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April 15th, 2010
The lead story in today’s New York Times, titled “Discontent’s Demography: Who Backs the Tea Party,” describes the results of a recent poll analyzing the membership and attitudes of Tea Party supporters. The results are hardly surprising.
For those who think the Tea Party is really a stalking horse for Republicans, there’s much to support that viewpoint. Most members are white, male, married, over 45 and Republicans. They favor smaller government, and they are virulently opposed to the Obama administration.
But there are some surprises as well. Most support Social Security and Medicare as worthwhile programs, and most think Sarah Palin is NOT qualified to be President. Most consider themselves to be financially well off, but their main concern is not social issues but the economy.
With all due respect, the Tea Party was largely manufactured by right-wing radio and TV commentators who whipped up the attendance, promoted the events, and gave it a prominence far outweighing its rightful spot in news coverage. The main question for political pundits now, however, is whether the movement has developed a momentum of its own, and an energy that goes beyond typical Republican politics.
The Tea Party’s emphasis on adherence to the Constitution, however, is definitely misplaced. The Constitution speaks in general terms about a lot of topics, and interpreting the document is necessary whether you’re a liberal or a conservative. You can’t just call “balls and strikes,” as some right-wing constitutional scholars have insinuated.
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