The Tea Potty (pt 5: Who the hell are these people?)



“When Fascism comes to America, it’ll be wrapped in excess body fat & carrying a misspelled sign.”

Let’s get one thing out-of-the-way, right away. The Tea Potty is NOT a grass-roots movement even though they throw around enough fertilizer to grow acres and acres of grass. (The mowing kind, not the smoking kind, although there is a lot of smoke involved.)

I’ll get into the explanation of that in a bit, but first let’s examine the baggers themselves.

While there have been “Tax Day” protests for years, (I mean, come on, is there anyone who really likes taxes, other than Warren Buffett?) there was scant evidence of any organization.

Then, in 2007, Ron Paul “The Godfather of the Tea Party” organized a “money bomb” on December 16th, the anniversary of the Boston Tea Party.

As part of it, that hot bed of liberality, Eugene, Oregon held a rally.

Only 50 people showed up and it was really next door in Springfield (of “Simpsons” fame). But hey, for Eugene, (population:156,000+) that’s still pretty good.

(Btw, the original BTP was about smuggling profits, not tea taxes. Read Tea Potty (pt 1) or any serious history book on the subject.)

So, where did the baggers come from? Did they slither out from under a rock or what? (From some of their distorted views and misunderstandings of history, you’d think so.)

Some, like Faux Noise’s Juan “Yawn” Williams, will tell you that the bagger movement grew out of the failed Paul campaign of ’08. (The tax talk of it, possibly. The “I don’t like government” part, probably. Some of his other provisions? I seriously doubt it. A lot of what he believes is not Tea Potty approved, although more than a few pot smokers agree with it.)

Some think it’s an extension of Ross Perot’s movement a few years earlier. (However, the geographics and demographics are wrong. Check out the map below or readTea Potty (pt 3)

Perot’s support in the 1992 election was rather minimal in the “slave states”, (except central Texas) and much heavier support in the west.

Some have suggested that the movement is not a new political group but simply a rebranding of traditional Republican candidates and policies. (Perhaps, if “traditional” means something less than 20 years old. This is not your grandfather’s (or even your father’s) Republican Party!)

And, more than a few people (including yours truly) view baggers as the Boomer Generation’s version of the Dixiecrats. (Complete with all the bigotry and stupidity.)

A good portion of the members (particularly in the “slave states”) come out of the radical “Christian Right” (aka “Religious Wrong”) movement.

In 2010, Gallup took a survey of baggers. Not too many surprises other than the fact that they claimed to be more educated than the average American. Actually, a closer look at the numbers reveals the claim is not necessarily all that accurate:

  • 34% had no college background. (1% fewer than the general population.);
  • 34% had some college. (2% more than the g.p.);
  • 16% actually made it to graduation. (1% fewer than the g.p.);
  • 15% had some post-graduate studies. (1% fewer than the g.p.);

By those numbers, baggers lead until it comes to being smart enough to get into, but not in diligence enough to actually graduate from college. (I guess it’s true, what they say about a little knowledge being dangerous.)

They are, of course, very heavily into the “well-off, old, white man” demographic. 50% claimed incomes of over $50,000, 50% of them were over 50 and 79% were non-Hispanic white. (Only 6% were black.)

Gallup also claimed they were fairly mainstream, but only in age, education and employment. (Which, when you think about it, really doesn’t mean too damn much overall.)

Oh, and they’re very non-mainstream on subjects like healthcare reform and abortion. (No big surprise there.)

About 4 out of 5 (79%) are Republican with 67% identifying as conservative.Another survey, this time by the conservative leaning Winston Group, added a bit more detail:

  • 47% get their news from Faux Noise. (Which actually explains a hell of a lot.) 10% learn about the world from talk radio (The lunatic fringe of the lunatic fringe.);
  • While a large portion are among the chief beneficiaries of liberal enactments (i.e. Social Security, Medicare, college loans, etc.), they seem to dislike liberals a hell of a lot.
  • While the vast majority would not be affected if the Bush cuts expire for incomes over $250,000, 82% of them think their taxes will go up. (You know damn well that 82% of baggers aren’t in the quarter mil tax bracket, but I guess it hasn’t dawned on them.);
  • Oh yah, and they don’t like Obama. (In case you hadn’t noticed.)

A couple of things they all seem to share in common are a lack of real knowledge of history or macro-economics. Which is kind of funny, (funny strange, not funny ha ha) since they seem to think those are their strong points.

Most of these people fall into the same general 22-27% of Americans who always seem to be a bit out of touch with reality. They’ve been around for years and politicians have been playing them like tiddlywinks. The major difference nowadays seems to be organization.

Ok, so much for the camera fodder crowd. How’d this bowel movement get started and who’s on the ass end pushing?

There are a pair of “origin stories” and the startup is due in part to both with a lot of help (i.e. money & mouth) from vested interests.

If Ron Paul is the “Godfather of the Tea Party”, I guess Keli Carender is the mother.

On February 16, 2009 Keli, (aka Liberty Belle)  who was Political Director of the King County Young Republicans & Chairman of the Washington Young Republican Federation, organized the 1st TeaPee in Seattle and called for a “Porkulus Protest” against the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 on Presidents’ Day. (I guess she had no problem previously with Bush’s (i.e. Republican) bank bailout, but something a Democrat proposed to spur employment in the worst economic crisis since the “Great Depression”? Hell no! That’s socialism, or Nazism or elitism or some other ism she doesn’t have a damn clue about, I guess.)

Miz “Belle” is now National Coordinator for Tea Party Patriots, a group closely associated with Freedom Watch. A lot more dirt on both of these coming up a few paragraphs down.

The “Daddy” of the TeaPee is CNBC’s Rick Santelli.

On February 19, 2009, Rick  unleashed a rant is on the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange against Obama’s proposal to help homeowners facing foreclosure refinance their mortgages.

“Do we really want to subsidize the losers’ mortgages?” he yelled.

He then suggested that he would organize a Chicago Tea Party in July, where capitalists would dump “some derivative securities into Lake Michigan.” (I’m not quite sure what dumping a bunch of agreements between two contracted parties to buy or sell an asset at a fixed price on or before a date of expiration has to do with taxation. But then, Rick obviously doesn’t have a clue either.)

That’ll wrap up this episode of this seemingly never-ending tale. This was originally the first part of pt. 5, but I had gotten to around 3500 words with more to come. Since I had promised myself that I would quit writing tomes (Can’t have too many readers falling asleep on me.) and since this was more or less a natural cut spot, I cut it.

Next time we’ll explore the various national and local groups and then finally we’ll finish up with a look and the movers & takers and the clowns & commodians. (And, that’s not a misspelling.)


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