The Shape Of Things to Come?

Republicans are already salivating over their prospects for the 2010 midterm elections. According to the narrative they’ve concocted, patriotic, “real Americans” are fed up with the socialist policies imposed on them by liberal Democrats whose radical, Big Government agenda has cost millions of people their jobs. If this story sounds familiar, it’s probably because you’ve heard it parroted by conservative mouthpieces like Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck or any Fox News commentator.

Never mind the fact that the Great Recession we’re now experiencing was caused by the Bush Administration’s profligate spending along with their quixotic obsession with tax cuts and financial deregulation. Instead of allowing this inconvenient truth to impede their return to power, the GOP has cynically calculated that since most people don’t pay attention to the news, they can just make it up. And this strategy is proving to be extremely effective.

Now we’re stuck with the growing tea party movement, which began as a project of FreedomWorks, the conservative action committee founded by former House Republican leader Dick Armey. This loosely affiliated network of tea parties has no central leadership and seems to lack any coherent ideology other than “guns good, government bad.” So, it’s certainly cause for alarm that their group is threatening to make a significant impact on our political landscape.

NY Times columnist David Brooks predicted today that this movement will define the politics of our coming decade. According to Brooks, the tea party outperformed both Democrats and Republicans in a recent Rasumssen organization poll and right-wing members of Congress are scrambling for the chance to lead the burgeoning faction. If this trend continues and the tea party’s ultra-conservative fiscal policies are allowed to disrupt our fragile recovery, then we’re headed for a double-dip recession.

The fact is, in order to pull ourselves out of this economic downturn we need more government intervention (specifically a second stimulus package) not less. At least, that’s the conclusion reached by most economists, including Nobel Laureates Paul Krugman and Joseph Stiglitz. I’m inclined to believe these experts over a group of loud-mouthed malcontents with no formal economic training and no ideas to offer other than vague rhetoric gleaned from an Ayn Rand novel.

From what I’ve gathered about their intentions, these tea party brigades want to take us backward to some idealized version of 1950’s Americana that never existed in the first place. Democrats want to take us forward toward a new era of prosperity built on a foundation of sound economic, social and foreign policies. If the tea party wins, we all lose.

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