Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The NYT Analyzes the Roots of the Tea Party

We have seen the paralytic effect the Tea Party has had on national and local politics. This radical antigovernment movement can claim credit for the debt-limit train wreck and subsequent stock market crash, and teabag-friendly candidates and themes are dominating the Republican campaign, at least at this early date.

In our suburban Maryland county we saw how a tiny group of noise-makers could grab media attention and run a school district into a panic. Of course they lost everything in the long run but in the meantime they put intense pressure on the school board to dumb down its sex ed curriculum, even without widespread public support for their anti-gay conservative attitudes.

I attended a Montgomery County Tea Party school-board candidate forum last year, put on by Americans for Prosperity, mainly just to see who would show up to speak to them. There was a small crowd, maybe fifty people (out of a county of nearly a million people) in a school building, and one of those people was Ruth Jacobs, president of the Citizens for Responsible Whatever that has opposed the school sex-ed curriculum and the county's gender identity nondiscrimination bill as well. Even though the Tea Party's big message has to do with cutting taxes and government spending, they are integrally bound up in the hate politics of the religious right.

The New York Times reports today on some interesting research.
… in fact the Tea Party is increasingly swimming against the tide of public opinion: among most Americans, even before the furor over the debt limit, its brand was becoming toxic. To embrace the Tea Party carries great political risk for Republicans, but perhaps not for the reason you might think.

Polls show that disapproval of the Tea Party is climbing. In April 2010, a New York Times/CBS News survey found that 18 percent of Americans had an unfavorable opinion of it, 21 percent had a favorable opinion and 46 percent had not heard enough. Now, 14 months later, Tea Party supporters have slipped to 20 percent, while their opponents have more than doubled, to 40 percent. Crashing the Tea Party

In one sense it is not surprising, given the economic crisis they have exacerbated with their willingness to take the country over the edge into defaulting on our debts, and in the other sense you wonder why the Republican candidates and the party itself are trying so hard to appease them. At this early point in time it seems they will dominate the rhetoric of the GOP primaries, but then the winning candidate will have to run for office in a world that mostly does not like teabaggers.

Hee hee...
Of course, politicians of all stripes are not faring well among the public these days. But in data we have recently collected, the Tea Party ranks lower than any of the 23 other groups we asked about — lower than both Republicans and Democrats. It is even less popular than much maligned groups like “atheists” and “Muslims.” Interestingly, one group that approaches it in unpopularity is the Christian Right.

I'm just telling you what they say in the papers, ok? Tea Party less liked than Muslims, atheists.

This is fascinating. The NY Times can tell you what kind of people were most likely to join up with the Tea Party:
Beginning in 2006 we interviewed a representative sample of 3,000 Americans as part of our continuing research into national political attitudes, and we returned to interview many of the same people again this summer. As a result, we can look at what people told us, long before there was a Tea Party, to predict who would become a Tea Party supporter five years later. We can also account for multiple influences simultaneously — isolating the impact of one factor while holding others constant.

Our analysis casts doubt on the Tea Party’s “origin story.” Early on, Tea Partiers were often described as nonpartisan political neophytes. Actually, the Tea Party’s supporters today were highly partisan Republicans long before the Tea Party was born, and were more likely than others to have contacted government officials. In fact, past Republican affiliation is the single strongest predictor of Tea Party support today.

What’s more, contrary to some accounts, the Tea Party is not a creature of the Great Recession. Many Americans have suffered in the last four years, but they are no more likely than anyone else to support the Tea Party. And while the public image of the Tea Party focuses on a desire to shrink government, concern over big government is hardly the only or even the most important predictor of Tea Party support among voters.

So what do Tea Partiers have in common? They are overwhelmingly white, but even compared to other white Republicans, they had a low regard for immigrants and blacks long before Barack Obama was president, and they still do.

You hear people say that the Tea Party is inherently racist, and you see the teabaggers being very careful not to use explicitly racist language -- there are even a couple of black ones, proving they cannot be racist. But it is undeniably a group of conservative white people who are not fond of minorities.
More important, they were disproportionately social conservatives in 2006 — opposing abortion, for example — and still are today. Next to being a Republican, the strongest predictor of being a Tea Party supporter today was a desire, back in 2006, to see religion play a prominent role in politics. And Tea Partiers continue to hold these views: they seek “deeply religious” elected officials, approve of religious leaders’ engaging in politics and want religion brought into political debates. The Tea Party’s generals may say their overriding concern is a smaller government, but not their rank and file, who are more concerned about putting God in government.

Do you see how breaking down the wall between religion and government ties into a constant spewing of rhetoric about taxes and spending? Maybe one way to look at it is to consider the churches' role in organizing communities. Tax-exempt institutions preach politics from the pulpit. I have never seen any sermon reported in the papers, but conservative clergy reach millions of people every Sunday. Many churches provide safety nets for their parishioners, the Mormons for instance are required to tithe a certain amount to the church to take care of the less fortunate of their members. They take care of their own, and so they have less need for secular safety nets, if poor people need food and shelter they should just join a church that will provide it! People who tithe and pay taxes are being charged twice for the same protection.
This inclination among the Tea Party faithful to mix religion and politics explains their support for Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota and Gov. Rick Perry of Texas. Their appeal to Tea Partiers lies less in what they say about the budget or taxes, and more in their overt use of religious language and imagery, including Mrs. Bachmann’s lengthy prayers at campaign stops and Mr. Perry’s prayer rally in Houston.

Yet it is precisely this infusion of religion into politics that most Americans increasingly oppose. While over the last five years Americans have become slightly more conservative economically, they have swung even further in opposition to mingling religion and politics. It thus makes sense that the Tea Party ranks alongside the Christian Right in unpopularity.

That's right, most Americans want religion to stay completely out of government. It is never good, whether it is the Taliban or the Baptist Church, religious governments do not have the interest of fairness and equality in mind. Even in theocratic states I'll bet you'd find most people would prefer democracy - whether they are so bold as to say it is another question, freedom not exactly being a hallmark of religion-dominated governing.

The unsurprising picture you get is that the Tea Part is another incarnation of the religious right. The interesting thing is that they keep their rhetoric secular, they talk about taxes and spending and "entitlements" in public speaking, but their followers know what's going on.

Here's an interesting analogy:
On everything but the size of government, Tea Party supporters are increasingly out of step with most Americans, even many Republicans. Indeed, at the opposite end of the ideological spectrum, today’s Tea Party parallels the anti-Vietnam War movement which rallied behind George S. McGovern in 1972. The McGovernite activists brought energy, but also stridency, to the Democratic Party — repelling moderate voters and damaging the Democratic brand for a generation. By embracing the Tea Party, Republicans risk repeating history.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

the tea party belives that those who work hard and consistently produce should NOT be forced to support those who decide NOT to through taxation, ENDLESS welfare and ENDLESS unemployment benefits.

those who work and are successful believe we can do anythign we put our minds too....

those who haven't been brought up that way believe that money should just be given to them and not earned.....

I believe you should earn your money.....and the govt should only take enough to defend us and enforce public safety. EVERYTHING else is up for cuts.

That appears to be a foreign concept to TTF....

August 18, 2011 12:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very well put, Anonymous, that's the racism we expect from a teabagger.

First, who do you think those people are who need government assistance in order to eat and have a place to live? You don't suppose they are darker than you, do you? You, as a member of a privileged white society, think you're doing it all on your own, you are completely unaware of the safety nets that exist to support you.

Second, what proportion of your taxes do you think goes to supporting those lazy Negroes and Mexicans, compared to, say, the cost of our great victories in Iraq and Afghanistan, or the subsidies the government pays to the big oil companies? Your focus on that particular tiny budget item exactly proves what this survey is saying, the Tea Party is a bunch of white people who resent those who are having a hard time in life.

August 18, 2011 7:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the last commenter might think they defend minorities but, in fact, if sincere, is a back-handed racist

the first didn't say a thing about race

meanwhile, can this guy be re-elected?:

"Following two weeks of economic turmoil that included the United States' first-ever credit downgrade and an unpredictable stock market, a new poll released Wednesday by Gallup finds President Barack Obama's approval rating on the economy has reached his all-time low.

The new poll, conducted Aug. 11-14, finds that only 26 percent of the public approves of Obama's handling of the economy, while a whopping 71 percent said they disapproved.

According to the new poll, Obama's approval ratings on issues ranging from terrorism to the federal budget deficit have fallen since Gallup last measured them in May.

Not surprisingly, this period of public dissatisfaction with Obama's handling of the economy overlapped with the period when he registered his lowest overall approval rating in Gallup's daily tracking poll. In the Aug. 11-13 tracking poll, Obama's approval rating hit 39 percent."

August 18, 2011 8:27 AM  
Anonymous amazed at the denial capacity of liberals said...

"You hear people say that the Tea Party is inherently racist, and you see the teabaggers being very careful not to use explicitly racist language -- there are even a couple of black ones, proving they cannot be racist. But it is undeniably a group of conservative white people who are not fond of minorities."

hmmmm....Nikki Haley, Marc Rubio, Herman Cain, Michelle Bachmann

all four of a different race

all four wildly supported by the this "group of conservative white people" who are supposedly "not fond of minorities"

are they just "very careful not to use explicitly racist language" or are they actually colorblind and merely being attacked by desperate jackass liberals like Jim who always keep the race card in the hole for times when nothing else is going well for them?

August 18, 2011 8:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Obama's approval ratings on issues ranging from terrorism to the federal budget deficit have fallen since Gallup last measured them in May"

and he wasn't doing that great in May

this guy needs a vacation

he should make it a permanent one

for the sake of your country, Barack, resign!

August 18, 2011 8:42 AM  
Blogger Priya Lynn said...

Bad anonymous said "the tea party belives that those who work hard and consistently produce should NOT be forced to support those who decide NOT to through taxation, ENDLESS welfare and ENDLESS unemployment benefits.".

Trouble is now the heads of oil companies pay a lower tax rate than their secretaries. Now its gone to the other extreme and the teabaggers have the poor subsidizing the rich. If the teabaggers had their way people earning less than $100,000 a year would be paying all the taxes and the rich would pay none and promise to createa jobs that never come.

Bad anonymous said "those who work and are successful believe we can do anythign we put our minds too....".

Which shows your stupidity. There will always be many, many things a person can never accomplish no matte4r how they "put their minds to it". Not everyone can be a Bill Gates, no one can live forever or implement world peace next week. Only the Republicans could con poor people into voting against their interests based on the false hope that everyone of them will someday become millionaires as well - never gonna happen, no matter how they wish and try the vast majority of Republican voters will never achieve substantial wealth. Instead they'll shoot themselves in the foot and vote to give an ever bigger slice of the pie to the uber-rich who will still do everything they can to eliminate as many jobs as possible to pad their own wallets.

August 18, 2011 12:18 PM  
Anonymous David S. Fishback said...

Anon writes:

I believe you should earn your money.....and the govt should only take enough to defend us and enforce public safety. EVERYTHING else is up for cuts.

Enforcement of public safety includes the work of the EPA, the FDA, USDA, NIH and other agencies that work to protect our air, water, land, health, and food. May we assume that you are in favor of using tax money to fund these activities?

August 18, 2011 3:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"They may have been the victims of the worst shooting in Norwegian history, but that didn't stop radio show host Glenn Beck from comparing the victims of the Oslo massacre to young followers of Adolf Hitler.

When discussing the tragedy in Norway on Monday, the radio host compared the Labor Party youth camp to the Hitler Youth.

"As the thing started to unfold and there was a shooting at a political camp, which sounds a little like the Hitler Youth," he said. "Who does a camp for kids that's all about politics? Disturbing."

Ironically, Britain's Daily Telegraph points out, there are also such camps in the United States - hosted by the Tea Party, a political movement that makes up a large part of Beck's fan base.

A former press secretary to Norway's prime minister, Torbjørn Eriksen, told the newspaper that Beck's comments were "a new low."

"Young political activists have gathered at Utoya for over 60 years to learn about and be part of democracy, the very opposite of what the Hitler Youth was about," he told the Telegraph. "Glenn Beck's comments are ignorant, incorrect and extremely hurtful.""

"This isn't the first time that Beck has sparked outrage with his comments. After an earthquake and tsunami devastated a large part of Japan, he said the disaster could be a "message" from God."

Beck made these comments about the Norway shooting a year after making these comments:

"Sun, Aug 29, 2010

Fox News host Glenn Beck said Sunday that he misspoke last year when he characterized President Obama as a racist.

"I have a big fat mouth sometimes and I say things," Beck said during an interview with Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace.

Beck last year accused the president of possessing a "deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture," during an appearance on Fox News, adding, "this guy is, I believe, a racist.""

Maybe Glenn Beck will admit his "big fat mouth" was wrong to ask "Who does a camp for kids that's all about politics? Disturbing," next year after someone reminds him he himself created the 912 Project, which in turn has created "camp for kids that's all about politics. Disturbing:"

"TAMPA — Here's another option now that the kids are out of school: a weeklong seminar about our nation's founding principles, courtesy of the Tampa 912 Project.

The organization, which falls under the tea party umbrella, hopes to introduce kids ages 8 to 12 to principles that include "America is good," "I believe in God," and "I work hard for what I have and I will share it with who I want to. Government cannot force me to be charitable."

Organized by conservative writer Jeff Lukens and staffed by volunteers from the 912 Project, Tampa Liberty School will meet every morning July 11-15 in borrowed space at the Paideia Christian school in Temple Terrace.

"We want to impart to our children what our nation is about, and what they may or may not be told," Lukens said.

He said he was not familiar with public school curriculum, but, "I do know they have a lot of political correctness. We are a faithful people, and when you talk about natural law, you have to talk about God. When you take that out of the discussion, you miss the whole thing."

Tampa Liberty is modeled after vacation Bible schools, which use fun, hands-on activities to deliver Christian messages."

August 18, 2011 5:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

NIH yes, but not giving 1 billion of money and telling them to spend it in a month.... that would be just ... WASTEFUL. Who did that, oh yes, that would have been Obama.

I will kill or substantially cut back the DOE and convert all the schools to a voucher system. Let the free market decide which schools live.

and the EPA has WAY WAY too much power.

the tax code should be completely redone. the buffet article PROVES that point. Throw out the whole thing and start over. No deductions. Kill ALL of them.

August 18, 2011 7:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

and one of the people on unemployment forever is my brother.
and he is not looking NEARLY hard enough for another job.
Or taking odd jobs.
He is sleeping in and taking a vacation.

and the govt will keep taking more money from those of us who work to give it to those who don't.

And Priya, if you don't believe you will ever have a brain like Einsteins then clearly you never will....if you don't aspire to something you end up as a nothing most of the time. pick up a copy of the Road less traveled and read it.

August 18, 2011 7:11 PM  
Blogger Priya Lynn said...

Bad anonymous precious few people will have a mind like Einstein regardless of how hard they try or how much they believe, it is simply impossible for the vast majority of people. By the same token millions of Americans dream of being president but virtually none of them will ever have even the faintest hope of achieving that. The vast majority of people will never have the ability or opportunity to achieve "whatever they set their mind to" and to have such unrealistic expectations will only lead to unhappiness and a failure to make the most of what you can realistically expect.

August 18, 2011 8:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The difficulty we have in accepting responsibility for our behavior lies in the desire to avoid the pain of the consequences of that behavior. "
— M. Scott Peck

"It is in the whole process of meeting and solving problems that life has meaning. Problems are the cutting edge that distinguishes between success and failure. Problems call forth our courage and our wisdom; indeed, they create our courage and our wisdom. It is only because of problems that we grow mentally and spiritually. It is through the pain of confronting and resolving problems that we learn."
— M. Scott Peck

August 18, 2011 9:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I don't think it is wrong to teach people to aspire to WHATEVER they would like to be....

I teach my children that they can do whatever they put their minds to, and be whatever they want to be...

What would you have me say to them ? Resign yourself to a miserable life ? Everyone should get a certain portion of the public wealth and no one will have very much ?

This is America (though I realize you are trying to convert us to China).

And right now, you can do and create whatever you put your mind too....

That is how I am raising my children. To do anything else is to do a terrible disservice to my children.

You give them REAL hope by teaching them that THEY ALONE are responsible for their success. Not the govt, not their teachers, THEY are responsible. For their actions and the results of their actions (OR LACK of ACTion).

What about this way of raising children do you object to ?

Do you believe I give my children false hope ? Because I don't think so... we have lots of modern examples... facebook for instance.

August 18, 2011 10:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Absolutely not true. Only the most hardened psychopath would believe he or she could make it alone. People need people.

August 18, 2011 10:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was led to believe that one of the objectives of the "Family First- tell everyone else how to run their families" adherents was to care first for members of one's own family. I was shocked, shocked, to read - once again - of your complaints and bad-mouthing of a member of your own family, "Anonymous". Where does your Christian charity begin?
Sweet Charity

August 19, 2011 11:27 AM  
Blogger Priya Lynn said...

Bad anonymous, for the hundreds of examples of people who are huge successes there are billions of ordinary people who will never remotely begin to have the opportunity or ability to do the same. If your child tells you she wants to drop out of school to becomethe next Brittany Spears you'd be well advised to gently suggest to her that's probably not going to work out and she should set her eyes on something she's more likely to achieve.

When I was eight I desperately wanted to walk on the moon. If I had dedicated my early life to that end I'd have been profoundly disappointed and have wasted many realistic opportunities for a happy and fullfilling life.

For the vast majority of Americans there's no point in voting for welfare for the super wealthy at the expense of the average Joe because they have no more chance of achieving that then they do of winning the lottery.

If your child told you they were going to quit high school because they had a lottery ticket and were going to become a multi-millionaire in two weeks you'd probably set her straight. That's no different from a child thinking she has a realitsitc chance of becoming the next einstein.

August 19, 2011 12:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

August 19, 2011 12:49 PM  

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