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Rise of the Bitter Clingers

Understanding the Tea Party's appeal

David Harsanyi
October 20, 2010

Many of my more enlightened friends like to ask me: How could someone as intellectually gifted, delightfully urbane, profoundly moral, and breathlessly handsome as you not want to spit at these stupid Tea Party candidates, with their stupid positions and their stupid stupidity? (That's slightly embellished; obviously, I'm not that handsome.)

Do I wish there were more articulate and intellectual free market candidates? Sure I do. But alas, Americans are in no mood for know-it-alls who think sailing is a sport.

Do I wish that science-challenged believers would resist the urge to raise their hands when asked whether they believe the world is 5,000 years old? God, yes. But an election offers limited choices. Take Delaware, where voters can pick a candidate who had a youthful flirtation with witchcraft or one who dabbled in collectivist economic theory.

Only one of those faiths has gained traction in Washington the past few years. And as far as I can tell, there is no pagan lobby.

Do I wish that Colorado senatorial candidate Ken Buck hadn't declared that being gay is a choice (as if there were something wrong with choosing to be gay)? Yes. Do I wish he hadn't followed up by comparing a gay genetic predisposition to alcoholism? I do. If you were brainy enough to watch Meet the Press instead of wasting time in church last Sunday, no doubt you cringed at that primitive lunacy.

After all, what's more consequential than a faux pas about nature and/or nurture? Who cares that Democrat Michael Bennet was busy moralizing about the cosmic benefits of dubious economic theory and science fiction environmentalism—ideas that have already cost us trillions with nothing to show for it?

Just as long as we stay focused on what's important, right? We're so easily distracted.

Those who believe being gay is a choice are Neanderthals. The enlightened trust science. That's why the president appointed a science czar, people. A science czar who co-authored a textbook arguing for a mass sterilization of Americans to prevent an imagined population bomb. You know, "science."

God has no place in this faith. That's not to say that Yahweh has anything on our president, who once claimed future generations will see his election—Goliath government—as the point in history when we finally started "healing the sick" and "the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal."

Now, that's the kind of faith-inflected lingo we slack-jawed yokels can comprehend. Otherwise, the left's plans are just too darn complex for us to appreciate.

"Part of the reason that our politics seems so tough right now," Obama recently explained, "and facts and science and argument (do) not seem to be winning the day all the time is because we're hard-wired not to always think clearly when we're scared. And the country is scared." (Wait. If we're hard-wired to be confused and we're confused, isn't science winning the day? It's all so perplexing.)

Science can explain all, including how bitter, frightened, clingy voters aren't grateful enough.

Or—and I realize this is probably crazy talk—voters aren't scared; they have just been paying attention and are turning to candidates who, though far less than perfect and not always sophisticated, better reflect their sensibilities.

David Harsanyi is a columnist at The Denver Post and the author of Nanny State. Visit his website at www.DavidHarsanyi.com. This column previously appeared at Reason.com.

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