Noam Chomsky recently spoke at the University of Wisconsin Madison. A local newspaper covering the event reports that he advocated the leftish Madison crowd reach out to the Tea Partiers:
But, Chomsky, the firebrand liberal who spent most of his life critiquing and attacking US hegemony and foreign policy, said the left is failing the country by not reaching out to those in the Tea Party movement, who are frustrated and fed up with American government.
“They shouldn’t be laughed at. It’s not a joke,” Chomsky told the packed theater. “Ridiculing the Tea Party shenanigans is a terrible mistake. Why are those voices of discontent being mobilized by the extreme Right?”
I completely agree. It’s easy to denounce attendees of the Tea Parties as “racists,” “kooks,” and “Tea-Baggers,” but the actual situation is far more complicated. Yes, there are many Republican hacks in this so-called movement, but there seem to be at least as many folks genuinely concerned with the deficit, bailouts, and general direction of the country.
Now, to be sure, there are many ideological problems with the Tea-Partiers. But the Dems’ short-sighted denunciation of them is often motivated by the most primitive, tribalistic instinct: OMG why are the conservatives protesting?! We have to be against everything they do! We play for the the “liberal” team. The Tea-Partiers play for the “conservative” team, so they must be the stupidest, most evil people in the world!
The us-versus-them mentality prevents “the people” from forming a potent coalition against the government criminals ripping us off. Libertarians, anti-war leftists, and the “Tea-Partiers” could be working together on several issues, such as opposing the bailouts, corporatism, and ballooning deficits of the regime. But to form a viable coalition, they’ll have to heed Chomsky’s advice and reach out to one another.Published in