Progressive journalists, politicians, pundits, and moderates like David Frum, David Brooks and Bruce Bartlett, dump practically all opposition to progressivism into a big Tea Party basket, and refer to them as "tea baggers" when they are feeling clever. In reality, the opposition to the progressive agenda and government incompetence is much larger than the Tea Party, and it represents a growing independent dissatisfaction with centralized power in Washington D.C.
Many Democrats would like the unrest and dissatisfaction to be framed as right-wing fanaticism, an expression of common white people who are racist, ignorant and fearful of cultural change. Many Republicans would like to frame the unrest and dissatisfaction as a backlash to Democrat control of congress and the executive branch, but, for the most part, future voters who will put the Republicans back in power.
Both parties are largely missing what's happening. The battle that's forming is between the private sphere and the political class. Public unrest is not made up solely of white southerners who hate Obama, it's a diverse opposition to a statist government - an opposition which includes professionals, entrepreneurs, intellectuals, and individuals from various races.
The political class overestimates its own power of influence, although it's been significant, and underestimates the independence and intelligence of the private sphere. Progressives/liberals, especially, but also statist conservatives, took the wrong message from public complacency during good economic times. The American people allowed government a great deal of leeway in setting social policies and regulating business, because for a while their actions had no extreme, widespread national effect -- but as government becomes bolder and more ambitious, people are paying attention. Politicians thought they could use techniques used by power-mongers throughout history to control the narrative and move groups like chess pieces, but the techniques are backfiring now that government actions are having widespread negative impact and the techniques are being revealed.
Many people are waking up to the fact that government has virtual control of the media, unions and education, and has attempted to marginalize the private influence of religion, business and the common voice. The State's been active in gaining loyalty from the American people and shaping their values, but it hasn't worked on the majority of the population, just enough active voters to maintain the power shift from the private sphere to the political class, as the majority were complacent.
Now that the nation's paying attention, they don't like what they see. The public now attempts to shift power back to the private sphere. America is not a country to be manipulated by totalitarian tactics, and although, as I've said, "totalitarian" is a harsh, serious word, we have entered a serious juncture in our nation and it has to do with direction. Of course government is not using the violent and extreme totalitarian tactics used by Stalin and Mao, but they are using old, illiberal ideas of power and control that are remnants of those regimes - American-style, but still through psychological means, through education, through media, through marginalization of their enemies, through semantics, through deceit, through regulatory control, through institutionalization of values, through pomp and circumstance, through alliances of special interests and through misuse of power in order to intimidate.
Passing the healthcare reform bill has now become the most important progressive goal, and the progressives are pulling out all the stops. The public's watching, and, if it happens, the public will react. I have no idea what the outcome will be. The American people might eventually roll over and accept this power-grab, but it doesn't seem likely.