Face the Ugly Truth: The Tea Party Is Conservatism in a Nutshell

PalinandCruzI try not to use terms about selfish jerkholes that end up being demeaning to other, innocent people, but economist Umair Haque may have dispensed the bestest tweet ever!

The Classical Greek definition of an ‘idiot’ was a person uninterested in the common good. In other words, modern conservatives.

This line resonated with me partly because of the timing of it – toward the end of the Tea Party-initialized, GOP-enforced government shutdown. Partially because I had one of my infamous conversations/arguments with conservative libertarians last week wherein one asked, in all seriousness, “What is the common good?” A Sarah Palin moment if ever there was one.

The very word — “conservative” — doesn’t fit for most people, as we seriously ask ourselves what exactly is it that they are conserving? The answer is nothing but the social order, with those on top remaining on top and those below remaining below. The only question of distinction among conservatives is: How far down should the lower and working class be? How dirt poor is too dirt poor? How powerless is too powerless? How disenfranchised is too disenfranchised? How little money is too little money? How far can we push this and not have to worry about blood spilling on our Louis Vuittons?

The Tea Party and all represented by it – its nuclear options of reactionism and extremism; its latent racism; its homoantagonism; its rallies against immigrants; its support for wage and wealth discrepancy; its Confederacy Apologism; it’s White, Male, and Christian Supremacy narratives – aren’t a different form of conservatism. It’s the same kind of conservatism that has been going on, just intensified in a concentrated form, hyped by 24-hour media and white male fears. As Corey Robin helpfully points out in his book  The Reactionary Mind: Conservatism from Edmund Burke to Sarah Palin:

Neither is conservatism a makeshift fusion of capitalists, Christians, and warriors, for that fusion is impelled by a more elemental force—the opposition to the liberation of men and women from the fetters of their superiors, particularly in the private sphere. Such a view might seem miles away from the libertarian defense of the free market, with its celebration of the atomistic and autonomous individual. But it is not.

Though it is often claimed that the left stands for equality while the right stands for freedom, this notion misstates the actual disagreement between right and left. Historically, the conservative has favored liberty for the higher orders and constraint for the lower orders. What the conservative sees and dislikes in equality, in other words, is not a threat to freedom but its extension. For in that extension, he sees a loss of his own freedom.

Sarah Palin, Ted Cruz, Rahm Emanuel*, William F. Buckley, the Koch Brothers, Rand Paul, Ron Paul, Michele Bachmann, Steve King, Peter King, John McCain, Clarence Thomas – while most will fight over the REAL definition of conservatism, the truth is that they are all conservatives. They all favor freedom for the “uppers” and constraint for the “lowers.” They want to take our freedoms away while using the language of liberty and freedom without a trace of irony.

It’s high time to fight back against not just conservatives, but conservatism in all of its forms and however it occurs — whether it’s the privatizing of public use (such as schools and roadways and prisons); the increase presence of military and covert operations; the militarization of urban police forces; the redlining of neighborhoods; the fight against fair wages and anything else which seeks to oppress lower classes to the benefit of the rich.

Let the GOP be killed by its own idiocy. It cares not for the public; the public needs to care.


*Chicago’s Mayor Emanuel will be called a liberal because of his alignment with the Democratic Party, President Obama and the Clintons, but we shouldn’t recognize a person by what labels he or she attaches to himself or herself. Rather, we should recognize them by what they actually do — and what Rahm does is definitely conservative.


When he’s not riding both his city’s public transit system and evil mayor, Jasdye teaches at a community college and writes about the intersection of equality and faith - with an occasional focus on Chicago - at the Left Cheek blog and on the Left Cheek: the Blog Facebook page. Check out more from Jasdye in his archives as well!


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