Kevin Drum and Ed Kilgore share a laugh over the idea of a populist, anti-Establishment Right that actually believes in what the Tea Party supposedly once stood for.
…and [Kilgore’s] responding to the suggestion that the real divide in American politics isn’t between left and right, it’s between pro-corporate and anti-corporate. Spare me. Sure, the tea partiers opposed TARP and were hazily in favor of just letting all the banks collapse in 2008, but that was little more than a fleeting morsel of emotional outrage. As Kilgore says, tea partiers may say they oppose corporate power, but when it comes time to vote, they can be counted on to support the folks who oppose any and all regulations that might actually rein in the power of corporations generally and Wall Street in particular.
Call me a wide-eyed optimist, but I’m not so sure. I mean, I know where Drum and Kilgore are coming from: the Tea Party as an institution was indeed co-opted by the usual suspects on the right, turning its members into just another pack of frothing-at-the-mouth attack dogs against liberals. By channeling their anti-Establishment rage into anti-liberal and anti-Obama rage, the GOP machine effectively neutralized the Tea Party as a threat to their precious donor class.
But there’s more going on here. For instance, by mocking the very real proletarian vs. elite divide in America, Drum and Kilgore are just buying into the same narrative as the Tea Party they mock: the only battle is Red vs. Blue, and don’t worry about the actual ruling class of this country, nothing to worry about there. I don’t get why they are so dismissive when the Tea Party’s counterpart, Occupy Wall Street, was also focused on our country’s plutocrats instead of the endless and often pointless GOP vs. Dem battle. OWS’ers didn’t just go away just because the movement was destroyed by the lunatic communist/anarchist fringe. They are looking for an anti-Establishment movement again that they can support.
And I really feel that some on the Right are, as well. Not as many as there could be, as conservative economist Veronique de Ruby ruefully admits (while also remind us how pro-corporate the Dems are too), but they’re there. They were the ones moneybombing Ron Paul last go-around because they are sick and tired of our degenerate Establishment and their piss-poor stewardship of this country compared to Establishments of bygone eras. They are as sick of their Bushes as OWS’ers are of our Clintons and are sick of the same pro-elite assholes getting nominated on both sides every four years.
Why is Hillary being coronated? Why is Jeb a shoo-in? If anyone on either side really is serious about reining in entitlements and handouts for the super-rich at the expense of everyone else, those are the questions they need to be asking. They may find the answers are awfully similar for either side. I honestly believe the answer, if there is one, is a candidate or movement that can recruit populists on both sides of the divide — those that agree that the greatest problem really is the problem of our elites that Drum and Kilgore scoff at.