Thursday, April 15, 2010

Just Who Is The Tea Party?

The NY Times just
did a poll on the 18% of the population who self-identify as "Tea Party." They are overwhelmingly white, male, over 45, and high income. What a shocker.

I could fit into that demographic except for 2 small details, my sexuality and my community college job and income might make me unwelcome at their tea party.

I notice that they are crystal clear about who they are not and what they hate: Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, the poor, blacks, hispanics, immigrants (legal and illegal, and especially brown), gay people, San Francisco, New York, Hollywood, Seattle, Muslims, unions, Buddhists, the media (except Fox News), single mothers, Oprah Winfrey, hipsters, kids, vegetarians, secularists, environmentalists ("tree-huggers"), and this is not an exhaustive list. I'm sure there are more categories of humanity that they just cannot abide that I can't remember off hand.

They are less clear about what they are for: "freedom" (for me but not for thee, everyone else can stay in their chains), "Christianity" (Catholic or Protestant or Evangelical?), "the free market," and "less government" (the poll found that the overwhelming majority of the Tea Party are on Medicare and Social Security, the 2 largest and most expensive government social welfare programs).

The article concluded with this strikingly candid admission:

But in follow-up interviews, Tea Party supporters said they did not want to cut Medicare or Social Security — the biggest domestic programs, suggesting instead a focus on “waste.”

Some defended being on Social Security while fighting big government by saying that since they had paid into the system, they deserved the benefits.

Others could not explain the contradiction.

“That’s a conundrum, isn’t it?” asked Jodine White, 62, of Rocklin, Calif. “I don’t know what to say. Maybe I don’t want smaller government. I guess I want smaller government and my Social Security.” She added, “I didn’t look at it from the perspective of losing things I need. I think I’ve changed my mind.”

In the 1930s, these same folk would have been out in the street protesting against Social Security. We forget that in 1965, they almost scuttled Medicare.

I think this whole movement is way over-analyzed. This group is the far right. It has been with us in one form or another since the Civil War. In my opinion, what it all boils down to is that these folks are upset because it just ain't a white man's world anymore. Tell it to Sitting Bull.

I'm going to go have a cup of tea now.

1 comment:

JayV said...

Very good to read you again. Happy Easter to you, too.

Good post. When I shared it with Facebook friends, the Capcha passwords were "navahoes foreign." Haha.