Michael Barone begins to get at the motivation behind middle-class Tea Partiers:
The recoil in 2010 against the Obama Democrats’ vast expansion of the size and scope of government seems to have a cultural or a moral dimension as well. It was a vote, as my Washington Examiner colleague Timothy P. Carney wrote last week, expressing “anger at those unfairly getting rich — at the taxpayer’s expense.”
Those include well-connected Wall Street firms like Goldman Sachs that got bailed out and giant corporations like General Electric that shape legislation so they can profit. They include the public employee unions who have bribed politicians to grant them pensions and benefits unavailable to most Americans.
A government intertwined with the private sector inevitably picks winners and losers. It allows well-positioned insiders to game the system for private gain. It bails out the improvident and sticks those who made prudent decisions with the bill.
Modest-income Americans think this is wrong. They want it fixed more than they want a few more bucks in their paychecks.
As on-target as this is, it’s only the tip of the iceberg.
Public school kids who repeatedly ask questions at the limits of the teacher’s knowledge are labeled “disruptive;” the best grades and opportunities go to girls (of both sexes) who “shut up and color.” When it’s time to go to college, sure, there are plenty of openings and scholarships for talented students, but how many bright blue-collar kids did a New York internship or rehabbed a hospital in Nicaragua? That’s OK, if you can’t break in to the Ivies, there’s plenty of top-notch Land Grant Universities (of course, you can kiss the Supreme Court goodbye).
Tough job market? You can always parlay a useful bachelor’s degree into a commission in the armed forces, where you immediately find out that even second lieutenants have a pecking order. Military academy graduates are on the top, and OCS grads are on the bottom. Talent and hard work does quickly even this out, but not everyone is cut out for soldiering. Worse yet, the military is full of officious little bureaucrats in uniform who take cover at the sound of a champagne cork, let alone gunfire. Shut up and color, indeed.
All that ass-kissing you learned in high school definitely comes in handy in a corporate or government job. “Go along to get along” is Rule Zero, and “Don’t make waves” applies to more than just the Navy. As many decisions get made on the golf course as do in any boardroom. Your technical innovation or rigorous cost analysis is often no match to a rival’s putting game.
Some large fraction of Americans are well aware of how pervasive this is, and are waking up to the fact that the insiders, small and large, are benefiting at the public’s expense. It’s not just the Feds or the Obama Administration. It’s well-heeled gladhanders everywhere who’ve been deciding what’s best for us while picking our pockets all our lives. And some folks have decided to Get Off the Wheel.
Update (28 February). Of course the fix is in at the international level, too. But you knew that.