Harry Reid: The Anarchists Have Taken Over the Senate

Revolution!?

Professed anarchists march through the heart of Boston during a protest on the opening day of the Democratic National Convention in Boston, Monday, July 26, 2004. 
National Journal
Matt Berman
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Matt Berman
Sept. 12, 2013, 8:19 a.m.

Rise! The time has come! The gov­ern­ment is no more! Or, well, at least that’s sort of what Sen. Harry Re­id, D-Nev., said on the Sen­ate floor Thursday morn­ing while talk­ing about an en­ergy bill.

“We’re di­ver­ted totally from what this bill is about,” he said. “Why? Be­cause the an­arch­ists have taken over. They’ve taken over the House, and now they’ve taken the Sen­ate.”

While there are cer­tainly Amer­ic­ans who wouldn’t mind see­ing the cur­rent Con­gress des­cend in­to chaos and flames, that isn’t really quite what’s hap­pen­ing today. “The an­arch­ists” Re­id is re­fer­ring to are just the rem­nants of the con­gres­sion­al tea party. And it’s not the first time he’s thrown around the term.

In an in­ter­view with NPR earli­er this sum­mer, Re­id elab­or­ated a bit more on his com­par­is­on.

Who is the tea party? Well, un­der­stand, when I was in school I stud­ied gov­ern­ment, among oth­er things. And pri­or to World War I and after World War I we had the an­arch­ists. Now, they were vi­ol­ent. Some say that’s what star­ted World War One, the an­archy move­ment. But they were vi­ol­ent. They did dam­age to prop­erty and they did phys­ic­al dam­age to people. The mod­ern an­arch­ists, don’t do that. That’s the tea party. But they have the same philo­sophy as the early an­arch­ists. They do not be­lieve in gov­ern­ment. Any time any­thing bad hap­pens to gov­ern­ment, that’s a vic­tory for them.

So should we ex­pect that the tea party could lead to, well, an­oth­er world war? Ob­vi­ously not, and it’s hard to ima­gine that Re­id really be­lieves that either, es­pe­cially giv­en his hedging to NPR.

But, just a re­fresh­er for Re­id and who­ever else. Let’s con­sult a dic­tion­ary.

An­arch­ist (noun):

1. a per­son who rebels against any au­thor­ity, es­tab­lished or­der, or rul­ing power.

2. a per­son who be­lieves in, ad­voc­ates, or pro­motes an­arch­ism or an­archy; es­pe­cially : one who uses vi­ol­ent means to over­throw the es­tab­lished or­der

So, sure, it’s un­likely that many tea parti­ers would dis­agree with the first part of Mer­ri­am-Web­ster’s defin­i­tion. But it’s that second part that is just a bit too prickly for it to make any lo­gic­al sense for Harry Re­id to touch.

Up­date: Here’s video of today’s com­ments from C-SPAN:

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