Wednesday, July 18, 2012

There Is No Tea Party

So, Slate is slightly surprised that the Tea Party has returned to voting for politically-connected Republican party operatives. They shouldn't be. Why?

There's no such thing as the 'Tea Party.'

Demographically, the 'Tea Party' is just a synonym for 'the Republican base:' over fifty, overwhelmingly white, generally male, exurban, theologically conservative, and middle-class to rich. They watch Fox News, listen to Rush Limbaugh, and read the Wall Street Journal editorial page. They are, in other words, indistinguishable from people who vote for Republicans generally, except that many conservative independents identify as Tea Partiers.

In this regard, the transition from 'Republican' to 'Tea Partier' has followed the trajectory on the left from 'liberal' to 'progressive.' A widely deprecated term becomes replaced with a more neutral term, which then becomes deprecated itself, and so on and so on and so on.

But there's no reason to believe, considering that Tea Partiers are simply the people who vote in Republican primaries, and always have, that two years would result in a substantial difference in endorsement or voting patterns. And so we find ourselves, in 2012, with the Tea Party supporting the same people they've always supported: Republican party apparatchiks.
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