I certainly agree with Jen that Barack Obama helped mightily to make the Tea Party movement as powerful as it has become. But I also think the movement represents the culmination of a gathering anger that is decades old. After all, it was Jimmy Carter who first campaigned on the theme of changing Washington’s ways, although he was a dismal failure at that. Indeed, he was eaten alive by Washington’s ways, and has been whining about it ever since. He was elected the same year that Network came out, with its now iconic signature line, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!” being shouted out of windows across America, much like the Iranians yelling “Allahu Akbar!” from the roof tops.
Ronald Reagan was much more successful than Carter, but the forces of the status quo were only defeated by him, not annihilated, and have been attempting a counter-reformation ever since, not without success. But the forces of history have been against them, and it seems that Barack Obama’s regressive ideas, Chicago ways, and unlikeable personality have now galvanized the Tea Party movement and turned its platform into an immensely powerful political force. The establishment and its media minions are left saying, like Paul Newman’s Butch Cassidy, “Who are those guys?”
Victor Hugo explained who they are in 1877 in his novel L’histoire d’un Crime: “On résiste à l’invasion des armées; on ne résiste pas à l’invasion des idées.” One can resist the invasion of armies but not the invasion of ideas.