We Used To Call Them Republicans
Here's yet more evidence that the teabaggers are not some new group of voters with a specific set of concerns brought on by current government policies. They are Republicans --- and I would bet that 90% of them were Bush worshippers who cared nothing about the economic policies of the period between 2000 and 2008:
The individuals who make up the Tea Party movement are largely conservative and get their news from Fox; they're generally old and of moderate to low income; and they're fairly convinced that their taxes are going to rise in the next few years, even though they likely won't.
Those conclusions are part of a new study put together by The Winston Group, a conservative-leaning polling and strategy firm run by the former director of planning for former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. And they provide a telling new window on the political force that has revamped the Republican Party and altered the landscape of the 2010 elections.
In the course of conducting three national surveys of 1,000 registered voters, Winston was able to peg the percentage of the public that identifies itself with the Tea Party at roughly 17 percent. The group pledges that it is independent of any particular party (indeed 28 percent of Tea Party respondents in the Winston survey labeled their affiliation as such). But on pretty much every defining political or demographic issue, the movement lines up with the GOP or conservative alternatives.
Sixty-five percent of Tea Party respondents called themselves "conservative" compared to the 33 percent of all respondents who did the same. Just eight percent of Tea Party respondents said they were "liberal." [And I would bet that 99% of those "liberals" were either lying or nuts --- ed.]
Forty-seven percent of Tea Party respondents said that Fox News was either the top or second source of news they turn to, compared with 19 percent of the overall public who said the same thing.
More than 80 percent (81 percent) of Tea Party respondents expressed very little approval of Barack Obama's job as president, which exceeded disapproval levels held even by Republicans (77%) and conservatives (79%).
These are angry older white conservatives, which should come as no surprise to anyone who has watched a townhall meeting or a tea party rally. In fact, it's obvious to anyone with eyes.
The fact that these people are so ideologically opposed to policies and programs on which they depend is the question that should have the political scientists and sociologists intrigued:
All these data points suggest that the Tea Party crowd is comprised predominantly of conservatives. And, not surprisingly, the demographics of the movement seemingly align with those who traditionally vote for the conservative candidate as well. Fifty-six percent of Tea Party respondents are male; 22 percent are over the age of 65 (compared with just 14 percent who are between the ages of 18 and 34); and 23 percent fall in the income range of $50,000 and $75,000.
It's the type of group that would likely benefit the most from Democratic governance, with commitments to Social Security, Medicare, and middle-class job creation. But the Tea Party crowd is decidedly sour on the Democratic agenda. Fifty-six percent of Tea Party respondents said they believe cutting spending will create jobs. And while a huge chunk won't see their taxes affected if the Bush tax cuts expire for those making over $250,000, 82 percent think they will, in fact, go up.
Truthfully, these people have a much bigger problem than taxes going up in any case. There are wealthy plutocrats who are trying to take away the money one which they survive. But it looks as though they will happily help them do that because they are being brainwashed by right wing media (owned by the same plutocrats)into believing that they have more to fear from a modest, market based health care reform than people who want to gut social security and tilt the playing field ever more steeply to the top 1% of earners.
It's a great scam, but it's nothing new. It's one that these particular folks have been falling for for a long, long time. There have always been people in this country who would rather be personally poor than pay taxes which might also benefit someone they don't like. It's just the way they think. The big money boyz are very adept at exploiting this.
The teabaggers aren't really populists or libertarians although their "ideology" contains a smattering of incomprehensible slogans from both populist and libertarian thinking. They are conservative movement robots, which isn't really ideological at all but rather an emotional outlet for resentment and anger at all the "others" who these adherents believe are either getting ahead at their expense or looking down their elitist noses at them. It's really not about politics at all.
As Matt Stoller perspicaciously observed when I once asked "why are they so angry?":
As long as individuals can stand up outside of the tribe and claim Americanism as their own, the right is revealed as weak, because it is their own lies about themselves that they cannot stand. Proof in the form of our existence is enough to make them angry. This is why, as Digby wonders, they keep getting madder as they keep gaining power. They are not really after a conservative agenda in terms of policy; they are not even after power, really. They are after a complete and utter subjugation of the American consciousness to their tribal mentality. And they will not stop until they get it. Hence, the culture wars. And now, the real wars. And unfortunately, I don't think they are done.
He was right.
And if I may offer just a little word of warning. Everyone on our side of the aisle seems to find great solace in the idea that the youth of this country are liberal and therefore this kind of thinking is going to die off. I would just remind everyone that many of these current teabaggers are members of what was once the largest, most liberal generation in history. An amazing number of young people always seem to turn into conservative old jerks. Go figure. Perhaps the larger cohort of people of color will change this.