The Clampetts meet Hee Haw.

For the past year, the political movement known as the Tea Party has garnered lots of attention.  I’ve watched in wonder as the followers shouted down Senators and Congressional Representatives, and marched with signs calling Obama a Socialist, a Communist and even a Nazi.  I found it difficult to understand what these people were so angry about.  After all, past Republican administrations had done more to run up the national debt.  And it’s Republicans who have orchestrated a 30-year attack on the middle class while transferring wealth to the richest one percent of the population.

But after watching Sarah Palin ratchet up the anger at a Tea Party event with her hillbilly twang, it suddenly came to me.  The Tea Party isn’t a new movement at all.  It’s the audiences of “Hee Haw”,” Beverly Hillbillies” and Jeff Foxworthy’s “You Know You’re a Redneck When…“ all put together.   These people are rednecks and damn proud of it.

Led by Palin portraying a brunette version of Elly May Clampett, Joe the Plumber cast as Larry the Cable Guy and Glenn Beck as an erstwhile traveling preacher, the followers of the Tea Party seem to revile education and worship the past.  To them, all of America’s problems are the fault of eggheads and immigrants.  They see themselves as modern-day Paul Reveres out to save America from the new invaders.  And when they were credited with affecting the outcome of the Massachussett’s Senate race they became as happy as hillbillies who struck “black gold.” 

The only question is what’s next?  What if some of these people are actually elected to office?  It’s hard to imagine any redneck with a G.E.D. trying to regulate slick Wall Street bankers, let alone understand a Credit Default Swap.  I cringe at the idea of these people trying to re-interpret the Constitution.  And can you imagine any one of them having control of our nuclear weapons? 

Within weeks we’d likely be at war with Mexico and Canada and all of those nations with funny-sounding names they can’t find on a map. 

Let’s hope that, before the next elections roll around, the Tea Partiers return to their usual outlets for venting anger.  Like pro wrestling, demolition derbies and family bar fights.