October 18, 2013

The Tea Party: Fighting a White, Black, Brown and Beige Future

The Gadsden flag
The Gadsden flag (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
 Britt Hume delivers a succinct explanation of the Tea Party's motivations:

"Veteran political observers on both the left and right are still trying to figure out what the House Tea Party caucus and its Senate pied piper Ted Cruz were thinking when they insisted on using the threat of a government shutdown to defund ObamaCare. "It was a hopeless strategy that has not only failed in its stated goal, but helped send the Republican Party to its lowest favorability ratings ever. "In conventional terms, it seems inexplicable, but Senator Cruz and his adherents do not view things in conventional terms. They look back over the past half-century, including the supposedly golden era of Ronald Reagan, and see the uninterrupted forward march of the American left. Entitlement spending never stopped growing. The regulatory state continued to expand. The national debt grew and grew and finally in the Obama years, exploded. They see an American population becoming unrecognizable from the free and self-reliant people they thought they knew. And they see the Republican Party as having utterly failed to stop the drift toward an unfree nation supervised by an overweening and bloated bureaucracy. They are not interested in Republican policies that merely slow the growth of this leviathan. They want to stop it and reverse it. And they want to show their supporters they'll try anything to bring that about. [emphasis mine]

Hume's analysis is good, as far as it goes, but he ignores the elephant at the Tea Party.  As much as no one wants to deal with it or address it or give it credence, the demographics of the tea party are pretty clear. It's adherents are overwhelmingly white and tend to be older and a bit more affluent than average.   Because we lack the courage for tough conversations, we try desperately not to frame tea party faction as more or less a grouping of white reactionaries, hell bent on reducing the size and scope of a government they feel is increasingly out of their control as the changing demographic reality of America takes hold, reducing their power to unilaterally dictate the policy direction of government from majority status.

Hume dances around it.  "They see an American population becoming unrecognizable from the free and self-reliant people they thought they knew."  Wonderfully coded language for the way the Tea Party views the browning of America. 

Their angst over the changing complexion of the electorate has been growing, but the election of a black president crystallized it and gave it a focus. Hume highlights the fact that the Tea Party is fiercely determined  in their intentions to reduce the government's power and the intensity of that determination has near hysterical elements to it. Hysteria is a fair word and its evident. Buying guns by the droves, embracing forced backdoor austerity by breaching the debt ceiling, the belief that most of the electorate is stupid because it disagrees with them. 

a person who believes that a particular race is superior to another.
synonyms:       racial bigot, racialist, xenophobe, chauvinist, supremacist More
(racially) discriminatory, racialist, prejudiced, bigoted
noun: racist; plural noun: racists; adjective: racist
2.having or showing the belief that a particular race is superior to another.

The dictionary definition of racism above says racism is a belief in the superiority of one race over another. 

To be sure, the Tea Party is motivated by concerns about the growth of government, the size of the debt, the erosion of freedom and liberty.  Those issues are real to them because they are real issues and it would be unfair to say that those concerns don't motivate the Tea Party. But its no coincidence that these concerns racheted up to near hysterical levels of anger, venom and activism when there was a black president to personify the government and all the concerns, spoken  and unspoken, the Tea Party has. 

 I don't charge that racism is what typifies the Tea Party faction of the GOP.  That's not accurate.  But it seems to me that there is little denying that part of what is operating in their mental background is a concern that their control of America and its government as part of a white voting majority in this country is coming to a close. The transition to a country politically guided by a multiracial electorate is one that they fear. 

Here is where the smallness of the Tea Party vision is exposed. Rather than pursue a path of inclusion or of shared opportunity, the Tea Party champions positions which will help to preserve the political strength they have enjoyed and maintain their competitive advantage as against other demographics (voter integrity drives for example).  It is true that government is too big and spends too much money.  But the makers vs. takers meme widely bought into by Tea Party supporters betrays the other impulse at work here.  Within 40 years, a multi racial electorate will determine our elected leaders, not a white majority.  Tea Party fervor is about shrinking and diminishing government power to tax them, or to restrain their behavior before that moment arrives to preserve their advantage.  If that means breaking government or pushing the economy into a train wreck, even one that threatens US global power, on the assumption that a country boy/girl can survive the apocalypse, but these others will fade....then so be it. 

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