…says Dan McCarthy at The American Conservative’s @TAC blog. Discussing the tax day tea parties, McCarthy contends that rallies and protests with their attendant raw emotional reactions to the issues at hand have the potential to actually work against the liberty movement by disregarding the importance of a rational and reasoned approach to the change which our government so desperately needs, and leading instead to a distraction with more petty sorts of left-right issues:
Already the tea party protests have begun to [be] as much anti-liberal and anti-CNN as anti-tax and anti-spending. The problem here is not that liberals and Democrats aren’t bad and shouldn’t be opposed, but that one must be careful that in opposing them one does not overlook the crimes of the Republicans and the budget-busting militarists of the conservative movement.
There’s a deeper defect inherent in the politics of protest. Not only does it a.) often alienate the non-protesting public and b.) encourage a crude right-against-left polarization that masks the real extent of the problem (i.e., that most Democratic pols are also militarists and most Republicans are also big-time deficit spenders), but protest populism also substitutes emotions (especially rage) and symbolism for thought and effective political action. Notice that the neoconservatives of PNAC hardly ever waste their time with street theater. Instead they corral funding and work to shape policy regardless of who is in office.
Having the right emotional response to war or taxes is not enough. You must also know how the world works and how you can change it — or prevent others from changing it around you.
McCarthy’s argument is not a particularly pleasant or easy one — particularly, I would suspect, for those still riding a tea party protest high. But his argument is an important one. As McCarthy notes, “[r]allies and emotional exercises have their place in politics,” but they are not by themselves “real power.” And simple appeals to emotion, while potentially valuable in the short run, are not enough to sustain a real revolution.
Read the rest here.Published in