The Tea Party Post-Mortem: Revolution Without Reality

A reader writes:

Dr. Hurd, did you honestly have any belief deep down the Tea Party would get anything accomplished? I didn’t.

I’ll tell you exactly why: The people who voted for them. During the elections of 2010, the American public through many a poll showed zero desire whatsoever to end our dangerous spending path. They just want  to cut the “unnecessary” stuff; i.e. nothing. It’s all unnecessary, and the American public wants it.

Dr. Hurd replies:

I agree. Actually, the best proof of what you’re saying

are the extreme opposite messages of the elections of 2008 and 2010. In 2008, an open socialist ran for President of the United States — and easily won. The last candidate to run as an unapologetic socialist was George McGovern in 1972, and he lost in a landslide.

In the 2008 campaign, candidate Obama proudly proclaimed the purpose of government is to spread wealth around. He also said that tax increases on “the rich” are moral — whether or not they are economically prudent. In other words, the productive and successful are not equal under the law, and are somehow morally inferior. These are the premises of socialism.

In 2010, very different messages were articulated and the election outcome was completely different. The only conclusion one can draw, at least about those who voted one way in 2008 and the opposite way in 2010: These people — the uncommitted “middle” — believe in socialism, and want it to work, but oppose it when it runs into problems. In other words, they want to have their socialism and eat it too.

This isn’t true of the ideologically left or right; but it is the case with the noncommitted middle, the people who will now turn to somebody like Donald Trump, who is neither “left” nor “right” in theory. We know what that means: He will be “left” in practice.

The reader writes:

Late last year, I was ringing up a senior citizen at my job, and the guy brought up the increasing debt, and asked me “Can we really afford to accumulate this massive level of debt?”, to which I responded to him, “I believe the question is: Have humans ever shown enough of an understanding of capitalism and economics in general that this election is honestly likely to change anything?” The man looked at me, frozen in fear….realizing a guy in his late ’20s had just brought to his attention a perspective that he’d never in his whole life been asked to consider.

Think about the French Revolution for a minute, and the reign of King Louis the XVI; the man went on a spending spree for 75 years. Why 75 years? Because the French let ‘im; then after they took him to the guillotine, rather than try a system similar to capitalism, they sprang for the Louisiana Gold Scam.

“But, they’re the French, and we’re Americans!”, you’ll hear. Don’ matter. To quote Dana Barrett at the beginning of Ghostbusters II “You’re also a human being”, and we’re human beings first before Americans.

Dr. Hurd replies:

What you’re getting at is that Americans are only as exceptional as their values and actions permit them to be. Americans are not born to greatness and productivity; each generation must recreate those things anew. Fewer and fewer Americans are doing so, and the economic numbers are telling us this.

If Americans returned to the ideas and practices of individualism, limited government, personal liberty and personal (including economic) self-responsibility, Americans would once again stand out as the exceptional nation. Instead, Americans have moved decisively away from those values, ideals and practices. The election of 2010 did not and cannot alter this fact. The problem is deeper than elections. The problem is with the people themselves — not every one of the people, but unfortunately a growing majority of them.

Americans who think they can ride on the prior greatness of an earlier era, of a people who practiced the ideals of self-responsibility, reason, individualism and liberty — at least more than they do now — are sadly mistaken. The look you saw on this older man’s face is the momentary recognition of this hard reality that you drove home to him.

The reader writes:

Humans in general (not all of us) have all but flunked Basic Economics 101, and the majority are of the emotional, pragmatic mindset. It doesn’t matter what “is”, it’s what they “want to be”. Even Napoleon said, “Man is governed by his imagination”.

Dr. Hurd’s reply:

Feelings are not facts. Reality is not subjective — it’s objective. As Ayn Rand so eloquently put it, an “I wish” is not an “It is.” Seems like common sense? Maybe so, but it’s not the viewpoint most people have absorbed or implicitly practice – not in their daily lives, much less in their political viewpoints.

No society can long survive an arbitrary attitude based upon subjective reality, or any other form of irrationalism, whether it be the secularized “Oprah” kind or the traditionalist, evangelical religious kind. Reality, truth, facts and logic must trump everything, including feelings when the two conflict. This is not the viewpoint of the average American, nor the average American’s psychotherapist, clergyman — or elected leader.

Sure, a majority say they want the budget cut. But even the Tea Party Republicans simply cannot bring themselves to do it. They know they don’t have the support of enough people to return the government to its limited, Constitutional foundations, nor to even set it on a course for doing so. And they’re not willing to give up their power to risk it. For an illustration, observe the terrified and blank stare of John Boehner, the Speaker of the House and the supposed leader of this sad revolution. Thomas Jefferson, he’s not.

The result is business as usual, even in the midst of what (mere weeks ago) was promised to be a revolution of some sort.

I knew the Tea Party could not succeed without a change of heart — and mind — of millions of people. Clearly, the people are not, as a whole, willing to face reality. I knew the depth and pace of the Tea Party’s likely collapse would be an indication of how far gone America is. I didn’t want to see the results I’m now witnessing, but they are there to be witnessed.

The swift and early failures of the new Republicans and Congress are a reflection of this fact. That political failure was inevitable, given the reality that the mindset of people who voted for Obama and his socialism never changed. It took a majority of Americans unhinged from the values of individualism, reason and self-responsibility to even consider voting for such a socialist nitwit as Obama. They haven’t changed, and even a more principled effort on the part of Republicans to alter history would not have changed them.

The reader writes:

Is there hope? Of course there is. Regardless of what those pieces of paper [dollars] are worth, at the end of the day, peoples’ skills will always be in demand, and therein alone creates the true market value of economies.

Dr. Hurd’s reply:

Well put. That’s why I stress the fact that America has so much to lose. America is no third world country. Americans want and have come to expect progress with each generation — even with each passing year. They can handle temporary downturns, but they don’t expect collapses in real estate markets, rising prices and economic stagnation to be the norm.

If America were a third world country, it’s likely most would throw up their hands and simply say, “It’s hopeless. It always has been, and always will be.” Americans are much more likely to say, “Not so fast.”

The problem is, they have to face reality and the consequences of NOT reversing course on the size and scope of government. They have to become their own leaders, become better than any of these idiots in Washington D.C. Instead, they hold on to false hope that there’s some way out of this, that the continuing and growing crisis will somehow pass on its own, with little or no change in the way things are. “Government, please be there to take care of me. Yes, spend and manage your services more responsibly. But be there.’ I believe this is how most people feel, and how some even consciously think.

Government has replaced God, to the consternation of the religious evangelicals. You can argue whether there’s a God, or not, but there’s no arguing the fact that Government is no God. Yet people continue to proceed, feel and pressure their representatives as if it were the case. The result is a nation that has gone fiscally and morally bankrupt and everybody is powerless to control.

The reader writes:

Do not expect the majority of humans though to learn the lessons that are right in front of everyone’s faces about socialism anytime soon; Cicero brought these very issues up over 2000 years ago, and we haven’t learned anything yet.

Dr. Hurd’s reply:

I beg to differ. I have learned, and many others have too. To make this point yourself, you must have learned something. If a minority of us can learn, a majority can, too. This doesn’t prove a majority will — but surely a majority can.

The reader writes:

If you expect humans — who’ve yet to show any progress in this area at all — to learn anything anytime soon, you’re gonna be massively disappointed.

Dr. Hurd’s reply:

There’s no basis for certainty about the future course of human action. Just as a Pollyanna is wrong to claim, ‘Things will be good, no matter what,’ a pessimist is wrong to claim, ‘Things will be bad, no matter what.’

The knowledge and the insight are available. They weren’t available at the time of the decline of ancient Greece, or the Roman Empire. They are now.

The United States of America, as it once existed, may have quietly passed away. Psychologically if not technically, Obama’s is the first post-American presidency. But the once great nation and society did exist, and everyone living has some first-handed comprehension of it.

Most still think it does exist, even though the truly great and productive nation, as it once existed, is now gone. Before the United States, such a nation was only a dream or a theoretical abstraction. We now know, and humans will forever know, that something better is always possible. They only have to rise to the potential that mankind’s first real attempt at freedom and individual rights forever proved possible.

The reader writes:

Just know that those who do understand will be the ones to keep everything going for the time being, as they’ve always been.

Humans will eventually learn…but absolutely no indication has been shown recently that said time will be arriving anytime soon. I’d give it at least another millennium, personally.

Dr. Hurd’s reply:

You cannot predict the actions of an individual person. You can say that if that person is true to character, he or she will act in a certain way, given past behavior and thinking. But people do change, when they opt to do so.

The same is true of a society. A society consists of individual people. If a majority of them decide to change, and to listen to the right leaders rather than the dreary parade of losers we have seen of late, then they will change.

It could happen over the next decade, or in a millennium, or perhaps even never. I cannot predict, and nobody else can either. All I can say is (once again paraphrasing Ayn Rand): Fight for the future, live in it today and hope others will eventually come along for the ride.