Stupidity has become a major, if not wholly acknowledged, theme in recent American politics. From Arizona to Massachusetts, it is a glaringly obvious fact of our political discourse, but one that is rarely spoken of directly.I have felt something similar about the Tea Party madness. One of my friends has expressed sympathy for them, and has chastised me for not taking seriously their anger and sense of rage. I don't because I don't actually believe they are legitimately angry. I think they are angry because they have been told to be angry. And rather than examine their situation and look at the fact that Obama has tried to make life better for those uninsured or underinsured, and isn't, in fact, instituting Hitler's death camps, they choose to be angry and shrill. And in fact, they act like giant asses. I have run into a few online--people I know or kind of know, and their lack of civility has been breath-taking. Over healthcare. Not about torture, or wiretapping, or starting two wars--healthcare.
Let's set such timid delicacy aside and state the obvious: The tea partiers are stupid. Look at them, listen to them -- these are stupid people behaving stupidly. They are hideously ill-informed and monstrously unconcerned with the fact of their being so ill-informed. Their stupidity fuels their anger and their anger fuels their stupidity. Spend five minutes listening to them and the overwhelming impression of resentful stupidity will only be reinforced. Spend hours listening to the speakers receiving the cheers at their rallies and hours more listening to Glenn Beck or Sarah Palin or Rush Limbaugh or any of the other demagogic leaders of this mob of a movement and the conclusion becomes undeniably confirmed: Stupid, stupid, stupid.
I am reminded of the brilliant Simpsons episode, Much Apu About Nothing where Springfield passes an anti-immigration bill after the city wasted tax payer money preventing bears from wandering the streets. This is Homer's response and it could easily be in the Tea Party platform:
"Homer: Woo-hoo! A perfect day. Zero bears and one big fat hairy
[opens it up]
Hey! How come my pay is so low? ... Bear patrol tax! This is
an outrage! It's the biggest tax increase in history!
Lisa: Actually, Dad, it's the smallest tax increase in history.
Homer: Let the bears pay the bear tax. I pay the Homer tax.
Lisa: That's home-_owner_ tax.
Homer: Well, anyway, I'm still outraged."
As Fred notes in his great post, these people don't have to embrace stupidity. They can, and should, be the smart people they are. Disagree with Obama. Absolutely. Dissent and argue for more fiscal responsibility. But do that as well when your Republican legislatures waste tax payer money suing the government for a bill that helps your neighbor have better healthcare!
You guys are smarter and better than this.