I was still confused about how the Tea Party got compared to Hobbits. So read the original source:
The idea seems to be that if the House GOP refuses to raise the debt ceiling, a default crisis or gradual government shutdown will ensue, and the public will turn en masse against . . . Barack Obama. The Republican House that failed to raise the debt ceiling would somehow escape all blame. Then Democrats would have no choice but to pass a balanced-budget amendment and reform entitlements, and the tea-party Hobbits could return to Middle Earth having defeated Mordor.
Lots of Machiavellian scheming. The whole article is like that. Misdirection and blame are arranged like layers on a cake. All I was interested in was Hobbits: “…and the tea-party Hobbits could return to Middle Earth having defeated Mordor.”
Suddenly I get the comparison. It’s a good one.
Tea Party folks really are Hobbits. They have reluctantly accepted what they perceive as an onerous task and when they finish they want to go home.
Going home is key. Tea Party folks would probably stay home trimming the hedges and painting the shed. That’s where the “return from Mordor” comparison fits perfectly. Tea Partiers want to fix problems and then go home. The beltway crowd doesn’t want to fix anything and they won’t go home…ever. They have no home.
Beltway establishment members live and breathe for power. Many of them are the carefully constructed product of generations of power aggregation. They’re raised in an environment of clannish groupthink and are groomed for their purpose from birth. They were bred for it. It’s is their life’s purpose and they have no other. Some examples from the top of my head:
- Senator and vice president Al Gore Jr. is the son of representative and senator Albert Gore Sr. Al Gore Jr. held various offices for 24 years before he finally lost his last presidential bid. Twenty-four years is a good run. When his time was up did he move on? To what? He has nothing to move on to. You or I might move to Tuscaloosa and run a Laundromat. But that’s Hobbit thinking. Gore found a new cause and rode global warming like it was his life’s purpose…which it was. The alternative, life outside of the beltway, was untenable for him.
- Bill Clinton is another politician that can’t go home. When Clinton wrapped up 20 years as as governor and president what did he do? Did he return to Arkansas to run an appliance store? Of course not! That’s for Hobbits and not political animals dipped in their own hubris. Mr. Clinton roved around making speeches until Mrs. Clinton’s 8 year senate career was jettisoned for a serious presidential bid. By the time her “runner up prize” of secretary of state kicked in she had to put a muzzle on him.
The inability to go home is a defect that crosses party lines. Here are examples from the other side of the spectrum:
- Governor Jeb Bush is the brother of governor and president George W. Bush. They’re both the offspring and of representative, senator, vice president, and president George H. W. Bush. He in turn is the son of senator Prescott Bush.
- Representative, senator, and (near) perpetual presidential contender John McCain is slightly different. He is the son of Navy admirable John S. McCain. Admiral John S McCain is the son of Navy admirable John S. McCain Sr.
Tea Partiers piss off every inch of both parties in the beltway. (And their pet press.) Why? Partially because the Tea Party is not merely a vehicle to attain power. The other parties exist for the aggregation of power. So they mirror the interests of their staunchest proponents; politicians who exist to rule. Tea Partiers are alien and threatening to the status quo because they can pack their bags and leave.
Tolkien’s Hobbits fought to resist power. Career politicians wallow in it. Too much power makes politicians hollow and disconnected. Lacking anything else, they cling to power until they drop dead. A defeatist mentality of emptiness. If you’re wealthy enough to retire but hold elected office until you die in old age; power has destroyed you.
Conservative Strom Thurmond and liberal Edward Kennedy are egregious examples. One died in office at age 100 after 47 years in office. The other at age 77 after 46 years in office. Virtual opposites in politics; yet they both clung to power until their dying breath. Both apparently thought the best use of their time on Earth was to win elections.
I, like normal humans, consider my day job to be work. It doesn’t define me. I’d like to retire some day. There is fishing to do. I’d like to have more time for my garden. There’s beer to drink and relaxing to do. Hopefully someday I flip off the lights at the office and go home…forever.
Hobbits didn’t want to be kings or rulers. They knew that their role in things was “temporary”. Their story was filled with temptations that they had to resist lest they gain wealth and power and lose their way. The Tea Party, in its present form, has a similar feeling of “temporary” and “while they have a task to do”. The Tea Party wants to get it done as quickly and painlessly as possible. Then they want to go home. Tea Partiers (if they are not co-opted and destroyed by one of the parties) will leave DC the instant they’ve accomplished their goals. The Tea Party crowd wants to go home. The beltway really is Mordor to them.
The comparison is a good one. Tea Party folks really are Hobbits! Certainly it’s better than being insulted as terrorists or tea baggers.
Which brings us to the brilliance of Tolkien’s story: Hobbits, humble, honest and resilient did what the greatest of wizards and bravest of warriors could not. They alone were (mostly) uncorrupted by power and strong enough to stop dangerous events. All they ever wanted to do was go home and enjoy their peace. Being compared to a Hobbit is the greatest of compliments! No wonder it was taken out of context by McCain and most of the press.