Remember how the tea party started? CNBC commentator Rick Santelli raged in February 2009 about the modest mortgage modification plan Obama proposed to help lower interest rates for homeowners behind on their mortgages. Santelli suggested the administration let the “losers” (anyone in mortgage trouble) go into foreclosure and let capitalists like him reap the rewards of buying up fire-sale-price properties.
Santelli invited “capitalists” to hold a “tea party” in protest of the modification proposal. And the rest is ugly history.
The soul of the tea partier born of this sentiment feeds on resentment—but not against those who actually brought down the economy, not at the bankers who placed multi-billion dollar bets, lost, and got the rest of us to bail them out. Tea partiers don’t want to punish those folks. They want to be those folks—the ones who destroyed the value of our 401Ks and homes and IRAs, but came out winners. Tea partiers, though, still feel resentment for what happened to the economy (and by extension, their own finances). They want someone to pay.
When you know that, it seems somewhat less bizarre to hear tea partiers cheering for the repeal of a health care law that would guarantee medical treatment for all (themselves included); or demanding we retain loopholes which allow the super-rich (a group most tea partiers don’t and will never belong to) to pay a fraction of the tax rate others do. Know the tea partier’s resentful soul, and it’s less bizarre that they’re fine with cutting medical care for the poor and elderly to pay for the generous giveaways to the super-wealthy. You almost – almost – understand why these otherwise fanatically anti-tax people cheer when tea party politicians insist it’s the poor who should pay higher taxes.
This is the tea party manifesto which, of course, hasn’t been committed to paper. If it were, it would have to be written, not in blood, but in bile.
It dwells in a million shriveled hearts, and can be summed up as “screw the little guy” (nevermind that most tea partiers are, actually, little guys—they don’t intend to stay that way).
If this manifesto were written down somewhere, maybe we could confront tea partiers with it, and shame them into burning the document. As it is, we have to remind them at every turn of what they’re really advocating, who they’re hurting (themselves, included), and who they’re letting off scot-free.