Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Whom Does the Tea Party Like?

Tea Party politicians don’t like people who are out of work. In Congress and in campaigns they consistently oppose paying unemployment insurance to the most distressed citizens, those who have been out of work for the longest time. A poll earlier this year found that 70% of Tea Party Republicans oppose extending unemployment benefits and 65% oppose raising the minimum wage, even though most other Republicans favor these policies.

They don’t like people who have suffered from catastrophic events beyond their control. Chris McDaniel, the Tea Party favorite who challenged Republican Senator Thad Cochran in a Mississippi primary, said he didn’t know if he would have voted for federal aid to those people in his own state who were devastated by Hurricane Katrina, legislation that passed the Senate unanimously.

They don’t like poor people in general. Their arguments for reducing food stamps are that poor people are not motivated enough to find work, that poor people prefer living off welfare, that poor people are undeserving of public assistance. 84% of Tea Party Republicans believe that government aid to the poor does more harm than good.

They don’t like immigrants. Most of those who identify with the Tea Party want to deport all undocumented immigrants. But Tea Party supporters don’t like immigrants in general: over half think that “immigrants” take away jobs from “Americans”.

They certainly don’t like Muslims. A Brookings/PRRI survey of American attitudes in 2011 found that most Tea Party followers believe that American (not foreign) Muslims are trying to impose Sharia law in the US.

They don’t like people who are not like them. Pew Research has found that the most conservative Americans are the most likely to want to live where everybody shares their political views. They want to live where everybody shares their religious faith, which is overwhelmingly evangelical Christian. Only 20% of the most conservative want to live among a mixture of people from different ethnic and racial backgrounds. About one-third of the most conservative would be unhappy if a family member married a Democrat and one-quarter don’t want a family member to marry a non-white. That fits with most Tea Party supporters’ generally negative beliefs about African-Americans: a 2010 study found that among whites who approve of the Tea Party movement, “only 35% believe Blacks to be hardworking, only 45% believe Blacks are intelligent, and only 41% think that Blacks are trustworthy.” A Public Policy Poll in 2011 found that 46% of Mississippi Republicans thought interracial marriage should be illegal.

It’s obvious that Tea Party politicians don’t like Democratic voters, who have been the majority of Americans in 5 of the past 6 Presidential elections, and by far the majority in both the Presidential and Congressional elections of 2012. But this goes beyond dislike: two-thirds of the most conservative Republicans see the Democratic Party as a “threat to the nation’s well-being”.

Tea Party politicians don’t even like their fellow Republicans. They taunt other Republicans with the nickname RINO, Republicans In Name Only. They challenge established Republican politicians in primaries as insufficiently conservative. And as the Mississippi election last month demonstrates, they don’t accept losing. McDaniel, who was beaten in a narrow primary by Senator Cochran, won’t say he will vote for him in November.

Tea Party politicians don’t really believe in democracy. Not only does McDaniel argue that some people should not have been allowed to vote against him. He, like other Tea Party politicians, does not want to govern democratically. They want to impose their minority ideology on the rest of us. They believe that any compromise with the majority is evidence of evil. Dave Brat, who defeated Eric Cantor in Virginia, had a photo of Cantor speaking with President Obama prominently displayed on his website.

The most conservative are the least likely among Americans to favor politicians who make compromises. They don’t care that their core beliefs are not shared by most Americans. They are not willing to acknowledge their minority status. An early poll showed that nearly all Tea Party supporters believed their ideas reflected the views of most Americans, although every poll shows that they don’t.

The Tea Party is nothing like their namesakes. They do not believe that all men have inalienable rights. Only they have the right to say what is right. They don’t want to govern, they want to dictate. They don’t like most Americans, who don’t agree with their ideas. They probably don’t like you.

They are intolerant and dangerous. They applaud when radicals like Cliven Bundy take up arms against the state. Imagine what Tea Party politicians would do if they had power, if they could command the police, the armed forces, the FBI. Imagine their reaction to criticism, to dissent, to Americans exercising our rights say “no”.

Recognize the danger that Tea Party politicians pose to our way of life. Don’t vote for them.

Steve Hochstadt
Jacksonville IL
Published in the Jacksonville Journal-Courier, July 8, 2014


  1. I read about your article on another site, and now that I am here, wow. Hypocrisy? Projection? Not sure..

    I've never seen someone espouse such closed mindedness and intolerance of differing viewpoints, all the while deriding an entire segment of the population for being intolerant. It's a shame that you teach growing minds. You're teaching them intolerance and how to shut down and turn away differing viewpoints, rather than opening up dialogue. That is, of course, if your teaching is anything like your writing, which I have found to be the case more often than not in academia.

    But I guess that's what you can learn to expect when dealing with "liberals". (Isn't it fun stereotyping and painting a huge portion of society under one large brush? I hope you can sense the facetiousness in my writing) You see, I know you like studies and I can see that you really like Pew research. Below, I have included a study that I can only assume you came across during your preparation for your diatribe. You will clearly see that it is, in fact, your lauded liberals who are the least tolerant people. They are less tolerant and less accepting of open dialogue than Conservatives and Moderates. They are even more likely to cut off contact with family members over differing political viewpoints! With great minds like yours, I can't see how they would come across as intolerant, but that's another project for another day.

    Let's see how long until you silence the dissent and delete my comment. My first comment never showed.. Maybe this one will.


    1. Phaedrus (do you have a name?):

      Although you appear to have great difficulty with civility, you bring up an interesting study that is worth discussing, so I will address it. If you can’t manage to improve your level of discourse, though, I won’t continue this discussion.

      First, I ask you to read what I wrote. Most of it repeats results from surveys, like the one you cite. From those surveys, I make generalizations. I think it’s reasonable to say that “Tea Party supporters [have] generally negative beliefs about African-Americans” based on the survey results I cite. If you have some other interpretation of those results, you can lay it out. The same is true of the way that most Tea Party people in polls characterize people on welfare. I would say those results show that Tea Party people don’t like poor people.

      You have nothing to say about any of those poll results and what they might mean, which is the same for all of the negative comments I have received about that article.

      The poll you cite should also be taken seriously, although the article that you cite engages in precisely the kind of sarcastic intolerance of “liberals” that you complain about. I went to the actual poll: http://www.pewinternet.org/2012/03/12/main-findings-10/
      I had not seen it before. I don’t use social media at all.

      As the article says, that poll shows that the most liberal respondents were more likely to block, etc., than the most conservative, although in both cases a minority. Okay, what should we make of that? It might show intolerance, as you claim. Alone that study does not show, as you claim, that liberals are “the least tolerant people”, because it only represents one part of life. The studies that I cited about willingness to live among diverse people or have a family member marry someone of different background must also be included in any assessment of tolerance.

      Here’s another factor. Although you excuse yourself as being facetious, I don’t see anything facetious in calling me close-minded or intolerant, being sarcastic about my “great mind”, or your unfounded assumptions about my teaching. And your comments about my writing are much friendlier than most, which jump right to “moron”, “retard”, “fucking dirty hippie”, liar, etc. Because my writing comes from a liberal standpoint, I don’t get nasty comments from that side, but in my trolling through both liberal and conservative websites, I would say that conservative negative commentary is much nastier than liberal negative commentary. Admittedly an unrepresentative and small sample. But that could be an explanation for why liberals would block more often than conservatives. In the case of online commentary at the newspaper I write for, a generally conservative paper, only conservative commentators have been blocked by the editor for their very nasty content. By the way, I don’t delete anything here, and I don’t know why your earlier comment did not appear.

      Or it could be that liberals are less tolerant on SMS, as proven by that Pew study. It’s amusing that nearly all of the people who commented negatively on my article on the newspaper site derided all the studies I cited as useless, because they didn’t like the results.

      Steve Hochstadt