Paul Street

Last active
2 years, 7 months ago
  • Thank you Vanessa, Bev and all!

  • Vanessa – we are throwing a lot at you so please no worries about falling behind. I’ve been on your side of this exercise and it can be very daunting. I think you have done a wonderful job. I also wanted to say that you and professor Skocpol found very many things that Tony and I also found with our own somewhat different methods and interpretation particularly:on demographics; on partisan identity (yes they are loud and very right but partisan Republicans [we used a term from a Bloomberg poll: "super Republicans"] who will grumble but vote for Romney at the end of the day…and yes they are NOT centrist Independents); on subtle racism towards blacks and Latinos vs. more explicit racism toward Muslism; on FOX News dependence; on their contradictory positions vis a vis government; on the differences between the political positions of what you call “grasoots” Tea Partiers (we don’t use the term grasoorts vis a vis the Tea Party)and the ambitions of the Koch brothers and Armey et al at the elite level; on the role that the TP phenomenom played in the 2010 elections and more.

  • I want to say that I am also a bit skeptical of “the Tea Party pushed the GOP and America to the right” narrative. The GOP has been moving in a radically regressive extreme direction for 3 plus decades and indeed the whole party system has been shifting to the right (see Hacker and Pierson’s book Off Center) over the same period basically in accord (Hacker and Pierson argue) with the growing concentration of wealth and power in the neoliberal era. “The Tea Party” is part of the broader history it seems to me.

    Here is a good quote from John Judis at New Republic earlier this year: “Over the last four decades, “the Republican Party has transformed from a loyal opposition into an insurrectionary party that flouts the law when it is in the majority and threatens disorder when it is the minority. It is the party of Watergate and Iran-Contra, but also of the government shutdown in 1995 and the impeachment trial of 1999. If there is an earlier American precedent for today’s Republican Party, it is the antebellum Southern Democrats of John Calhoun who threatened to nullify, or disregard, federal legislation they objected to and who later led the fight to secede from the union over slavery.”

    The New York Times editors got something right last summer during the deb ceiling crisis (which really hurt the T.P. BTW)in an editorial titled “Race to the Right” (NYT, August 6, 2011). It is “far too simplistic,” the Times’ editors wrote “to blame the loose coalition of Republicans known as the Tea Party for the debt-limit debacle. It was not the Tea Party fringe of the Republican Party that dragged the economy to the brink — it was its center. The party has moved so far to the right that there is little difference between fringe and mainstream..The Tea Party did not come up with this strategy. Although several of its elected members said they would never vote to raise the debt ceiling, it was John Boehner, the House speaker, who in May devised the fatal formula that President Obama would have to agree to cut more from spending than the amount of the debt-limit increase..”

    As the Times editors added. “To understand the Republican Party in the House, it is better to consider the Republican Study Committee, 176 fiscal hard-liners who make up two-thirds of the entire caucus (including many of the Tea Party members). Its chairman, Jim Jordan of Ohio, was one of the biggest obstacles to a deal and refused to support it.”

    “It is this larger group that Mr. Boehner and his lieutenants fear the most. The Tea Party alone could not topple the speaker. But the Republican core could.”

    That is exactly right. Consistent with the Times editors’ take, DiMaggio notes that there are almost no significant differences in the voting records of “Tea Party Republicans” and “establishment” Republicans when it comes to key political-economic issues.

  • Question from DiMaggio. For some reason, Tony’s questions are not making it up on the site. So he just sent me this via yahoo:

    ‘here’s the last comment I had, which won’t get posted for whatever reason:’

    ‘ “We focus equally on activists, conservative media, and well-funded DC
    elites, and show how these forces worked together to push the Republican
    Party to the right.” ‘

    ‘I agree the TEa Party has pushed public discourse to the right and that it
    must be taken very seriously as a political phenomenon. Do you agree,
    however, that it’s power is at times very exaggerated? politically
    speaking, the tp caucus is a very small minority of all members of the
    House and Senate. they’re not dictating terms to anyone, republicans or
    democrats alike, in terms of voting power, on issues like the debt
    ceiling. also, recent ADA scores suggest the difference between TEa Party
    republicans and non TP republicans is more one of degree than substance.
    neither group has voted any differently from the other when it comes to
    repealing “obamacare,” when it comes to reauthorizing the patriot act, in
    terms of voting for cut, cap, and trade, etc. etc.’

  • A follow up question: is “the Tea Party” running out of usefuleness to the GOP? Polling data suggests that it may be becoming a liability to the party. Why do you think its popularity has fallen considerably? What future do you see for “the Tea Party” after 2012?

    An aside on FOX’s influence: I will never forget the day I was driving around in my car and listening to right wing radio and three people in a row called in to tell Sean Hannity why American has been slipping into a totalitarian socialist Hell since the presidency of …not Obama, not LBJ, not even FDR, no…since Woodrow Wilson. Many Tea Partiers I’ve spoken to have gone off about 100 years of socialist decline since…the Progressive Age. Now that is completely insane (like most of what they have to say on American history, including above all the Constitution, where things get truly bizarre) but it directly traceable to Glenn Beck and he in fact got the Wilson angle from the Birch Society

  • Sorry about all that:) Question: how will the Tea Party cohort vote in 2012. Vanessa, do you agree with me that they will in fact strongly support Romney (even as they grumble about him) is he gets the nomination? Your book suggests that you agree, I think.

  • BTW my last rant is a bit heated perhaps but quite serious. I’m in Iowa where in 2007 the ill-fated John Edwards repeatedly and I thought quite properly (whatever Edwards’ real motives were) called out the next president (Obama) for taking a polite and accommodating rather than a fighting stance towards (1) right wing Republicans (and the GOP has been moving well to the arch-authoritarian right since well before the Tea Party brand was discovered and will continue to do after the brand [soon perhaps] is discarded) and (2) Wall Street/corporate America. I know a moderator above said that the topic is Tea Party and not the president but I would cauton against setting up overly strong boundaries in that regard. It is the sense of many progressive and left activists and commmentators that the mid-term hard right Tea Party/GOP/Teapublican triumph of 2010 (where basically the party of Reagan coasted on the rebrand afforded them by the Tea Party phenomemon and on the Democrats’ demobilization of their own base) would never have happened had the president and Derms actually governed even remotely or partly as a fighting progressive…as actual champions of woorking people. Instead we got what Edwards and Paul Krugman called the “big table fantasy” – the deeply conciliatory and conservative path of claiming that you could get meaningful progressive change by sitting down at “a big negotiating table” with the (purported) enemies of the right and the corporate elite. Edwards was right: “that’s singing Kumbaya: the right and big business will eat everything served.” Excessive politeness towards these folks can prove quite dysfunctional, I say… as the current administration (a product of record setting campaign backing from Wall Street in 2008 – money well spent) bombs another Afghan family and deep sixes the latest attempts to save humanity from catastohic climate change in Durban.

  • Vanessa, you and professor Skocpol are much kinder to the Tea Party cohort than may of us activist types out here ever could imagine being. You have a line somewhere in the book about meeting some “special people” in the Tea Party groups and you do a lot of interesting work to convey sense of their humanity. Now I am not one to demonize others but I really must say that in my own efforts to speak to Tea Partiers and attend their meetings and view their communications, I’ve met quite a few very vicious people. More generally,as the survey data shows, they are savagely indifferent to and ignorant about the plight real situation of inner city black children (and yes the Tea Partiers are absoltuely racists …of the neoliberal/”color blind sort” though they are quite explicitly bigoted in regard to Muslims), of immigrants, of youth, of the rising number of poor in general. They are viciously hypocrical and narcissistic when it comes to government: they wish to keep and fund Social Security and Medicare, which they insist they deserve even while they would deny basic social protections and services to the supposedly undeserving poor, who happen to be disproportionately nonwhite. They routinely repeat ridiculous propagandistic nonsense claiming that the corporate and frankly conservative President and the Democrats are leftists/Marxists… They have carried right wing, “rancid populist” (William Grieder’s term in Who Will Tell the People [1992]) to a new level, blaming poor blacks and Latinos, not the 1 percent (if I might use that term) for the mortgage crisis and financial meltdown. Why are you guys so nice to these people? Aren’t they the enemy to be defeated? :)

  • OFG there is a great deal of old wine in new bottles about “the Tea Party” — no doubt about it. But we do have a new conjuncture that is many ways more dangerous and one important factor among many today is the fact that the hard right has an entire section of the corporate media called FOX News where basically the John Birch-influenced rantings (the tip off here is the obsession with Woodrow Wilson as some sort of great socialist menace) of Glenn Beck et al have shaped millions of minds.

  • please eCAHNomics for other readers define “PTB”…

  • I know that someone already asked about Occupy but my question is a little different from theirs. I saw quiter a bit of commentary in the mainstream (dominant corporate) media saying basically that Occupy Wall Street was “the Tea Party of the left.” This became a recurrent theme for while, led in part by Michael Scherer at Time magazine. I am curious what you think about that analogy.

  • Vanessa, I’ve read the book or most of it but I still feel like I’m not 100 percent sure about your answer to the question: “are the Tea Partiers racists?” Are they or aren’t they?

  • Here for Dakine is a quote from p.75 of the book: “But Tea Party members rarely stressed economic concerns to us – and they never blamed business or the super-rich for America’s troubles.”

  • Ok its 4 pm my time and 5 out east so let me (1)invite everyone to go ahead and ask Vanessa Williamson a question and (2) open with a rather cliche and generic question of my own to the author: Vanessa, what led/compelled/drove you and professor Skocpol to write a book on “the Tea Party” or perhaps I should just say the Tea Party phenomenon?

  • Hi Bev and Vanessa….getting set up

  • We found essentially no public opinion data on their foreign policy positions. This wasn’t polled much. Libertarian types who joined early started complaining quickly about the pretty strong militarism they picked up in local chapters and rallies. Strong approval numbers for George W. Bush suggestt strong militarism. So does their deletion of the Pentagon system from calls for deficit reduction and fiscal discipline. Beck as a Tea Party icon (and Palin too) fir the militarist profile. And so do their attitudes about Islam and Muslims, which are ptetty awful….

  • “The Tea Party” cannot elect a president of its own kind of course. It can provide super-Republican energy to help a Romney or Huntsman or Pawlenty defeat a hated Democrat damaged by a double-dip recession And it can help push that president or a returning Obama further right

  • I don’t see it as a Tea Party versus GOP split. As Tony mentioned, the Republicans in House voted 2 to 1 against the Bush-Paulsen bailouts….so we are dealing with pre-existing divisions within the GOP and they seem to be related to Tom Ferguson-like divisions within capital to some degree (well, this is a subject for more research).

  • The Tea Party, like Beck and like Father Coughlin, draws on economnic anexiety. Perhaps now we are going into a double dip recession, as many warned. Because of that and the fact that GOP’s popularity is so bad (necessitating the Tea Party re-brand) and the fact that dominant media still seems to like the brand and is hooking it to 2012, it could be with us for a while.

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