In listening to some of the talking heads discuss the tea parties, there seems to be a disconnect in understanding the motivation behind the protest. The White House Press Secretary stated that the protesters did not “get it” because they would be the beneficiaries of the middle class tax cut.

Beside the arrogance of the statement, what the White House does not “get” is that the protesters seem to be more far sighted than the politicians. Like the short sighted corporations who only see the next quarter the elected officials only see the next election.

What they also do not get is that the rhetoric is more moral in tone than material. It is much more than about the tax cuts. I recalled an explanation of the difference between conservatives and liberals in Barry Goldwater’s “The Conscience of a Conservative””

“The root difference between the Conservatives and the Liberals of today (1960’s) is that Conservatives take account of the whole man, while the Liberals tend to look only at the material side of man’s nature. The Conservative believes that man is, in part, an economic, an animal creature; but that he is also a spiritual creature with spiritual needs and spiritual desires. What is more, these needs and desires reflect the superior side of man’s nature, and thus take precedence over his economic wants. Conservatism therefore looks upon the enhancement of man’s spiritual nature as the primary concern of political philosophy. Liberals, on the other hand- in the name of a concern for “human beings”- regard the satisfaction of economic wants as the dominant mission of society.”

I try to avoid the use of the ‘L’ and ‘C’ labels because it tends to close minds, but it is hard to avoid in this passage and I believe it may explain the disconnect in understanding the tea parties. I also question whether the demonstrators understand their personal sacrifice that will be needed to restore a fiscally sane government, especially during a recession.

I do believe the parties are grass roots. I follow hundreds on Twitter and the subject absolutely dominates the conservative Twitter sphere. To dismiss them as part of a right wing conspiracy or the ignorant masses would be a mistake.

But it would also be a mistake to expect any sympathy or positive response from the party in power. Hell hath no fury like an unappreciated ‘moral supremacist’.