It's Official -- The GOP welcomes tea bag nation into the fold

It's Official

by digby
We don’t need any fresh ideas. It is fresh ideas that have gotten into this mess. All the ideas we need can be found in an 8 page document, it’s the Constitution; if you need to go beyond that just look at the Federalist papers. We don’t need any fresh ideas.
Today the GOP agreed:

The House Administration Committee on Friday officially approved Rep. Michele Bachmann’s request to form the House Tea Party Caucus, the Minnesota Republican announced on Facebook and Twitter on Monday.

Not that it's a particular surprise. Today we have more proof that the Tea Party is not just a group of disaffected Americans who are drawn into the political system out of frustration with both parties. This latest report from Democracy Corps from focus groups and polling done over the past three months confirms what any sentient person can see with their own eyes: they are far right loons, who have the populist impulses of Paris and Nicky Hilton:
Popular accounts describe it as a populist revolt against elites. Richard Viguerie at a tax day rally said, “The tea parties are an unfettered new force of the middle class tapping into the anger [at] most major American institutions such as Wall Street, education, Hollywood, the media, big labor.”[1] And Matt Bai in The New York Times writes, “the only potent grass-roots movement to emerge from this moment of dissatisfaction with America’s economic elite exists … in the form of the so-called Tea Party rebellions that are injecting new energy into the Republican cause.”

While many of the Tea Party supporters are also frustrated with the Republican Party of TARP bailouts, that does not alter the character of the movement:

* 86 percent of Tea Party supporters and activists identify with or lean to the Republican Party.
* 79 percent identify as conservatives.
* They are among the most pro-big business segments of the electorate: 54 percent rate it warmly and 20 percent coolly.
* The Tea Party movement is not particularly blue collar. Tea Party supporters are slightly less likely to be college-graduates than the likely electorate (41 percent, versus 45 percent), and the activists more so (48 percent). And 85 percent of the supporters are white.
* Only 5 percent report having voted for Obama in 2008.

With Tea Party supporters comprising one in four (25 percent) likely voters and one in ten (10 percent) active as donors or attending rallies, what they think matters:

* They are fired up – 94 percent of the supporters say they are almost certain to vote.
* They share a great disdain for President Obama, with over 92 percent disapproving of Obama’s performance, and 89 percent strongly. Only 6 percent think Obama ‘shares their values.’
* They share a coherent, anti-government, conservative ideology that wants small government, little spending and returning the country to the Constitution.
* They are united against “Obama’s Socialist Agenda” – that puts the country gravely at risk.
* They deeply identify with Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin and the NRA – which share their worldview – re-enforced by the echo-chamber of Fox News, their main source of news.
* They are gaining energy from the prospect that they can stop Obama in this year’s election, save the party from fake conservatives and use the Republican Party to save the Constitution.

Tea Party Supporters and Activists

In this combined database of over 2,600 interviews, 25 percent identify themselves as “strong” supporters of the Tea Party movement.[4] These are the Tea Party supporters in this analysis. One-in-ten are activists: 10 percent who have been active in the Tea Party by either donating money or attending a rally or a meeting.

Tea Party activists are a very Republican and conservative group. Over 70 percent call themselves ‘conservative Republicans,’ compared to just a third of all likely voters; 86 percent say they are Republican or lean Republican.

Tea Party activists and supporters see Obama as the defining and motivating threat to the country and its well-being, typified by his socialist agenda. Among supporters, 90 percent say the socialist label describes Obama well and 68 percent say it describes him very well. Obama fares no better on the other attributes tested: nine-in-10 think he is too liberal (93 percent) and a big spender (90 percent).

The driving force behind their negativity toward Obama is the belief that his actions and goals are un-American. Throughout the focus groups, people repeatedly invoked “Obama’s Socialist Agenda” – with the occasional communism comment thrown in. Participants said it is this socialist agenda – which underlies all of Obama’s policies seeking to make citizens more dependent on the state – that has put people over the edge and launched a movement that has been percolating for a long time.

The only thing I’ve seen is that government has grown exponentially under Obama since he’s been in office and we’re going towards Socialized everything.

The cap and trade, the healthcare, all the things that Obama is throwing out there towards the Socialists.

It’s ugly right now, and it’s a long cycle and it seems like this country is becoming like a Socialist country. Obama’s sure into that. I don’t know. I just think he’s got a lot of inexperience and whoever the puppeteers that are behind him, you know, they’re doing all this too.

It’s going to take a long time to kind of repair the socialist agenda that he’s got going. But, today is better than tomorrow to start and just do something.

We’ve been crawling toward Socialism for 70 years; we’re sprinting toward it now.
Any questions about the transpartisan nature of these folks?

The following comments are also very revealing --- these people confuse the TARP with the stimulus and the auto bailout and that's something people should be aware of when they insist that these people have something in common with progressives:

We had stimulus one, stimulus two, and then the health care bill just threw it on it’s… that was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

The whole TARP thing. And we’ve spent like 25% and it was this grandiose save the day or whatever. And then people started to say, what? Where is the money, where is it going? Million dollar TARP money spent for some study on frogs, stupid stuff. SO people started to realize that we got conned, and yet we are losing jobs.

And why are they so misinformed?

Glenn Beck is the most highly regarded individual among Tea Party supporters of the people we tested. He scores an extraordinarily high 75 percent warm rating, 57 percent very warm.

This affinity for Beck came through very clearly in the focus groups. The only news source that participants said they could trust was Fox. Glenn Beck, Bill O’Reilly, and Sean Hannity were cited as people who “are not afraid to tell it like it is” and support their arguments with solid facts. Beck was undoubtedly the hero in these groups. Participants consider him an “educator” (in contrast to the popular Rush Limbaugh who is an “entertainer”) who teaches people history and puts himself at risk because he exposes the truth. In the words of a woman in Ft. Lauderdale, “I would trust my life in his hands.”

Other comments are just as laudatory:

I like the way he’s trying to get back to the basics of the Constitution of the United States because I think that’s where our government is losing focus. They’re trying to change the Constitution or somehow twist it…

He brings out facts… And he actually shows the people saying the things. It’s not like just sound bites. It’s not chopped and really edited. And he is scary because every time I watch the show, which is pretty much every day, my heart feels…and I feel like I want to do something.

I’m frightened for him… Because of the things that he says. I think that he is stepping on some big toes.

He really does his research and he really lays it out to you well; a good professor.

That tracks with what Teabag leader Pam Stout said on Letterman: "He makes me think."
(I'm going to guess these people are confusing "making my head hurt" with "making me think.")

Oh, and in case you were wondering about the other Tea Party leaders:

Warm ratings for Rush Limbaugh were very high at 70 percent, just 5 points below Beck.

Sarah Palin is also a hero of this movement, with a warm rating of 75 percent among supporters, as reflected in the focus groups...But while Palin was received favorably, there was also some caution as several participants expressed disappointment in her ability to perform as a leader and questioned her qualifications.

I mean, I don’t mind her. I think she was, you know, okay. I mean, I don’t think she was right for the job certainly. I don’t think she was experienced enough but I didn’t mind her.

I sometimes a little bit wonder because she just seems to kind of just repeat herself with the same things. It just seems like if you see her last year and you see her three months ago, she’s saying the same things. I’m certainly supportive of her, but I guess I’m a little disappointed that she seems so stagnated.

I kind of equate her on the same parallel as Bush; a likable person, kind of out of her element when it comes to the big league, not well informed but a very likable person.

I think she’s genuine, but I don’t think she’s educated enough. I don’t think she’s savvy enough and I don’t think she knows enough actually to, you know, let’s put it this way there’s no way that she’s going to go anywhere. I mean, it’s just, I don’t see it. I don’t see it happening. I don’t see her becoming another one that’s going to be electable.

But Glenn Beck's a genius. Ok.

And one more time, except for the nativist, racist elements common to right wing populism everywhere, these people are not populists:

The movement is rooted in a strident small, and in many cases, anti-government ideology. “Getting back to the Constitution” was a recurring theme across all the focus groups, with people explaining that this simply means: We the People. These groups suggest that the Tea Party movement is not fueled by the economic situation in the country or any populist underpinnings.

We don’t need any fresh ideas. It is fresh ideas that have gotten into this mess. All the ideas we need can be found in an 8 page document, it’s the Constitution; if you need to go beyond that just look at the Federalist papers. We don’t need any fresh ideas.

Well, I think the economy is a result of other issues that are leading the charge. You don’t keep to the things that are traditions, our constitutional values and rights, and you are pushing for agendas for socialized…

I doubt [Obama’s] desire to protect our Constitution as was originally delivered by our Founding Fathers, of which my ancestors were a part of. I doubt his loyalty to us and I doubt his ability to keep his word.

When asked what they thought of the country’s economic situation or their own personal situation, focus group members would repeatedly revert back to talking about how bad Obama is and that the government needs to get out of our lives. Any discussion of jobs or recovery turned to “all the new jobs are government and census jobs which don’t do anything for our economy.”

These groups suggest that the Tea Party movement is not fueled by the economic situation in the country. Yes, there were a lot of economic concerns among the non-college educated women, but for the other three groups this was just not the issue. In the open-ended discussion at the beginning of the groups, they rarely brought up the economy unprompted. And when asked what they thought of the country’s economic situation or their own personal situation, they would not engage.

There's a lot more at the link, but suffice to say that these people are not some group of yeoman farmers and small town burghers who are mad at the Wall Street kingpens and the government bureaucrats who serve them. They are mad at Democrats, Barack Obama in particular, and they are being ginned up into a frenzy by the professional right wing media.

I also think there's something generational about this which deserves more scrutiny. Most of them are baby boomers and I have a sneaking suspicion that many of them are living out some adolescent fantasy of themselves as the rebels they never were. It's kind of baked into our generation and these were probably all the ones who sat it out when it was young and sexy. I could be wrong. But this whole thing has the familiar stench of the self-centered boomerism.