let's keep in mind that many of these anti-government screamers are the very folks who will be (and in many cases already are) standing at the front of the line for government help when their own personal sky falls in: about to lose their houses (they gain from government oversight of abusive bank foreclosures); losing their health coverage (coverage for the uninsured, or else a subsidy from we insured folks who in effect pay for their visits to the emergency room); laid off and out of money for food and basics (unemployment benefits, welfare); can't afford college for their kids (government-guaranteed student loans); have a loved one sickened or killed by salmonella or other bacteria in an under-regulated food industry (more government attention and facility inspection); find themselves in the path of a flood or tornado (FEMA, National Guard, emergency federal disaster funds). The list goes on. Let's see how many struggling-mad Tea Partyers turn down Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid on smugly self-reliant principle.
Don't believe these "to hell with-well-funded-government" yappers for a second. America's white population has been living on handouts for hundreds of years now. European settlers built a nation here on stolen (read: federally homesteaded) land because they couldn't be bothered with fairness and respect for the land's indigenous owners. America's modern economy was fed by capital originally accrued from slave labor. The survival of Depression-era working whites was enabled by the gift of a racially discriminatory New Deal (thanks to F.D.R.'s compromises with Southern politicians who demanded back-door racial barriers in order to support the bill), and the same is true of the federal G.I. Bill, which essentially created the white middle class. (See historian Ira Katznelson.) To be white in America means -- even if you didn't ask for it -- that you are the beneficiary of the historically discriminatory largesse of the U.S. Government.Not to make any literal comparisons -- the following is a metaphorical observation -- but the Tea Party reminds me of a Satan-worshipping rock musician I recently read about who declared, and I'm paraphrasing, that he sincerely hopes he is part of the Last Generation because he thinks a nice fiery apocalypse of worldwide human ruin would be a good thing for people. This remark, of course, could only be made by someone who enjoys sufficient food, water, shelter, and health. Same with the Tea Party. Come the next disaster, they will be bawling for effective government like nobody's business. It's like a six-year-old throwing a tantrum and telling her parents, "I hate you." Yeah, right. Let's see what happens when she has the flu. The Tea Party, like previous reactionary white yelps against a reasonably-resourced government, is a strictly temporary phenomenon. Bring on the trouble -- and I don't just mean a recession -- and they'll wail for help like the sucklings they are.
And let's not forget, either, that what is now called the Tea Party -- with a rough agenda of issues and self-styled leaders -- began as a visceral circus of personal hatred for a man who just happens to be the first black president of the United States. Remember last summer? Screaming white people at town meetings cursing anything and everything that Barack Obama touched. Signs depicting Obama as Hitler. Racist epithets about the president -- sometimes flung toward nonwhite attendees at town meetings -- hurled every which way. The alleged issue of the moment was health care reform, but the target was Nigger Obama. It was a white-hot personalized hatred comparable only to the misogynist demonization of Hillary Clinton that we saw during her ill-fated try at health reform (remember the "Who Elected Her?" bumper stickers?) and the sneering abuse of "Hanoi Jane" Fonda by the neolithic right during the Vietnam War.
See the pattern? This is personal, and savagely bigoted. It is not about health care, or tax burdens (witness how the white G. W. Bush seduced the six-pack right wing while reaming them with the tax code) or anything else empirical. It is about the screaming rage of people who feel lorded over by a member of a group they thought they had kept safely in its place.
The Tea Party is a mob of scared white people who fear that their dominance of this country is slipping away. And they're right. It is.