Populism at $549 a head

Doublespeak is all too common in American politics, yet sometimes it is so plain and obvious that we wonder if democracy is indeed the best form of government.The National Tea Party Convention, held in Nashville from Feb. 4-6, was less than welcoming to the average “Joe the Plumber” — the event cost $549 per head, though those who were more strapped for cash could pay a mere $349 to see Sarah Palin speak. Mrs. Palin was so galvanized by the movement that she accepted $100,000 to deliver the keynote address, as has been reported by numerous publications, including Time magazine and The New York Times.Mrs. Palin criticized “crazy elitists” who denounced the movement. Mrs. Palin, your $1.25 million bonus for “Going Rogue” puts you among the top earners in this country. How does your enormous personal wealth and unfettered access to the national media, compared to the average American, not make you an elitist? Of course, the same standard holds true for the president and every member of Congress – anyone with a disproportionate share of political and/or economic power is by definition an elitist.Mrs. Palin lampooned President Obama as a “law professor at a lectern.” Is she suggesting that we shouldn’t have people leading our government that are experts in the laws they enact and enforce?Doublespeak seems to be a recurring theme of the Tea Party camp. Though the movement champions itself as an independent, grassroots movement, ties to organized politics are strong. According to the Tea Party Patriots website, the group’s platform calls for “fiscal responsibility, constitutionally limited government and free markets.” The current Republican platform proposes “small government for the people,” “free markets keep people free” and “low taxes because individuals know best how to make their economic choices.” Coincidence? Even Sarah Palin avoided “going rogue.” In response to the idea of forming a new political party, the former governor suggested “The Republican Party would be very smart to try and absorb as much of the Tea Party movement as possible.” Is Mrs. Palin doing electoral math on the back of a silk napkin? Or her palm, where she keeps her notes?A movement isn’t populist if the average American can’t afford to attend the convention. It’s not grassroot when it is supported by political and economic elites such as Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck and Tom Tancredo. It’s not independent when the Tea Party platform mirrors that of the RNC. I don’t suggest that the grievances of the Tea Partiers are illegitimate, only that they start to tell it like it is.