September 3, 2010

REVOLT OF THE BOURGEOIS:

The much-analyzed speeches at the Glenn Beck Lincoln Memorial rally weren’t as notable as what the estimated 300,000 attendees did: follow instructions, listen quietly to hours of speeches, and throw out their trash.

Just as stunning as the tableaux of the massive throngs lining the reflecting pool were the images of the spotless grounds afterward. If someone had told attendees they were expected to mow the grass before they left, surely some of them would have hitched flatbed trailers to their vehicles for the trip to Washington and gladly brought mowers along with them. This was the revolt of the bourgeois, of the responsible, of the orderly, of people profoundly at peace with the traditional mores of American society. The spark that lit the tea-party movement was the rant by CNBC commentator Rick Santelli, who inveighed in early 2009 against an Obama-administration program to subsidize “the losers’ mortgages.” He was speaking for people who hadn’t borrowed beyond their means or tried to get rich quick by flipping houses, for the people who, in their thrift and enterprise, “carry the water instead of drink the water.”

The tea party’s detractors want to paint it as radical, when at bottom it represents the self-reliant, industrious heart of American life.

That’s what some people find so scary.

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