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NYT op-ed: Tea partiers like 'Hee Haw' zombies

Charles M. Blow (photo: Earl Wilson/New York Times)

“Anyone who says that this is the dawn of a new age of conservatism,” writes New York Times op-ed columnist Charles M. Blow, “is engaging in wishful thinking on a delusional scale.”

So concludes Blow after writing that watching tea partiers push back against establishment Republicans is like watching “some version of ‘Hee Haw'” – the former TV variety show that spoofed the hillbilly side of country music – “meets ’28 Days Later'” – a horror film where a rampant virus turns infected people into zombie-like, murderous monsters.

As WND has reported, however, the tea partiers around the nation have been a far cry from the toothless moonshiners of “Hee Haw” or the violent hordes of “28 Days Later.” The mostly peaceful protests have included men and women of every race, economic class and musical preference. Some are doctors, some are plumbers; some are Democrats questioning their political allegiance, and others are Republicans doing the same.

Some tea partiers are even planning a national convention at which those scheduled to speak include U.S. congressional representatives, a former state Supreme Court justice, authors, former governor Sarah Palin and WND’s Joseph Farah.

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Blow, who has served as the graphic and arts director for both the New York Times and National Geographic, in his latest column, “G.O.P. Grief and Grieving,” nonetheless doubts the tea party phenomenon has any future.

“Are these the desperate thrashings of a dying movement,” Blow asks, “or the labor pains of a new one?”

The columnist concludes it is the former, arguing, “The right is on the wrong side of history. The demographics of the country are rapidly changing, young people are becoming increasingly liberal on social issues, and rigid, dogmatic religious stricture is loosening its grip on the throat of our culture.”

Blow, therefore, labels the tea party movement as nothing more than “fear-fueled anger” without a plan or vision for the future trying to force the Republican Party “farther down the road to oblivion.”

While Blow is pronouncing the tea party’s impending death, WND has reported the movement is regrouping, planning a march on the White House on April 15, 2010, and launching a new documentary film detailing the tea parties’ nationwide surge of civic engagement.

Several organizations, including FreedomWorks and American Liberty Alliance are planning the Tax Day march this spring.

“We’re delivering this one right to the White House,” Adam Brandon of FreedomWorks said. “It could spill out over into the Washington Monument, so it’ll be a hell of a visual.”

The movie, “Tea Party: The Documentary Film,” is produced by Luke Livingston and suggests that rather than dying off under the tide of liberal youth – as Blow suggests – the tea party movement is actually gaining steam, even among the young.

FreedomWorks President Matt Kibbe told WND Livingston attended many of the tea parties and decided to make a movie about his experiences with average American citizens who took time away from their careers and busy lives to make their voices heard.

“It’s from his perspective and the people he got to know along the way,” Kibbe said. “They were all sort of nonparticipants in the political process up to that point.”

According to the film website, the documentary follows several citizens, including Nate, a young black man from Detroit, Mich., who voted for Obama.

“Nate voted for Obama because he was so frustrated with the Bush administration,” Kibbe explained. “The movie captures his transition from a voter who was proud to see the first black president to a man who has buyer’s remorse and becomes an active defender of the Constitution and limited government.”

The following is a trailer for the film:

Another character in the film, Jack, is a father of two young children, a little-league baseball coach and a health-insurance agent who risks losing his job under current health-care reform. As the film website explains, “He is a Democrat turned constitutionalist and the younger brother of a Vietnam veteran who is marching for his children and the future of the America he believes in.”

For Blow, however, the anger everyday Americans have expressed over expanding government powers, spending and debt is simply one of the stages of grief – “right after denial and before bargaining,” Blow writes – felt by a people refusing to change with the times.

And if the tea partiers hold out hope for reforming the Republican Party to adopt its ideals, Blow writes, it will drag the GOP down with it:

“Split hairs about labels if you must, but the Republican brand already has begun a slow slide into obscurity,” Blow writes. “And turning further right only hastens its demise. Quiet as it’s kept, many in the party know this. That, alas, is called acceptance.”