Chris Matthews: We Must Stop 'Looking Down Our Noses at the Tea Party'

Chris Matthews: We Must Stop 'Looking Down Our Noses at the Tea Party'

It took Dave Brat’s shocking victory over House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) for Chris Matthews and Chuck Todd to understand that the Tea Party movement is a state of mind and not a fad or a flash-in-the-pan movement.

A day after Brat ousted Cantor in a race that blindsided the often conventional and lethargic mainstream media in their backyard (the mainstream press missed the biggest upset of their political lives in a district that was a two-hour drive from them), Matthews declared that the elites in the media had to stop looking down on the Tea Party movement. 

On MNSBC on Wednesday, Matthews said he was listening to Brat, a college economics professor, speak after the race and felt, “he’s certainly up to the ranks of most politicians I’ve ever dealt with. He speaks in a speculative manner and an intellectual manner. He can handle any debate on this program or my program.”

“This looking down our noses at tea party people has got to stop,” Matthews said. “They have a message, they’re as American as any liberal is, and they’re really angry about the failure of the system.”

He also said working Americans are frustrated at the “complete corruption” of government just like workers in Eastern Europe were against corrupt communist regimes before the Berlin Wall came down.

“We can’t control the deficit, we can’t control the debt, we can’t control the border. What is government good at?” Matthews said. “And that’s the question that’s happened on every issue we’ve covered on our show.”

Chuck Todd, NBC’s political director, conceded that it is going to be difficult to pass amnesty legislation when the economy is leaving many American workers behind. Todd said that American workers who are not insulated from the economic downturn are not going to want a flood of cheap labor pouring into the country who are going to compete with them for the few jobs that are available and lower their wages.

It took Messrs. Matthews and Todd five years to understand the disconnect between American workers and a permanent political class far removed from their economic troubles and a mainstream media that helps insulate those in “Boomtown” or “This Town.” If Messrs. Matthews and Todd spent more time listening to former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin’s words to understand her appeal instead of mocking and taking cheap shots at her, perhaps they would not be so late to the party. But to their credit, they finally see what Palin has instinctively known for more than a decade. Most Palin supporters fervently support her not because she is a “celebrity,” but because of her ideas, her record of reform, and her fight against both political establishment. The mainstream press has missed this because they, like the woman in New York City who had never met a Richard Nixon voter, have rarely spoken to a Palin supporter.

Palin, who has taken on crony capitalists in her party and fought against both party establishments since she first ran for office, said in a landmark speech in Indianola, Iowa in 2011 that there is a difference between free markets and crony capitalism where big business colludes with big government and stiffs working Americans. In fact, Palin introduced those themes into the national political bloodstream, as conservatives slowly started to rail against “crony capitalism” after Palin relentlessly hammered those themes: 

Yeah, the permanent political class – they’re doing just fine. Ever notice how so many of them arrive in Washington, D.C. of modest means and then miraculously throughout the years they end up becoming very, very wealthy? Well, it’s because they derive power and their wealth from their access to our money – to taxpayer dollars.  They use it to bail out their friends on Wall Street and their corporate cronies, and to reward campaign contributors, and to buy votes via earmarks. There is so much waste. And there is a name for this: It’s called corporate crony capitalism. This is not the capitalism of free men and free markets, of innovation and hard work and ethics, of sacrifice and of risk. No, this is the capitalism of connections and government bailouts and handouts, of waste and influence peddling and corporate welfare. This is the crony capitalism that destroyed Europe’s economies. It’s the collusion of big government and big business and big finance to the detriment of all the rest – to the little guys. It’s a slap in the face to our small business owners – the true entrepreneurs, the job creators accounting for 70% of the jobs in America, it’s you who own these small businesses, you’re the economic engine, but you don’t grease the wheels of government power.

So, do you want to know why the permanent political class doesn’t really want to cut any spending? Do you want to know why nothing ever really gets done? It’s because there’s nothing in it for them. They’ve got a lot of mouths to feed – a lot of corporate lobbyists and a lot of special interests that are counting on them to keep the good times and the money rolling along.

It doesn’t surprise me. I’ve seen this kind of crony capitalism before. It’s is the same good old boy politics-as-usual that I fought and we defeated in my home state. I took on a corrupt and compromised political class and their backroom dealings with Big Oil. And I can tell you from experience that sudden and relentless reform never sits well with entrenched interests and power-brokers. So, please you must vet a candidate’s record. You must know their ability to successfully reform and actually fix problems that they’re going to claim that they inherited.

Real reform never sits well with the entrenched special interests, and that’s why the true voices of reform are so quickly demonized. Look what they say about you. You are concerned civilized citizens and look what they say about you. And just look what happened during the debt-ceiling debate. We’d been given warning after warning that our credit rating would be downgraded if politicians didn’t get serious about tackling the debt and deficit problem. But instead of making the real cuts that are necessary, they used Enron-like accounting gimmicks, and they promised that if they were just allowed to spend trillions more today, they’d cut billions ten years from now. By some magical thinking, they figured they could run up trillion dollar deficits year after year, yet still somehow avoid the unforgiving mathematics that led to the downgrade. Well, they got a rude awakening from the rest of the world, and that’s that even America isn’t “too big to fail.”

When we finally did get slapped with that inevitable downgraded, the politicians and the pundits turned around and blamed us – independent commonsense conservatives. We got blamed! They called us un-American and terrorists and suicide bombers and…hobbits…couldn’t understand that one.

That was essentially Brat’s message, but it only resonated with his district’s voters after he used amnesty to more broadly indict crony capitalism and Cantor’s ties to it. Brat started to surge only after he made amnesty the central focus of his campaign and tied it to themes that helped start the Tea Party movement as a protest against establishment Democrats and Republicans. Speaking about Cantor’s loss, Dr. Bob Holsworth, the top Virginia politics analyst who has moderated many statewide debates, told Breitbart News that rank-and-file “Republican populists viewed him as a corporate-oriented, Brooks Brothers elitist who represented what they increasingly disliked about career politicians.” 

“I think that last night demonstrated to every GOP member of the General Assembly the ongoing clout of Tea Party populism in Virginia,” Holsworth told Breitbart News.

Brat went on Fox News after the race was called and said amnesty represented the greatest divide between Wall Street elitists and Main Street. That message was nothing new to those who have been listening to Palin’s words or reading Breitbart News for years. 


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