Wolcott vs. Reynolds over Tea Party Posturing
Glenn Reynolds is duly impressed and excited about tomorrow’s “Tax Day Tea Parties” his recent NYPost Op-Ed, which he, probably correctly, marks as a resurgence of small government outrage-based organizing. But he gets a little too soaringly majestic at points…
These aren’t the usual semiprofessional protesters who attend antiwar and pro-union marches. These are people with real jobs; most have never attended a protest march before. They represent a kind of energy that our politics hasn’t seen lately, and an influx of new activists.
…and James Wolcott isn’t having any of it. I have to admit, he does make Reynolds come off a bit mealy-mouthed and historically vapid:
It’s remarkable and telling how some of the biggest peaceful political rallies this country has ever seen took place only three years ago, only to be flushed down the memory hole. I’m speaking of the tremendous pro-immigration rallies that took place in 2006, with an estimated half-million people assembling in downtown Los Angeles alone. Those rallies did not lack energy, enthusiasm, or organization, and I daresay among those hundreds of thousands of people lobbying for enlightened immigration legislation were low-income workers with “real jobs.”
Of course, their groundswell efforts were mocked, attacked, derided, and dismissed by the likes of CNN’s Lou Dobbs and the right blogosphere, who had a righteous snit over the presence of Mexican flags…
Three years later, the scope and sweep of the pro-immigration rallies has been erased from the record books and general discourse as the Tea Party movement is augured in as the first authentic grassroots stirring of protest from the American heartland since, like, whenever.
Like plenty of people on both the right and the left, Reynolds also weighs into the alleged authenticity issue, which as I’ve noted previously, seems like sort of a pointless matter these days, signifying nothing no matter which side is correct.
The AIG protests Reynolds derides were lame not because they were organized by ACORN, but because they were tiny, unrepresentative, and didn’t tap into the activist impulses of enough people to actually do anything other than create a press event. Likewise, whether or not the Tea Parties have been co-opted by the GOP establishment, the final measure of their “authenticity” is really all about sheer participant numbers and lasting political influence.