Thomas Frank: One cheer for the Tea Party

In his regular “Easy Chair” column for Harper’s, Thomas Frank says liberals should appreciate at least one thing about the Tea Party movement:

It has been three years now since the statistical beginning of the recession, and the tide of unemployment is still near full flood. Business investors have taken shelter on higher ground. The housing market, built on imaginary sands, has pretty much washed away.

Throughout it all, I have waited for some grand enactment of economic suffering: for a “petition in boots” to make its way across the country, like in 1894; for Iowa farmers to blockade highways, like they did in 1932; or for a “tractorcade” to lay siege to Washington, like in 1979. Instead there came a caravan of comfortable people equipped with lawn chairs and tricorn hats, inveighing against totalitarianism.

Should you happen to have been outraged by the Wall Street bailout—who wasn’t?—and should you have wished to make your indignation known, just about the only choice you have had was to let your snake flag fly. Say what you like about the Tea Party movement, but at least they showed up. They’ve been out there in the park in your town, every couple of weeks since the Obama presidency began, and they have pretty much had that park to themselves.

Read the rest in the latest issue of Harper’s Magazine.

Right after Obama’s inauguration, Tom wasted no time critiquing the President’s pre-emptive bipartisanship, in an essay that seems more relevant today than when it was originally published–the week before President Obama’s inauguration.  Be prepared for some whiplash, though:  eighty Senate votes for the stimulus package? Rick Warren at the inauguration?

As Tom reminds us, “Centrism is a chump’s game.”

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