In the 1976 Academy Award-winning film "Network," Peter Finch's character Howard Beale delivers the movie's signature line, "I'm mad as hell, and I'm not gonna take this anymore."
One could argue that this is the sentiment behind the Tea Party — a movement that some are now dismissing as stale, passe and politically ineffectual, notwithstanding record-breaking conservative gains at both the state and federal level in the 2014 midterm elections.
"Oh, but that's not the Tea Party," the argument goes. "That's just anti-incumbent sentiment."
They wish. It is anti-incumbent sentiment, certainly. But it's much more than that. It is a wholesale rejection of the leftist societal indoctrination and faux-populist manipulations that have dominated America for decades now.
Americans are fed up. And the sentiment is spreading. The past week's protests by American police officers are good recent examples.
After two grand juries in Ferguson, Missouri, and New York City failed to issue indictments in the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, protests erupted across the country. Nationwide, police found themselves not only on the front lines of sometimes violent activity, but — once again — on the receiving end of heated rhetoric and sweeping generalizations by politicians and others exploiting these tragedies for political ends. NYC mayor William de Blasio took particular criticism for the latitude he gave protesters, his apparent support for activist Al Sharpton (who has an ugly history of false and defamatory claims against the police), and his own comments about his biracial son.
The subsequent execution-style murders of NYPD officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu were the final straw. Tens of thousands of police attended Ramos' funeral. Hundreds of police turned their backs when Mayor William de Blasio spoke. Social media has been aflame with outrage. And the usual post-incident platitudes aren't quelling it.
Cops, too, it would seem, are mad as hell, and aren't going to take it anymore. Their reaction to Mayor de Blasio's, Al Sharpton's and others' inflammatory remarks seem to have caught people by surprise.
As did the vehement protests last summer in places such as Murrieta, California, to the federal government's deliberate disregard of our immigration laws.
As did the sweeping conservative electoral victories in November.
As has the rise — and staying power — of the Tea Party.
Is anyone out there paying attention? The "TEA" in "Tea Party" originally stood for "Taxed Enough Already," and the movement started with people who were disgusted by the federal government's fiscal irresponsibility and profligate spending. While the press (and some GOP leaders) comfort themselves by focusing on this or that failed Tea Party candidate, the sentiment behind the Tea Party has grown far beyond its roots to encompass much larger numbers of Americans who are tired of being smeared, lied to, exploited and manipulated by our self-appointed elites in government, academia, Hollywood and the press. They are tired of tightening their belts, settling for part-time work or dealing with long-term unemployment while the government lets uneducated and unskilled people pour across the border. Those who have jobs are tired of working to help support not those who can't work, but those who won't work.
Above all, hardworking Americans of all backgrounds are sick of making responsible decisions, voicing legitimate fiscal concerns and (in the case of our first responders) putting their lives on the line for their fellow citizens, only to be called "racists," "sexists," "greedy," "selfish" and "abusive" by empty-headed celebrities, political hacks like Sharpton or condescending apparatchiks like Jonathan Gruber — people whose primary contribution to society seems to be fueling hatred and resentment for their own political and personal gain.
Entrepreneurs. Taxpayers. Police officers. Residents of border states. The unemployed and under-employed. I'd wager that individuals within these divergent groups might not see themselves as having much in common, much less as being on the same side of the political fence. But they are all "mad as hell," and they represent a powerful phenomenon, nevertheless. The political leadership that can see the commonality in these groundswell movements could potentially assemble a coalition the likes of which hasn't been seen since the Reagan Democrats 35 years ago.