FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

A Tea Party Fairy Tale

Current attempts to revive that Boston Tea Party of 1773 are marketing gimmicks to masquerade conservative forces bent on defeating Obama and destroying any attempt to reform the present gridlock political system. Examining the history of this faux-movement reveals the actors behind the curtain.

One of the earliest revivals of the Tea Party involved 100 people meeting in Seattle to protest the stimulus bill passed by Congress to keep the U.S. from descending into another Great Depression. After bloggers and libertarians spread a call for protest on the Internet, the media blew it into a major event.

Right-wing groups poured funding into the nascent movement. These groups included: Americans for Prosperity, a pro-tobacco, anti-healthcare and anti-tax lobbying organization; and FreedomWorks, a lobbying firm devoted to opposing taxes, immigration, healthcare reform and solutions to global warming. Koch Industries, an oil, mineral, ranching and securities conglomerate, funds both of these groups, while the Sarah Mellon Scaife foundation, with interests in oil, industry and banking, funds FreedomWorks.

After Fox News began promoting the Tea Party as a social movement, their crowds grew. Fox News entertainer, Glenn Beck, invited viewers to “celebrate with Fox News,” by attending tax protests in Washington on April 15, the date federal tax returns are due.

A mere 3,000 Tea Party supporters attended the rally and grabbed the headlines. More people rallied across the country in support of Single Payer Healthcare Reform but they received few headlines. After much smaller groups of Tea Partiers protested in several cities, right-wing entertainers such as Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and Bill O’Reilly giddily talked about “a growing movement” for weeks. Soon Republicans Sarah Palin, Dick Armey, Ron Paul, Grover Norquist and Newt Gingrich jumped on board, hoping to revive their failed political careers.

Seldom has so much been made about so little. Supporters claimed the Tea Party was “a nonpartisan grassroots movement,” but the reality is far different. Not only was the idea supported by right-wing money and promoted by the right-wing propaganda mill, Fox News, but it also garnered no new support. When asked, 18 percent of Americans replied that they identified with the Tea Party. Only 20 percent of those sent money, or about four percent of the public, while 78 percent have done nothing in support.

Essentially, the Tea Party is a new face of the same old right-wing, reactionary forces that have long been working to turn America into a more religious, racist and militaristic country with an unregulated free enterprise system, weak government and low taxation.

Analysts predicted midterm elections would reveal grass-roots support for the Tea Party, but only a handful of candidates they supported won, while two-thirds of registered voters stayed home. However, a poor showing at the polls by this vocal minority doesn’t mean all is well in the U.S.

According to a comprehensive New York Times/CBS News poll, the majority of Tea Party supporters describe themselves as being “very conservative” and more conservative than most Republicans on social issues. They almost always vote Republican and 60 percent favor George W. Bush Jr., compared to 40 percent of the general public. A majority are men who claim the government favors the poor and twice as many as the general public feel Black people get “too much attention.” Almost 50 percent heard about the Tea Party on TV, 80 percent are white, and 60 percent are older than 50. Ninety percent are pessimistic about the direction of the country, disapprove of Obama, and believe America is becoming socialistic. Seventy-five percent want to have smaller government.

Many Tea Partiers live on Social Security, benefit from Medicare, and are frightened. Although they reported their personal financial situation as “fairly good” or “very good,” 55 percent of those who identify with the Tea Party fear someone in their household will lose their job in the coming year. Two-thirds say the recession caused them economic hardship and forced them to make life changes. In summary, it’s fair to characterize the Tea Partiers as fearful old, white, right-wing Republican men.

Progressive forces are organizing to promote social change in the interests of working people, minorities, gays and lesbians, young people, and immigrants, but they confront unified opposition groups with lots of money behind them. These moneyed interests, in addition to the conservatives of the Baby Boomers generation, are currently holding off real change. Coupled with GOP obstructionism in Congress, America is deadlocked. What catastrophe will come to break the deadlock is anyone’s guess.

DON MONKERUD is an California-based writer who follows cultural, social and political issues. He can be reached at monkerud@cruzio.com.

 

WORDS THAT STICK

?

 

More articles by:

Weekend Edition
December 14, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
A Tale of Two Cities
Peter Linebaugh
The Significance of The Common Wind
Bruce E. Levine
The Ketamine Chorus: NYT Trumpets New Anti-Suicide Drug
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Fathers and Sons, Bushes and Bin Ladens
Kathy Deacon
Coffee, Social Stratification and the Retail Sector in a Small Maritime Village
Nick Pemberton
Praise For America’s Second Leading Intellectual
Robert Hunziker
The Yellow Vest Insurgency – What’s Next?
Patrick Cockburn
The Yemeni Dead: Six Times Higher Than Previously Reported
Nick Alexandrov
George H. W. Bush: Another Eulogy
Brian Cloughley
Principles and Morality Versus Cash and Profit? No Contest
Michael F. Duggan
Climate Change and the Limits of Reason
Victor Grossman
Sighs of Relief in Germany
Ron Jacobs
A Propagandist of Privatization
Robert Fantina
What Does Beto Have Against the Palestinians?
Richard Falk – Daniel Falcone
Sartre, Said, Chomsky and the Meaning of the Public Intellectual
Andrew Glikson
Crimes Against the Earth
Robert Fisk
The Parasitic Relationship Between Power and the American Media
Stephen Cooper
When Will Journalism Grapple With the Ethics of Interviewing Mentally Ill Arrestees?
Jill Richardson
A War on Science, Morals and Law
Ron Jacobs
A Propagandist of Privatization
Evaggelos Vallianatos
It’s Not Easy Being Greek
Nomi Prins 
The Inequality Gap on a Planet Growing More Extreme
John W. Whitehead
Know Your Rights or You Will Lose Them
David Swanson
The Abolition of War Requires New Thoughts, Words, and Actions
J.P. Linstroth
Primates Are Us
Bill Willers
The War Against Cash
Jonah Raskin
Doris Lessing: What’s There to Celebrate?
Ralph Nader
Are the New Congressional Progressives Real? Use These Yardsticks to Find Out
Binoy Kampmark
William Blum: Anti-Imperial Advocate
Medea Benjamin – Alice Slater
Green New Deal Advocates Should Address Militarism
John Feffer
Review: Season 2 of Trump Presidency
Rich Whitney
General Motors’ Factories Should Not Be Closed. They Should Be Turned Over to the Workers
Christopher Brauchli
Deported for Christmas
Kerri Kennedy
This Holiday Season, I’m Standing With Migrants
Mel Gurtov
Weaponizing Humanitarian Aid
Thomas Knapp
Lame Duck Shutdown Theater Time: Pride Goeth Before a Wall?
George Wuerthner
The Thrill Bike Threat to the Elkhorn Mountains
Nyla Ali Khan
A Woman’s Selfhood and Her Ability to Act in the Public Domain: Resilience of Nadia Murad
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
On the Killing of an Ash Tree
Graham Peebles
Britain’s Homeless Crisis
Louis Proyect
America: a Breeding Ground for Maladjustment
Steve Carlson
A Hell of a Time
Dan Corjescu
America and The Last Ship
Jeffrey St. Clair
Booked Up: the 25 Best Books of 2018
David Yearsley
Bikini by Rita, Voice by Anita
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail