Friday, April 16, 2010

We Only Thought We Knew the Tea Party. Oh Wait, We Did After All.

There has been some discussion recently about a NY Times poll outlining the Tea Party crowd and how a different picture of them has come to light. They're not just angry old white guys, we're now hearing, it's much more of a reflection of the populace at large than that wacky leftist media has claimed. They're more educated and wealthier than we thought, as the argument goes. What we're supposed to do with this info is a little unclear, although my interpretation is that I'm supposed to be more sympathetic or respectful than before, because they're not just the yahoos spitting on Congressmen or flying planes into IRS offices.

But here's the funny thing: I actually come away from the polling data with a lower regard for that crew, because now it's just exposing these people as even more self-serving and arrogant than previously suspected. At least in the past, we could dismiss the crowd as being poor, uneducated, and struggling to find a place in modern society, but now it's even more clear that the majority of these people are doing just fine. Not only that, but they're happy to let the other people do all the hard work at these rallies while they sit at home and pat each other on the back for their patriotism.

Some of it we knew already, basically that it's 60% male and about 90% white. The arrogance is amazing, in that somehow 84% of these people think that most people agree with what they're doing. If that's the case, why is it that less than 20% actually do? The part I find most troubling is that while 92% believe the country is "headed the wrong direction," 78% of the Tea Party respondents described their economic situation as very good or fairly good. So basically these people are fine economically yet see the government as destroying America. OK then.

The other thing that comes up has to do with who they see as being the beneficiaries of all this Obama Socialism (92% claiming he's pushing Socialism), specifically the poor (56%) and minorities. In the eyes of this crowd, he's too focused on the problems of black people (52%) and over a quarter believe his policies are specifically intended to benefit blacks over whites. But of course, this all assumes people tell the truth, which is tough to be completely sure of on a poll like this. To be honest, I'm dubious of the education levels and income claimed by this crowd, but that's just me. I have a hard time buying that 75% of the Tea Party is over 44 years old, but almost 2/3 claim that neither they nor a family member are covered by Medicare.

We hear all these complaints about the deficit, and the reality is that every Conservative banging the drum on how Democrats raise the debt is absolute crap. It just is. Can you name the 5 Presidents since 1960 who left office with a smaller debt than when they came in? Try Clinton, Carter, Nixon, LBJ, and Kennedy. Oh, it gets better. The 3 Presidents with the highest rates of job creation since 1960? Clinton, Carter, and Johnson.

Yet where were all these principled fiscal conservatives during the 8 years of Bush deficits? We hear every one of these people describe the glory days of the Reagan America where he cut spending and we all lived happily in a state of economic responsiblity. And while this makes for great storytelling, it's just flat wrong. They always seem to forget the fact that Reagan drove the deficit from 32% of GDP to 53% of GDP. This isn't some kind of quirky numbers game, it's just a fact.

So what are we left with? A lot of aging white people hellbent on getting what they can but deathly opposed to paying for things. Everybody loves dead Presidents for reasons completely at odds with reality, and dislikes the current one for ones similarly made up in right-wing imaginations. Everyone's screwing them but they're still doing just fine, even though no one knows why. The evil President is trying to Socialize everything but the tax burden is okay and 62% say Medicare and Social Security (the 2 most Socialist programs on the books) are good plans that are worth the money.

Well, at least now we've cleared everything up. In the words of the imitable Dennis Green, "they were who we thought they were"-- deluded and self-serving.

1 comment:

  1. These people lied on the poll. They are not as rich and educated as they claim. This is like the Maine gay marriage vote. People lie in the polls so it looks like they aren't hateful bigots, but when it comes to reality, it's a different story.

    Where was the tea party during the Bush tax cuts? That two trillion is more than Obama's health care. Oh wait, I forgot, Reagan claimed that tax cuts actually generated more revenue. Funny, that's not what any statistic has ever shown.