Pack It Up, It's All Over

That’s right people.  We can just concede defeat now.  The Tea Party is officially over.  The Democratic/Socialist Worker left has won.  We might as well just tear down Redstate and Hotair and Gateway Pundit and Drudge.  It’s official.  We have lost America.

Well, at least that’s what the Pew Research Group would have us think.  I find this amusing.  Pew, a ‘nonpartisan’ polling group, has taken a poll about the Tea Party.  It appears we are not appreciated.  Apparently no one likes us much.  After two years of neverending marginalization, smears, mocking, and lame-brained media scoffing, Pew found some people don’t like the Tea Party much and in even stranger news, it appears hardly anyone has heard of it either.

Pew simply despises the Tea Party movement.  That is clearly apparent when reading any analyses they put forth.  So, when we get to the actual ‘data’, please keep their bias in mind.  Andrew Kohout, president of the Pew Research Center wrote a piece for the New York Times in February of 2010.  In it he discussed the problems with the Tea Party and the historical context of third party movements.  He also wrote this, “The Tea Party needs a strong voice to make a big impact. News reports of divisions within the movement as it gathers for a national convention are not a good sign. Secondly, independents, and swing voters generally, are for the most part centrists, who typically are not attracted to political extremes, their discontents notwithstanding.”  It’s always a little strange when political analysts are clearly completely ignorant of the subject they are discussing.  First of all, the Tea Party movement is not a political party movement with candidates and platforms and steering committees.  It is an ideological movement that argues the federal government is doing too much and giving individual citizens too little power.  Kohout seems to think that without clear lines of hierarchial power structures and nominally defined leaders, a movement is nothing.  He apparently ascribes to the Obama community organizing principle, grassroots are for leaders to direct, and not grassroots as directors of the spokespeople. 

But, regardless, Pew didn’t even acknowledge the Tea Party in the year of its inception.  They had no polling data at all about the Tea Party until March, 2010.  Then, Pew suddenly decided to research and poll the Tea party to find out how the lashing they were getting was affecting them.  The poll in March, 2010 startled them.  They listed out Democrats, Republicans, and then Tea party and Green party as groups that best reflect your philosophy or positions on issues.  Instead of being reviled, the Tea Party held up pretty well.    These are the numbers they use in their current poll as a starting point.  It wasn’t a stand alone poll about the Tea party, it was part and parcel of a political affiliation poll.  The study was “Distrust, Discontent, Anger and Partisan Rancor.” 

Their November 2010 poll was also part of a larger poll about the mid-term elections.  Entitled, “Mixed reactions to Republican mid-term win,” Pew questioned how the GOP is affected by the Tea party.  They found higher disagreement with the Tea Party movement among Democrats and higher support among independents than they expected.  Pew also continued to find broad numbers of people who weren’t familiar with or had no opinion in regards to the Tea Party.  Of course, these numbers followed a series of questions as to how much the Tea Party movement was influencing the GOP and whether the Tea Party and the GOP were the same thing.  Suddenly, the Tea Party isn’t a third party movement but simply a subset of the Republicans. 

They just can’t figure us out.

So, they came out with this stand alone poll.  This poll is just about people’s view of the Tea Party movement and not the movement within the context of voter dissatisfaction or as opposed to other political entities.  Actually, this is the first general poll about the Tea Party without the other contexts previously mentioned.  But, that doesn’t stop Pew from interpreting the data along side the previous findings.  They are basically comparing apple and oranges, not that it bothers them. 

Interestingly enough, Pew Research has followed, to the letter, the Democratic playbook on dealing with the Tea Party movement.  Consider this, Pew completely ignored the movement in 2009 while at the same time Nancy Pelosi was calling them astroturf and others just called them racists and malcontents.

Then early in 2010, after the elections of Christie in New Jersey, McDonnell in Virginia, and Brown in Massachusetts, they actually recognized the Tea Party as a phenomenon.  At that point, they were considered a curious side show of disgruntled Republicans, who may split from the party, hence the comparison of Tea Party to Green, Republican and Democrat.  Through the year, the national Democratic Party realized this wasn’t just a splinter group of Republicans.  Instead, it began to appear they were a growing subset of the Republicans.  This frightened them, but they could understand it.  They now saw the Tea Party as a group, like their own progressives, that would be absorbed by the larger structure.  Or, even better, they could break apart the Republican coalition winning unified Democrats the field. 

That’s when suddenly we began seeing ‘problems’ in the Republican Party.  Pew, a collectivist organization if there ever was one, saw a larger divide and figured they could just highlight the differences between Republicans and Tea Partiers which would isolate both groups. 

Thus, we see this newest poll in its proper context.

“As the Tea Party has evolved from a grass-roots movement to become a major force on Capitol Hill, public views of the Tea Party have grown more negative.”  That’s quite the affirmative statement about the Tea Party movement.  Given there are no leaders.  There is no central organization.  There is not even a coordination committee between groups, this is quite the statement.  Besides, the Tea Party was a major force on Capitol Hill in the summer of Town Hall protests and the fall and winter while we tried to stop Obamacare.  Obamacare only took so long because of the enormous public pressure against it.  The Democratic Party was the first to feel the wrath of the public long before anybody guessed Bob Bennett of Utah and Bob Ingliss of South Carolina would become irrelevant and dethroned. 

Pew now attempts to poll people on the political popularity of the Tea Party movement.  There is one problem with this.  The Tea Party is not a political movement.  It isn’t fielding candidates.  It’s not trying to become more popular.  They have no ‘leaders’ per se who are seeking to gather coalitions to win elections.  The Tea Party is principles and philosophy, not politics.  They use political pressure to get leaders to act, but the Tea Party isn’t a party at all.  Pew is completely flummoxed by this ideal.  So, they take their previously compiled data, data in a context that is different, and compare it to a political poll they’ve conjured up.

“The rise in negative views of the Tea Party has occurred largely among political independents and Democrats. Last March, more independents agreed than disagreed with the Tea Party by a 26% to 14% margin. Today, as many independents disagree as agree with the Tea Party (27% each); the percentage disagreeing with the Tea Party has risen 13 points.”  Let’s consider this analysis carefully.  Previously, the March poll compared Democrats, Republicans, Tea Party, and Greens.  Democrats didn’t know what was going on, so they simply ignored the Tea Party.  Republicans listened and understood what was going on.  Independents simply agreed with the precepts and didn’t care about the label.  That’s why the Tea Party had such huge ‘unknown/no opinion’ percentages.  Since then, the lame-brained media and Hollyweird culture have tried to label, marginalize and smear the “Tea Party” brand.  So, the ‘brand’ is recognized as defined by our adversaries and more people are reacting against it. 

So what!!!  The Tea Party ideals are what is important.  Tea Partiers have never tried to be politically popular, instead they’ve insisted on making the better argument, arguments the independents agree with whole-heartedly.  “In March 2010, just 24% of Democrats said they disagreed with the movement — a percentage that has more than doubled into a 51%-majority opinion today. Very few Democrats – now, or at any point over the last year — say they agree with the Tea Party.”  So, let’s think about this rationally. 

Pew is stating that 51% of Democrats have a negative opinion of the Tea Party.  About 44% have no opinion/don’t know, (Let’s just skip the haven’t heard nonsense.  There may be a few people who haven’t heard of the Tea Party, but chances are they won’t vote anyway so we’ll ignore them.)  For 44% of Democrats to either have no opinion or can’t decide, the Tea Party has their ear.  If the principles the Tea Party espouses are so radical, a vast majority of Democrats would despise them, and they don’t.  A majority hates the Tea Party, but a very sizable number are open to argument.  Looking at it that way, the Pew poll takes on new meaning.

Among independents, 47% are open to the Tea Party because of not knowing or no opinion.  Pew jumps on the negative/positive tie as some kind of slippage by the Tea Party because their ‘negatives’ are up so far.  Poppycock.  Independents that don’t like the Tea Party principles wouldn’t like them regardless when it comes to voting.  They were never in play.  However, given the high level of exposure the principles have gotten, it seems a vast number of independents are in play.  In other words, while they may not agree with the ‘brand’ or seem indifferent, that doesn’t mean they aren’t open to the product.  That is accepting this poll is accurate and valid, which I would argue is probably skewed some anyway.

Now, here is where the Pew poll really gets interesting.  They started splitting Republicans into moderate/liberal and conservative camps.  I don’t know how they did this, whether they used self-identification tools or what, but they wanted to see how the Tea Party played within the Republican Party itself.  (Merely asking to split party members into groups and gauging their view of the Tea Party is quite divisive in and of itself.  You’d never see a Pew poll like this about progressives and centrists.  They would consider that rude and insulting to Democrats, being good Democrats themselves.  Besides, they might scare the living beejezus out of themselves with the findings.)

They found 18% of liberal/moderate Republicans had a positive view of the Tea Party and 16% didn’t like them.  You could tell Pew practically piddled all over themselves considering last November 28% had a positive view of the Tea Party.  THAT’S A TEN POINT DROP.  Well, I wonder what the population of liberal/moderate Republicans was, twelve.  If they just called Colin Powell, David Brooks, Bob Ingliss, and Mike Castle, chances are their estimation of the Tea Party has decreased.  Didn’t Mike Bloomberg once call himself a Republican.  I rather doubt this group of RINO’s are really that influential in the party any longer.  Besides, there is still the question of branding versus principle.  Some country club types would consider the Tea Party beneath them, but they probably agree philosophically.  That, of course, is what matters in a movement. 

Politically, that’s a different story.  Politicians must collect a coalition to be elected.  They must seem like a person you can rely on.  They must make people feel good, while weighing principles carefully.  As a result, we have political parties, Republican and Democrat, and then we have movements, progressives and conservatives, and Tea Partiers.  Political parties must be popular, political movements must be principled. 

That is what makes the body politic dynamic.  It’s what organizations like Pew are supposed to measure.  Actually, considering the beating the Tea Party has been taking, it’s doing quite well.  The Tea Party is ‘splitting apart’ the Republican Party.  It isn’t alienating independents and conservative Democrats.  The Tea Party is advocating for causes.  It has taken a great deal of heat because they have been effective.  That is to be expected.  However Pew wants to categorize and isolate, separate and analyze, the Tea Party has been an effective voice of reason in this radicalized progressive administration.  We are seeing real movement by the general population rightward toward sanity.  That is what frustrates Pew and the left.  They believed the masses were theirs to sway, but we are making it a fight.

All to the consternation of Pew.