'Tea parties' en zorgen over tekort aan munitie in de VS

VPRO Digitaal ,

We legden verslaggevers van Metropolis vragen voor over de economische crisis, woede en verzet. Metropolis verslaggevers Eline Jongsma en Kel O'Neill vertellen over de woede in  de Verenigde Staten. Die is groot: vooral conservatief Amerika manifesteert zich. En er zijn zorgen over een eventueel tekort aan munitie.

People in the US are angry, and are becoming less passive by the minute. The American dream of success through hard work has always had a dark underside for the unsuccessful: if you are poor, it's your own fault. Now that the gross incompetence of our financial leaders has been exposed, the American dream itself has to be rethought for us to move forward in a positive direction.

There has been a massive public outcry against the government and the financial industry since the bailouts. The anger is on both the right and the left, and both sides blame each other for our current woes.

But even as we become more polarized, the rhetoric of partisanship has lost its luster for some. We're seeing dissatisfaction with the government as a whole, and the number of people who have renounced their party affiliations is on the rise. The number of Americans who define themselves as "independents"-i.e. who are not affiliated with either major party-reached a 70-year high this year (statistics: the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press). The new independents are mostly dissatisfied former Republicans, although an increasing number of former Democrats are joining the ranks of the unaffiliated.

Even Glenn Beck, a very influential commentator for Fox News, opts to define himself as a populist anti-government agitator rather than as a demagogue on the fringes of the Republican party. Of course, this is just a case of creative self-definition, as Beck reserves his most vehement attacks for members of the Democratic party. A taste of Glenn's craziness here.

To sum it up: even the most partisan public figures must now take caution to distance themselves from the political and business establishment. This applies to the left as well, since Obama's approval rating continues to drop (53% approve as of the most recent Gallup poll, as compared to 67% in January).

Have there been any kind of protest actions so far? Or are there any planned? What kind?

As you can see from the link above, the most visible protests have come from the right. The "Tea Party" movement (a reference to the Boston Tea Party, an eighteenth-century protest against colonial taxation) has gotten a good deal of media attention ever since their members started protesting the bailouts early this year. The movement received the most support from the folks at Fox News, who have been accused of "astroturfing" Tea Party events-i.e., concocting a fake grass-roots movement through media distortion.

The Tea Party protestors are an atomized group. They are supposed to be protesting government spending, but their rhetoric often spins off to address unrelated and semi-related issues. Abortion rights, Barack Obama, anti-immigration, and Wall Street are common targets. There are reports of fissures growing in the movement.

Glenn Beck's "Nine Twelve Project" event in September was probably the height of the movement's prominence. Beck wanted to bring America back to September 12th, 2001. In his words: "The day after America was attacked we were not obsessed with Red States, Blue States or political parties. We were united as Americans, standing together to protect the greatest nation ever created."

More recently, congresswoman Michelle Bachman's "Super Bowl of Freedom" brought a smaller crowd to the Capital. That proteseen 'tea party' protest. Foto: David Lytlwas meant to be against healthcare reform legislation, but things tend to get mixed up at these events. Although most Tea Party protestors argue against the bailouts, their politics tend to run towards capitalist conservatism, as they plea for as little government as possible. The rhetoric of the free market rules, and there seems to be very little talk of increased regulation: such ideas reek of socialism/communism. What we see here is corporate interest disguised as populism and put into the hands of confused and outraged citizens. Once again, we recommend watching the Glenn Beck program to see this phenomenon in its full glory.

Meanwhile, the left's protest efforts have so far failed to captivate the media. An October protest in Chicago against the American Banking Association was barely covered, and a November protest against Goldman Sachs in DC got most of its coverage from left wing blogs. Some images of the ABA protest here.

We recently made a report for Metropolis about a left-leaning secession movement in Vermont. The main character, Jim Hogue, believes that the US has become too large and thus the government has become too corrupt, and has an interesting way of expressing this.

The threat of violence is in the air. According to a recent report from the Southern Poverty Law Center militias are on the upsurge once again.  Of further concern are reports of a nationwide ammunition shortage.

The US is clearly bracing for something right now, although it remains unclear exactly what it is bracing for.