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Tilting at Windmills

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July 6, 2010

THE GOP BASE WITH A DIFFERENT NAME IS STILL THE GOP BASE.... For many pundits and political observers, the Tea Party "movement" is something new -- a group of angry and disaffected voters who disapprove of both parties, rely on Fox News, and have no use for the political establishment. What the activists lack in leadership, expertise, clarity of thought, internal structure, and connections to reality they make up for in passion and blind rage towards a failed "system." They're political free agents, the argument goes, willing to vote for those who speak to their fears.

Perhaps now would be a good time to note the differences between Tea Partiers and right-wing Republicans -- specifically, the fact that there really aren't any differences.

New data out of Gallup suggests ... nearly seven in ten tea party supporters describe themselves as "conservative Republicans."

All told, nearly 80 percent of tea party supporters describe themselves as Republicans while 15 percent say they are Democrats and just six percent are, in their own minds, "pure independents." [...]

"Their similar ideological makeup and views suggest that the Tea Party movement is more a rebranding of core Republicanism than a new or distinct entity on the American political scene," wrote Gallup Poll director Frank Newport in a memo analyzing the results, which were culled from national surveys conducted in March, May and June. [...]

The Gallup data, when combined with the Resurgent Republic findings, suggests that the constant comparisons between today's tea party voter and the supporters of Ross Perot in the early 1990s are simply wrong.

Agreed. Tea Partiers may not have any real affinity for the Republican leadership -- they've proven themselves willing to reject establishment-backed GOP candidates in primaries -- but they're still just Republicans, with priorities indistinguishable from the party.

E.J. Dionne noted the other day, "For some months now, I have been battling against the idea that the Tea Party movement is some brand-new thing in American politics, an independent movement akin to the rebellion led by Ross Perot in the 1990s. Tea Party people, I have been arguing, are simply right-wing Republicans organized under a new banner."

E.J. was right. Whether others in the media will pick up on this remains to be seen, but I'm not optimistic.

Steve Benen 3:50 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (27)

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Comments

To connect this with another recent post by Steve, this is why I'm not as fearful of the election in the fall. This isn't some new wave movement. It's the same old, same old.

We need to get out and vote and get out the vote this November.

Just as we should every election.

Posted by: howie on July 6, 2010 at 3:57 PM | PERMALINK

Steve Benen wrote: "Whether others in the media will pick up on this remains to be seen, but I'm not optimistic."

Whether "others in the media will pick up on" the fact that the "Tea Party movement" is a deliberate propaganda hoax created by the media?

Yeah, I wouldn't be optimistic either.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on July 6, 2010 at 3:58 PM | PERMALINK

I've always described the modern (Reagan forward) Republican party as an unholy alliance of different strains of conservatism.

I think the Tea Party is actually different than the Theocratic activist base that dominated the primary processes from 1976 until 2006 or so. The Tea Party doesn't seem to care about the so called value issues. Rather, they have a false belief that our government taxes too much (not true), spends too much (if they want to end a couple of wars, maybe), and regulates too much (ignoring that the 2007-2009 recession happened because of lax enforcement of regulations).

These people WERE a part of the Republican base, but their activism is new. As such, they threaten the former activist base of the party. And eventually these two parts are going to come into direct conflict (probably after they fail to take the House and Senate in 2010) and I'm going to heat up the popcorn when they do.

Posted by: Lance on July 6, 2010 at 4:03 PM | PERMALINK

Who are these Democrats that describe themselves as Tea Partiers?
I think that is the most interesting aspect of this poll.

Posted by: Luke on July 6, 2010 at 4:12 PM | PERMALINK

I think that pundits have missed the actual point of the Tea Party movement, which is to cut the ties between today's conservatives and George W. Bush. GWB was a disaster by almost anybody's standards. For Republicans to have a chance at making a comeback, they must give the impression that GWB was an aberration, a drifting away from true conservatism, and that the Tea Party movement has forced them to come to their senses.

The symbolic disavowing of GWB is necessary for them to recapture the conservative voters who became disillusioned with Bush toward the end of his term. Of course, it's a scam, but in this matter, conservative voters want to be fooled. They want to believe that the reason deficits soared and the economy tanked under GWB was because he strayed from true conservatism.

Posted by: Daryl McCullough on July 6, 2010 at 4:15 PM | PERMALINK

Lance -

I think you're right in some respects and off the mark in a few others. I really don't think that the Tea Partiers are fundamentally different from the white, evangelical Christian base of the party. These are essentially "Reagan Republicans" and their interest in politics is all about taxes. There's such a strong overlap between the social issue Republicans and the anti-tax nutbag Republicans that trying to draw a line between them is very, very difficult.

Now the leadership of the social issue Republicans certainly isn't behind the Tea Party stuff, but frankly I'm not sure who the leaders of the Tea Party movement (such as it is) really are. There may be a leadership struggle going on behind the scenes, but this really looks like the same people just with the priorities of their protests changed a bit.

Posted by: NonyNony on July 6, 2010 at 4:20 PM | PERMALINK

Did MoveOn get this much coverage back in the day? Just wondering...

Posted by: leo on July 6, 2010 at 4:22 PM | PERMALINK

"while 15 percent say they are Democrats"

Bull fucking shit. 15% are lying.

Posted by: jharp on July 6, 2010 at 4:23 PM | PERMALINK

I don't mean any disrespect, but, well, duh.

Posted by: Steve M. on July 6, 2010 at 4:37 PM | PERMALINK

What I find interesting is *why* conservatives have rallied under a new banner. It's because the old banner -- the Republican party -- utterly failed them. The Tea Partiers are bitter about government because their elected leaders failed in spectactular, humiliating fashion.

That becomes relevant when you notice that there are some self-identified Democrats in the Tea Party. A few people feel that the Democratic party has failed them, also. And if the Democrats fail again, the Tea Party may swell with more bitter, anti-government radicals...but this time from the left.

Posted by: Remus Shepherd on July 6, 2010 at 4:57 PM | PERMALINK

"And if the Democrats fail again, the Tea Party may swell with more bitter, anti-government radicals...but this time from the left."

The T.E.A. Party stands for Taxed Enough Already.

After Obama cut taxes for 95% of us.

The left is not even close to being so ignorant of that fact. The Tea Partiers are frauds. And anyone with 1/2 a brain can see it clearly.

God you people are stupid.

Posted by: jharp on July 6, 2010 at 5:10 PM | PERMALINK

I'll lay odds a lot of those self described 'Democrats' are over 55 (most over 65), live in the south, white and haven't voted for a Democrat since the 60s when the Democrats embraced the Civil Rights movement.

My grandfather was one of them. He was a life long Democrat until the 60s and felt the party abandoned him and strayed from its roots. He was a registared Democrat for 20 years after that before he finally changed party affiliations in the mid 80s.

Posted by: thorin-1 on July 6, 2010 at 5:13 PM | PERMALINK

Ned respectfully recommends, for a view on what Republicans stand for"
http://chumpsandlosers.blogspot.com/2010_06_01_archive.html

Posted by: Ned Pepper on July 6, 2010 at 5:24 PM | PERMALINK

I think that pundits have missed the actual point of the Tea Party movement, which is to cut the ties between today's conservatives and George W. Bush.

The rightwing rebellion against Bush on immigration reform was when the ties were cut. That was the main precursor of the tea party movement. Early tea party organizers like Dick Armey struggled manfully to keep immigration off its agenda, but since AZ that battle is lost. In many places there's now a nearly complete fusion of the two currents. This will only become clearer at the Nov. elections.

Posted by: K on July 6, 2010 at 6:18 PM | PERMALINK

i would say that the tea partiers are rather a 'rebranding' of the john birch society - but then, so is the republican party.

your pal,
blake

Posted by: blake on July 6, 2010 at 7:49 PM | PERMALINK

Shark to Benen, not all Tea Partiers are angry mob extremeists. Most of us are hard working--tax paying individuals tired of politicians on the left of speding ours and our children's future. We are tired of having a bloated government health insurance program rammed down our throat. We're tired of illegals coming into our country at will with no alarm from Washinton. We're tired of the New Progressive Party that represents the Non-Workinng Class. The Democrats used to be proud, right or wrong, to claim the represented the working class. That was a major shift to the non-working class.
We're tired of preople calling themselved Republicans when in fact all they are is reach across the aisle republicans in name only. So yes, we are tea partiers, not looking to form a third party as you clai, But rather trying to rid our house of the RINO's and return our party to it's roots. Maybe the Dem's should do the same, return to the party of JFK and Truman istead of this new "Progressive" party of non-workers.
The Shark on Hubpages

Posted by: The shark on July 6, 2010 at 7:57 PM | PERMALINK

Apparently Shark thinks he's got a monopoly on working and paying taxes -- though I think his biggest delusion is that he represents anything other than a right-wing extremist minority.

Posted by: leo on July 6, 2010 at 8:36 PM | PERMALINK

Shark is also ignorant of the fact that we are among the lowest taxed industrialized countries in the world. And pay 2 to 3 times in health care expenses for the same level of care.

And shark, just who has been running things the past 25 years?

And Obama cut your taxes. Dumbass.

God you people are stupid.

Posted by: jharp on July 6, 2010 at 8:45 PM | PERMALINK

An appropriate analogy:

Republicans is to Tea Party as
Council of Conservative Citizens is to White Citizens' Council

Posted by: hells littlest angel on July 6, 2010 at 9:19 PM | PERMALINK

Daryl McCullough: I think that pundits have missed the actual point of the Tea Party movement, which is to cut the ties between today's conservatives and George W. Bush.

Very astute observation. I believe you're correct, at least in large part.

Posted by: Equal Opportunity Cynic on July 6, 2010 at 9:52 PM | PERMALINK

"Non-Working Class" = nonwhites, right?

Posted by: Chet on July 6, 2010 at 10:15 PM | PERMALINK

"Tea Party people, I have been arguing, are simply right-wing Republicans organized under a new banner."

Well, the old banner had gotten pretty tattered, hadn't it? Not what you'd call "Gallantly Streaming."

Posted by: Jon on July 7, 2010 at 12:21 AM | PERMALINK

Tea Partiers are wingnut conservatives who want to shirk accountability and responsibility for the problems they allowed or actively encouraged and promoted under the previous administration, while at the same time play 'outraged patriots' and act like obnoxious idiots and call themselves 'independents.' They are not and have never been independent! It's all about not having to accept blame for their beliefs.

Posted by: Varecia on July 7, 2010 at 12:42 AM | PERMALINK

Who are the idiots who didn't know this? Are they still allowed to vote and hold jobs?

Sadly, I imagine they are allowed to hold jobs, in the media of all things, where they are theoretically supposed to inform people.

*sigh*

Posted by: David Bailey on July 7, 2010 at 8:09 AM | PERMALINK

US to Shark.

Most of us are hard working--tax paying individuals. We're tired of politicians on the left *and* right of spending ours and our children's future. We are tired of having a thieving bloated private health insurance program at the sufferance of our employers. We're tired of the people who think the immigration problem is not the fault of the employers. We're tired of the lies from the Republican party. We're tired of the timidity of the Democratic party. We're tired of both parties supporting only the insanely rich class.

We're tired of people claiming to want better government, who then won't negotiate in good faith, insist on trying things *again* that have *never* worked, and question our patriotism. We're tired of people who said nothing when the Republicans ran up a huge deficit, but now are worried about it under the Democratic party. We're tired of people calling themselves Tea Party when in fact all they are is "born again" Republicans trying to lose the stench of failure caused by their failed policies even while they still advocate them.

US to Shark. You sir are a hypocrite and a hack. You care nothing of the country, only tribalism at its worst. Please cast the beam out of your eye before suggesting there's a mote in ours.

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