Trying To Understand The Tea Party, Ctd


Kevin Drum counters J.M. Bernstein's dependency theory with polls showing that tea-partiers are wealthier than the average American. He concludes that the current movement is nothing new:

[T]hey're the usual reactionary crowd that goes nuts whenever there's a Democrat in the White House and they're looking for something to be outraged about. And right-wing media and the Republican Party have decided (correctly, I think) that banging on about the deficit is a handy way to gin up opposition to pretty much everything Democrats want to do.

The previous tea party incarnations worked the same way, but their leaders chose topics suited to their time and circumstances. In the 30s it was opposition to the New Deal. For the Birchers it was communism. For the Clinton-haters it was the culture wars. Those were the most obvious and convenient stalking horses of their day for broad-spectrum outrage at Democrats, while today's is the deficits/socialism message. There's really nothing mysterious here. It's just ordinary partisan politics.

So please please please: trying to figure out what's behind the tea parties is fine. But psychoanalysis isn't the right tool. History and politics are.

This point also came through in the many emails. But the emotional intensity of partisanship is worth exploring further, and when human beings are involved, the unconscious is always as important as the conscious. And, for the record, I found Hofstadter/Adorno's critique more illuminating than Bernstein's.

(Image via The High Definite)