Sunday, 18 April 2010

Tea Party-surprised at the surprise

I've been a bit surprised at some of the surprised reaction to a recent poll revealing the kind of people that make up much of the Tea Party movement.  It seems some have been working under the assumption that Tea Partiers are all illiterate Kentucky hillbillies and were surprised to learn that the "18 percent of Americans who identify themselves as Tea Party supporters tend to be Republican, white, male, married and older than 45" ,  are more educated than the general public and "are more likely than the general public to say their personal financial situation is fairly good or very good". I suppose that proves one shouldn't make hasty generalizations from a couple of really hilarious Daily Show clips.

But, why would anyone be surprised that an ultra conservative "movement" is made up of the most conservative people in the country — well to do, white, old Republican male heterosexuals? It stands to reason that the group fighting change the hardest is made up of those in the most advantaged group in society. (Incidentally, I'm also not very surprised to learn that Tea Partiers are more likely than the general public, and Republicans, to say that too much has been made of the problems facing black people.)

What also surprises me is that some seem to be interpreting this information about who makes up this "movement" as a reason to take it more seriously. Doesn't it suggest just the opposite, i.e., effectively dispelling the notion that the Tea Partiers reflect the voice of "the common people"? That a bunch of old rich white straight male conservatives are willing to fight tooth and nail — and aren't above enlisting Fox News demagoguery to do so — against change and economic justice isn't a reformation or a revolution or even a populist movement, it's nothing more or less than business as usual.

Update: Note, for example, how Rush is trying to portray the Tea Party movement: first time that "common average ordinary everyday citizens" have "risen up" "since the Civil War", i.e.,  a narrative of "the people are rising up," rather than the more accurate "the elites who've always held power will do whatever they have to do to retain control".

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