Are the Teabaggers the New Hippies?
The Guy Who Wrote This Thinks So.
By Joel Straley
Winston Churchill is often misattributed to the quote "If you're not a liberal when you're 20, you have no heart. If you're not a conservative when you're 40, you have no head." I believe these words from Sir Churchill, a leading figure of Tom Brokaw’s Greatest Generation (get a room you two), quite ironically sum up the generation that was to succeed him in history (the baby-boomers; or the not-quite-as-Great-as-the-Greatest-Generation Generation), had he actually been the one to have said it of course.
One of the main questions during George W. Bush’s presidency was ‘Where did all those protesting hippies go?’ this and, of course, ‘who the fuck keeps voting for Sanjaya on American Idol?’ It seemed like the elephant in the room was that if the baby-boomers who had come of age protesting unjust war, increasing ecological concern and positioning itself against an openly-corrupt government were honestly enraged shouldn’t they be back and armed in the streets over the controversies that surrounded the Bush Administration? Hell, all those hippies would have had kids by now and when you mix that in with all the anguish that comes from the fact that in hindsight the protest movement of the 60’s failed at many of its main objectives then shouldn’t they have returned bigger than ever?
The 60’s movement ushered in an age of political concern for America that ultimately broke new ground in regards to political activism, equality and civil rights. However The Bush administration, carrying on a precedent started by Ronald Regan, was a shining example of how the larger goals of undermining corrupt capitalism and creating a check on the connection between military and industry failed…and failed hard.
In our current political climate people are now as equally stunned by how modern protests suddenly got to be so passionate. The liberals under President Bush gathered with their “America=Fascism” banners and waited for someone to yell “you lie!” at the president but conservatives have answered the call and have taken on the role for themselves. The liberal hippies that characterized the spirit of the baby-boomer generation have gone through the tunnel of being Reagan-Democrats to come out the other side as a mass of neo-conservatives given life by its equivalent modern extremist; the Teabaggers and Birthers.
The idealistic hippies of the 60’s fought for change to bring about a society so open-minded it could accept everything and everyone (free love, sex and drugs…mmmmm free drugs), but now the Teabaggers of the Present fight against change to provide only for themselves and their own vision of the world (no Mexicans, gays or communists…mmmm communists).
From the path of young Communists to aging Objectivists, this group has essentially become a mix of the worst parts of their parents’ generation and the generation they were in their youth. They kept the passion of the 60’s and combined it with the irrational fear of change from the 50’s.
Many factors between the Hippies and the Teabaggers prove that the more things change, the more they stay the same. The Teabaggers undoubtedly sound just as ignorant in political discourse on their soapbox as the hippies did. Both movements are the products of a small group of leading individuals whose ideas are absorbed at face value by an army of passionate political activists.
The rhetoric and buzzwords of these leading individuals are adopted and distorted by the movement. Just as the Chicago 7 didn’t tell protesters to riot, they just came to antagonize the police; Glenn Beck didn’t say to call congressmen Nazi’s at Town Hall events, he just said President Obama is a racist fascist whose health-care plan is forced eugenics.
Even though the messages are almost completely reversed today, one can’t help but notice the names and faces of Karl Marx, Che Guevara, Joseph Stalin, Mao Zedong and Vladimir Lenin are used with prevalence within each movement; then as an alternative, today as fear.
As the hippies fell back on their pseudo-intellectualism they could only tell you “well, just listen to Dylan, man, he’s got it all figured out”, the Teabaggers rely on their pseudo-intellectualism by telling you “Glenn Beck and Fox News is the true voice of real America”. I say we give all these assholes a joint and a beer already and get them out of the political discourse.
Both groups cling hard to writings that they read without any regards to their historical context, books ranging from Mao Zedong and Jean-Paul Sartre for the old-Left and Glenn Beck’s “Common Sense” and the Constitution for the new-Right. In regards to their knowledge of actual political theory both groups lead the pack in being able to scream a quote from the Communist Manifesto without being able to sum up a word of the pamphlets actual content.
When supporting the philosophical and moral aspects of their political action both groups occasionally forego their reason and rationality and replace it with their version of religion. As the Hippies utilized Buddhism and ancient Eastern culture to support their cause, the Teabaggers distort Christianity.
When their arguments fail, as they often do when you’re shouting it at someone, what can be relied on is shock-value. Just as the hippies would openly offend to use shock as a way to grab a listeners attention this trait is used notoriously by the Teabaggers. Like Abbie Hoffman in Forrest Gump (“and boy, did he love to say the ‘F’ word”) to Glenn Beck on Fox and Friends (“this President hates White people”), both the hippies and the Teabaggers know exactly what words will grab the media’s attention and commence to use them as soon as they feel their passion isn’t being noticed.
The Teabaggers have openly and without shame referred to President Obama by the names of almost every single one of their greatest fears; Nazi, Fascist, Marxist, Communist, Terrorist, Socialist, Elitist, Foreigner, and in fact, the only name they haven’t called him on a public forum is most likely the only one they’re dying to- the word no Viet Cong ever called Muhammad Ali.
The image of a future of passionate, screaming protesters demanding reform in government is what danced in Thomas Jefferson’s head like sugar-plums as he carefully penned the Declaration of Independence. As a believer in revolution and change myself, I have nothing but admiration and reverence for the passion that is expressed in both movements. There is a time for passion and a time for an educated debate. Much like almost every other aspect of social life, the area of political discourse must be centered on an even balance of passion and rationality.
With the passion of the current Teabagger movement so misguided, misinformed and against the interest of its own members it embodies the full paradoxical spirit of modern American capitalism. The interest of capitalism has long fought to maintain a stronghold over the voice of American majority and never before has it been able to guide the majority so easily. This is evident through the workings of FreedomWorks to orchestrate the protests of the Town Hall events in a way that draws attention to the 20 percent of Americans that oppose the Public option rather than to the 80 percent in favor.
I hope that the lessons of history that lie within the legacy of the protests of the 60’s will allow us to foresee the oncoming results of the Teabagger movement. If the Teabaggers are an inverse of the Hippies we can all have comfort in knowing that the hippies failed to stop much of what they were fighting against. So as the Hippies couldn’t stop corruption, greed and capitalism, the Teabaggers won’t be able to stop healthcare reform, corporate regulations and a return to intelligent discourse.
The author is esteemed that he wrote this without once laughing at the fact that these jack-offs are legitimately referred to as “tea-baggers”.