Several polls have been conducted on the demographics of the movement. Though the various polls sometimes turn up slightly different results, they tend to show that Tea Party supporters tend more likely than Americans overall to be white, male, married, older than 45, regularly attending religious services, conservative, and to be more wealthy and have more education. Broadly speaking, multiple surveys have found between 10% and 30% of Americans identify as a member of the Tea Party movement. Most Republicans and 20% of Democrats support the movement.
And as Levine points out, Ted Cruz and David Brat are the epitome of this. Both being graduates of the most prestigious private Universities. Both doing very well academically, even graduating magna cum laude. Indeed though there are those who say it’s just a racist movement first popularized in the South, it really is more – and less – than that.
They and Cruz are not the elite but worship those who do have money, especially the elites. They think that everything should be privately owned and bought and sold. They love “free market” capitalism but are hardly libertarian.
The dominant inflection is libertarian. But Tea Party libertarianism is more visceral than philosophical. Tea Partiers talk an earful about freedom, but what they really want is freedom from government interference in areas that matter to them.
Racism and bigotry is only a part of it, for they despise anyone who is not like them. Most especially those below them, those they see as having servitude as their only worth. I read once where racism is only the ultimate in snobbery. Tea Partiers are the ultimate snobs – and snots.
Tea Partiers are also averse to state programs that advance the well being of the least well off, especially when they are not white. In this respect, the Tea Party is like many other right-wing political movements throughout the world. It has a xenophobic, nationalistic and, more or less explicitly, racist tinge.
Mind you, this is primarily about economic and class division, and keeping minorities poor, keeping them as cheap labor.
Levine wonders about their fixation on gun ownership and how these tea party people could also be so educated, maybe not realizing that both go hand in hand. That they feel and believe their high incomes and bank accounts entitle them to be able to defend their possessions and wealth by any means necessary.
One other little item, I would wager that few if any served in the military because their attitude would not be tolerated there for a minute. I say this without fear of contradiction since their attitude toward those who have served is the same as their attitude toward anyone else who is not white and well off.
Levine also explores the Tea Party’s lack of any real political convictions. This is simply because they have no conviction at all outside of their own personal well being.
Let me remind you of who we are talking about. Not those poor whites who associated themselves with the movement, but the upper crust. Lawyers and Doctors and Executives and College Professors and Bankers and Stockbrokers and all. The ones who live in exclusive neighborhoods and high rises and condos and want very much to keep them that way, exclusive. Who want to keep their country clubs off limits to anyone they deem their lessors. And their schools and their neighborhoods and their doctors, office and hospitals …
There are over 80 separate citizens militia groups in the US. That in a number of these cases they not only have guns but also high ordnance like grenades and rocket launchers.
That in more ant a few cases the local and state police and even the FBI won’t go into these camps. Even if they have evidence of wrong doing because they would get their bloody heads blown off.
That every one of these groups is compose entirely of white people. We don’t have to guess because we already know what would happen if Blacks or Latinos or Asians or Native Americans even tried to form such a group. All we really need to do is remember what happened to the Black Panthers and to Malcolm X. Or even the epitome of peaceful protest, Marten Luther King.
These groups recruit from the police and military. And the military has been known to recruit from them. Now I’m fairly sure that a Wall Street banker would be as welcome at one of these camps as a member of these camps would be in say Harlem. And treated with the same courtesy.
So while we verbally eviscerate those on the right, the Wall Street elites and Washington. As well as the Tea Party. And protest and sign petitions to end all the abominations that are being planned. Remember..
There really are people who actually DO pose an significant physical threat the powers that be. So much so in some cases that they are rarely – if ever – challenged. And those of us who consider ourselves to be more enlightened pose no threat what so ever.
Why is it that people like Mark Sanford – who has been involved in scandal after scandal, Sen. Tom Coburn – who has come out with some of the most outrageous statements and James Inhofe keep getting elected to office ? As well as any number of outright liers and crooks ?
Why do those same people as well as those who voted for them hate the idea of bank and business regulation ?
Because the people who voted these folks and others like them into office really do believe in the same things that their representatives believe in. That’s why.
They hate Obamacare and taxes and all regulation. Not just business regulation…ALL REGULATION. They hate being told where they can drink or eat or smoke. Who they can keep out of their establishments and schools and housing subdivisions. Be they Irish or Jewish or German or Black or Latino or Native American or Gay or Female. They hate Affirmative Action and The Voting Rights Acts and anything that gives anyone special privileges – well except them of course.
They hate being taxed to help all those they despise or because they engage in some activity or indulge in some substance that others do not approve. To charge what ever they like and pay their employees whatever they like and work them as hard as they like.
It’s not because they don’t like Federal largesse, that has nothing to do with it. They see the Federal government as a bunch of meddlesome busy bodies and the left especially so. Getting down on their churches and private religious schools – the last place they see where they still have complete control.
They want to see a world like it was in 1957 where they could do what they wanted, where they want with out fear of someone getting on their case. Where they could deny access to anyone for any reason. Especially those they despise. And they see the only way to accomplish this to to deny the government of the funds needed to enforce those laws. Thereby neutering it.
The segment deals with what Jonathan Haidt refers as The Righteous Mind. That now more than in the past, both sides tend toward good vs evil and black and white thinking. And judging each other in this way.
JONATHAN HAIDT: Anytime we’re interacting with someone, we’re judging them, we’re sharing expectations, we think they didn’t live up to those expectations.
So, in analyzing any social situation you have to understand moral psychology. Our moral sense really evolved to bind groups together into teams that can cooperate in order to compete with other teams.
So, some situations will sort of ramp up that tribal us-versus-them mentality. Nothing gets us together like a foreign attack. And we’ve seen that, 9/11, and Pearl Harbor. And, conversely, when there are moral divisions within the group, and no external attack, the tribalism can ramp up, and reach really pathological proportions. And that’s where we are now.
They speak of how the civil rights acts push the south over to the republicans. And he and Moyers make some interesting points but I think they did not spend enough time on this main point.
JONATHAN HAIDT: So there are three major historical facts, or changes, that have gotten us into the mess that we’re in. So the first is the realignment of the South into the Republican column, which allowed both parties now to be pure. So that now there are basically no liberal Republicans matching up with conservative Democrats. So, the parties are totally separated. The second thing that happened was the replacement of the Greatest Generation by the Baby Boomers.
BILL MOYERS: The Greatest Generation fought World War II. Came home. Built the country, ran the economy. People’s politics, and, created this consensual government your talking–
JONATHAN HAIDT: Exactly. These are people who joined groups, had a sense of civic responsibility, participated in the democratic process. And so these people, as they moved through. I mean, they could disagree. Politics has always been contentious. But at the end of the day, they felt they were part of the same country, and in the Senate and the House, they were part of the same institution. They’re replaced by the Baby Boomers. And what’s their foundational experience?
It’s not responding together to a foreign threat. It’s fighting each other over whether this country is doing evil, or good. So you get the good/evil dichotomy about America, and about each other happening in the ’60s, and ’70s, when these people grow up, assume political office. Now, you got Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich. It’s a lot harder for them to agree than it was for Tip O’Neill and Ronald Reagan.
BILL MOYERS: So we get through the culture wars. Fights over abortion, prayer in schools. And that conflict becomes very polarizing.
JONATHAN HAIDT: Exactly.
BILL MOYERS: And that’s because of the Baby Boomers, and-
JONATHAN HAIDT: Well, the Baby Boomers, I think, are more prone to Manichean thinking.
BILL MOYERS: Manichean thinking. Good and evil.
I believe that this one issue has as much to do with our culture these days ans it’s politics as anything else. Maybe more so. The righteous ideology that has been appearing now bares a striking resemblance to the ideological riffs between the baby boomers and their parents and parents generation and even between the baby boomers themselves.
My father never got around to talking about his experiences during the depression and WWII. Most of what I learned has been from my mother. I do not believe there has been a generation since that has gone through the same kinds of situations as those who fought in WWII or even those who remained state side and worked in the industries that supported it. I don’t mean to imply better or worse, just vastly different. That those who were fighting in Europe and Africa and the Pacific, though they may have hated the enemy – a lot of them also gained great respect for them as well.
And more so for their comrades in arms. You may or may not know or even agree with his or her’s personal politics and social, religious and other beliefs – they were your comrades and you learned to respect them. This carried over after the war. It’s is very difficult to have extreme views of those whom one has fought, worked and seem killed. I believe that it was a mistake that this need to respect and need to be able to view those who you disagree with was not passed on the way it should have been. And more so as to the reasons we need to be able to to this. That more people who were involved with WWII should have expressed better what it was really like. Instead what we got was some Hollywood romanticized version that was at best counter productive.
It was believed that WWII was a righteous and just war and though there was anti-was sentiment at the time, it was small and mild.
This was not the case with Vietnam however. The anti-war sentiment among those of my generation – baby boomers was very strong. Although mostly remembered as being directed toward those of my parent’s generation who supported it, what is rarely reported these days is how strong it was within the baby boomers who apposed it toward those who supported it. I would say with out fear of contradiction, even stronger as they were seen as evil war mongers, killers and traitors to their generation. And this feeling went both ways, with the supporters viewing the protestors as equally vile.
And the Kent State shootings helped to cement this view on both sides. Along the same lines there was a large number who were also beginning to question our form of government and economic system as well. And were seen by those who unquestioningly supported it as being traitors and anti-American and worse. These feelings that each side had toward one another did not magically disappear after the war concluded and the troops came home. And having not been really dealt with, have been passed on and have festered.
So the seeds of disdain amongst certain sectors of the the baby boomer generation were already sowed on both sides.
And as Jonathon Haidt point out later on in this segment, our culture has been self segregating since after WWII.
JONATHAN HAIDT: The third is that America has gone from being a nation with localities that were diverse by class, in particular, let’s say. You had rich people, and poor people living together.
It’s become, in the post-war world, gradually a nation of lifestyle enclaves, where people chose to self-segregate. If people are concentrating just with people who are like them, then they’re not exposed to the ideas from the other side, from people that they can actually like and respect. If you get all your ideas about the other side from the internet, where there’s no human connection, it’s just so easy, and automatic to reject it, and demonize it. So once we’ve sorted ourselves into homogeneous moral communities, it becomes a lot harder to work together.
Thus making it easier to justify our views of each side. Especially when we already have a negative view of them. And to justify our own beliefs as well.
This kind of thinking – this demonization of each other – has lead in the past to some of the bloodiest conflicts in history. At least one of which has occurred here on this continent.
It should be rather obvious that the republican part is the party of white people. More specifically white people who are very religious, fairly rich and hold racist views of non-whites.
The common belief of those on the left is that this began with Nixon after the the civil rights acts were passed. But it goes back further than that. To end of Franklin Roosevelt’s fourth term. FDR had made a deal with the Dixiecrats. if they would support his New Deal legislation – the CCC WPA Social Security – the democratic party and the government would turn a blind eye with what they did and how they did it.
The democratic party at the 1948 convention had just approved a civil rights platform, one that was mild and vague and ambiguous enough not to offend the South. The liberal wing however were incensed by this and the them mayor of Minneapolis – Hubert Humphrey - vowed to take the fight to the delegates.
The liberals’ plank included anti-lynching and anti-poll tax legislation, ending segregation in the armed forces, supporting fair employment laws. All were positions the nominee-to-be, Harry Truman, supported. – SFGate
The convention roared it’s approval and the southern Dixiecrats walked out. They held their own convention and nominated Strom Thurmond as their candidate. Truman won the election of 1948 without the Dixiecrats though.
But FDR himself wanted to rid the party of the “reactionary elements” in the south and in 1944 said to one of his advisers, “. . . the time has come for the Democratic Party to get rid of its reactionary elements in the South and attract to it liberals in the Republican Party.” Lead by Wendell Wilkie. But Wilkie died before the 1944 election and the liberals that followed him fell apart.
So instead of attracting these liberals into the democratic party, it left the door open for the southern Dixiecrats. The southern states had their own reasons for hating the democratic party’s stance on unions and labor and social contracts. These things meant that they would have to treat blacks the same as whites and this they would never do. Unions had black members and so unions were anti-south. Equal education and voting was also considered anti south.
But what the politicians of the time neglected to consider was that outside the metro areas in the northern and central states, a lot of whites held similar beliefs as those in the south. So when the civil rights acts were passed by congress and signed by LBJ, white resentment swelled from Alabama to Idaho and Oregon to Main in the predominantly white small towns and rural areas. Reagan’s meme of the “Welfare Queen” hit a nerve with those folks as well and the republicans knew it.
A Republican strategist said something interesting and revealing on Friday, though it largely escaped attention in the howling gusts of punditry over Mitt Romney’s birth certificate crack and a potential convention-altering hurricane. The subject was a Ron Brownstein story outlining the demographic hit rates each party requires to win in November. To squeak out a majority, Mitt Romney probably needs to win at least 61 percent of the white vote — a figure exceeding what George H.W. Bush commanded over Michael Dukakis in 1988. The Republican strategist told Brownstein, “This is the last time anyone will try to do this” — “this” being a near total reliance on white votes to win a presidential election.
. . . . .
Blowing up the welfare state and affecting the largest upward redistribution of wealth in American history is a politically tricky project (hence Romney’s belief that he may need to forego a second term). Hence the Romney campaign’s clear plan to suture off its slowly declining but still potent base. Romney’s political-policy theme is an unmistakable appeal to identity politics. On Medicare, Romney is putting himself forward as the candidate who will outspend Obama, at least when it comes to benefits for people 55 years old and up. Romney will restore the $700 billion in Medicare budget cuts imposed by Obama to its rightful owners — people who are currently old.
He will cut subsidies to the non-elderly people who would get insurance through Obamacare — a program that, Romney’s ads remind older voters, is “NOT FOR YOU.” Romney’s repeated ads on welfare, blaring the brazen lie that Obama has repealed the welfare work requirement, hammer home the same theme. The purpose is to portray Obama as diverting resources from us to them.
In their heart of hearts, Romney and Ryan would probably prefer a more sweeping, across-the-board assault on the welfare state. But the immense popularity of the largest, middle-class social insurance programs like Medicare and Social Security force them into the divide-and-conquer gambit. They can promise to hold their disproportionately old, white base harmless and impose the entire brunt of their ambitious downsizing of government on young, poor, and disproportionately nonwhite Democratic constituencies. – New York Magazine
In other words to remove every piece of legislation that had been passed since FDR took office. Something the southern whites would like to see as well. Probably even more so since then they could bring back a defacto slave state and reinstate segregational policies.
Groupies. If you have ever been to a concert, you can spot them. They hang around the groups there. Wangle to get the best seats. First up with the autographs and defend them to the death. The groups music is always the best and the members can do no wrong.
Wall Street has it’s own groupies as well. They play the market like they are part of the elites. Defend all that Wall Street does. The hang around them and wish they could be one of them but have not the talent or resources. The live in gated communities and drive imported cars and vacation just outside the Hamptons.
These systems managers believe nothing. They have no loyalty. They are rootless. They do not think beyond their tiny, insignificant roles. They are blind and deaf. They are, at least regarding the great ideas and patterns of human civilization and history, utterly illiterate. And we churn them out of universities. Lawyers. Technocrats. Business majors. Financial managers. IT specialists. Consultants. Petroleum engineers. “Positive psychologists.” Communications majors. Cadets. Sales representatives. Computer programmers. Men and women who know no history, know no ideas. They live and think in an intellectual vacuum, a world of stultifying minutia. They are T.S. Eliot’s “the hollow men,” “the stuffed men.” “Shape without form, shade without colour,” the poet wrote. “Paralysed force, gesture without motion.”
Like the musical groupies they have no creativity of their own. No imagination, compassion or passion. They are the Uriah Heepsof society. The cockroaches, the maggots and the leaches. In the past they were the bourgeois and petite bourgeousie. The enablers and supporters of all that the elites did.
They really have no politics. Some are republicans ,some tea party, some democrat. What ever suites their purpose at the time since all they really care about is furthering their own agendas. They will be at the republican and democratic conventions cheering on their favorite performers. Caring not one bit about what the lyrics say or whether or not they can actually play.
Just as long as they can keep their big fortified houses with their BMWs and indoor swimming pools. Shop at Whole Foods or Macys and attend self help seminars and focus on self actualization.
They will support Romney or Obama – whatever suits their fancy.
In an interview with Mark Karlin in Truth Out, Tim Wise gives us some insight into where some of the hate, fear and resentment that particular parts of white America has been vocalizing more and more in the last decades comes from. The origins of which are actually older than this country. The interview revolves around Tim’s new book, Dear White America. It begins with how this White Tribal Identity came over with the first settlers from Europe but was put to use so the elites of the time could gloss over the deep class divisions that existed and enable the subjugation of African slaves and natives.
The term white was not, in fact, used in the European context to universalize the various European ethnic and national identities: after all, those national and ethnic groups had been slaughtering each other for generations. They hardly thought of themselves as members of a single team, let alone family. So while white supremacy has its roots in the class, religious and ethno-national systems of Europe, it took America – this place where the old divisions would need to be put aside so as to subjugate indigenous persons and maintain chattel enslavement of Africans in the name of “the white race” – to really bring racism, as we know it to fruition. Whiteness was really something of a trick, developed for the purpose of uniting otherwise disparate Europeans, first, so as to make the subordination of “non-whites” easier, but also (and importantly), to paper over the otherwise deep class cleavages that had long beset those from Europe. If the elite could make the poor Europeans believe they were members of the same “white” team as the rich Europeans, then the prospects for class-based rebellion would be dampened.
Karl Denninger was one of the founders of the Tea Party back just a few years ago when some concerned conservatives wanted to fire back at the government for what they said was unjust practices.
Today, similar sentiments are being echoed by the Occupy Wall Street movement.
Is it right to make comparisons between the two groups? Denninger says that, yes, to some degree the comparisons are indeed accurate. The Occupy movement, however, can learn from some of the mistakes that he says the Tea Party succumbed to.
“The problem with protests and the political process is that it is very easy, no matter how big the protests is, for the politicians to simply wait for the people to go home,” says Denninger. “Then they can ignore you.”
And this is the thing that happened in the 1960s with the anti-war movement. As soon as it looked like the war would end, everyone went home and forgot about it.
But far too many on the left, possibly because they do not want to see it or because they have their own agenda and hatred for Wall Street and the bankers , want the Tea party to be all about the rich and elite. But I think Morgan Freeman is closer to the point.
“Their stated policy, publicly stated, is to do whatever it takes to see to it that Obama only serves one term,” the actor said. “What’s, what does that, what underlines that? ‘Screw the country. We’re going to whatever we do to get this black man, we can, we’re going to do whatever we can to get this black man outta here.’”
Declaring once again that “it’s a racist thing,” Freeman said the group’s rise has shown the hate still lingering in America.
“Well, it just shows the weak, dark, underside of America,” he said. “We’re supposed to be better than that. We really are. That’s, that’s why all those people were in tears when Obama was elected president. “Ah, look at what we are. Look at how, this is America.” You know? And then it just sort of started turning because these people surfaced like stirring up muddy water.”
Sure they’re being used by Wall Street but they just don’t give a damn. They hate that there is a black man as president and the really hate that any of Their Tax Money is being used to benefit any minority – especially blacks - so they are perfectly willing to see the country broke even it it means they themselves will be affected. There is such a thing as cutting off ones nose to spite ones face. So to my eyes is it about racism and bigotry. Just the same old racist upper class white pricks that went ballistic over desegregation and civil rights. But now they are wrapping it up in libertarianism and religion.
On the Left, the argument is almost the polar opposite, faulting Obama for applying timid solutions to grave problems (like agreeing to water down his stimulus plan with tax cuts to get a couple of GOP votes). He also is disparaged for bending over backwards to Republicans in the unrealistic hope that they would reciprocate with some measure of bipartisanship. These Left critics say Obama should have used his “bully pulpit” aggressively to fight for his positions, whether his larger stimulus plan or a “public option” in his health-care bill, and he should have held George W. Bush and his aides accountable for war-crimes, from torturing detainees in the “war on terror” to waging aggressive war against Iraq.
Facing this barrage of criticism from all sides, Obama’s shrinking army of defenders points to the unfairness of it all. America’s first black president inherited the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression and was burdened with a federal deficit of more than $1 trillion (while Bush started with a robust economy and a budget surplus).
Then goes on to list or rather give some lame excuses for the lack of leadership such as the bogus 60 vote majority, the loss of a couple of senate seats and the intransigence of the republicans. All of which could have been overcome, although with a good deal of effort. Then starts point his finger at the media, the population in general and back at the left again. Even bringing up the class war being waged by the uber-rich and cheered on by the tea party right.
The dysfunction is not simply the Republicans and the Democrats, as some centrist pundits like to pontificate. It is the entirety of the system, including the pundits themselves, the national news media and the think-tank structure. It is the Right’s splurging on what amounts to information warfare and the Left’s skimping when it comes to building a counter-media infrastructure.
It is also a population that is too lazy (or too distracted) to wade through all the half-truths and disinformation to find something approximating the truth on a wide variety of topics. Many Americans either believe falsehoods or are profoundly confused by all the noise.
Another remarkable part of the American dysfunction is that at a time when – as billionaire Warren Buffett says – the rich are winning the class war, the nation’s top “populist” movement is the Tea Party, which is fighting to give the rich more money and to grant their corporations more power.
Tea Party favorites, such as Rep. Michele Bachman, actually favor taxing the working class more (by making everyone pay some income taxes) so the top income tax rates on the rich can be lowered again.
Half truths at best. What he and so many others refuse to accept or even look at are those that are benefiting from the status quo. Those whose life is still good even while the rest of the country is slowly dying a torturous economic death. Those who were the actual beneficiaries of the bank bail outs. The ones who have been protected at all costs all along, while the middle class and those below have been thrown under the bus.
The country is dysfunctional as he points out. But he does not understand the dynamics of a dysfunctional family. Where those who are the most in delusion and denial are always protected from the truth by the others. They are coddled and their abuses hidden. Even from themselves at all costs.
Those who make over 90k a year working for Microsoft and Apple and DELL. Who work in defense plants as engineers and management and as doctors and lawyers and in the financial industry as accountants. Whose 401Ks and stock portfolios must be enshrined. Some who are part of the teabagging right or call themselves liberal – as long as their defense plants aren’t closed. Like the so called liberals of the past who supported blacks and minorities and civil rights just as long their kids did not have to got to school with them.
The ones who must not under any circumstances feel any of the pain the rest of us feel. The ones whose positions in the insurance industry were well taken care of by the so called health bill. Those who work nice cushy jobs in health care industry and whose salary has never been questioned.
There is a reason why those of us on the left go after the Democrats and Obama supporters who genuflect in their direction while holding onto their financial rosary beads.
The question though comes, why have we not risen up in numbers and yelled this from the roof tops ? Why has there not been some one person on the left to yells CHARGE !
I for one have a reason. A reason why I have not supported vigorously an uprising of this sort. It’s for the very reasons state above. It’s because these people whose lives are still pretty cushy, have not felt the pain. Because in order for any movement in this direction, these are the people that need to begin to feel the pain.
And I for one would be very OK in letting the system fail to the point that these people did begin to feel some pain. I would even be open to helping it along.
Because until they begin to feel the financial pain – until they begin to hit bottom, only then is there any chance of them seeing – what we see – that the system is broken and badly in need of changing. They have to hit bottom themselves in order to see how their behavior effects others. For they are both the abusers and enablers of the system.
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