Friday, April 23, 2010

To Tell Tea Truth

Leonard Pitts Jr. has a good piece in the Miami Herald noting the recent CBS News poll regarding the Tea Party movement. Despite righty blog BS saying otherwise, about 20% of Americans identify with tea party sentiments. The poll came in at 18%. Unavailable from the poll is the size of the Ron Paul component, who can't stand Bush, opposed the wars, and clearly don't fit the following profile.

As for the rest, and the results would be strengthened with the Ron Paul component removed, the poll supports what everyone knows: they are old, white, racist, and saturated with hypocrisy.

They love George Bush, who trashed a $200B surplus to produce a $400B + deficit, but foam at the mouth over Obama's spending.

Bush deficit good!! Obama deficit bad!!

They hate big government but want it in bedrooms and classrooms. They hate health care legislation but love Medicaid and Medicare. They scream against a national ID card but support Arizona's SB1070. They bitch about government handouts as they cash their social security checks and ride public transportation to a public park for their rally. On seeing their rage, Newt Gingrich has suggested that while not sustainable as a political party, tea is more likely to end up as the militant wing of the Republican party.

What in the world does that mean?

The 20% figure is actually down from the ballpark 25-30% figure used for the last two decades to indicate the solid GOP base, probably reflecting a distillation towards more extreme elements. Tea is a louder but smaller subset, not an expansion, of the traditional GOP base. Sadly, media's obsession with ratings/drama is causing hyperventilation over tea party activities. Their 1500-2000 sized rallies generate a dozen times the press coverage given to much larger gatherings (some exceeding 100,000) for causes like K-12 and higher education funding. The single shot elections of the past year offer no real insight into the reality of matters tea. This summer and fall will clarify a lot. It will be interesting to see how tea pumped candidates perform. Rubio in Florida and Hayworth in Arizona provide a couple races to watch.

I did a double take when I heard that RNC Chairman Michael Steele has said that, "to be honest," African Americans have no reason to vote Republican. How refreshing to hear a prominent African American state the obvious, but how perplexing for it to come from the only African American left in the GOP, and further, the RNC chief! He's talking straight about his own party's pathetic record on race relations knowing full well they can't do a thing about it. Illinois Republicans closed a major fundraiser featuring Steele in Chicago Thursday night, not wanting what occurs there to be public.

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4 Comments:

Anonymous Observer said...

Christian Science Monitor did some good work and found that tea is way over-hyped.

A new concept in that article, which I highly recommend, is breaking them into various types. Many of them are "boom town" people caught in the housing debacle. Then there are the "tractor country" and "military bastion" types. Interesting.

According to their analysis, we're talking about a grand total of less than 100,000. That's it.

If indeed all this noise implodes in the upcoming elections, and Hayworth gets trounced by McCain, and Rubio loses to Crist, and Republicans gain LESS than normal for the cycle, I wonder what they'll say then.

4/23/2010 8:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

McCain vs. Hayworth is its own special animal. McCain is falling to pieces. This is a race between a bumbling dinosaur revoking his entire record and an arrogant self loving wind bag who could never get a real job.

4/23/2010 9:00 AM  
Blogger Liza said...

These discussions about the Tea Party reminded me of an interview with Noam Chomsky about his book, "Manufacturing Consent."

QUESTION: When we talk about manufacturing of consent, whose consent is being manufactured?

CHOMSKY: To start with, there are two different groups, we can get into more detail, but at the first level of approximation, there's two targets for propaganda. One is what's sometimes called the political class. There's maybe twenty percent of the population which is relatively educated, more or less articulate, plays some kind of role in decision-making. They're supposed to sort of participate in social life -- either as managers, or cultural managers like teachers and writers and so on. They're supposed to vote, they're supposed to play some role in the way economic and political and cultural life goes on. Now their consent is crucial. So that's one group that has to be deeply indoctrinated. Then there's maybe eighty percent of the population whose main function is to follow orders and not think, and not to pay attention to anything -- and they're the ones who usually pay the costs.

Anyone who has ever volunteered for an election knows this too well. The percentage of people you talk to who are informed and have an understanding of the issues is relatively small compared to those who don't or who are completely apathetic.

There are a lot of votes available in the uninformed masses and it may take only a couple of talking points, minimal persuasion, and an early ballot (so they don't have to get up off the couch where they are watching Fox News) to get their votes.

The problem with the Tea Party is not how many people are willing to go to the rallies and events, but how many people they can convince to vote for the candidates and issues that the Tea Party supports.

In fact, those who attend these Tea Party events and carry signs seem to be at a loss when asked to take the talking points to the next level, the level where you attempt to justify your position. Tea Party "activists," however many there really are, seem to be largely drawn from the uninformed masses. Many of them are there, quite obviously, just to express anger and hatred.

I have mixed feelings about all the media exposure. On one hand, the exposure identifies them as extremists. It shows who they are and oftentimes shows the racism and the ignorance. This would not be appealing to moderates.

The downside, of course, is that all the media attention gets through to those who are mostly uninformed yet lean toward being sympathetic to one or two of their issues such as "we pay too many taxes" or "government shouldn't control our lives" or "we are on the path to socialism" or "the deficit is too large." They certainly have sympathizers among white racists.

4/24/2010 11:28 AM  
Blogger Liza said...

Check out this 12 minute video that was linked on Huffpo of a Tea Party tax day protest event.

Enough said, I guess.

4/24/2010 11:51 AM  

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