Is the Tea Party Agenda Racist?–The Polls Say Yes
On June 13, 2011 At 8:42 am
Responses : 3 Comments
Studies and polls conducted on Tea Party Movement supporters in the last one year show that the Tea Party Movement is based primarily on resentment by relatively wealthy white Americans of having to subsidize the cost of living of poor immigrants and minority groups. "Tea Baggers," according to pollster Scott Rasmussen in his book, Mad as Hell: How the Tea Party Movement is Fundamentally Remaking our Two-Party System, are angry mostly because, according to them, government spends heavily in support of immigrants and the poor, bail out banks and "irresponsible" people who have defaulted in their mortgages, while neglecting the class of Americans they represent.
Tea Party supporters, polls show, are generally opposed to the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and the health care reform bills all of which they consider Federal laws which take from wealthy Americans to support government spending on behalf of the poor, most of whom are non-white minority groups, especially Black and Hispanics.
Polls on the demographics of the Tea Party Movement supporters have shown consistently that Tea Party Movement supporters are mostly white and relatively wealthy, educated and above 45 years of age.The Bloomberg National Poll showed that 40 percent of Tea Party supporters are 45 years and above, almost 80% white, with 44% identifying themselves as "born again" Christians. The Tea Party Movement is, therefore, essentially a protest against federal spending on welfare funded by taxes on the wealthy, who are mostly white Americans.
The grounds for inevitable involvement of racist sentiments are obvious here. A study by the University of Washington made the predictable observation that Tea Party supporters were more likely to harbor racist sentiments. Many White Americans, especially those of WASP extraction tend to take for granted the conviction that they represent the ethnic-racial group with a preeminent and genuine claim to U.S. national identity. In this mode of thinking, non-white Americans are foreigners to "Western American civilization" to whom it would be appropriate to say "go back to your countries." The Tea Party movement has, therefore been correctly described as a nativist movement, this being in-spite of the fact that all non-aborigines of the American continent really are immigrants by origin.
The evident lack of charitable feelings among these rich of America, expressed in their resentment of subsidizing the cost of living of the poor of America can only be explained as arising from racist feelings of lack of ethnic and racial kinship with the poor of America, which is an irony, given the fact that, according to the Bloomberg National Poll, 44% of Tea Party supporters identify themselves as "born again Christians."
While the Tea Party Movement makes strenuous efforts to dispel the characterization of its movement as racist and couches its opposition to progressive taxation policies of the Obama government as concern over the direction of the economy, wealthy White American resentment of welfare spending and taxation regularly finds expression in overtly racist sentiments given the fact that the divide between the rich and the poor in the U.S. coincides with racial fault-lines. Manifestations of racism cannot be divorced in their roots from perceptions by a dominant ethnic-racial group of scarce resource competitive threat from another it considers not deserving of access. Thus, the common slogan in Tea Party circles of "taking back our country" can only be defined as racist for it is impossible, ultimately, to ascribe "ownership" of America to any ethnic-racial group on genuinely balanced considerations of history.
Arising, naturally from wealthy class white American resentment of subsidizing the cost of living for the poor of mostly different ethnic-racial stock, is the resentment of the pattern of immigration and immigration laws which they fear will change U.S. demographics to their disadvantage. These fears, which critics claim are unfounded, stoke strong racist sentiments and explains the common report of racist placards and expressions of racist sentiments in Tea Party gatherings
A University of Washington poll shows that 74% of Tea Party supporters feel that "While equal opportunity for blacks and minorities to succeed is important, it is not really the government's job to guarantee it." What this means effectively is that Tea Party supporters prefer an America in which the poorer classes are left to fend for themselves in the dog-eat-dog competitive atmosphere of a true free enterprise economy, with minimum government intervention on their behalf. In the words of conservative author Arthur Brooks of the American Enterprise Institute, Tea Party supporters are those Americans who want an "exceptional nation organized around the principles of free enterprise (and) limited government," and a system of rewards determined by market forces as opposed to "European-style (welfare) statism". This, of course, is equivalent, in a country with significant immigrant population, to passing death sentence on these weak and poor.
The primary selfish concern of the Tea Party supporters with issues of their economic class interests explains the conclusion by the pollster Ann Selzer about the Bloomberg News polls results that "The ideas (besides opposition to taxation and government spending on the poor) which find universal agreement among Tea Party supporters are rather vague." Another commenter, this time Matt Taibbi writing for Rollingstone.com, commented cynically that, "…the vast majority of its members are former Bush supporters who yawned through two terms of record deficits…The average Tea Partier is sincerely against government spending, with the exception of the money spent on them. In fact, their lack of embarrassment when it comes to collecting government largesse is key to understanding what this movement is all about…"
Tea Party supporters reveal their wealthy class bias in their attitude to global warming. A New York Times/CBS News Poll revealed that most Tea Party supporters are skeptical of claims of global warming and are strongly opposed to the Cap and Trade and attempts to fight climate change emissions trading. The essentially wealthy class agenda of the Tea Party Movement is indicated in the August 30, 2010, report of The New Yorker, by Jane Mayer, titled: Covert Operations, The Billionaire Brothers who are Waging a War against Obama, in which it was revealed that the billionaire Koch brothers were funding the Tea Party. Groups opposed to taxes on carbon use and the Cap and Trade program have also been implicated as funding the Tea Party Movement. Christopher Meyer, writing in the Daily Mail, describes the Tea Party Movement as a mix of "grassroots populism, professional conservative politics and big money."
The Tea Party movement claims to be grassroots but critics have described it as "astroturf." Officials of the Obama administration recognize the primary concern of the movement with the limited interests of the wealthy classes. Even after the Obama administration made up to 25 tax cuts and implemented tax cuts for 95% of working Americans, tax protests organized by the Tea Party Movement continued, prompting Obama to comment, "…we're not suddenly saying that the way to do this is to eliminate programs that help ordinary people and give more tax cuts to the wealthy. We tried that formula for eight years. It did not work. And I don't intend to go back to it."