Week 10: Tea Party Movement
Popular in Racial and Ethnic Politics in the Obama Era
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This 5 page Class Notes was uploaded by Jennifer Kim on Saturday December 12, 2015. The Class Notes belongs to GVPT289O at a university taught by Dr. Antoine Banks in Fall 2015. Since its upload, it has received 30 views.
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Date Created: 12/12/15
GVPT2890 11315 Page 1 of 3 Reading Vanessa Williamson s The Tea Party and the Remaking of Republican Conservatism Emergence of the Tea Party provided conservative activists with a new identity funded by Republican business elites and reinforced by a network of conservative media sources Impact of the Tea Party has undercut Obama s presidency revitalized conservatism and pulled the national Republican Party toward the far right Context Not only did the November 2008 elections mark the triumph of an AfricanAmerican Democratic presidential candidate proposing an ambitious and progressive agenda voters also sent formidable Democratic majorities to the House and Senate Outgoing President George W Bush was extremely unpopular and the failed McCain campaign left Republicans without a clear leader Highranking Republicans were far from united behind the new Republican Party chair Michael Steele Pundits debated whether the Republican Party might be in longterm decline In its early stages the Tea Party was widely mischaracterized as a populist revolt or a movement of political independents Authors redefine Tea Party as a new incarnation of longstanding strands in US conservatism The anger of grassroots Tea Partiers about new federal social programs such as the Affordable Care Act coexists with considerable acceptance even warmth toward long standing federal social programs like Social Security and Medicare to which Tea Partiers feel legitimately entitled Opposition is concentrated on resentment of perceived federal government handouts to undeserving groups the definition of which seems heavily influenced by racial and ethnic stereotypes More broadly Tea Party concerns exist within the context of anxieties about racial ethnic and generational changes in American society Previous scholars including Martin Gilens have noted connections between racial stereotyping and opposition to parts of US social provision particularly welfare for poor mothers A small set of nationally operating Republican elites many of whom have been promoting a lowtax antiregulation agenda since the 1970s have played a key role in local and regional Tea Party efforts Profile Tea Party participants are a small minority of Americans There are perhaps a few hundred active Tea Party groups nationally and only a small fraction of those groups have memberships over five hundred people Older white and middle class Between 55 and 60 percent of supporters are men 80 90 percent are white and 70 75 percent are over 45 years old Given the disproportionate number of older white males it is little surprise that Tea Party supporters are usually found to have somewhat higher incomes than typical Americans Vast majority are conservative Republicans who have been politically active in the past At the grassroots level Tea Parties are small loosely interrelated networks assembled at the initiative of local and regional organizers who often use online organizing tools At the national level Tea Party orchestrators draw their resources from a small number of very conservative business elites whose policy concerns primarily involve reducing government oversight and regulation and shrinking or radically restructuring broad social entitlements Bankrolled by small number of farright businessmen like the libertarian Koch brothers GVPT2890 11315 Page 2 of 3 Probusiness elites have been crucial to the funding of the Tea Party phenomenon at the national level they do not seem to be central to the identitybuilding and mobilization of Tea Partiers at the local level Fox News primary source of political info for Tea Party activists Also helped to create and sustain the Tea Party mobilization in the first place by connecting the Tea Party to their own brand identity Provides much of what the loosely interconnected Tea Party organizations otherwise lack in terms of a unified membership and communications infrastructure Promoted the Tea Party label and provided a venue for the leading voices articulating a sense of pride and power among conservatives discouraged after November 2008 and spreading info about how people could get involved in national occasions to display solidarity and collective voice Tea Party activists define themselves as workers in opposition to categories of nonworkers they perceive as undeserving of government assistance Concerns about freeloading underlie Tea Party opposition to government spending At a grassroots level Tea Partiers judge entitlement programs not in terms of abstract freemarket orthodoxy but according to the perceived deservingness of recipients The distinction between workers and people who don t work is fundamental to Tea Party ideology on the ground First and foremost Tea Party activists identify themselves as productive citizens Government spending is seen as corrupted by creating benefits for people who do not contribute who take handouts at the expense of hardworking Americans Definition of working is an implicit cultural category rather than a straightforward definition Distinction between workers and nonworker is non necessarily linked to actually holding a job Only two groups of people unambiguously inlaced in the nonworking population young people and unauthorized immigrants Tea Party ranks Deficits and Spending as top issue and Immigration and Border Security as second most important issue Racial resentment stokes Tea Party fears about generational societal change and fuels the Tea Party s strong opposition to President Obama While explicitly racist appeals violate norms of equality held by the Massachusetts branch of the Tea Party nationally explicitly racist signs have appeared at Tea Party rallies nationwide Rather than conscious deliberate and publicly expressed racism these racial resentments form part of a nebulous fear about generational societal change fears that are crystallized in Tea Party opposition to President Obama Obama ran on an explicit platform of change in a campaign that appealed to the young and reached out to racial and ethnic minor ities For Tea Partiers as for many Americans the election of Barack Obama symbolized the culmination of generations of societal change provoking deep anxiety Tea Party activism both helped and hurt the GOP in 2010 Activism turned out more voters no doubt but the unguided nature of Tea Party voting and fundraising may have prevented the GOP from sweeping both chambers of Congress GVPT2890 11315 Page 3 of 3 Fashioned at a moment of challenge for conservatives in and around the GOP when the Republican label was tarnished the Tea Party has helped to sharpen and refocus conservative activism in our time The Tea Party managed to blunt the 2006 and 2008 Democratic wave and reinforce the backbone of GOP obstruction long enough to posi tion Republicans to make big gains in 2010 Having done its rebranding work Tea Party symbolism may fall out of fashion or it may remain dynamic for a few more years But the reverberations of the sudden and intense Tea Party mobilization at a pivotal moment in US politics will surely resound through public debates and raucous deadlocked politics for years to come The era of Obama will always be linked with the eruption of Tea Party reaction Lecture Guest Speaker Vanessa Williamson Origins of the Tea Party Obama s inauguration seen as foreshadowing of change which made conservatives anxious Had a freedom vs change rhetoric The Tea Party developed from Rick Santelli s rant and formed in response to Obama s policies The Motivations of Grassroots Tea Party Activists They had a fear that the country was changing Activists mainly consisted of older white conservatives Saw Obama as a foreigner and a liberal He was at the intersection of racial and ethnic concerns More likely to oppose socially progressive ideas Fox News covered Tea Party leading up to rallies and was responsible for mobilizing Tea Party supporters Republican Party Reshuffling at the Top There was a leadership gap around 20082009 A shift at the top moved the party to the right Conclusions The Tea Party was a reaction to the policies what they thought might be implemented and the person of Barack Obama His election occurred at a time of crisis when redistributive politics seemed possible He was also seen as a symbol not just of African Americans but of immigrants and a younger more diverse America Note What were big political concerns were also personal family concerns Tea Party supporters felt as if they were being left behind culturally They didn t like what change represented for them The Tea Party was a symbol that the Republican Party united behind when they weren t doing super well The Tea Party has been successful in preventing policy change and protecting status quo GVPT2890 11515 Page 1 of 2 Lecture 16 Tea Party Movement Reading httpwwwnytimescom2010O829opinion29richhtml Invisible Hands corporate players who have financed the far right ex Rupert Murdoch Koch brothers Two major sponsors of the Tea Party movement are the Americans for Prosperity Foundation which was founded by David Koch and FreedomWorks which was founded by Dick Armey David Koch ran on the 1980 Libertarian ticket and advocated for the abolition of Social Security federal regulatory agencies and welfare and public schools basically any government enterprise that would either inhibit his business profits or increase his taxes Now through his political contributions he supports climatescience denial Tea Partiers share the Kochs detestation of taxes big government and Obama Origins of the Tea Party February 19 2009 on CNBC Rick Santelli criticized the Obama administration s mortgage assistance program for promoting bad behavior and rewarding losers Conservative media pushed the Tea Party agenda For example on Fox News Glenn Beck pushed the idea of having tax revolts or Tax Day Tea Parties Conservative groups such as FreedomWorks locally organized people around the Tea Party symbol The group was founded under the name of Citizens for a Sound Economy and was funded by the Koch Family The group has a libertarian philosophy of limiting government lowering taxes flat tax rate and opposing cap and trade energy policy The ideology of FreedomWorks soon became the Tea Party ideology The motto of the Tea Party became Fiscal Responsibility Limited Government and Free Enterprise Was this a grassroots movement or was this just business elites trying to get people to adopt their ideology Upset with Democrats and moderates within Republican Party Motivations of Grassroots Tea Party Activists Economic issues support tax cuts against redistribution of wealth via progressive taxation and smaller federal government Country is changing Fearful angry that America is changing They saw Obama as a symbol of change that the country was becoming more diverse Fear turned into anger because anger is a more mobilizing emotion With fear you feel like you have no control Anger gives some direction Arianna Huffington of the Huffington Post stated The Tea Party is angry Really really angry The Tea Party gravitated to earlier symbols of America such as Benjamin Franklin Abraham Lincoln Samuel Adams and George Washington Earlier symbols might be seen as racially motivated since these people were from a time of slavery and did not include any women The Tea Party ran their own candidates to challenge both Democrats and moderate Republicans They wanted more conservative candidates 2010 Midterm Elections Tea Party candidates emerged to challenge Republican incumbents in Republican primaries Their overall message of these candidates was simple to take back America GVPT2890 11515 Page 2 of 2 Although some of the candidates seemed radical to the American public their campaign message was a new variant of long standing conservative arguments about the federal government religion and social welfare programs The Republican establishment criticized the Tea Party movement for not being more strategic At the time the Republican Party needed to displace Democrats in order to win a majority in the Senate Victorious Tea Party candidates in 2010 MidTerm Elections As Election Day 2010 ended Americans woke up the next morning to find that Republicans had made substantial gains in the midterm congressional elections They captured 63 seats in the House giving control back to Republicans and gained 5 seats in the Senate Of the 63 House seats Republicans won 32 of them were won by Tea Party backed candidates In the Senate Tea Partybacked candidates won in Florida Kentucky Pennsylvania Utah and Wisconsin People selling the tea include conservatives and the media Fox News Class ended early
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