Only one-quarter of Republicans think like them, Pew finds.
By Steven Rosenfeld / Alternet
Now that the federal government has reopened and its debt limit raised, the Tea Party is more unpopular with Americans than ever—including among moderate Republicans—polls are finding, with analysts asking if the Tea Party is part of the GOP at all.
“The Tea Party is less popular than ever, with even many Republicans now viewing the movement negatively. Overall, nearly half of the public (49 percent) has an unfavorable opinion of the Tea Party, while 30 percent have a favorable opinion,” the Pew Research Center For People And The Press said in its latest poll and report.
“For Republicans, the decline is steepest among those who describe themselves as moderate or liberal. Today, only about a quarter (27 percent) of moderate and liberal Republicans have a favorable opinion of the Tea Party movement, down 19 points from June,” Pew said, after surveying 1,500 adults over 18 across the country between Oct. 9 and 13. “Yet the Tea Party’s ratings have also declined among conservative Republicans, from 74 percent favorable in June to 65 percent now.”
Since the standoff ended, there’s been no shortage of media reports about the Republican Party tearing itself apart—with rightwingers accusing leaders in Congress of “surrender” and finger pointing at usual targets such as the media’s supposedly liberal bias. Tea Party leaders such as former South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint, now president of the Heritage Foundation, vowed in a Wall Street Journal column Friday that the fight to destroy the Affordable Care Act will continue. Meanwhile, another Tea Party darling, Kentucky’s Sen. Rand Paul, is AWOL in this fracas, perhaps nursing his 2016 presidential bid.
But no one should think that the Tea Party’s latest failures will make them go away. This faction, as epitomized by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz declaring that the shutdown was a victory, is unapologetic, arrogant and proud of it. As Pew notes, Tea Partiers share 10 beliefs and causes that make most Americans cringe—not just Democrats but millions of moderate and liberal Republicans. Let’s look at those views and values, according to Pew.
1. They really don’t care about America as a nation. For the past 25 years, Pew said that polls routinely find that about 55 percent of American voters want representatives in Congress to put local concerns ahead of “what they think is best for the country.” Tea Partiers disproportionately take that view. “Among Tea Party Republicans, fully 76 percent say members should vote against a bill their constituents oppose, even if he or she thinks it is in the best interest of the country,” Pew said. “Just 22 percent say the lawmaker should prioritize the national interest.”
2. Forget national solutions to national problems. Since three-quarters of Tea Partiers value a confederacy of GOP-run provinces more than an effective national government, it’s not surprising that they are always talking about making government smaller. But, as Pew found, that rhetoric means dismantling big public programs and overlooking public needs that were behind their creation in the first place.
“A driving attitude of the Tea Party is a belief in smaller government,” Pew said. “Fully 92 percent of Tea Party Republicans prefer a smaller government with fewer services, just 5 percent want a bigger government. Among non-Tea Party Republicans, a smaller government is preferred by a less one-sided 67 percent to 28 percent margin.” Tea Partiers tend to be older, whiter and wealthier than other Republicans—and other Americans, Pew said, which fits their self-centered, gated-community mindset.
3. They don’t believe in new government debt. Despite all the warnings by economists and even foreign leaders, such as Italy’s prime minister speaking at the White House on Thursday—who feared a default would raise global interest rates and spark a downward spiral—69 percent of Tea Parties said it was “not essential” to raise the U.S. debt limit, Pew said. That was 25 percent higher than “non-Tea Party” Republicans, Pew said.
4. They think Wall St. should be deregulated. Even though 2008’s global economic collapse started on Wall Street with bad bets by investors on the U.S. housing market, 79 percent of Tea Partiers say that government had gone too far with “regulating financial institutions,” Pew said. That was 26 percent higher than non-Tea Party Republicans.
5. They hate Obamacare.This is no surprise, of course, because the Tea Party crusade to repeal or defund the Affordable Care Act was the spark and rallying cry behind the government shutdown. Pew found that 95 percent of Tea Partiers opposed Obamacare, compared to 80 percent of non-Tea Party Republicans.
6. They’d gut Social Security and Medicare. Pew found that 73 percent of Tea Partiers would cut funds to these retirement programs to pay down the federal debt, which, again, is consistent with their “I’ve got mine; go get yours” mentality. Notably, Pew found that 46 percent of non-Tea Party Republicans said funding those entitlement programs was a more important priority than paying down the federal debt.
7. They Also Want To Outlaw Abortion. Pew found that 64 percent of Tea Parties want abortion to be illegal, compared to 51 percent of the rest of the GOP. While some polling firms have said that the Tea Party’s libertarian leanings are at odds with the evangelical wing of the party on this issue, Pew’s findings suggest overlap on the rightwing fringes—where evangelicals now are identifying themselves with the Tea Party movement.
8. They Oppose Same-Sex Marriage. Here too, there seems to be a blending of the libertarian and evangelical right, as 69 percent of Republicans who identified with the Tea Party opposed same-sex marriage, compared to 54 percent of non-Tea Party Republicans.
9. They want more oil and gas drilling.Tea Partiers have railed against climate change science and government responses because they feel it will bring more federal regulation of consumers. Pew found that 73 percent of Tea Partiers want to “expand traditional energy,” which means oil, gas and fracking, compared to 53 percent of non-Tea Party Republicans who want to “develop alternatives.”
10. They want more guns in America. Pew found that 93 percent of Tea Partiers say it’s important to “protect gun rights,” compared to 29 percent of non-Tea Party Republicans who said it was more important to “control [gun] ownership” than protect gun rights.
There are many more defining features of Tea Party Republicans, such as the hostility to political compromise, an impulse to destroy public programs instead of creating public solutions, and their arrogant claims that they represent a majority of Americans when—as Pew’s poll demonstrates—they do not even fully represent the Republican Party.
Pew’s latest report underscores just have far to the right the Tea Party is—taking view after view that one-quarter of other Republicans reject. Whether these more moderate Republicans will join with Democrats and work for effective governance remains to be seen. We now have a clear view of what defines this radical right-wing block that, by almost every measure, is out of step with what’s good for America.
It remains to be seen how the Republican Party’s more centrist leaders in Congress will try to rebrand their party and counter its firebrands. But Tea Partiers are not quietly going away into the night. As Jim DeMint’s Wall Street Journal op-ed opened, “the president has preserved Obamacare for the time being…”
Even though they are losing support they are still very dangerous. 30% favorable is more than the Nazi’s had in the 1920’s. Taking bits and pieces of their values a smart Tea Party operator could capture the mainstream Republican party and on certain issues gain support from liberal Democrats (for example, the vote to curtail NSA´s authority).
Dangerous? It’s interesting that you would choose that word to describe a group whose principal cause is civil liberty. The Nazi’s were more closely associated with the ideals of the Democratic Party of today, than the Tea Party. This article talks about increasing the governments influence, “bits and pieces” at a time, until freedom as we know it, is gone. It’s just done with a biased twist. The NSA should be curtailed, they don’t have the authority to tap phones without warrant. Any law permitting them to do so, is in blatant violation of our constitution; it doesn’t take a Supreme Court Justice to note the obvious. This country should embrace much of what the Tea Party has to say, because it’s their liberal ideals that made this country the most free and prosperous of all time.
Dr. Keith C. Westbrook Ph.D. says
Interesting that PEW has not released the polling participant demographics for this poll. I do give you credit at least you did link back to it, unlike many other progressive socialist mouth pieces who have a direct aversion to all of the facts you at least show some attempt at credibility. Your adjustment of the data points and manipulation of the direct numbers is obviously designed to further the false narrative that the modern Tea Party creation, as in its historical counter-part from our founding, have nothing in common which is an out right lie. Just like your failed progressive socialist agenda. I doubt you have the intestinal fortitude to allow this rebuttal, as I have found in life progressive socialists like yourself suffer from severe cowardice and do not handle having your ideological belief system exposed to the light of factual, evidentiary truth. Your losing and your desperation is palpable.
Veni, Vidi, Vici
Annie Lane says
Welcome, Keith. The SDFP is happy to allow comments that express varying opinions and advance conversation. Slinging insults right out of the gate does little in that regard. I’m hoping your future contributions will be more constructive.
Dr. Keith C. Westbrook Ph.D. says
What insults I just stated the facts, although I will retract the cowardice comment seeing you do have the guts to post opposing commentary. But it is also a fact that you and this site are progressive socialists who are out to destroy the Constitution and the Rule of law when it does not promote your agenda. Why try and hide who and what you are when the obvious is so blaring. I am Conservative and damn proud of it and I defend the Constitution the Bill of Rights the Federalist concept, Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness (to keep the fruits of ones labors) and everything that makes this Nation the greatest and most successful example of Self Determination in the history of this planet. You believe in everything that is the antithesis of this.
I don’t look in the mirror and lie to myself about who I am and everything that I stand for, I embrace it with honor and guard it with ferocity because if it is lost here it exists no where! http://drputts.blogspot.com/2012/07/self-determination.html
Anna Daniels says
I encourage readers to check out Keith Westbrook’s page on the Patriot Action Network. He is trolling us from Gainseville Florida, where he is burnishing his tea party cred. Don’t feed the trolls.
Progressive does not automatically mean socialist any more that conservative automatically means fascist. If you really have a pee ache dee then you know this. Sorry I just fed the troll.
Doug Porter says
“Why try and hide who and what you are when the obvious is so blaring”
It says “progressive views” right at the top of the page underneath the logo in large letters. How much more obvious do you want us to be?
Annie Lane says
I don’t know, Doug. Now that I think about it, the bolded all caps font is pretty subtle ….
Ritchie The Riveter says
“They really don’t care about America as a nation.”
The primary social contract of America, which supersedes all others, is this:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,”
Any “common good” outside of this, is trumped by this … because this facilitates the secret sauce of American advancement; the responsible exercise of personal initiative by 300 million problem-solvers who are far closer to the problems at hand than the Cult of the Credentialed and Connected Omniscient that Progressives have raised up over them.
Reliance upon the priests of that Cult short-circuits the distributed intellect of those 300 million.
Ritchie The Riveter says
“Forget national solutions to national problems.”
National “solutions” to individual-specific problems are a fool’s errand.
National leaders and Federal government operatives, being human, are simply not close enough to the individual to tell THEIR needs apart from a statistical average … and they are also limited in their response because of the need to respect civil liberties and assure equal protection under the law. They are effectively reduced to two tools in their tool box … a bag of money, and a set of regulatory handcuffs from their monopoly on the coercive force of law.
Sheesh … they can’t even differentiate between those who CAN’T help themselves and those who WON’T. But Progressives continue to demand large-scale solutions imposed by the coercive force of law as the One and Only True Way of doing things … because they believe that there is only one answer to any problem – theirs.
We have outsourced our responsibility, as individuals and neighbors, of being our brothers’ keeper and managing the resources to do it, because we believe that industrial-scale “expertise” trumps local insight … because it is easier than getting involved locally … and because we can pat ourselves on the back because we “did something” without really doing anything. And what did we get for it: intergenerational poverty that has done more than the KKK ever could dream of when it comes to keeping people of color down.
The primary Federal solution, is to uphold the primary social contract I mentioned in Episode One, so WE have the liberty and flexibility to respond to the needs around us … as individuals and neighbors, even sometimes coming together in organizations that have the insight and flexibility to deal with ALL the things keeping a person down, without threatening the liberty of either the caregiver or the client.
More to come …
Judith Wesling says
I don’t know who you are, Richie, but you’re wrong about our attempts to be our brother’s keeper. I have viewed with dismay neighbors’ attempts to hold spaghetti dinners, to raise money to help a neighbor with her cancer treatment costs. Even if a dinner raised $10,000 (a very positive estimate) that would be a drop in the bucket for medical costs for the treatment of cancer – or a baby’s birth defects, or the cost of a horrific auto accident…
That’s why I believe in a “large-scale solution” (your words) like the Affordable Health Care Act. And there must be carrots and sticks to get all to contribute. Because a well-off and self-satisfied and employed person such as yourself will never “get involved” with the care of people you think are unworthy/don’t care/shiftless/unemployed/and un-deserving in YOUR opinion,
Brian Brady says
“I don’t know who you are, Richie, but you’re wrong about our attempts to be our brother’s keeper.:”
Really? I just ran in a race yesterday which raised over $3 million for a charity and the foundation is just 20 years old. Let people keep more of their money and you’ll see this sort of work explode
We were told to be our brothers’ keeper but we were not told to deploy guns to do His will.
Judith Wesling says
Part of the problem is that these charity races and other foundations pick and choose their recipients. And it sometimes is whether the disability is a likable one or not (to the organizers.) A lot of worthy causes go begging for charitable help and never get it. Just read the literature on this. And I believe (although do not have the tech skill to link) that middle class people give more to charity than really wealthy people – there are exceptions like the Jacobs family and so on. But letting wealthy people keep more of their money in the belief that they will take care of the nation’s neediest? I don’t think that works out in practice.
Brian Brady says
I think you’re missing my point; charity works. Maybe the middle-class donates more than the higher-earners but looking for recognition or “parity” has never been my motivation for charitable giving, work, or deeds.
I accept that I am my brother’s keeper and I don’t care if my neighbors do or not.
Anna Daniels says
Charity is great when natural disasters such fire, floods, earthquakes and hurricanes necessitate an immediate response to people who have lost their homes and livelihoods. And even that charity can’t begin to address the needs of impacted communities, which is why we have FEMA and emergency relief funding on a national level.
Charity definitely does not address the man made disasters which have been visited upon broad segments of the population. The man made disaster of cutting food stamp support puts even more pressure upon already stressed food pantries and distribution centers. The solution is not to ask more people to donate to a food bank–the solution is to strengthen the safety net through legislation.
Charity does not correct the systemic problem of wealth distribution upward. Charity does not affect the massive global economic failure of the past decade.
In a democracy we are collectively our brother’s and sister’s keeper across the whole country and into the future. Charity will never replace that social compact.
Judith Wesling says
Thanks Anna, you said it better than I did.
Frank Thomas says
As a political centrist, I’v been long revolted by our political culture’s move away from the balanced positives of liberal and conservative tenants/values working for the common good to the purest negative predispositions about government’s limited role in society coming from the anti-anything-government groups.
We’ve degraded into a two-party “ideological cultist” democracy. This fabricated reality is an extreme caricature of one party claiming sole authenticity for protection of our individual freedoms and the other claiming sole authenticity for protection of the common man’s social rights, equitable progress.
Little wonder the vast majority of Americans — on both sides of the bipolar political spectrum — don’t like the way our nation is headed. Our Founding Fathers warned of the dangers of the two-party system . John Adams said that its polarizing nature would be the greatest political evil under our Constitution.
And that’s just where we’ve landed today. Both parties, funded by wealthy special interests, castigate each other continuously as evil threats to our innate freedoms — one pleading for the democratic sanctity of individualism and the marketplace that the opposition feels ends up enshrining selfishness, inequality, indifference to others; the other party pleading for a social democracy and basic entitlements that the opposition feels ends up growing annual federal debt and deficits while overtaxing everyone, especially the rich.
We are enmeshed in the very divisive political two-party culture our forefathers warned about — a culture where both parties narrow-mindedly impose their utopias on the opposition. We have a situation where political forces fail to adapt, change or update their beliefs when presented with credible, corrective, constructive information that runs counter to their predispositions.
An example is when people on the far right publicly claim that well-proven scientific foundations on human induced climate warming and climate change are FALSE … with little or no evidence to suggest a counter-argument other than, ” transitioning to sustainable energy sources will destroy jobs and hurt the traditional energy industry. What about the potentially massive environmental destruction if average global temperatures reach or exceed 2 degrees Celsius by 2050? That’s a less urgent secondary concern to the absolutists.
The “purist-ideology syndrome” corruptively driven by money has been bringing our nation nowhere. It contrasts to what I’ve witnessed firsthand in the mature European countries like the Netherlands over the past 33 years. Here ‘unbought’ multi-party governing coalition formations may decide seemingly ever so slowly, but they also have a deeply anchored discipline and respect for — truly understanding the minds of opposing parties; ultimately acknowledging what things, ideas and policy mix work best economically, socially, environmentally for most segments of society; depending on something other than blind partisanship to drive the determination to do the right thing.
Mark Twain captured well our cultist, uncompromising, narrow-minded ideological governance of “my way or the highway” in his words:
“It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”
We’ve had thirty years of Republican chicanery that our government is against us and is the root of all our problems — a theme entrenched by Reagan that govenment is the problem and should be feared. The Tea party has taken up this banner in an ever more extreme forms and dialogue.