Volume 14, Issue 22 Sunday, June 3, 2012
The Tea Party movement.
I’ve seen a host of “rants” about the Tea Party recently. Many of these postings contain words like; “bigots,” “Oppressors,” “… The true modern Nazis!!!!!!!!!” etc.” Almost anytime I see words like these my alarm bells ring. When folks have to “demonize” people who disagree with them, I suspect that their own position must be so weak as to be indefensible.
And I’m speaking of both the “Right” and “Left.” As I’ve said before, I agree with Rodney King … “Can we all just get along?” Admittedly, I don’t agree with many of the “Left’s” positions. But I will defend their right to be wrong.
I feel the same way about the Tea Party. I do agree with a lot of what I understand the Tea Party stands for, but I’m not in complete agreement with anyone. However, I strongly believe that they have the right to espouse their beliefs.
Calling Tea Party members Bigots, Oppressors or Nazis doesn’t advance understanding nor does it serve to persuade anyone of a differing position. It just generates extreme “knee jerk” responses. So I decided to do a little research on the Tea Party to see who actually supports this group (with the caveat that none of us can guarantee that no “wackos” will seek to join or support our party or movement.)
The Tea Party movement (TPM) is an American populist political movement that is generally recognized as conservative and libertarian, and has sponsored protests and supported political candidates since 2009. It endorses reduced government spending, cutting taxes, reduction of the national debt and federal budget deficit, and adherence to an originalist interpretation of the United States Constitution.
The Tea Party's rise is widely considered to be based on two issues, (quoting Rasmussen), "They think federal spending, deficits and taxes are too high, and they think no one in Washington is listening to them, and that latter point is really, really important."
A Bloomberg National Poll of adults 18 and over showed that 40% of Tea Party supporters are 55 or older, compared with 32% of all poll respondents; 79% are white, 61% are men and 44% identify as "born-again Christians", compared with 75%, 48.5%, and 34% for the general population, respectively.
As for racial bias, 35% of Tea Party, respondents believed that blacks are hard-working, compared to 40% of all respondents. Not much of a statistical difference.
Black Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain said that racist accusations about the Tea Party Movement are "ridiculous". "I have been speaking to Tea Parties, Americans for Prosperity, since 2009, before it was cool," Cain said, and then, referring to his victories in recent Tea Party Straw polls, "... If the Tea Party organization is racist, why does the black guy keep winning all these straw polls?"
Allen West, one of 32 African-Americans who ran for Congress in 2010 as Republicans, says the notion of racism in the Tea Party movement has been made up by the news media. The Washington Post reported that an analysis of the signs displayed at a September 2010 Tea Party rally found that "the vast majority of activists expressed narrow concerns about the government's economic and spending policies and steered clear of the racially charged anti-Obama messages that have helped define some media coverage of such events".
USA Today in 2010, reported that the Tea Party was more "a frustrated state of mind" than "a classic political movement". Tea party members "are more likely to be married and a bit older than the nation as a whole". Their core belief could be summarized as “the federal government has gotten too large and powerful.”
"Tea Party supporters", says Patrik Jonsson of the Christian Science Monitor, "have been called neo-Klansmen and knuckle-dragging hillbillies". Jonsson adds, "demonizing tea party activists tends to energize the Democrats' left-of-center base". He notes that "polls suggest that tea party activists are not only more mainstream than many critics suggest, but that a majority of them are women (primarily mothers), not angry white men".
Mark Mardell of BBC News, who has "spoken to many supporters of the Tea Party and been to lots of rallies" has said that when he talks to Tea Party supporters for more than a few minutes, "fury tends to dissolve into concern, worry about the economic direction of the country, worry about the size of the government and the level of taxation". While "many" supporters of the Tea Party combine their fiscal and constitutional concerns with social issues associated with their Christian beliefs, the unifying focus is on fiscal conservatism and the constitution.
Noam Chomsky says that while they (the Tea Party) say to "get the government off our back" often they favor social programs like increasing aid to the poor and education spending. This reflects similar polls which find that the Tea Party overwhelmingly favors programs like Medicare and Social Security despite calls on cutting government spending.
Emailed from another humor list (Pastor Tim's Clean Laugh List) -Tom
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