TV commentator Glenn Beck: Igniting a fire on the right and making eyes roll on the left.
Barack Obama travelled the
electoral path to the White House posing as an outsider, armed with belligerent
rhetoric toward the establishment of his country. The Tea Party underscores its
distance from established political parties and proclaims its open hostility
toward the political class. Both monsters emerged out of the ongoing crisis surrounding
political representation and the parties.
According to a poll commissioned
last February by CBS News and The New York Times, 70 percent of
Americans are dissatisfied or angry with politicians, and 80 percent think that
Congressmen in Washington are moreconcerned with satisfying special interests than with solving the
problems of the people who elected them.
political class and the parties, partisans of the Tea Party find their frame of
reference elsewhere: Glenn Beck, an ultraconservative TV commentator, is the central
spiritual guide of the movement. “He removed my blindfold and made me see that
they're taking away my country,” explains a small fortyish businessman holding
a sign that reads: “Thanks, Beck.”
As in a futuristic novel by J.G.
Ballard or Philip K. Dick,
politicians have been replaced with a TV preacher. Many point out that the most
important germ for the Tea Party was the 9/12 Project, a Beck
initiative that has sown the country with self-organized citizen groups that
seek to "recover the values that America embraced the day after 9/11, when
patriotic flag waving and religious unity enveloped the nation.”
“Beck isn't like politicians,
he's real,” says the small-framed businessman in his forties. In contrast to
politics, which offers fulfillment by forever making promises, the television Beck]
produces is current and constitutes the real: it provides you with the
fulfillment here and now. While a politician is always an uncertainty, Beck is
an unquestionable truth on whom you can trust.
“Our way of life is under attack. Draw a line in sand others will understand
and our values remain intact. Let’s Take Back Our Country.” This song
springs from the lips of a White guy in his seventies accompanying himself with
an acoustic guitar, and sporting an old button on his lapel, “Reagan for
President.” This isn't Bela Lugosi in a scene from White Zombie,
but a Tea Party activist.
in a horror movie, the new right in the U.S. finds its driving force in fear.
To a great extent, this reactionary
movement is the result of two intersecting panics: one ethnic, the other of
class. In contrast to the United States as such, almost all of the inhabitants
of the Tea Party nation are White. A sociologist pointed out recently that the
census now under way across the length and breadth of the country will inform
the Tea Party militants that they're in the minority. He's mistaken: they already
know. Their mobilization is a result of the panic they feel over the unstoppable
growth of the immigrant population over recent decades and the current birth
rates in the country: more children are being born Black, Latino or Asian than White.
And yet, the Tea Party is the
expression of a paranoid delusion that goes beyond this. A substantial part of
the movement are the traditional White working class, which relates to the
faded imagery of Fordism and are seized with panic when confronted with
the definitive end of the old industrial order.
[Editor's Note: Fordism
can be summarized as mass production using unskilled labor]
The AFL-CIO, the most
important union federation in the U.S., conducted a poll after the January election
in Massachusetts, when Scott Brown, one of the icons of Tea Party, put an end
to more than 50 years of Democratic hegemony in that state. The results
revealed that most unionized workers supported Brown. AFL-CIO Director Karen
Ackerman called what happened in Massachusetts “a working class revolt.”
Incredible but true: the new U.S.
right dances to the rhythm of Bruce Springsteen and Pete Seeger.
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