers from those Senate seats. Both of those races are close enough that support from Democrats could change the result.

    • the US is not a democracy – it’s a ‘Republic’.

      That’s been floating around for at least 15 years, and probably a lot longer. The first time I heard it I assumed the individual was just confused and tried to explain what the words “democracy” and “republic” actually meant, but of course this was futile. I came to realize there was some sort of underground disinformation campaign going on that probably pre-dates common access to the Internet, but of course the Internet accelerated it. The other howler floating around in the same swamp is that fascism is a form of socialism. No amount of hard historical evidence to the contrary can even raise a shadow of doubt in their minds that fascists are liberal lefty commies.

  7. We only need 2 1/2 Amendments – the 2nd, the 10th, and, depending on what you’re going to say, the 1st.
    My bet is that if the TeaTards, or Teadiots, walked into any history classroom (and lets not discuss the damage they would do in a science classroom) in America, they’d find plenty to object to. Mainly because this country was founded by people they would consider to be flaming Socialist Liberals.
    Breaking away from a monarchy = Liberal.
    Giving the people (though not all at the time) the right to vote = Liberal.
    The right to amend a Constitution = Liberal.
    And on and on it goes…
    I don’t think there are many posters up in classrooms that show vicious Pro-slavery supporters, KKK members, people against a woman’s right to vote, Father Coughlin, Joe McCarthy, or other conservative, ‘I want my country back’ thugs. We tend to want to show children the better angels of our nature. As Colbert said, “Facts have a notoriously Liberal bias.”
    Plus, ya gotta love the (oxy)moron who put up this gem: “Working People Vote Republican.” ‘What’s the matter with Kansas,’ indeed…

  8. It occurred to me this morning that Thailand is experiencing the kind of repression the tea-party crowd wail and shriek about facing here. And yet the faux-martyrs (free, comfortable, anonymous vandals) continue to wail and shriek.

    Is their “republic-not-democracy” argument intended to create an unelected national government run by corporations? If so, seems to me they already have 99 percent of the awful world they desire. They were happy enough when unelected Dubya was in office.

  9. “They were happy enough when unelected Dubya was in office.”
    True Joan, but we must realize Dubya was put there by God to guide us through difficult times.
    When all evidence points to major crimes, the perps wil claim divine (or satanic) intervention.

    • When all evidence points to major crimes, the perps wil claim divine (or satanic) intervention.

      When the (Republican) president does it, that means it’s not a crime.

  10. OT – denizens of the reality-based community & critical thinkers, I came across a wonderful A Visual Study Guide to Cognitive Biases. You can simply view it at this site, or download it as a pdf. To download, you have to go through the minor inconvenience of joining (where the pdf is stored). Ignore Scribd’s pleas to upload (share) your own content, as you click through the download links to the pdf in question.

  11. Maha-just to note, the whole spiel about the “US is not a democracy – it’s a ‘Republic’,” goes back at least to the John Birch Society in the 1960s and is likely older than that. Birchers thought then (and from what I understand still do) think that a republic is somehow nobler than a democracy, which to them represents a degeneration of self-governance. Their particular fear was that republics degenerate into democracies, then into empires or tyrannies, unless you manage to leave the republic’s governance in the hands of the naturally “noble” and well qualified. Apparently meritocracy plays no role in their thinking. The late wingnut author Taylor Caldwell managed to work that particular political spiel into many of her novels.

  12. None of this teabagger stuff is about economics or “big government”, really.
    They want a king from their tribe in power. It’s tribalism, which is where the ignorant go when they are scared. They fall back on the sacred symbols, like guns and crosses. White guys in cowboy hats can stop the rest of the world from ruining their fantasy of America.
    But it’s over. The money is gone and the brown folks are here to stay. It’s gonna be a rough ride.

  13. Teabaggers have always reminded me of that movie where Peter Finch screams out a window (at no one in particular) “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore.” No agenda, no ideology, no nothing but sheer, pissed off anger.

    Do they have a platform other than none of the above? Palin’s rants, listen carefully, are all directed at dissing anyone or anything at the forefront of the latest news that will rouse the already pissed off crowd to be more pissed off. It’s an old ploy of the demigogue and as such is merely pure demigoguery. (I do wish she’d quietly attach herself to a melting ice cap.)

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  15. It occurred to me this morning that Thailand is experiencing the kind of repression the tea-party crowd wail and shriek about facing here. And yet the faux-martyrs (free, comfortable, anonymous vandals) continue to wail and shriek.

    Is their “republic-not-democracy” argument intended to create an unelected national government run by corporations? If so, seems to me they already have 99 percent of the awful world they desire. They were happy enough when unelected Dubya was in office.

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