Much of the appeal of groups like the Tea Party in American politics is based on the sense that America is in danger of losing something….It is hard for them to define further what they mean…. “America is losing what made it great”….”America is losing its exceptionalism”
This is why so much of their language is couched in the idea of taking the country back….Of course, as has been pointed out many times before, “back” means exactly what? Back to times before worker’s rights (the five day work week, minimum wage, vacation leave etc.), civil rights and an end to Jim Crow and other racist laws as public policy, women right’s, better healthcare, environmental protections, etc….I think we can agree we all live in a better time now as far as the life of the average American.
No, what they are talking about is the work, wages, and lifestyle of the American worker….Where are the jobs? And what about the high salaries Americans are used to? And what about the things I am told I should buy, a house, a new car every few years?
Well the hard truth is this time in American history encompassing the post WWII boom up until the 80’s when it started to go south then briefly (and I would argue artificially)restored by the dawn of the Internet age and now back to where the economy logically should be –no jobs, bankrupt, stagnation of wages for those who are employed.
My argument is that the American way of life was always artificial- a form of smoke and mirrors in which the wealthiest part of the population through their establishment of corporations and other entities that employ people allowed Americans to lived a life that was artificially propped up by unusually high wages and financial tools such credit instruments that allowed you to buy a house you really couldn’t afford under normal circumstances.
However, at some point the bottom line became more about profits and less about people (I would say it was around the time of Ronald Reagan’s election in 1980)….Trickle down which was always partly illusion anyway dried up and those high paying jobs that gave Americans an inflated, artificial lifestyle started to be sent overseas to Third World countries with lower wages and without worker protections or environmental protections.
All that was left was the life style which Americans continued to indulge in using debt and instruments such as credit cards to satisfy what they saw as the American dream (defined as conspicuous consumption) until that bubble burst too in 2008.
The bottom line is that life is gone forever and is never coming back….I am one of those who believes that nations, civilizations have their time in the spotlight and then others take over….This next century is going to be about China and maybe India too and the US’s decline will be either quiet and peaceful like Britain’s in the last century or violent filled with strife from people who want to recapture what they perceive as America’s glory years not grasping that that time is gone forever….The worst case scenario would be like post-war WWI Germany.
So how does the Obama administration fit into this? I think they grasp that Americans were powered by a larger than life standard of living that is now on the way out….This standard of living was why Americans felt they didn’t need national health care and other governmental help programs….It was also why Americans tolerated a regressive tax system that taxes input rather than output….This kind of tax system is guaranteed to make it harder to raise one’s standard of living but it doesn’t matter when there is a lot of money around.
I think the Obama administration sees that the future of America could be very third world in terms of wide spread poverty and a true end to those parts of America which can realistically be preserved unless they can come up with some kind of hybrid that includes European programs such as national health care that can provide a safety net for the US public.
Of course, the tea party rejects this….Not just because in their mind it goes against American individualism and is socialism but also because many of the Tea Partiers are wealthy people….The Tea Party is not a working man’s movement it’s a movement of millionaires seeking to hang on to their cash and give nothing back to the society in which they or their families became wealthy to begin with….The last gasp of selfish US capitalism and this ugly movement is also bringing out those just below the surface –the racists, the xenophobes, the religious bigots, the religious fanatics, the sexists, the authoritarian fascists....The kind who really do want to "take America back" and not in a good way.
If these people are given power and a voice due to a nostalgic public who believes that they can go backwards in time then America really will be lost.