Last Night

Last Night: Where the Tea Party Comes From

By Josh Feit October 20, 2010

Last night, I was on the phone with a friend, going on about a book I'm reading called Washington Gone Crazy: Senator Pat McCarran and the Great American Communist Hunt.

Published in 2004, and at nearly 800 pages, it was still sitting on my bookshelf until I finally picked it up again this week. I was inspired to go for it again by my sense that the story of McCarran's righty populist fight against FDR's "socialist" New Deal would be relevant reading today.

McCarran has long been considered a precursor to McCarthy, but his blend of progressive politics, he was Western Democrat, and mistrust of government power reach much further, providing the birthplace for the convoluted right-wing politics of the '60s John Birchers, the Reagan Democrats, the class of '94, and today's Tea Partiers.

Anyway, I was getting all pretentious on my friend about this stuff, when he told me there's an article in this week's New Yorker that lays out the '50s roots of the Tea Party thesis.

Guess I can put the 800-pager back on the shelf.
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