Monday, October 18, 2010

Another View on the Motivations of Tea Partiers

Just to be fair, I'd like to point out to my readers this article written by Jonathan Haidt explaining what is really at the root of the Tea Party phenomenon. It's not exactly what I postulated in a previous posting, but it does reinforce somewhat the notion that there is a "feeling" fueling the Tea Party movement -- it's just that Haidt thinks it has less to do with liberty and more to do with a feeling of Tea Partier grievance at the short-cutting of "karma," while I think it's also less to do with liberty (and even small-government memes) but more to do with a feeling of discomfort with the disappearance of a idealized notion of a non-miscegenated, culturally-homogenous "real America." Anyway, it's a very intriguing article and definitely worth a read. It paints the Tea Party movement essentially in a sympathetic and positive way; but it does highlight differences between the socially conservative Tea Party constituents, their sympathetic libertarian colleagues, and even liberty-loving liberals. The patterns of alignment between these three groups are really quite interesting and, I found, quite surprising in terms of what they revealed. I appreciate the article because it at least provides evidence that liberals are not the anti-freedom demons that many Tea Partiers like to project. Here's how Haidt ends his article:

The rank-and-file tea partiers think that liberals turned America upside down in the 1960s and 1970s, and they want to reverse many of those changes. They are patriotic and religious, and they want to see those values woven into their children's education. Above all, they want to live in a country in which hard work and personal responsibility pay off and laziness, cheating and irresponsibility bring people to ruin. Give them liberty, sure, but more than that: Give them karma.
Notice that Haidt links current Tea Party motivations to a reaction against the topsy-turvy consequences of the cultural revolution of the 1960s and 1970s, as opposed to the redistributionist welfare state propensities of the 1930s and 1940s (although Haidt notes that this is also a part of the topsy-turvy consequences of the 1960s and 1970s -- albeit a less important part). I think Haidt sees the Tea Party movement, as I do, as much more of a phenomenon wrapped around cultural concepts as opposed to liberty or size-and-scope-of-government concepts.

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