14 April 2010

Tea Partiers Endorse Bipolarchy

While the subjects of a New York Times survey of Tea Party adherents may indict the source, the rest of us will probably take its findings more seriously. The paper itself headlines the revelation that the TPs, on average, are not working-class idiots, but are wealthier and better educated than the general public. This doesn't surprise me to the extent that I assume the average TP to be some sort of small businessman. The surprising thing, and the ultimate disappointment for anyone who held out hope that the TPs could form the foundation for an independent political movement, is that they are more opposed than the general public to the idea of a third party. This was probably inevitable; their fear and hatred of the Democratic Party and President Obama make them the most likely proponents of lesser-evilism of any group in the country. They'll take the Republican party, warts and all, and with no more than token threats to "keep them honest," in order to turn back the "socialist" tide. But another finding makes it unlikely that they even see warts. According to the Times, TPs are far more likely than the general public, and more likely than Republicans as a distinct category, to hold a favorable opinion of George W. Bush. They are also, not surprisingly, the group least likely to blame Bush for the country's present economic plight. Obviously there's a minority within the TP movement who take more of a Ron Paul position (Paul also enjoys a higher-than-average favorable rating) and give Bush his share of blame for the bailouts and other offenses, but that minority should realize by now that the TPs in general are independent of the Republican party only to the extent that they are more reactionary and more openly contemptuous toward the poor than the GOP leadership. It is probably most accurate to portray the Tea Party movement as a sympathetic auxiliary of the Republican party that just happens to take its cues from radio talkers rather than party bosses. They offer no hope of a meaningful alternative to the American Bipolarchy. If anything, their manichean mythos pitting "freedom" against "socialism" can only strengthen it.

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