Let me state up front, Populist Movements and Populism absolutely repulse me.
Having spent so many years dealing with the after-effects of serious abuse when I was a child (3rd grade elementary school principal) I have a tendency to be rather analytical when dealing with people and groups of people. I also do not mind admitting I am rather stand-offish, do not join things, do not do crowds, and avoid meetings and conferences like the plague. When recovering from serious abuse, if a person wants to “normalize” their personality, then you learn how to look at the world much differently from what you once did. You become highly critical of yourself and learn how to take absolute responsibility for your actions. (I think this is a 12 Step thing, also). In a way you start viewing things with a little bit of cold blooded Vulcan logic.
This said, one of the things I’ve also learned is that there are certain personality types who absolutely refuse to take responsibility for their own action and blame everyone around them. They deal in absolutes, and can be absolute bullies when it comes to their absolute requirements.
Have you ever had someone with whom you had a romantic interest who was more demanding than “usual”? The world must revolve around them. You know something isn’t “quite right” but you just can’t figure what it is, so you end up surrendering a portion of your personality to that person in order to keep peace. Before long you are going to be required to surrender more and more if you do not want your “loved” one shouting profanities, slamming you against the wall, or withdrawing their presence from your life. (Yea, I had one fiancé who wanted to know if I could survive if he withdrew his presence from my life).
There is nothing wrong with a healthy ego and a healthy sense of self. When an ego and a sense of “self” becomes so over-whelming that other egos and another sense of “self” cannot shine through, then we are dealing with a personality disorder. The loved one has a temper tantrum because something does not go their way. While I can see having a tantrum once in awhile, primarily for righteous indignation, having a tantrum when something does not go your way is the sign of a very emotional stunted individual.
The loved one manipulates. They threaten. They blackmail. If they do not get their desired results they destroy. The more civilized person simply destroys the spirit and emotional well-being of those they “love”. If the person does not have certain parameters of a civilized behavior they will literally inflict bodily harm and eventually, if not stopped, kill the object of their “love”.
In other words, there is a certain kind of person who is so certain they are right that they will stop at nothing to prove they are right, and will destroy in order to prove their point. There are times when these individuals happen to be on the fringes of society they have a tendency to bond with other like minded bullies. Their sense of individualism is not as well developed as they project. They become a “group” and a mob. Enfranchised by other like minded individuals, they become more embolden and more extreme.
Some people call it populism. I call it a mob. They are no different from the people who collected around Oliver Cromwell, John Brown or William Quantrill. Left alone, our little bully is simply going to destroy his/her spouse or loved one. As a mob they are terrifying and can bring down monarchies, murder hundreds of people, or help instigate civil war.
My fear is that the Tea Party “patriots” are no different. Now I’m not talking the average person who is so ticked with what is going on that they attended a rally and have made writing to their senator or congressman a new hobby. No, I’m talking about a certain mentality who threatens any political leader who dares to disagree with them. Absolutely incapable of independent action, they are taking their cues from someone. Quite often, like some rabid fan of a pop culture icon, they rally ‘round their idol and will literally destroy any politician who dares cross that person.
The alleged growth of the “Tea Party patriots” is simply a cyclical exercise in populism being fed by people like Glenn Beck and other radio talking heads who are padding their pockets with speaking fees, book royalties, and increased advertising revenue. No populist leader goes into a situation as anything but a manipulator. Rarely do we find someone like Gene Roddenberry who realized that he was dealing with a “different” mentality with certain “fans” and made sure he was not manipulating them but teaching valuable ethical life lessons. Instead, we have egotistical “leaders” like Ron Paul who use the emotionally stunted people surrounding him to destroy the person, place, or thing that has put limits on his personal ambition.
An entire group of “conservative” patriots has sprung up in this country. They are a very small minority within a small minority of conservatives, but they are vocal, cruel, vicious, and are nothing but dangerous bullies. People like this are cowing RNC Chair Michael Steel, who is now doing nothing but pandering to them. Sarah Palin is using them – beautifully. Jim DeMint has learned to manipulate them – masterfully.
That’s the sad part of it. These people are so lacking in mental stability that they can be used and manipulated. As long as they are being manipulated by someone who is ethical like Gene Roddenberry, then they are not going to destroy anyone. If they are manipulated by people like Glenn Beck, Ron Paul, or some of the haters of the far right, then they become a force for pure evil, destroying the very thing they claim to want to preserve.
And – God help anyone who stands in their way, or stands up to them. Right now Lindsey Graham may be the bravest person in the GOP because he is speaking out against the manipulation of this populism. He has refused to bow down before them, and compromise what he knows is right.
As a historian I sadly know that the end result may not go well. Anyone who gets in the way of populist monsters – any leader – usually ends up losing his/her head. The populist mob cannot allow anyone to utter a word against their master. They cannot allow anyone to cross them or say something that might make them uncomfortable. They cannot allow for verifiable facts to interfere with their version of the “truth”.
There are short sighted individuals who think they may be watching the birth of a new political party with the Tea Party “patriots”. Fortunately, the Tea Party “patriots” are no different from the people who supported Ross Perot and went on to form their losing third party. They are no different from libertarians who follow one pathetic candidate after another.
They are losers.
But – while they are in “power” they are destroyers. I currently have a friend, Lindsey Graham, who is in their cross-hairs. During the reign of Oliver Cromwell I had a great (whatever) grandfather who stood his ground, and lost his head for it. Cromwell was the leader of a violent populist movement. As the descendant of several individuals who were destroyed by Cromwell, I detest populist movements. I know what they do and how they ruin lives, fortunes, countries, and ultimate their followers.
Once this is over, and the Dems are put back in power, and Obama re-elected because Glenn Beck’s ego demands he run for POTUS, the people who fell for this latest populist uprising will crawl back under their rocks and back into their caves. The less aware of them will slither back into the slime pond of evolutionary failures.
Those who are aware will never admit what they did to the country. Instead, they will wait for another populist movement to take hold and they will latch on to it and seek to destroy again. Indeed, I am already seeing individuals (the very same individuals) who supported Ross Perot over G. H. W. Bush and gave us Bill Clinton are already damning the GOP and trying to destroy men like Lindsey.
Unfortunately these people are so emotionally immature and psychologically stunted, dishonest, that they will never be able to admit to their mistakes. They will continue to make them, continue to destroy, and blame others for the chaos they have created.
Go ahead and say that this new conservative movement is a good thing, and pander to the Tea Party “patriots”. I learned the lesson of Oliver Cromwell and will stand up to these populist bullies until they lop off my head like they did a few of my ancestors.
There is one comforting thought. In Westminster Abbey, when one goes into the section of the cathedral where the Charles I and his fam are buried, one was literally step on the very spot where Oliver Cromwell’s head is deposited. I had the privilege of walking all over him, and made sure I did so several times.
History consigns populist leaders to the garbage heaps of impotent glory. Quantrill met a bad end as did John Brown and Oliver Cromwell. Does anyone remember Ross Perot or Huey Long?
A year from now, when conservatives wake up with a nasty little hangover from being sold a false bill of tea related goods, I do hope they have the intellectual honesty to admit their mistake and vow not to repeat them. Unfortunately I do not see this happening, and am preparing myself for some idiot like Beck running as a third party loser candidate to salve an ego and line a bank account. If things do not change and someone does not read the facts of life to the Tea Party “patriots” and their over-lords, just deal with another Obama term, and grow to love Nancy Pelosi as Speaker for Life.