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Tea Party and modern journalism

2010-10-28 14:05:09.010365+00 by Dan Lyke 9 comments

p1k3: asides to the entire institution of american journalism, #1, quoted in its entirety, for truth:

Frequently Ignored Questions, re: the Tea Party Movement:

Q. Is this entire movement pretty much just a product of xenophobia, racism, and batshit-insane conspiracy theory, strategically camouflaged by some outraged rhetoric about economic policy?

A. Yes.

Q. Is "grass roots" really the best primary descriptor for social phenomena engineered and financed by a well-coordinated set of wealthy, politically entrenched elites with vested interests in the status quo?

A. Are you fucking kidding me?

[ related topics: Quotes Journalism and Media Conspiracy Race Economics Government ]

comments in descending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2010-11-02 07:50:42.11735+00 by: brennen

I'm late to this thread (I plead way too much stuff in my feed reader) and Dan covers this ground pretty well, but I figure it'd be reasonable to respond directly to stevesh's question both as the author of the somewhat hyperbolic post in question (all I'll say in defense of the hyperbole is that I'd just been reading copies of Time and getting more than a little frustrated) and, broadly speaking, a member of the left.

I know there are plenty of sincere and principled right-libertarian types who identify with the Tea Party, and probably plenty more who hope to see concrete gains for their agenda despite being more or less aware of the ideological incoherence of the thing as a whole. Some of these people are not particularly bigoted or inclined to believe exceptionally crazy things. That said, the rhetoric of pretty much every candidate and major ideologue associated with the Tea Party is shot through with (sometimes coded) racism and xenophobic fear mongering. For all the talk of "liberty" and "constitutional principles", much of the rage is transparently directed at people exercising basic freedoms in some fashion that white, middle class, culturally conservative, capitalist Christians find offensive. Meanwhile, the Obama-is-not-really-American and Obama-is-a-secret-Muslim/secret-Stalinist narratives are merely the relatively presentable public face of a much more ramified collection of beliefs that it's perfectly reasonable to describe as batshit insane.

(I attended a Ron Paul meetup in Boulder last election cycle. I didn't know it was possible to pack that much bigoted conspiratorial lunacy into a single room. I think a lot of those people wouldn't necessarily identify with the Tea Party now, but it sure seems like a good chunk of the heat & light of Paul's campaign wound up there.)

I was born and raised in flyover country. Most of my family still live in rural Kansas and Nebraska. I've got a deep and abiding love and respect for those places and those people. But nothing I have ever seen there suggests to me that I would want the ideology of the region to have more influence on national politics, or that movements like the Tea Party - generated in large part by the deliberate action of monied "coastal elites" - are in any way acting in the real interests of people there. Not that I deny they're harnessing a lot of latent political energy in the area.

#Comment Re: made: 2010-10-29 18:34:19.863188+00 by: Dan Lyke

I guess I'd also observe that one of the big differences between the 9/11 Truthers and the Tea Partiers is that the former doesn't have big money backing them because they aren't politically useful.

And an additional note: I'm wary of partial libertarians. Anti-taxers who don't really believe in personal liberties (like Ron Paul). Despite the fact that I pay a hell of a lot more of my income in taxes than most of the Tea Party rank-and-file, I'm conscious that the restrictions on my activities come more from social control issues than from perhaps not receiving as much per dollar as I'd get if I spent that dollar myself rather than collectively.

Which is why I've started scoffing pretty heavily at those who complain about government intervention in their lives except when it comes to issues that support their own moral interpretation of the world.

#Comment Re: made: 2010-10-29 17:40:25.261456+00 by: Dan Lyke

Larry, agreed. A few weeks ago I drove by a "progressive" rally and made note of the 9/11 Truther banners. But right now that particular whackjob faction isn't a politically viable force, where the anti-masturbation Tea Partiers are.

#Comment Re: made: 2010-10-29 17:28:14.881369+00 by: Larry Burton

The sad part is that you can find similar ignorance coming out of any political rally, regardless of party. I think the Tea Party rallies are only a mild caricature of political rallies in general.

#Comment Re: made: 2010-10-29 17:04:01.076501+00 by: Dan Lyke

Stevesh, have you listened to the ignorance coming out of candidates like Christine O'Donnell? Or been to a Tea Party rally and seen the ignorance flow? (I have, up in Grass Valley).

As I said, I have those two experiences of the Tea Party, and I stand by my feeling that "keep the government out of my Medicare" isn't an outlier.

#Comment Re: made: 2010-10-29 09:17:17.112848+00 by: stevesh

I'm really trying hard to understand what it is about the Tea Party movement that terrifies the Left so much. Xenophobia, racism and conspiracy theaory ? Really ? Citations needed, please.

The only explanation for the fear I can come up with is the possibility that those of us in flyover country are finally deciding to get involved, and the Coastal Elite won't be running everything anymore...

#Comment Re: made: 2010-10-28 18:02:18.194448+00 by: meuon [edit history]

I haven't figured out the "Tea Party" yet, and the amount of FundiCrazies(tm) I see associated with it keep me from wanting to try. If the Libertarians could get and keep their act together, I'd tend to go that way.

The problem is: sane truthful politics about real issues is boring. Like it should be.

#Comment Re: made: 2010-10-28 17:21:26.121793+00 by: Dan Lyke

I think this has been one of the long term issues with the libertarian movement in general: There's always been uneasy bedfellows between the "my taxes are damned high and the damn Yankees are interfering in my life" and the "I'm smart enough to make my own decisions" crowd.

My first-hand experience with the Tea Party has been in two places:

First, as a rural movement, made up of people who aren't smart enough to understand just how much of their lifestyle is tax subsidized.

Second, as a movement of the older more senile rich white urban and suburbanites. The people who refer to the recent health care bill as "Obamacare"[1]; the deliberately ignorant, as typified in that New York Times article you linked to:

“I just feel he’s getting away from what America is,” said Kathy Mayhugh, 67, a retired medical transcriber in Jacksonville. “He’s a socialist. And to tell you the truth, I think he’s a Muslim and trying to head us in that direction, I don’t care what he says. He’s been in office over a year and can’t find a church to go to. That doesn’t say much for him.”

Which is largely why I've taken to mocking them; my experience of the Tea Party is that they tend to be fairly ignorant and let others do their thinking for them.

In the "not a monolithic organization", I realize it sounds a little tinfoil hat-ish, but NPR's recent linking the various allegedly independent GOP "issues" advertising organizations is an example of what you'll find if you start to scratch deeply. I think most of the Tea Partiers aren't smart enough to know where their funding comes from. Like the "six men of Hindustan, to learning much inclined", they look at the elephant, see the small subset of it that they agree with, brand themselves "Tea Party", and don't bother to look at the whole to see if this is the movement they really want to endorse.

[1] I've no problem with reasoned discourse on the pros and cons of the healthcare bill. However, use of the word/phrase "Obamacare" shows that someone hasn't bothered to learn anything about the bill or the processes that led to the thing that finally got passed, they're just parroting what they've heard.

#Comment Tea Party data made: 2010-10-28 15:42:55.063694+00 by: crasch


"Asked what they are angry about, Tea Party supporters offered three main concerns: the recent health care overhaul, government spending and a feeling that their opinions are not represented in Washington.

“The only way they will stop the spending is to have a revolt on their hands,” Elwin Thrasher, a 66-year-old semiretired lawyer in Florida, said in an interview after the poll. “I’m sick and tired of them wasting money and doing what our founders never intended to be done with the federal government.”

The Tea Party is also not a monilithic organization:


MyType, a psychographic opinion research firm of which I am CEO, surveyed over 17,000 Americans about the Tea Party to reveal the demographics, values, morals and personalities of the movement's supporters. The survey data suggest that the movement is in the middle of an identity crisis. Devoutly religious conservatives comprise 22.5% of the Tea Party and are its fastest growing segment. They bring with them a fundamentally different set of values, morals and personalities than libertarian supporters, a core group that represent 17% of the party. While the former tend to be morally charged, family-oriented traditionalists, many libertarian supporters are neither religious nor traditional. Rather, they are independent, intellectual, and morally permissive.

Unfortunately, the religious wing is on the upswing, while the libertarian wing is on the downswing.