The Atlantic’s Michael Kinsley writes that “there’s nothing patriotic about the Tea Party Patriots,” supporting that assertion thusly:
… the Tea Party movement is not the solution to what ails America. It is an illustration of what ails America … because of the movement’s self-indulgent premise that none of our challenges and difficulties are our own fault.
“Personal responsibility” has been a great conservative theme in recent decades, in response to the growth of the welfare state. It is a common theme among [Tea Party Patriots]—even in response to health-care reform, as if losing your job and then getting cancer is something you shouldn’t have allowed to happen to yourself. But these days, conservatives far outdo liberals in excusing citizens from personal responsibility. To the TPPs, all of our problems are the fault of the government, and the government is a great “other,” a hideous monster over which we have no control. It spends our money and runs up vast deficits for mysterious reasons all its own. At bottom, this is a suspicion not of government but of democracy. After all, who elected this monster?
In addition, what’s been bothering me lately about the faux patriotism of the teabaggers is their use of the flag and other patriotic symbols not to express pride in America but as a political symbol. When I hesitate to display patriotic symbols for fear of being identified as a teabagger, it’s a problem. And it leads to the flag and other patriotic symbols becoming incendiary, as happened at Live Oak High School recently. That’s because the flag is no longer a just a symbol of patriotism, but also a symbol of a particular (and particularly stupid) political point of view.
What a shameful legacy.