The Problem with the Tea Parties


Erik Kain

Erik writes about video games at Forbes and politics at Mother Jones. He's the contributor of The League though he hasn't written much here lately. He can be found occasionally composing 140 character cultural analysis on Twitter.

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26 Responses

  1. Avatar Koz says:

    First of all, I can personally attest that the protests were not astroturfed, in Chicago at least. They weren’t nearly slick enough for that. As far as being against Obama goes, well, Obama is bad for the country so what do you want? As far as a positive message goes, the Tea Partiers are for low taxes (and Obama is in the way of that, of course). Finally, the Partiers are motivated by honest outrage: outrage at high taxes and unemployment. They’re just not outraged by the same things you are.Report

  2. Avatar Jaybird says:

    The argument that the folks at the tea parties supporting Bush for 8 years doesn’t really wash, necessarily, with me. From 2002-2006? Sure. Absolutely.

    But 2006 had the people throw the bums out. If you see 2006 as an endorsement of the Democrats, sure. You can question whether the “red staters” really cared… but if you see it as a vote of no confidence, that’s when Obama truly won the 2008 election (that’s when it was signalled that ‘generic democrat’ won the 2008 election).

    There’s also the whole “where else you gonna go?” phenomenon. Look at the whole Paula Jones thing with Clinton. Why weren’t there protests of the same vigorousness against Clarence Thomas? Without getting into the whole debate of how what this guy did was vile but what this guy did was just stuff that happens at work, like you’ve never done anything like that, there is very much the undercurrent of “dude, why you gonna attack this guy and put yourself on the same side as those even worse people over there?” That “enemy of my enemy is an even bigger enemy” dynamic exists… and yet 2006 happened anyway. And then 2008.

    I can’t think of a bigger signal that there is a huge chunk of folk that did not support Bush after the red from 9/11 faded.

    Let’s say a Perot shows up (not *THE* Perot, just a Perot) says “not a dime’s worth of difference!” and gets 16% again.

    Would it be less creepy for tea parties to exist then? Or will the basic assumption be that the people who show up to those things are still associated with the equivalent of ANSWER because they supported Bush for 8 years?Report

  3. Avatar E.D. Kain says:

    Finally, the Partiers are motivated by honest outrage: outrage at high taxes and unemployment.

    Maybe unemployment but high taxes? I’m sorry, but I doubt most Tea Partiers just got tax hikes…

    Jaybird, I don’t know. All good points, but I still think it’s all a bit contrived and aimless. We’ll see….Report

  4. Avatar matoko_chan says:

    The teaparties actually grew out of the strongly grassroots Paulite movement.
    People have traced the memo history.
    But the Paulites have stepped away as the movement became coopted by their intra-party enemies, FOXnews and the RNC.
    You are right about the unemployment issue, and the culture of blame.
    It is just a misdirect on populist socon rage.
    The socons have figured out that their leadership scammed them on abortion, school prayer, SSM, and life-at-conception.
    They are losing their jobs and 401ks, and they need a target.
    So the fake-out that the teaparties are bipartisan and not really about Obama becomes the partyline….when actually all there seems to be is anti-Obama.Report

  5. Avatar matoko_chan says:

    And you right about the movement being headless.
    There is not a real contender right now.
    My projection is that the base will force Palin as the nominee.
    I think the base needs some object lessons, and a Palin candidacy is a way to learn them.Report

  6. Avatar E.D. Kain says:

    I don’t know, matoko. I’m getting the feeling like Palin may be on the way out. Not right away – but I sort of doubt she’ll be the one in 2012. I could be wrong. I often am.Report

  7. Avatar matoko_chan says:

    Jaybird….can I point out something here?
    Obama is a black man.
    The only reason he won this time was the econopalypse, and the alternative was a 72 year old 4x cancer survivor with an ex-beauty queen fishgutter from podunk nowheresville as a backup.
    The demographic timer is running out for the republicans now….in 2020 caucasian becomes a minority. The over 65s are dying off without replacements, and the increasing urbanization is a killah too.
    Obama only won by 9.5 million votes, but the electoral college was a blowout, 365 to 173.
    McCain got the electoral votes from the red states…but there arent enough electoral votes in those states to win anymore.
    So, no, republicans staying home is a myth.
    The demographic timer is running out.Report

  8. Avatar Jaybird says:

    “contrived and aimless”

    Sure. Sure. It’s a group of people protesting the government who have never done such a thing before. You want a real air of authenticity and laser-focus, you need professionals. We’re dealing with people who, heretofore, limited airing their grievances about the government to $6 bucket of beer night at Oscar’s. These are amateurs. I find that charming, in a weird way. More power to them.

    Makoto, Obama was able to beat Hillary in the primaries. No mean feat. The Libertarian wing (REPRESENT!) of the conservatives had been told the same thing that Cheney told Pat Lehey on the Senate floor and the Libertarian wing obliged. The Fiscal Conservatives said “there ain’t a dime’s worth of difference, might as well vote for the social issues I agree with…” and they jumped ship or stayed home.

    The Republican Party nominated a (quoting because I don’t want it assumed that I necessarily agree with any or all of this), ahem, “72 year old 4x cancer survivor with an ex-beauty queen fishgutter from podunk nowheresville as a backup” because there were too many people unwilling to say that the Republican party had screwed up beyond a waving hand and a “mistakesweremade” acknowledgment.

    If a Perot shows up, he’s likely to shatter the Republican party.Report

  9. Avatar matoko_chan says:

    If a Perot shows up, he’s likely to shatter the Republican party.

    I think that would be cathartic.
    I have a superbad time trying to integrate Glenn Beck and Reihan Salam into the same party. Sooner or later the very fabric of spacetime is going to rupture, resulting in a time dilation anomaly that will project Beck a thousand years into the future,( where he will be displayed as primitve manifestation of Insane Clown Theology in national zoo), and Reihan a thousand years into the past where he will worshipped as a demi-god and prescient oracle and have a religion founded on him.Report

  10. Avatar matoko_chan says:

    “We’re dealing with people who, heretofore, limited airing their grievances about the government to $6 bucket of beer night at Oscar’s. ”

    Yeah, but the only coherent signal rising above the noise level is we hate Obama….but we aren’t sure why.Report

  11. Avatar Jaybird says:

    I don’t see anti-Obama as much as anti-Government… and there seems to be a great deal of vitriot aimed at bad (for what values of “bad”, I cannot tell you) Republicans and if there is less aimed their way, it’s probably because Republicans were soundly beaten in 2006 and beaten even soundlier in 2008.

    If you want to argue that the party out of power is the only party that gives a crap about limiting government and when back in power they rediscover the virtues of power properly exercised… well, sure.

    The undercurrent to the tea parties that I see more than anything else is “quit making stuff worse!” If Obama is getting the brunt of that, well… that’s because he’s the President who happens to have majorities in both parts of the legislative branch.Report

  12. Avatar matoko_chan says:

    “I don’t see anti-Obama as much as anti-Government”

    Jaybird watch an hour of Beck and then get back to me.Report

  13. Avatar Jaybird says:

    The Tea Parties are a star that Beck hitched his wagon to, not the other way around.Report

  14. Avatar E.D. Kain says:

    Yes and no, jaybird. It’s a chicken/egg question, but even if the Parties were begun prior to Fox and Beck’s involvement, he greatly popularized them. It’s a mutual relationship.Report

  15. Avatar matoko_chan says:

    The teaparties were proposed by Paulites before the november election….the writing on the wall. The Paulites were good at grassroots and networking and tech. The general feeling of disenfranchisement, malaise, disappointment and bitterness was amorphous among Republicans, but has coalesced into anti-Obamaism, a loose collection of conspiracy theory incorporating various myths….Obama is a socialist, the media stole the election, Obama is going to raise taxes, Obama is a muslim, Obama is going to take our guns away, Birthcert truthers, Deliverance extras, NRA members, Birchers, survialists, secesssionists and Info Warriors (Alex Jones website).Report

  16. Avatar Jaybird says:

    Hey, I voted for Charles Jay in November as part of, you guessed it, the Boston Tea Party. (16th place, baby!)

    I see the tea party folk at the April 15th rallies as Johnny-come-latelys.

    And, from what I’ve seen of the tea parties, “coalescing” is the last thing they’re doing. They’re still an amorphus blob of people who agree on little more than “stop making things worse”.

    But maybe the ones in Colorado Springs are less Beckian.

    Now if you want to say that the equivalent of the free mumia nuts are ruining an otherwise nice protest… yeah, well. We’ve discussed that already. Which is not to say that I wouldn’t love discussing it again.Report

  17. Avatar Joel says:

    I’m convinced that popular conservatism is about to wear a much different face in the next twenty years than it did in the last twenty.

    I could be wrong, however.Report

  18. Avatar matoko_chan says:

    well..there weren’t any teaparties in Boulder.
    I bet teaparties were pretty rare in university towns.
    Mostly college students are Obamotaku.Report

  19. Avatar greginak says:

    maybe part of the problem with taking the tea party people seriously is that taxes have been repeatedly lowered, obama is cutting taxes again, the tax burden on the median American is low compared to historical standards and federal tax rates are low compared to other western countries. that may have something to do with it.

    yes i get that nobody likes taxes but the complaints don’t seem to account for how to run a modern country. i have heard plenty of tax complaints. it always boils down to some people would feel over taxed if their tax rate was 1% and they do not want to have to any of their taxes go to anything they don’t benefit from.

    So i live in Alaska. we have no state income tax. in Anchorage we have no sales tax. we get a thousand or two from the state each year as our share of oil money. so i’ll give you all three guesses about whether people complain about taxes in AK. Did we have a tea party here. yes and yes.

    i just don’t see any realistic plan about how to run a city, state or country from most of the people who complain about taxes. it takes more then just a low tax rate to make a good community.Report

  20. Avatar Jaybird says:

    Did Obama increase Bush’s deficit?

    Would it be possible/coherent to say “he shouldn’t have made stuff worse”?

    How about, like, the bailouts? Would it have been possible/coherent to say “don’t bail them out, let them fail, let the survivors pick up the pieces for pennies on the dollar”?

    Or am I just demonstrating that I don’t understand exactly how bad of a straight we’re in and I should totally have trusted Bush and Obama when it came to how much power they needed to have in order to keep me and my family safe?Report

  21. Avatar greginak says:

    fine say you don’t think there should be bailouts. but you then need to add what you think the consequences would be. because there have been many economists types, on the right , left and middle, who said if we didn’t do something it would be a disaster far worse then we have.

    it takes more then just a slogan and a feeling to form a coherent thought or movement, you need a reasoned analysis of what is likely to happen and how that helps or hurts us.Report

  22. Avatar Jaybird says:

    Ask a barber if you need a haircut. Go to 20 barbers and ask them. Let me know how many say you can wait a week before you need to sit in his chair and give him 8 bucks.

    “you need a reasoned analysis of what is likely to happen and how that helps or hurts us.”

    Does it need to be more or less reasoned than “if we don’t spend this money, it will be the end of the world as we know it, I promise”?Report

  23. Avatar matoko_chan says:

    E.D. …….here is why the Palin rallies made us so uncomfortable.
    I suspect.
    Read through the comments.
    Inferiority complex.Report

  24. Avatar matoko_chan says:

    Did you see that Palin tv interview….where she was asked …..just who are these “elites”?
    Her answer– “anyone that thinks they are better than you.”Report