As Virginia Thomas tells it in her soft-spoken, Midwestern cadence, the story of her involvement in the "tea party" movement is the tale of an average citizen in action. "I am an ordinary citizen from Omaha, Neb., who just may have the chance to preserve liberty along with you and other people like you," she said at a recent panel discussion with tea party leaders in Washington. Thomas went on to count herself among those energized into action by President Obama's "hard-left agenda." But Thomas is no ordinary activist. She is the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, and she has launched a tea-party-linked group that could test the traditional notions of political impartiality for the court. In January, Virginia Thomas created Liberty Central Inc., a nonprofit lobbying group whose website will organize activism around a set of conservative "core principles," she said. The group plans to issue score cards for Congress members and be involved in the November election, although Thomas would not specify how. She said it would accept donations from various sources -- including corporations -- as allowed under campaign finance rules recently loosened by the Supreme Court. "I adore all the new citizen patriots who are rising up across this country," Thomas, who goes by Ginni, said on the panel at the Conservative Political Action Conference. "I have felt called to the front lines with you, with my fellow citizens, to preserve what made America great."
I have little doubt that Virginia Thomas would fancy me a paradigmatic "liberal elitist," despite my modest salary, precarious job situation, crappy insurance, monumental student loan debt, and the micro-audience attracted to the writing I do on this enormously edifying but, face it, scarcely mega-influential little blog. I don't know whether or not Virginia Thomas is stupid enough truly to believe her own "just ordinary folks" shtick as she surveys the world from her summit of flabbergasting privilege and wealth and influence. Whatever she thinks on this score, I am here to tell you that if your spouse is a Justice on the Supreme Court of the United States there is simply no sense in fact in which you are "an average citizen," especially not in this age of corporate-militarist plutocracy.
No, Virginia Thomas is no more an average citizen than the misinformed mobs of the Tea Parties whomped up by corporate propaganda into white-racist fascist frenzies over the so-called "socialism" of the palpably not-socialist remains of insurance reform are the "new citizen patriots" she cynically denominates them in any actually legible sense of the phrase, any more than the nearly fatally compromised warmed over liberal policies Obama has sought represent some "hard-left agenda" in any actually legible sense of the phrase.
I guess it is a mark of my "elitism" that I fancy people in positions of extreme privilege and power should at least pretend that their declarations have some remote connection to dictionary definitions of the words they deploy and to the actually constituted facts of the matters at hand. (I leave to the side for the moment the even deeper hilarity that I tend to be excoriated for my "relativism" and "fashionable nonsensicality" by those who would wag their fingers at me for an elite, effete, aesthete.)
Be all that as it may, I for one certainly do not doubt the report that "Ginni" is all eagerness to funnel all that newly available corporate cash her husband's latest anti-democratic Decision has secured for her, the better to "be involved in the November election." Let us hope -- but also let us not count on it -- her "involvement" doesn't rise to the level of her husband Justice Thomas's in that pesky November election in 2000 in which he participated with other Republicans in a Supreme Court Decision which amounted in its substance to a right-wing putsch ejecting the man who was actually elected by the people to be the President of the United States, Al Gore (together with the odious Joe Lieberman whose ridiculous Vice Presidential nod likely demoralized and siphoned off quite as many urgently needed Democratic votes as Ralph Nader's unfortunate campaign managed to do), and selecting instead the single worst most stupid most evil band of murderous incompetents for the White House in the history of this nation.
I still believe that the institutional failure of the Supreme Court in this matter so traumatized this nation that it was profoundly ill-prepared to cope with the opportunistic dismantlement of so many of our other institutions when a major terrorist attack provided the pretext for the host of authoritarian expansions of the Executive and dismantlements of cherished civil liberties long desired by Nixon Administration stalwart Dick Cheney and other architects of the Project for a New American Century who were highly placed in the Bush Administration. To this day, few seem particularly willing to speak plainly about these matters, and even the undeniable war crimes of Bush Administration officials -- conscious deceptions to provide the false rationale for an illegal immoral ruinous war and occupation, illegal surveillance of huge numbers of American citizens, illegal detentions and torture, and so on -- seem little likely to impose the least cost on those criminals who perpetrated them in our names to our perpetual shame.
Virginia Thomas may, like her husband, be a person of at best quotidian intelligence, she may lack reliable standards of civility and taste and basic decency, but she occupies a position of wealth and authority in this Nation that makes her the furthest thing from "an average citizen" or "ordinary person." Behind her populist mask and "her soft-spoken, Midwestern cadence," she is an advocate for brutal oligarchy and an enemy of the democracy that defines what "made America great" in fact -- which she is committed not to "preserving" but to demolishing.
The United States is a democracy, our government is of, by, and for the people. No one who would deny equity to the people of the United States or who would fail to celebrate the actual diversity of the people of the United States can sensibly be called a patriotic citizen.
Virginia Thomas hates the United States and hates the citizens of the United States. She wants to rewrite the United States even more in the image of a corporate-militarist oligarchy in which she and her like-minded and like-situated cronies and friends rule with an iron fist.
Of the many ordinary terrorized misinformed bigots she claims now to adore for their useful idiocy in the service of her authoritarian daydreams I have little doubt that she could survey the misery that would eventuate in the lives of most of them should they accomplish the outcomes to which their politics have committed them with the evil indifference of Barbara Bush surveying the Superdome should it come to that.