The Tea Party and the radicalization of politics

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The Tea Party and the radicalization of politics
Olivarez, Leonard ( author )
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Denver, CO
University of Colorado Denver
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Tea Party movement ( lcsh )
Politics and government -- United States -- 21st century ( lcsh )
bibliography ( marcgt )
theses ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )


The election of our first African American President, Barack Obama, brought with it racial resentment in the form of a new Tea Party movement. Although the Tea Party claims that their movement is all about smaller government and fiscal responsibility, some of their actions have lead others to believe otherwise. This study takes a qualitative approach in the form of a content analysis of U.S. Daily Newspapers online. Several articles were reviewed and characteristics were looked at and combined to form common themes. Additionally, this study uses a critical race theory lens to gain insights into the relationship between the Tea Party, President Obama, politics, and race. Findings include that although the Tea Party espouses government concerns, their movement had also created a climate where they feel they are this country's ideal Americans, and where those who do not conform to their ideology are excluded. Moreover, additional findings underscore the contributions a critical race theory approach makes, including accusations of Tea Party racism, supposed Tea Party colorblindness, and a lack of Tea Party interest convergence.
Thesis (M.A.)--University of Colorado Denver. Sociology
Includes bibliographic references.
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Department of Sociology
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by Leonard Olivarez.

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THE TEA PARTY AND THE RACIALIZATION OF POLITICS by LEONARD OLIVAREZ B.A., University of Colorado Denver, 2009 A thesis submitted to the Faculty of the Graduate School of the University of Colorado in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts Sociology Program 2014


ii This thesis for the Master of Arts degree by Leonard Olivarez has been approved for the Sociology Program by Candan Duran-Aydintug, Chair A. Leigh Ingram Lucy Dwight May 2, 2014


iii Olivarez, Leonard (M.S., Sociology) The Tea Party and the Racialization of Politics Thesis directed by Associate Professor Candan Duran -Aydintug. ABSTRACT The election of our first African American Presiden t, Barack Obama, brought with it racial resentment in the form of a new Tea Party movement. Although the Tea Party claims that their movement is all about small er government and fiscal responsibility, some of their actions have lead oth ers to believe otherwise. This study takes a qualitative approach in the form of a conte nt analysis of U.S. Daily Newspapers online. Several articles were reviewed and characte ristics were looked at and combined to form common themes. Additionally, this study uses a critical race theory lens to gain insights into the relationship between the Tea Part y, President Obama, politics, and race. Findings include that although the Tea Party espous es government concerns, their movement has also created a climate where they feel they are this countryÂ’s ideal Americans, and where those who do not conform to th eir ideology are excluded. Moreover, additional findings underscore the contri butions a critical race theory approach makes, including accusations of Tea Party racism, s upposed Tea Party colorblindness, and a lack of Tea Party interest convergence. The form and content of this abstract are approved. I recommend its publication. Approved: Candan Duran-Aydintug


iv TABLE OF CONTENTS CHAPTER I. INTRODUCTION ................................... ................................................... .1 II. LITERATURE REVIEW ............................. ...............................................5 History/Background of the Tea Party ............... ...........................................5 Emergence of the Tea Party ........................ .....................................5 Who Are the Tea Partiers and How Are They Organized ? .............6 Tea Party Ideology ................................ .........................................10 How Does the Tea Party Spread Their Message? ...... ....................12 Previous Research: The Tea Party .................. ...............................13 Previous Research: Obama, the Tea Party, and Race ...................15 The Future of the Tea Party ....................... ....................................32 Theory ............................................ ................................................... .........32 Critical Race Theory .............................. ........................................32 CRTÂ’s Early Origins ............................... .......................................35 CRTÂ’s Basic Tenets ................................ .......................................36 How Much Racism Exists in Our Country Today? ...... .................38 Distinguishable Characteristics of CRT Themes ..... ......................38 Legal Storytelling and Narrative Analysis ......... ............................40 Interplay of Power and Authority Within the Minorit y Communities and Movements ......................... ..................41 Categories and Power .............................. ......................................42 Critiques and Responses to Critical Race Theory ... .......................44 Critical Race Theory Today ........................ ...................................45


v III. METHOD ....................................... ................................................... ........49 Sample............................................. ................................................... ........49 Instrument Development and Application ............ .....................................50 IV. ANALYSIS/FINDINGS ............................. ...............................................53 Views on Government ............................... ................................................53 Ideal American/America ............................ ................................................55 Exclusion.......................................... ................................................... .......57 Analyzing the Tea Party Using a CRT Lens .......... ....................................60 Racism and the Tea Party .......................... ....................................61 Color Blindness and the Tea Party.................. ...............................63 Interest Convergence and the Tea Party ............ ............................65 V. DISCUSSION ..................................... ................................................... ....68 The Tea Party ..................................... ................................................... .....68 CRT and the Tea Party ............................. ..................................................7 0 The Racialization of and Division in Politics ..... .......................................73 VI. CONCLUSION .................................... ................................................... ...76 REFERENCES ........................................ ................................................... .......................78 APPENDIX .......................................... ................................................... ...........................85


1 CHAPTER I INTRODUCTION In 2008, Barack Obama was the first African America n to be elected President of the United States of America, in reaction to this, 2009 began with Tea Party movements sprouting up across the country. As President Obama and his administration set out to rescue people whose homes were soon to be foreclose d, faces of color were put to these people by Tea Partiers, giving us the first semblan ces that the movementÂ’s agenda could contain some racist elements. In 2010, several Tea Partiers won national and statewide elections giving Tea Partiers more power at these v arious levels. Since then, Tea Partiers have done everything within their powers to obstruc t any of the Obama AdministrationÂ’s proposed policies, and even allowed the government to be shutdown in 2013. Although Tea Partiers say that their main goals are to make government less intrusive and smaller, there are othersincluding several academics and pundits, who feel t hat their ideology is driven by racial resentment (Dinan 2011). Is it a c oincidence that the Tea Party started right after the election of our first black preside nt, and during a time when the population of people of color is rising rapidly? Some people a nd polls say noÂ…something Tea Partiers deny (Berlet 2011). Up to this point, the Tea Party is such a recent ph enomenon that not much academic research has been conducted on this moveme nt. Of the little research that is available, most of it is of a qualitative nature. T he purpose of this study is to add to and to go somewhat beyond the qualitative research that is available in regards to the Tea Party. Previous qualitative studies have focused primarily on survey results and poll numbers, and there have been several reviews of such materia l. For this study however, I


2 specifically employ qualitative content analysis te chniques to empirically examine the discourse of U.S. Daily Newspapers online in an eff ort to allow Tea Party understandings on ideology and racism to emerge from the data. Exa mining the discourse of these online news articles provides insights into matters dealin g with the Tea Party, President Obama, and race. This paper provides a multi-level perspec tive by taking both a micro and macro level look at the Tea Party. For example, individua lÂ’s takes on what the Tea Party is or means are considered right along with how the Tea P arty might affect our nation at the structural level. For this paper, previous literatu re on the Tea Party is addressed in two parts: Previous literature solely on the Tea Party, and previous literature dealing with the Tea Party, Obama, and race. The first gives us an i dea of how the Tea Party came to exist and a sense of their ideology, and the latter does some of the same but adds President Obama and how race factors into this dyad. Theoretically, I look at the Tea Party, Obama, and race through a critical race theory (CRT) lens, or from that perspective. I have chosen CRT because its hallmark themes allow me to look at this phenomenon from a p eople of color perspective. A CRT approach allows me took look at the Tea Party in re gards to the perceived racism within the Tea Party movement, and how the CRT tenets of c olorblindness and interest convergence can be applied to the Tea Party and rac e. Additionally, this approach allows me to analyze the Tea Party at both the micro and m acro levels, which in essence provides an understanding of how the Tea Party work s at these various levels. For example, Tea Party individuals may express that the y are colorblind, while the Tea Party as a whole might not be willing to let their intere sts converge with people of color. Further, examining the views of Tea Party individua ls and groups (also how individuals


3 and groups outside of the Tea Party feel) in this c ontext gives us a unique and different look at this dynamic at work. Contributions of this study include highlighting th e Tea PartyÂ’s views on government, their feelings that they solely should be the ideal Americans in what would be their ideal America, and that they have a tenden cy to exclude people who do not share their ideological beliefs and viewpoints. As previo usly mentioned, this study also provides insights as to how the Tea Party looks thr ough a CRT lens. That being said, there are racist elements within the Tea Party (whi ch they frequently deny because in many instances they claim to be colorblind), and Te a Partiers have a tendency of not favoring that their interests converge with othersmost often, people of color. In the end, findings from this study also bring attention to th e fact that because there are Tea Party politicians, they have the ability to support a str ucture that in many ways favors whites; and maybe, the ability to make the divide even wors e through their policy proposals and approvals. As a critical race theorist, and sociolo gically, it is imperative that any race dynamics be looked at and taken seriously when they have the ability to cause further racial and class inequalities in our country. This paper proceeds in the following manner. I firs t present a history and background of the Tea Party, including why and how they emerged, who they are and how they are organized, their ideology, previous ac ademic literature, and end with a section on what their future might hold. I then dis cuss CRT, including its early origins, basic tenets, distinguishable characteristics, some critiques and responses to it, and finish with a section on its future. I then qualitatively examine the discourse of U.S. Newspapers online and discuss my findings, highligh ting the importance of a look at


4 claims of racism against the Tea Party, why it is i mportant and useful to look at it through a CRT lens, and how the Tea Party has racialized an d helped create more division in politics. I conclude by discussing the implications a CRT approach has for future research examining the Tea Party and race.


5 CHAPTER II LITERATURE REVIEW History/Background of the Tea Party Emergence of the Tea Party The November 2008 elections marked the triumph of o ur country’s first African American Democratic president. Additionally, voters sent Democratic majorities to both the House and the Senate (Williamson, Skocpol, and Coggin 2011). In response to these outcomes, the Tea Party fuse was lit in mid-Februar y following the 2008 elections. From the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, CNBC reporter Rick Santelli burst into a tirade against the Obama Administration’s promising mortgage plan to help rescue huge numbers of Americans whose homes were being foreclo sed upon (Williamson et al. 2011). In response to Obama’s mortgage rescue plan, Santelli shouted that the administration was “rewarding bad behavior!” by giv ing public assistance to “subsidize the ‘losers’ mortgages” (Williamson et al. 2011:26) It was at this time that Santelli invited America’s “capitalists” to a “Chicago Tea P arty” (Williamson et al. 2011). Immediately afterward, across the country, conserva tive activists took to social networking. It was at this time that conservative b loggers and Republican campaign veterans took advantage of the opportunity to plan protests and local rallies under the newly minted “Tea Party” name (Williamson et al. 20 11). By 2010, the self-declared Tea Party activists and supporters were flexing their m uscles at electoral races nationwidefirst in the Republican primaries and then in the g eneral election contests of November (Williamson et al. 2011). Consequently, Re publicans gained 63 seats in the House, with enough Tea Party winners to form a sign ificant caucus opposed to any bi-


6 partisan compromises; as a result, these victories and actions essentially pulled the Grand Old PartyÂ’s (GOP) center of gravity to the right (D reier 2012). Furthermore, this election also put many pro-Tea Party Republicans in state-le vel offices. Who Are the Tea Partiers and How Are They Organized ? The Tea Partiers are primarily a collection of smal l activist groups basing their name on a famous pre-revolution colonial period pro test that included dumping cases of tea into the Boston Harbor to protest the tax polic ies of the British government (Berlet 2011). According to Berlet (2012), fitting under th e Tea Party umbrella are patriots, economic libertarians, Christian dominionists, mili tia activists, nativists, and ethnic nationalists. Nationally, there are perhaps a few h undred active Tea Party groups, and only small portions of those groups have membership s of over five hundred people (Williamson et al. 2011). Typically, the Tea Party is made up of older, white, middle class participants; more precisely, between 55 and 60 percent of supporters are men, 80 to 90 percent are white, and 70 to 75 percent are over 45 years old (Williamson et al. 2011). Moreover, because a high number of Tea Party partic ipants are older white males, it is of little surprise that they are usually found to have somewhat higher incomes than typical Americans. McVeigh (2012) adds that the typical Tea Party activist has experienced economic losses during the recent recession, yet it would be a mistake to think that they have been hit especially hard since most tend to be fairly well-off financially. The vast majority of Tea Party participants are conservative Republicans, many of whom have been politically active in the past (Williamson et al. 2011). Their primary concerns appear to be the size of government and the amount of government spending; and they think that economic issues should take precedence o ver social issues. According to Rosen


7 (2012), the Tea Party is also made up of angry whit e womenbetween a third and half of Tea Party followers are female. Rosen (2012) says t hat many of the women have become involved because of long harbored resentment agains t their marginalization in the Republican Party, and that this movement is a way t o gain entry into political life. Rosen (2012) states that many of them feel that God has c alled them into politics and that motherhood has given them the credentials to lead t he American people. With their involvement, they do add some glamour to the Republ ican’s “good-ol’-boys” club (Rosen 2012). Organizationally, although the Tea Party ranks cons ist primarily of conservatives, they are not operating under the guidance of offici al GOP institutions (Williamson et al. 2011). At the grassroots level, they are small, loo sely interrelated networks, assembled at the initiative of local and regional organizers, wh o often use online organizing tools (Williamson et al. 2011). Anthony DiMaggio (2011) a rgues that the local groups that formed the grassroots are disorganized and ill-info rmed and are simply the puppets of right-wing elites. Nationally, there is no unified, official Tea Party organization (Williamson et al. 2011). National orchestrators dr aw their resources from a small number of conservative business elites, whose polic y concerns involve reducing government oversight and regulation, and shrinking or radically restructuring broad social entitlements in the U.S. (Williamson et al. 2011). Two advocacy organizations are most closely associated with the Tea Party namethe Tea Party Express (TPE) and the Tea Party Patriots (TPP). TPP is closely intertwined with Freedom Work s, a multimillion dollar conservative non-profit led by forme r House Majority Leader, Dick Armey (R-TX) (Williamson et al. 2011). TPP operates under the motto, “Fiscal Responsibility,


8 Limited Government, Free Market,” which is very sim ilar to the Freedom Works slogan of, “Lower Taxes, Less Government, More Freedom” (W illiamson et al. 2011). The Tea Party’s early success can, to a large extent, be at tributed to its emergence at a time when billionaire reactionaries had both the capacity and the legal authority (thanks to changes in campaign finance and tax laws) to shower its sup porters with cash and national connections (Dreier 2012). In The Rise of the Tea Party: Political Discontent and Corporate Media in the Age of Obama DiMaggio (2011) argues that the Tea Party is a front for pro-business elites who already have stro ng ties to the Republican Party. According to TPP national coordinator Jenny Beth Ma rtin, Freedom Works was crucial to the Tea Party’s original launch and was a primar y funder for their national rallies. Several of these organizations have been bankrolled by a small number of far-right businessmen, most notably by the libertarian Koch b rothers (through their “Americans for Prosperity” organization), and most closely tie d to pro-business conservatism (Langman 2011; Williamson et al. 2011). Berlet (201 2) adds that through the Tea Party’s existence, the blame is shifted away from day-to-da y actions of organized wealth defending its self-interest; adding that this helps insulate the one percent from the 99 percent. McVeigh (2012) states that conservative mo vements typically act on behalf of relatively privileged actors who want to preserve e conomic or cultural dominance. Moreover, it is because of threats to organized wea lth that these counter-subversion groups form; targeting scapegoats accused of these subversive conspiracies. The one percent understands that while they have the cash, it is the Tea Party that has the troops, so the two wings of the GOP generally get along as a coalition of necessity (Dreier 2012).


9 Berlet (2011) offers a nice breakdown of what const itutes the Tea Party. The Tea Party phenomenon involves two key sectors of the Ri ght, including elite formations at the top, and a mass base being mobilized: The Tea Party movement (Berlet 2011). He introduces the Tea Party’s social structure in the following way (Berlet 2011): ELITE FORMATION (also known as “Money”) Power Elites: Large Corporate Interests Business Nationals Astroturfers & Propagandists Right-wing Media Demagogues Opportunistic and/or Right-wing Politicians Conservative Religious Leaders Republican Hardliners MASS BASE (also known as “Grassroots”) Preexisting formations on the political right: Economic Libertarians who worry about big governmen t meddling with the Free Market Anti-taxation Activists Christian Right Conservatives who oppose liberal go vernment social polices Right-wing apocalyptic Christians who fear a Satani c New World Order Nebulous conspiracy theorists who fear a Totalitari an New World Order Tea Party and Town Hall movements: Second Amendment Gun Rights Activists


10 Nationalistic ultra-patriots concerned that U.S. so vereignty is eroding Armed Citizens Militias Xenophobic anti-immigrant White nationalists who wo rry about preserving the “real” America Recruiters from the Insurgent White Supremacist Mov ement Tea Party Ideology Up to now, there has been little in-depth social sc ience research on the development and organizational characteristics of T ea Party activism (Williamson et al. 2011). In their study, Williamson et al. (2011) arg ue that, seemingly influenced by racial and ethnic stereotypes, opposition is concentrated on resentment of perceived federal “handouts” to “undeserving” groups. Many Tea Partie rs despise programs like the Affordable Care Act (ACA), while at the same time w elcoming programs like Social Security and Medicareprograms from which they personally benefit. Fetner (2012) adds that conservative grassroots activists want to reduce government spending, especially on younger generations (who are more rac ially diverse than older generations) and on poor people (whom Tea Partiers see as a drai n on society). Tea Party activists define themselves as workers (p roductive citizens) as opposed to categories of nonworkers (freeloaders), whom the y perceive as undeserving of government assistance (Williamson et al. 2011). Ult imately, at the grassroots level, Tea Partiers judge entitlement programs according to th e perceived deservingness of recipients (Williamson et al. 2011). Tea Partiers see nonwork ers as profiting from people like themselvesthey are footing the bill for those who do not cont ribute, and the government is giving handouts at the expense of har d-working Americans. Although


11 many opponents of the social safety net tend to hol d negative views of racial minorities, Tea Partiers promote views more extreme than those offered by other conservative Republicans. For example, Tea Partiers are more lik ely than other conservatives to agree with statements like, “If blacks would only try har der they could be just as well off as whites,” and are more likely to disagree with state ments like, “Generations of slavery and discrimination have created conditions that make it difficult for blacks to work their way out of the lower class.” That being said, although there are some Tea Partiers who espouse racial resentment with no holds barred, the problem is deeper in that this racial resentment is part of a fear brought on by what the Tea Partiers conceive as generational societal change (Williamson et al. 2011). As Obama ran on a platform of change, it is no surprise that immediately following his election, t his fear of societal change came to fruition in the form of Tea Party anxiety (Williams on et al. 2011). As one Tea Partier said, “I just can’t relate to him,” and as many Tea Partiers express concern that he is threat to American democracy, this all seems out of proportion to any actual political or policy happenings (Williamson et al. 2011). Fundame ntally, they see Obama as a threat to what they understand as their country. Various social scientists have linked opposition to government spending to the view that such spending benefits racial and ethnic minorities (Williamson et al. 2011). Williamson et al. (2011:35) say, “Even more broadly since the Civil Rights era of the 1960s, the Republican Party and popular conservativ e mobilization have expressed opposition to strong federal government interventio ns in social and economic life, often viewing such interventions as intended to force rac ial integration and providing special help to people of color.” Overall, Williamson et al (2011:26) feel that Tea Party concerns


12 exist within the context of anxieties about racial, ethnic, and generational changes in American society, bringing about slogans like, “We want our country back!” How Does the Tea Party Spread Their Message? As with most groups that want to expand and have th eir message heard, the Tea Party has a sounding board readily available. For t hem, Williamson et al. (2011) say that the conservative media have played a crucial role i n forging the shared beliefs and the collective identity around which the Tea Partiers h ave united. Fox News, with a strong assist from talk radio and the conservative blogosp here, has lead the Tea Party’s community-building effort. Fox News is the primary source of political information for the Tea Party, and according to a CBS/ New York Times national poll, 63 percent of Tea Party supporters watch Fox News (Williamson et al. 2011). Fox News, along with other conservative outlets, helped create and sustain the Tea Party mobilization in the first place. This is a mutual relationship: the Tea Party remains a significant presence on Fox News even in periods where actual political happeni ngs are not occurring, in essence remaining steadily available to Fox News viewers. I t is not only the quantity of coverage given by Fox News that shows the media organization ’s role as the organizer of this community, but also the quality of coverage they gi ve the Tea partiers is fundamentally different than the coverage given by other major ne tworks (Williamson et al. 2011). Fox News has in effect mobilized its viewers by connect ing the Tea Party to their own brand identity. Rather than serving a journalistic functi on, Fox News basically acts as a “national social movement organization” (Williamson et al. 2011). According to Dreier (2012), the combination of money and media was the wind beneath the Tea Party’s wings, allowing it to fly much higher and faster th an its grassroots activists could have


13 achieved on their own. Additionally, Skocpol and Wi lliamson (2012:13) argue that the Tea Partiers share an identity of anger and fear st irred up by a “steady diet of information and misinformation” by these outlets, and these are core components of Tea Party activism. Previous Research: The Tea Party In their research that entailed participant observa tion and interviews with Massachusetts Tea Party activists, Williamson et al (2011) find that the Tea Party should be regarded as a new variant of conservative mobili zation and intra-Republican party factionalism. They add that the Tea Party is a dyna mic, loosely knit, and not easily controlled formation of activists, funders, and med ia personalities that draws upon and refocuses longstanding social attitudes about feder al social programs, spending, and taxation (Williamson et al. 2011). They feel that e ven if the Tea Party subsides, up to this point, they have helped undercut Obama’s presidency revitalized conservatism, and pulled the National Republican Party toward the far right. Harris (2010) argues that behind the criticism of t he Tea Party lies the assumption that comes quite naturally to American intellectual s, and that is that a political movement should be motivated by ideas and that a new politic al movement should provide new ideas. Harris (2010) writes that the Tea Party is n ot about ideas, but instead about attitudes. He provides one example of these attitud es with the poster seen at all Tea Party rallies: The poster with the slogan “Don’t tread on me!” displayed above the head of a hissing rattlesnake threatening to strike. Accordin g to Harris (2010) though, take away the attitudes and what is left is not much that int ellectuals can respect. Harris (2010) adds that, first and foremost, there appears to be no co nsistent ideology or coherent set of


14 policies behind the movement. When some of the radi cal proposals championed by the Tea Partiers are examinedthe abolition of Social Security and a return to th e gold standard, just to name a few, this leaves intellect uals shaking their heads in disbelief, over unpopular and outdated remedies. Courser (2012) states that that Tea Party’s compari son to other conservative social movements has not been flattering, and that social movements that originate from the right are almost always portrayed as intolerant resentful, ignorant, and paranoid. Courser (2012:43) also mentions that the Tea Party’ s racist sentiments are not “conscious, deliberate, and publicly expressed,” an d that findings by other researchers insist they are part of a “nebulous fear” that info rms the movement. Overall, Courser (2012) feels the Tea Party is neither racist nor ra dical, and that its political demands fit within the mainstream of American politics. He feel s that it is up to now an incomplete demand for representation among a significant porti on of the American electorate that feels frustrated and marginalized by what it percei ves as an unrepresentative political system. Courser (2012) feels that the movement is l acking political skill and organization among its adherents, and is simply a protest moveme nt without the proper organization or leadership. He adds that the Tea Party exists in a democratic anomie: an unstable political state of unrest and alienation that derives from a lack of organizational knowledge. Although the Tea Party certainly does not like the Democratic Party, Courser (2012) says that they are not enamored, totally, by the Republi can Party eitheran example of this is their voting out of office Republican Party establi shment regulars who do not adhere to Tea Party ideology. Courser also mentions some inte resting findings from a CBS/New York Times opinion poll conducted in April of 2010 of Tea Party members. In it, only


15 6 percent of Tea Partiers feel the country is going in the right direction, 73 percent do not feel the President understands their problems, and virtually none approve of the job Congress is doing (Courser 2012). Moreover, in rega rds to their dislike of the government, the top two reasons “why” had to do wit h healthcare legislation (or Obamacare, as they have coined it) and that Washing ton “no longer represents the people.” To these people, government is big and pow erful, anonymous, interacts with our lives everywhere and all the time, is ever-present, and full of laws, rules, restrictions, restraints, and obligations (Langman 2011). Courser (2012) goes on to mention some findings by University of Washington researchers th at show Tea Partiers responded significantly higher tothan all whites surveyedquestions that are supposed to indicate racist attitudes toward African Americans. Courser (2012) says that in the aforementioned findings, although all whites in the study appear to be racist, the Tea Partiers are a fraction more racist. Previous Research: Obama, the Tea Party, and Race In her article, Langman (2011) argues that to expla in the rise and passion of the Tea Party, one must first consider how socio-econom ic and cultural changes have assaulted the values, lifestyles, and the very iden tities of a segment of the lower middle class. They can essentially be understood as resist ing the ‘evil’ elites above and the ‘dangerous classes’ below who threaten their moral, social, and economic status (Langman 2011). Langman (2011) says that the Tea Pa rty appeared in 2009 as a response to economic stagnation and crisis, secular challeng es to traditional religious identities, and the election of an African American president. Langman (2011) states that this movement might be best understood as a reactionary ‘resistance movement’ that attempts


16 to defend and retain traditional identities and sta tus based on race patriarchy, and heteronormativity that has been under assault by a late m odern ‘network’ society. Langman (2011) goes on to say that at one point during the 2008 presidential campaign, the Tea Party’s racism became so evident that John McCain a sked them to tone it down; adding that after Obama’s election, this crude, virulent r acism was incorporated into the Tea Party ideology. Langman (2011) says that, in their anger, Tea Partiers feared Obama’s socialist policies would threaten their status and privileges by supporting the ‘parasitic classes’ who live off the efforts of the ‘hard-work ing, ordinary folks.’ Langman (2011) adds that, while despising these so-called subordin ates and being angry at evil elites, it is ironic that the Tea Party sacrifices its own class interests. As an example, the Tea Party movement has promoted ideas such as de-regulation a nd privatization that are completely consonant with the growth of trans-national capital ism (Zeskind 2011). As previously mentioned, one of the more important underlying fac tors for the emergence of the Tea Party was the election of an African American presi dent (Langman 2011). That being said, most of the supporters of the Tea Party tend to be white and generally racist, and not so much in the more classical expressions of the Ku Klux Klan, but in how they generally consider themselves superior to African Americans and Mexicans (Langman 2011). What is crucial for understanding the Tea Party’s d isdain of African Americans is the extent to which whiteness is the basis of a privile ged identity and a group narcissism that in turn depends on the subordination of the racial Other (Kovel 1984). Any recognition of the equality of the Other elicits narcissistic rage projected onto the Other, and which fuels right-wing populist sentiments (Kovel 1984). Langman (2011:487) adds:


17 (1) racial/ethnic diversity and toleration undermines a central aspect of status, esteem and identity as ‘superior’; (2) Insofar as the Other is seen as a subordinate, the greatest fear of the lower middle classes is the ‘fear of falling’ to the leve l of the subordinate – or his/her elevation to a superior status; and finally (3) racism/ethnocentrism/integral nationalisms provide targets for aggression. In conclusion, Langman (2011) feels that the power of the Tea Party peaked on 5 November 2010 when the Tea Party scored major congr essional victories, and that today (as most recent polls have shown), the majority of Americans do not support the Tea Party. She concludes by saying, “while people engag e in movements in order to accomplish goals, this is not to suggest such goals are rational” (Langman 2011:491). In their article, Langman and Lundskow (2012) start with an introduction of the Tea Party, introduce and examine contributions from other research on the subject, and conclude with their thoughts. Langman and Lundskow (2012) begin with some of Sarah Palin’s thoughtsthat Obama is a communist and a traitor, and includ e some of the things yelled at her ralliesthe chant “kill him.” The authors go on to mention what they feel started all of this animosity towards Obama, a nd that is that he is African American, so, in essence, his presidency is “illegitimate;” u psetting the “rightful” order of the presidency as a white man’s club (Langman and Lunds kow 2012). The authors next mention that academic scholarship in regards to the Tea Party is wanting, and that most of the fervor regarding the Tea Party can be attrib uted to journalists; as the lag between events and publications of scholarly books and arti cles is much longer than those who report in daily or weekly newspapers, magazines, or websites (Langman and Lundskow


18 2012). The authors mention that academic scholarshi p usually avoids dealing with issues that point to blatant contradictions and use the Te a Party as an example: how they work against their own economic interests and instead wi llingly sustain the power of the ruling elites. Moreover, Langman and Lundskow (2012) state that the Tea Party is mostly white and racist and that they, for the most part, have b een careful to shield that racism. In their section on contributors, the authors introduce some concepts brought forth by other researchers. They mention an idea introduced by Leo nard Zeskind, which says that economics motivate the Tea Party from the top, and racism from the bottom (Langman and Lundskow 2012). The authors also discuss a conc ept introduced by sociologist Georg Simmel, and that is how (much like the Tea Party do es), people use stereotypes in lieu of actual interaction and knowledge of the Other (Lang man and Lundskow 2012). The article also mentions some contributions to academi a by Lundskow himself. Of interest, is Lundskow saying the Tea Party is generally a neg ative orientation, the outcome of unfulfilling lives, insecurity, and declining oppor tunity perceived as a natural right of white people (Langman and Lundskow 2012). He adds t hat the Tea PartyÂ’s simultaneous rejection of the established institutions of power, simplistic formulation, and condemnation of out groups suggest a racially motiv ated authoritarianism and destructiveness rather than any particular politica l commitment. Langman and Lundskow (2012) finish their article with a couple of intere sting thoughts: (1) A crucial issue for an understanding of right-wing populism in America is not in the day to day events, but in the underlying factors that foster the episodic eme rgence of right populist movements such as the Tea Party; and (2) that for the hard-wo rking whites of contemporary America, status, rights, and privileges are not achieved, bu t inherent


19 In his research on the Tea Party, Lundskow (2012) f inds that rather than interrogating finance capital and deregulation, the Tea Party movement, instead, indulges in gratifying spectacle and attempts to proclaim re newed white privilege. He argues that their simultaneous rejection of institutions of pow er, simplistic policy formulation, and condemnation of out groups suggests a racially moti vated authoritarianism and destructiveness rather than any particular politica l commitment. In his introduction, Lundskow (2012) cites previous research where the T ea Party has been labeled anywhere from “carnival reality” to some not so kind names. The author states that the Tea Party masks malicious intent by denying racist sentiments They use coded language and say such things as these Other people that “would rathe r suck up free welfare money,” and as a result, the racism becomes implicit but neverthel ess clear and powerful (Lundskow 2012:530). The Tea Partiers that Lundskow (2012) sp eaks of imagine their nation overrun by people wholly different from themselves: lazy, immoral, and as criminal immigrants. In a 2008 election that was more racial ly polarized than any other, Lundskow (2012) is certain the election of Barack O bama to the Office of the President was the great catalyst that turned the Tea Party’s fears into reality. The author adds that the Tea Party views Obama as something sinister: a foreign-born Muslim intellectual, a socialist, and friend to terrorists, but more than anything, as a black man. Therefore, “racism is the center of the Tea Party” (Lundskow 2 012:531). He adds that Tea Partiers, in this incarnation, feel that this is a collision of class, status, and personality, brought on by a historical event with particular economic and cultural conditions they do not like. Lundskow (2012) concludes his introduction by stati ng that the Tea Party’s primary motivation is personal and emotional, and that they feel structural factors have


20 diminished their lives. In a section on Tea Party constituency, Lun dskow (2012) introduces interesting dichotomies. He states that white American authoritarians see the work/laziness dichotomy as the decisive measure tha t determines true Americans from the “Others,” and a divide that they also believe f ollows racial lines (Kinder and Kam 2010; Lundskow 2012; Theiss-Morse 2009). Crucial to this identity and imagined community is the belief that people of color are in herently lazy and therefore prone to failure in life by their own improper lifestyles an d values, and for that reason, they cannot achieve successful livelihood without special gover nment programs and hand-outs (Amato and Neiwert 2010; Lundskow 2012). In the end two dichotomies thus define their worldviewhard-working/lazy, and white/non-white (Lundskow 20 12). Lundskow (2012) adds that an early predecessor to the Tea Pa rty were the Know Nothings of the 1850s. Even back then there were some racial overto nes involved as the Know Nothings were a group of, initially, middle class businessme n in New York City who resented the large numbers of foreign-born competitors arriving from poor areas of Europe (Lundskow 2012). According to Lundskow (2012), the Tea Partiers feel that Obama enjoys unearned wealth, prestige, and power; is the beneficiary of government affirmative action and black ethnic organizing; and is part of a conspiracy with forces from foreign landsthe same anti-Christian Middle East we are locked i n an eternal war with against the forces of evil in the form of Isla m. As authoritarians, Tea Partiers seek the valorization of rural whites and others who liv e hard-working lifestyles which they see as the true essence of American lifethe hegemonic standard by which all should submit and be judged (Lundskow 2012). Overall, the Tea Party opposes anyone unlike themselves, they oppose all taxes, and they oppose all government except the military


21 (Lundskow 2012). Lundskow (2012) adds that their re sentment is based on two essential factors: (1) economic hardship, and (2) the historical election of the first black presiden t. Lundskow (2012) feels that the actual motivation be hind the Tea Party carnival derives from negation (psychological destructivenes s), and adds that this destructiveness makes up their core. In regards to this destructive ness, Lundskow (2012) says it arises from resentment and hatred of life in a broad sense as a reaction to real declines in status and livelihood; and because wealth, power, and stat us might not be real possibilities for Tea Partiers (and because an authoritarian cannot a ccept change or reconciliation), they seek both a new legitimate authority and enemy to d estroy. As a result, they oppose a government they see as illegitimate, and gladly emb race the corporate sector as legitimate authority. Lundskow (2012) adds that Tea Partiers d o not want to remake the countrywhich in their nihilistic perception is already los t, but instead would rather destroy it. In trying to understand why Tea Partier s side with people like the Koch brothers, or the corporate sector, Lundskow (2012) says resentment is the key element that unites the dispossessed with the super-wealthy elites. As the exurban and rural whites both love and hate their idols for the same reasons (their immense wealth inspires awe and simultaneously hatred for their own lack of wea lth), their rage instead turns against the Other (Lundskow 2012). In the end, Lundskow (20 12) feels that the Tea Party activists do not know exactly what they are not goi ng to take anymore, or even why they are mad exactly. He says that because they are unwi lling to understand global economic forces and the multiple dimensions of politics, the y instead choose to embrace familiar


22 folk explanations aimed at the “evil other,” which, in this context, consists of marginalized groups who are valid targets for true Americans to vent their discontent and rage. Lundskow (2012) concludes his article with th is argument: diminishing economic opportunity coupled with radic al individualism and consumer culture fuel right-wing resentment not aga inst the real material source of dissatisfaction in life, but instead agai nst the enemies that resonate with American cultural sensibilities and x enophobia (the outsiders from somewhere else, such that dark skin, seem equally foreign and wholly other). They embody evil that must be fo rever opposed, and destroyed whenever possible. (P. 544) In his research of numerous first person reports of Tea Party rallies, conferences and meetings from every corner of the country, and having read most of the movement’s own literature; Zeskind (2011) attempts to show tha t the current batch of Tea Partiers assert their Americanness as a relatively distinct form of nationalism, and demonstrate that they contain a mass manifestation of a suppose d white ‘victimhood’ during a period when demographic shifts might begin to imperil the unquestioned majority status of white people. Zeskind (2011) cites one statement by The Citizens Informer which says the negative tendency that plagues Tea Party activi sm is their denial of the racial dynamic empowering the movement. This sentiment is matched inside the Tea Parties, with identifiable racist venom visible in the signs and the raw display of emotion at public protests (Zeskind 2011). Congress wise, the number of Tea Party Caucus membe rs in the House of Representatives now stands at 53, and there is a Te a Party Caucus in the Senate with four members (Zeskind 2011). The members of these caucus es often vote very conservatively on crucial issues such as deficit levels and the bu dget. To this day, they serve as a reminder that the movement should not simply be reg arded as a ‘fringe’ or ‘extremist’ phenomenon, but one that has established a firm foo thold at the center of American life,


23 primarily through the actions of the House (Zeskind 2011). However, Zeskind (2011) says that there is an increase in the opposition to the Tea Party, and that this might be related to the fact that more people are now talkin g about the birthers, racists, and bigots in Tea Party ranks. He says the drop in support fro m the movement’s perimeter could be related to a form of ‘buyer’s remorse,’ where some of those folks who voted for the Tea Party-supported candidates in the 2010 election now understand the wreckage that these politicians produced as governing officials (Zeskin d 2011). Zeskind (2011) states that Tea Partiers deny that they are white racists at ev ery available opportunity and, to try and prove this point, feature those few black people wh o have aligned themselves with the Tea Parties at rallies, conventions, and other gath erings. Nonetheless, from the beginning, the self-evident signs of racial hostility have bee n ever-present at Tea Party events, with posters at rallies and protests demeaning the presi dent in specifically racial termsdepicting him as an African witchdoctor, or lying A frican, etc. (Zeskind 2011). Rally wise, one of the worst times was at a protest against health care reform in March 2010, when Congressional Black Caucus members were accosted and abused: Representative Emmanuel Cleaver was spit upon, and civil rights legend John Lewis was called a ‘nigger’ (Zeskind 2011). Further adding to their inclination towards racial animus are these numbers: When looking at the polls one needs to consider the fact that of those white people who strongly agree with the T ea Party, only 45 percent thought that black people were intelligent, and only 35 percent believed they were hardworking (Zeskind 2011). Also, ‘If Blacks would just try har der they would be as well off as whites,’ where a full 68 percent of Tea Party white s agreed with this statement, while only 35 percent of non-Tea Party whites agreed with it; almost a two-to-one difference


24 (Parker 2010). Additionally, according to a New York Times poll which included people of color, Tea party supporters in 2010 contended th at ‘too much’ had been made of problems facing black people in numbers disproporti onate to the general population: 52 percent to 28 percent ( New York Times -CBS News Poll 2010:30). Another poll conducted at the end of 2010 comparing Tea Partiers with just the white population as a whole, found that Tea Party supporters were about 1 .5 times more likely than whites generally to believe that we have ‘gone too far in pushing for civil rights’: 62.8 percent to 39.4 percent (Maxwell 2010). And finally, in April 2010, 30 percent of Tea Party supporters were willing to tell pollsters that they believed the president was not born in the United States; a year later this had influenced non-Tea Party Republicans who were at 47 percent in regards to the same statement (New Yo rk Times-CBS Poll, 2010:24; New York Times-CBS Poll 2011:8). Zeskind (2011:503) add s, “Their hostility to civil rights organizations and efforts aimed at racial equality is a salient, observable fact.” All in all, according to Zeskind (2011), Tea Party anxiety is b ased on the perception that ‘people like them’ have lost their hegemonic place in cultu re and societywhich is why they oppose immigration and why a high percentage of Tea Party Caucus members in congress have sponsored a bill that aimed to end bi rthright citizenship if passed (Zeskind 2011). This lead to a communication from Tea Party Nation stating that they were worried the White Anglo-Saxon Protestant (WASP) pop ulation in America is headed for extinction, and along with it, survival of a unique ly American culture (Burghart 2011). As a result of this fear of immigration, Tea Party Nation promoted an old fashioned racist answer: re-institute the ‘National Origins Formula’ found in the 1924 immigration act which was passed in a deliberate attempt to curb im migration from Eastern and Southern


25 Europe, and was intended to preserve the dominance of the Anglo-Saxon in American life (Zeskind 2011). Perhaps no greater sign shows that the Tea Party movement has assumed a collective sense of loss than does the om nipresence of the slogan: “Take It Back” (Zeskind 2011). Zeskind (2011) says you have to have lost something first, before you can take it back, and this slogan begs the foll owing questions: What has been lost? Precisely who should be doing the taking back? And whom should they take it from? Their answers would be that ‘real Americans’ have l ost ownership of the country, and it is liberals, socialists, fascists, poor people, and illegal aliensunreal Americans allwho have stolen it (Zeskind 2011). Zeskind (2011) c oncludes by saying the Tea Party will leave a legacy in the arena of race, and that this movement may be a precursor to an even larger revolt by supposedly dispossessed white people; made even more possible as a population and demographic shift occu rs in the decades to come. Enck-Wanzer (2011) begins his critical analysis on the Tea Party and Barack Obama by stating that in 2009, former U.S. Presiden t Jimmy Carter gave a credible voice to what people were seeing and saying, by attributi ng the biting attacks on President Obama and his health proposal at town hall meetings nationwide to an underlying racism. The author shares an argument from Deis (2010) that sets the tone for his article (EnckWanzer 2011): The deep ugliness and bigotry on display here is ce ntered on a basic idea: Obama is not really one of us. He, because of his r ace, his personhood, and his color can never be a real American. For the Tea Party and rightwing populists, Obama is not fit to rule because as a person of color he is a perpetual outsider and racial Other. (P. 23) Enck-Wanzer (2011) notes that although the Tea Part iers appear to be explicitly organized around libertarian claims for smaller gov ernment and lower taxes, they appear


26 to be ignorant of current tax policy and history. H e adds that the Tea Party is an extension and reformulation of earlier right-wing backlashes against Democratic presidents, but with an added racial dimension of rhetoric that mak es it unique. In regards to Obama, the construction of the African American president as a threat is at the heart of a born-again racism (Enck-Wanzer 2011). Enck-Wanzer (2011) goes on to say that, born again and refashioned, racism still thrives and circulates in our public culture, which underscores the need for an active and vibrant antiracist activ ism. Next, Enck-Wanzer (2011) gives examples of how Obama is portrayed as a racial thre at in posters and signs circulated at Tea Party gatherings, on walls in our cities, and t hrough electronic means: (a) the Obamacare poster featuring a witchdoctor with Obama ’s face digitally sutured to the image, (b) the Barack the Barbarian cartoon featuri ng Obama as a hard-bodied barbarian wielding a Bronze Age axe directed at a scantily cl ad white woman with long blonde hair, and (c) the iconic Socialism poster featuring Obama in Joker makeup. Enck-Wanzer (2011) says that these all serve to mark Obama as a threatening, uncivilized, racialized Other without invoking the term race, and while hid ing behind the justification of policy disagreements. Additionally, signs from rallies mar k Obama not merely as a racial threat, but as a racist threat; with some reading, “Obama’s Plan: White Slavery” and “The American Taxpayers are the Jews for Obama’s Ovens,” therefore placing Tea Parties within narratives of reverse racism (Enck-Wanzer 20 11). Enck-Wanzer (2011) goes on to say that it is almost too easy to point out the way s in which Tea Partiers enact a kind of racism in their public discourse. He adds that they move back and forth between the overt racism of a bygone era and neoliberal racism-withou t-race, and in doing so, embody a tension between covert and overt racism. Further br inging to light the Tea Parties flat out


27 resentment of President Obama is the simple fact th at they and elected officials in the Republican Party refuse to associate themselves wit h Obama, even when he proposed “their own” policies (Enck-Wanzer 2011). Enck-Wanze r (2011) says that such resonances serve to express Obama as fundamentally illegitimate and determined to destroy (white) America. According to Enck-Wanzer ( 2011), in a display of integrity, Obama and his administration refuse to publicly eng age in what amounts to a coordinated and prolonged racist attack against him and the pre sidency (Enck-Wanzer 2011). In so doing however, Enck-Wanzer (2011) feels that Obama bolsters racial neoliberalism (meaning he could have a tendency toward practicing color blindness) that underwrites the continued attacks against him and his administr ation. In his article, Berlet (2011) uses a social movemen t theory approach to explain the Tea Partiers, and considers how race and class dyna mics are shifted toward the scapegoating of liberals, people of color, immigran ts, and other targets. Berlet (2011) states that as these groups move further right they often develop into a xenophobic force that demonizes and scapegoats these target groups, and usually through aggression, discrimination, and violence. Furthermore, although the Tea Party comes across as having anxieties mainly about the economy, they als o have anxieties about dark-skinned immigrants, Muslims, gay marriage, abortion, and a liberal black man in the White House (Berlet 2011). Berlet (2011) states that a study re leased by the University of Washington shows that prejudice toward blacks and Latinos is s ignificantly higher among Tea Party supporters versus those who oppose the Tea Party mo vement. More or less, their modus operandi is a regressive agenda based on defending unfair power and privilege (Berlet 2011). Moreover, attacking the Obama Administration is their shared goal. Dreier (2012)


28 adds that the Tea PartyÂ’s common goal is defeating Obama and the DemocratsÂ’ liberal policy. In his article, Berlet mentions the concept of populism. In this context, populism is a rhetorical style that seeks to mobilize the pe ople as a social or political force to counter entrenched elites. In regards to the Tea Pa rty, this is a reactionary populism, which tends to mobilize a specific racial, or ethni c group by scapegoating an alien Other; seen as subverting the idealized society (Berlet 20 11). This form of populism can end up promoting or undermining democratic civil society ( Berlet 2011). Episodes of right-wing populism are often caused by economic, social, or c ultural stressrecession, falling to a lower economic class, a black president, and illega l immigrantsthat assists right-wing organizers mobilizing an alienated cross-class sect or of the population (Berlet 2011). Additionally, in the United States, populism often involves the use of a producerist narrative that portrays a noble middle class of har d-working productive citizens being squeezed by a conspiracy involving secret elites ab ove, and lazy, sinful, and subversive parasites below (Berlet 2011). According to Berlet (2011), contemporary right-wing populism diverts attention from white supremacism b y using coded language to reframe racism as a concern about specific issues, such as welfare, immigration, tax, or education policies. Moreover, Berlet (2011) says right-wing p opulism is often based on racialized, patriarchal, and hetero-sexist narratives that supp ort a sense of privilege and entitlement among a targeted audience of straight white Christi an men. Ostertag and Armaline (2011) begin their article by stating that when 53 percent of the voting public chose Barack Obama over John M cCain in the 2008 presidential election, many people viewed this as a promising si gn of race relations in the United States. The authors follow this with their argument which contradicts the previously


29 mentioned notion of racismÂ’s decline under the lead ership of the nationÂ’s first African American president. The authors suggest the usefuln ess of critical race theory in developing antiracist strategies and offer suggesti ons as to how public intellectuals might better inform or participate in broader antiracist movements and mainstream public discussions about racism (Ostertag and Armaline 201 1). Ostertag and Armaline (2011) are primarily concerned with findings that indicate that many whites still tend to deny the existence of racism in any structurally consistent form. They add that data reflect a dominant belief that racism is no longer a signific ant force in structuring life chances. Next, the authors move to CRT and the conceptualiza tion of systemic racism. Here, the authors challenge the notion that racism no longer exists or is no longer significant. They begin by giving examples that make it seem otherwis e, including the systematic imprisoning of people of color in the United States since the early 1970s, enduring patterns of underand unemployment for populations of color, and the lasting comparative socioeconomic advantages of whites (Ost ertag and Armaline 2011). As these examples indicate, the authors feel that raci sm is systemic, and embedded in our structures, thereby maintaining structural advantag es for whites (Ostertag and Armaline 2011). The authors add that there is also an inters ection of structural (institutions) and ideological (color-blind) forms (Ostertag and Armal ine 2011). The main problem created by this intersection is that this color-blind ideol ogy has led to an antiracist strategy geared to diversifying societyÂ’s institutions (as opposed to altering their structure or form) in an attempt to create the effects, or illusions, of a m ore level or equal playing field (Ostertag and Armaline 2011). Ostertag and Armaline (2011) ar gue that antiracists should instead attack this by looking for actual shifts in policy or practice, and add that theoretically


30 grounded empirical measures should be utilized to s ee if particular antiracist strategies seem effective; and worthy of time and resources. O stertag and Armaline (2011) argue that part of the biggest problems regarding racism in this country have to do with the U.S. criminal justice system and this nation’s war on dr ugs. The authors state that post-civil rights era, this country has seen a massive investm ent in carceral institutions, with African Americans suffering the brunt of this trend As of today, the United States incarcerates approximately 2.3 million people in fe deral and state prisons, and local/county jails (Bureau of Prison Statistics 200 9; Ostertag and Armaline 2011). Most of this can be directly linked to increased policin g, sentencing, and surveillance of the poor and people of color living in urban areas thro ugh the United States’ War on Drugs (Ostertag and Armaline 2011). Although less than 14 percent of the entire U.S. population, African Americans account for approxima tely 39 percent of the incarcerated population (Ostertag and Armaline 2011). Enabling t his were the numerous policies throughout the 1980s and 1990s that made federal fu nding available for states and municipalities to build prisons, strengthen police forces with more officers, organize special narcotics branches, and allowed the purchas e of the latest in law enforcement technologies (Ostertag and Armaline 2011). In their words, “The drug war helped facilitate and employ sentencing and related statut ory policies as punitive approaches to crime control and the social order of people of col or” (Ostertag and Armaline 2011:273). Although people of all races are incarcerated, beca use of segregated urban housing, neglect, and poverty, all of this works to direct l aw enforcement predominantly toward people of color (Ostertag and Armaline 2011). The a uthors feel that the contemporary drug war as waged by the U.S. criminal justice syst em clearly reflects the definition of


31 contemporary systemic racism as defined by crits (c ritical race theorists): Institutionalized policies and practices that maint ain and perpetuate the domination by those constructed as white over racialized others w ithout the need for leadership by racist agents, as expressed though color-blind discourse t hat present the racial status quo as the natural way of things, or as the result of unrelate d variables (predispositions to crime, for example) (Ostertag and Armaline 2011). The authors also feel that felon disenfranchisement is a problem. Presently, estimat es suggest that 5.3 million Americans are denied the right to vote, including approximate ly 23 percent of the African American population (The Sentencing Project 2008). According to Ostertag and Armaline (2011), the permanent removal of voting rights and other fo rms of federal assistance disproportionately limits the opportunity structure and ‘legitimate’ political voices of people of color, making it increasingly difficult f or those most heavily affected by, say, sentencing policies or law enforcement practices, t o enact change through legitimate democratic avenues. Moreover, for drug-related felo ny offenses, ex-convicts are denied access to employment in most of the public sector a nd in much of the private sector that screens for ex-cons at the point of application; an d making matters worse, in many state parole programs, the failure for ex-cons to find co nsistent work constitutes a violation of parole, often causing a return to prison (Ostertag and Armaline 2011). As a result of all of this, the authors feel that racism is perpetuated“dressed up as color-blind ‘get tough on crime’ policy” (Ostertag and Armaline 2011:28). Ost ertag and Armaline (2011) conclude by stating that as far as antiracism is concerned, efforts should begin with developing unapologetic, theoretically and empirically grounde d agendas for the delegitimation and


32 dismantling of racismÂ’s institutional, or structura l manifestations; and feel that we should begin with the criminal justice system. The Future of the Tea Party As of now, the Tea Party consists mainly of older, richer, whiter people (Williamson et al. 2011). What does this hold for t he Tea PartyÂ’s future? Since these are people who consistently vote in midterm elections, and because baby boomers (including older white people) are presently hitting record re tirement numbers, some might think that their future is bright. At the same time thoug h, if the Republican Party continues to move to the far rightin response to the Tea PartyÂ’s wishesit will be increasingly difficult for their candidates to win elections for president, Senate, and House in most swing states and districts (Dreier 2012). Adding to Republican and Tea Party woes is the simple fact that the Latino population will be hitt ing record numbers in the next few decades, surpassing whites as the majority. With ma ny of these minorities voting Democratic, the GOP might not get the votes, but th is will surely be all the impetus the Tea Party needs to keep on rolling. Only time will tell how this will all turn out, and what impact the Tea Party will have on our democracy. Theory Critical Race Theory In this study, a critical race theory (CRT) lens ha s been chosen to analyze the Tea Party and its impact on the political landscape. Wh at is critical race theory? Critical race theory is a movement consisting of activists and sc holars whose primary aim is to study and transform the relationship among race, racism, and power (Delgado and Stefancic 2001). CRT was developed to examine the persistence of racism, and can be defined as a


33 critique of racial reform efforts; CRT is a framewo rk that attempts to understand why racism has persisted (Closson 2010). Taylor adds, “ As a form of oppositional scholarship, CRT challenges the experience of whites as the norm ative standard and grounds its conceptual framework in the distinctive experiences of people of color” (Taylor 1998:122). CRT considers many of the same issues th at conventional civil rights and ethnic studies discourses take up, but places them in a broader perspective and, questions the very foundation of the liberal order (Delgado a nd Stefancic 2001). As members of the New Left, critical race theorists, or crits, were y oung people impatient for social change and criticized the older liberal generation as havi ng been complacent with the forces of racism impeding the civil rights cause (Jones 2006) The civil rights movement’s goal was to eradicate all those vestiges of slavery, and the crits persist in their quest to address legacies of discrimination into the modern day (Jon es 2006). Critical race theorists with interests in contemporary civil rights often look f or inspiration in history (Jones 2006). In order to understand the state of civil rights in th e present, they look for the roots of unfair treatment and inequality in the past, operating und er the intention that discovery and understanding of the legal rules at the foundation of current conditions are imperative for finding remedies (Jones 2006). The crits attack “ma instream legal ideology for its tendency to portray American society as basically f air, and thereby to legitimate the oppressive policies that have been directed toward racial minorities” (Jones 2006:4). Of course, America’s history has had a huge influence on CRT and has caused crits to look at America’s “real history”a history that includes people of color, and their perspective. Some legal historians, in taking an explicitly Marx ist bent to scholarship, perceived that the law continually acted to institute and reify so cial and racial inequality for the benefit


34 of elite economic and political interests; as “hist ory has always been written by the winners in the struggle for position, influence and resources” (Jones 2006:2). By looking at evidence uncovered by historians, crits discover the stories of those whose histories were buried by master narratives that did not refle ct their reality, and either argue for contemporary remedies, or learn from these failed s trategies of the past; efforts that would undoubtedly affect strategic interventions in the future (Jones 2006). Critical race theory also contains an activist dime nsion as it tries not only to understand our social situations, but also to chang e them (Delgado and Stefancic 2001). Its goal is to study and transform for the better, a society that organizes itself along racial lines and hierarchies. Trevino, Harris, and Wallace (2008) add that at its core, CRT is committed to advocating for justice for people who find themselves occupying positions on the marginsthose who hold ‘minority’ status, and directs atten tion to the ways in which structural arrangements hold back and disadva ntage some more than others in our society. Crits argue that the powerful distribute r ights to pacify the powerless and persuade them that the system is working for their benefit, and once these rights are in place, judges can narrow them or they remain unenfo rced by the courts (Jones 2006). Moreover, although it appears sometimes that becaus e of law’s normative forces, those sympathetic to social change and political change s ometimes think that fighting for change is a battle they can never seemingly winthe system sometimes appears too powerful to dismantle, and any alternatives too dif ficult to enforce; crits however will continue to fight the battle (Jones 2006). CRT comb ines a bold awareness of the historical significance of race and the law and an interest in analysis and critique, giving it a means of maintaining its commitment to the mov ement after the black power era and


35 beyond (Jones 2006). That being said, CRT will seek out not only to name, but will continue to root out inequality and injustice; and will be influential in bringing race discourse to the forefront of informed discussions on civil society (Trevino et al. 2008). CRT’s Early Origins Critical race theory originated in the mid-1970s, a s many attorneys, activists, and legal scholars across the country began to realize that the advances of the civil rights era of the 1960s had stalled and, in many instances, we re actually being rolled back; and was introduced to the general field of education in 199 5 (Closson 2010; Delgado and Stefancic 2001). One could say that people like W.E .B. Du Bois laid critical race theory’s roots. Du Bois’ writings on the color line were due largely to the lack of an explicit and sustained analysis of racial injustice, a harmful p roblem that to this day, is still deeply entrenched in the very foundation of the everyday t hought processes, practices, and institutions of U.S. society (Trevino e al. 2008). Scholars of race developed CRT as a critical response to this ‘problem of the color lin e,’ informing it with transformative politics, first in the area of legal studies, and s oon thereafter permeating the margins of other fields, including sociology, justice studies, and education (Trevino et al. 2008). For those unfamiliar with the color line, W.E.B. Du Boi s brought the phrase to life in his book, The Souls of Black Folk From his writings, the phrase came to be understo od as a line of social (custom, law, economic differences, etc.) demarcation, separating nonwhite persons from whites. Critical race theorists presum e that in order to truly understand law, one must understand its relation to people of color and its tendency to oppress and institute racial hierarchy, with people of color at the bottom (Jones 2006). Crits believe that law represents the culmination of power strugg les within society with elites


36 dominating others through the lawÂ’s legitimation (J ones 2006). This is a law bound by ideology, whether of class, race, or gender, and a law that can be coercive, lacking legitimacy, and one that does not uphold justice bu t that merely supports the status quo and oppresses the powerless (Jones 2006). By explor ing and exposing the inconsistencies in legal doctrine, the critical legal scholar can l ook for some outside source for a set of guidelines, not explicitly stated, but an implicit indication of the interests at stake: the kernels of class/race/gender policy at the heart (J ones 2006). In effect, critsÂ’ aim to intervene, engage, discover, and expose the lawÂ’s r acial agenda; and history can be used as a tool in pursuit of those aims (Jones 2006). Some of critical race theoryÂ’s principal figures in clude Derrick Bell, a professor of law at New York University, and the movementÂ’s i ntellectual father figure; the late Alan Freeman, who taught at the State University of New York at Buffalo and who wrote a number of foundational articles; leading Asian sc holars include Neil Gotanda and Eric Yamamoto; Indian scholar Robert Williams; the bestknown Latinos/as, Richard Delgado, Kevin Johnson, and Margaret Montoya; and C ornell West, just to name a few (Delgado and Stefancic 2001). CRTÂ’s Basic Tenets Like most theories, critical race theory has its ow n basic tenets and they include the following: 1. That racism is ordinary and not an anomalythe usual way society does business and the common, everyday experience of mos t people of color in this country (Delgado and Stefancic 2001). Racism i s normal in the United States and therefore calls for different strategies for addressing


37 itstrategies targeting conditions of our society in a ddition to actions perpetrated by the “isolated redneck” (Closson 2010 ). Moreover, Bell (1992) believes that racist structures are embedded in the “psychology, economy, society and culture of the modern world” ( Bell 1992:xiv). 2. Most would agree that our system of white-over-colo r ascendancy serves important purposes, both psychically (interests of the working-class people) and materially (interests of white elites) (Delgado and Stefancic 2001). The “social construction” thesis holds that race and races are products of social thought and relations, and not o bjective, inherent, fixed, or corresponding to some biological or genetic real ity (Delgado and Stefancic 2001). 3. A unique voice of color: This thesis holds that bec ause of their different histories and experiences with oppression, minority writers and thinkers may be able to communicate to their white counterpa rts matters that whites are unlikely to be familiar with. This statu s brings with it a presumed competence to speak about race, racism, an d the legal system, and can be delivered through “storytelling,” which helps to unearth unfair rhetorical structures within the current social ord er (Delgado and Stefancic 2001). CRT, through its tenets, essentially reveals areas of racism left untouched by other forms of theorizing (Closson 2010).


38 How Much Racism Exists in Our Country Today? One of the questions that can and should be asked e very so often is, “How much racism is there in our country today?” Some people (including some Tea Partiers) claim that we live in a post racial society, and although racism may seem less overt than it did before the time leading up to the civil rights era, there are still some issues with how society is structured that give it a more covert ex istence. For example, prison populations are largely black and brown; CEOs, surgeons, and un iversity presidents are almost all white; poverty has a black or brown face as black f amilies have, on the average, about one-tenth the assets of their white counterparts; t hey pay more for many products and services; and people of color live shorter lives, r eceive worse medical care, complete fewer years of school, and occupy more menial jobs than do whites (Delgado and Stefancic 2001). Distinguishable Characteristics of CRT Themes Like most other theories, critical race theory them es have some of their own distinguishable characteristics. Critical race theo rists feel that there is something inherent in the nature of our capitalistic, free enterprise system that inescapably produces poverty and class segregation, and will continue to produce winners and losers every day (Delgado and Stefancic 2001). Some of the camps and themes that have evolved include the following (Delgado and Stefancic 2001): 1. Idealists: Hold that racism and discrimination are matters of thinking, mental categorization, attitude, and discourse; and that race is a social construction and not a biological reality.


39 2. Realists: For this camp racism is a means by which society allocates privilege and status, with the result being racial hierarchies, which thereby determine who gets tangible benefits, such as the b est jobs and the best schools, etc. 3. Materialists: This camp points out that conquered n ations generally demonize their subjects to feel better about exploi ting them. Understanding the ebb and flow of racial progress a nd retrenchment for this camp requires a careful look at conditions exi sting at different times in history. Circumstances change so that one group fin ds it possible to seize advantage, or to exploit another, and in doing so, form the appropriate collective attitudes to rationalize what was done. Although one could assume that most critical race t heorists are liberal, critical race theorists, at times, criticize liberalism for being too soft. Bell feels that liberalism is a faade, and a place where racial inequalities will never be rectified and only addressed to the extent that whites see themselves as threatened by the status quo (Closson 2010). During and since the civil rights movement, CRT has taken what has been called an incremental approach to racial reform, when what is really needed is the restructuring of institutions and systems (Closson 2010). This neede d aspect of CRT lends it its activist dimension. Some critical race theorists feel that o nly aggressive, color conscious efforts to change the way things are, will do much to impro ve the misery (Delgado and Stefancic 2001). For example, “one critical race scholar prop osed that society ‘look to the bottom’ in judging new laws. If they would not relieve the distress of the poorest groupor, worse, if they compound itwe should reject them” (Delgado and Stefancic 2001: 22).


40 One of the challenges here though is that “rights a re almost always cut back when they conflict with the interests of the powerful” (Delga do and Stefancic 2001:23). For example, conservatives furious over a Supreme Court decision that has given way to “undeserving minorities,” will do everything within their power to step up resistance (Delgado and Stefancic 2001). It is battles like th ese though, that have caused many critical race theorists to stop focusing on liberal ism, and instead they have begun to address the conservative tide (Delgado and Stefanci c 2001). Another theme associated with critical race theory is structural determinism. This is the idea that our system, by reason of its own s tructure and vocabulary, cannot rectify certain types of wrong (Delgado and Stefancic 2001) One example of a problem created by structure is when social conditions call for gen uine concessions (such as affirmative action); reason being, the costs of those concessio ns are always placed on minorities (in the form of stigma, etc.): the ones least able to b e subject to them (Delgado and Stefancic 2001). Legal Storytelling and Narrative Analysis One aspect of critical race theory that helps conve y its message is legal storytelling and narrative analysis, and what Trevi no et al. (2008) call the “voice of color.” One of the main reasons that storytelling i s used is that members of this country’s dominant racial group cannot easily grasp what it i s like to be nonwhite (Delgado and Stefancic 2001). Though storytelling can be powerfu l and effective, there is always that obstacle called “interest convergence.” Interest co nvergence holds that racial injustice will decline only when white policy makers believe it is in their best interest, and furthermore, any policy to benefit blacks that thre atens white superior standing will be


41 declared unnecessary (Delgado and Stefancic 2001; D ixson and Rousseau 2005:18). Obstacles aside, the gist of storytelling is the ho pe that well-told stories will describe the realities of black and brown lives, thereby helping readers bridge the gap between their worlds and those of others (Delgado and Stefancic 2 001). These stories can help us understand what life is like for others, thus invit ing the reader into a new and unfamiliar worlda black frame of reference. However, overcoming wha t philosopher JeanFrancois Lyotard coined the differend comes into play (Delgado and Stefancic 2001). His concept states that the value of narratives will ha ve conflicting meanings for two groups (marginalized persons versus the dominant group), a nd uses justice as an example. Trevino et al. (2008) add that this storytelling or narrative is not only a rhetorical device for conveying their personal racialized experiences but also a way of countering the metanarrativesthe images, preconceptions, and mythsthat have been propagated by the dominant culture of hegemonic Whiteness as a wa y of maintaining racial inequality. Additionally, these counter-stories are used to dem onstrate that colorblindness, from a CRT perspective, inevitably obscures the ways in wh ich African Americans and other people of color are still being disadvantaged (Clos son 2010). Interplay of Power and Authority Within the Minorit y Communities and Movements With critical race theory, one must also look at th e interplay of power and authority within minority communities and movements Two parts to this interplay include anti-essentialism and the tension between n ationalism and assimilation (Delgado and Stefancic 2001). Anti-essentialism involves a s earch for the proper unit, or atom, for social analysis and change (Delgado and Stefancic 2 001). Once this unit is found and defined as needing to be changed, essentialists div e in wholeheartedly to bring about this


42 change. When tackling a structure as deeply embedde d as race, sweeping measures are required, and everything must change at once; other wise, “the system merely swallows up the small improvement one has made, and everythi ng remains the same” (Delgado and Stefancic 2001:57). In regards to nationalism and a ssimilation, one must choose either to become part of the majority, or fight to embrace th eir culture and origins (Delgado and Stefancic 2001). In essence, nationalists question the majoritarian assumption that North European culture is superior (Delgado and Stefancic 2001). Also of importance are middle and intermediate positions in regards to nat ionalism and assimilation. The middle position holds that minorities of color should not try to fit into a flawed economic and political system, but move to transform it (Delgado and Stefancic 2001). In other words, why would someone want to pursue something like fin ancial success in a system that is unworthy and unjust to begin with. An intermediate position holds that a strong U.S. economy benefits everyone (Delgado and Stefancic 20 01). The hope is that some of the wealth will trickle down to poor and minority commu nities and that these same communities will benefit from seeing, for example, a successful black corporate lawyer. Although this sounds great, trickle-down economics in this day and age only seems to benefit those at the top. Categories and Power In critical race theory there are several paradigms and levels of power, including the black-white binary and critical white studies. The black-white binary, or paradigm, essentially dictates that nonblack minority groups must compare their treatment to that of African Americans to gain equalization (Delgado and Stefancic 2001). This paradigm holds that one group (blacks), constitutes the prot otypical minority group, and that “race”


43 basically means African American. One ploy used by Caucasians to rectify the resentment caused by this paradigm is to pacify min orities by having a few token, overseers (a particular, small, nonthreatening grou p) around and maybe in charge (Delgado and Stefancic 2001). This helps the minori ties who have fallen into this trap feel as if they think they have gained status, whil e at the same time the whites can tell themselves that they are not racists because they h ired a few minorities to positions such as supervisors and directorsor Tea Party rally speakers. One would think that b y overcoming these binary ways of thinking and fighti ng all forms of suppression, there would be much to gain (and there would be), however old patterns of thought die hard (Delgado and Stefancic 2001). An area that deals wi th the issue of power is critical white studies. For centuries, whites have been fighting t o make whiteness normative, or as setting the standard (Delgado and Stefancic 2001). For this reason, other groups (Indians, Latinos, Asian Americans, and African Americans), a re described as nonwhite, or are defined in terms of or in opposition to whiteness. This can all be summarized in the term “white privilege,” which refers to the numerous soc ial advantages, benefits, and courtesies that come with being a member of the dom inant race (Delgado and Stefancic 2001). One telling example of this is the simple fa ct that most corporate positions of power are still held by whites (Delgado and Stefanc ic 2001). Essentially, there are two heads when it comes to racism (Delgado and Stefanci c 2001). One is outright racism, the second is the aforementioned white privilege. The f ormer is readily overt, while the latter somewhat more covert. Although covert, white privil ege appears to be just as or even more dangerous than outright racism. If the outrigh t head of racism is removed, and the white privilege head remains intact, nothing will r eally change. There will still be whites


44 helping whites in keeping minorities at bay. That i s why many critical race theorists and social scientists feel that racism is pervasive, sy stemic, and deeply ingrained (Delgado and Stefancic 2001). Delgado and Stefancic (2001:80 ) say, “The interplay of meanings that one attaches to race, the stereotypes one hold s of other people, and the need to guard one’s own position powerfully determine one’s persp ective.” Critiques and Responses to Critical Race Theory Like most other theories, critical race theory has had its share of criticism and has sparked stubborn resistance. One of the tough thing s about studying racism and discrimination is coming up with quantifiable proof (Delgado and Stefancic 2001). When looking at racism and discrimination, many of criti cal race theory’s so-called adversaries say that this theory lacks objective truth (Delgado and Stefancic 2001). In response to that, critical race theorists argue that in social sciences and politics, objective truth does not exist; and that truth is a social construct to suit the purposes of the dominant group (Delgado and Stefancic 2001). On the other hand, so me critical race theorists do feel that some things need to be worked on and improved. For example, critical race theory’s onthe-ground activism aspect is sometimes criticized, and some critical race theorists admit that theory and practice need to work better togeth er (Delgado and Stefancic 2001). Some scholars even contend that CRT is less a “theory” a nd more of an intellectual “movement” in thought and work about race (Trevino et al. 2008). In the end though, “If the emerging issues of the new century are world tr ade, globalism, worker’s rights, and who shares in the new wealth created by the technol ogy revolution, a movement that has no theory of race and class is apt to seem increasi ngly irrelevant” (Delgado and Stefancic 2001:95).


45 Critical Race Theory Today Today, critical race theory is taught at many law s chools and is spreading rapidly across disciplines (including sociology) and, when applied to the classroom, is concerned with directly highlighting racismits pervasiveness and how it shapes much of the American perspective (Closson 2010; Delgado and Ste fancic 2001). However, Closson (2010) feels that a true understanding of it has no t entered the everyday world of many students, practitioners, and faculty, so some work is still to be done. With our current form of capitalism, critical race theorists face an uphill battle when it comes to helping level the playing field for people of color and tho se at the lower rungs of our class system. Without training in the emerging fields of technology and global marketing, minority communities will continue to fall further and further behind (Delgado and Stefancic 2001). Although some scholars have sugges ted that our system should focus less on race and more on class (for example, phasin g out affirmative action in favor of something based on class), many feel this would be a mistake, as these go hand in hand (Delgado and Stefancic 2001). Moreover, since the n umber of poor whites greatly exceeds that of poor minorities, this would have an even more detrimental impact on the chances allowed communities of color. There is no d enying however that critical race theory must get better at incorporating class into its fight, as the discipline has yet to develop a comprehensive theory of class (Delgado an d Stefancic 2001). This would help with, for example, the misconception that people on welfare mostly have black and brown faces, when in reality, more whites receive w elfare than do people of color (Delgado and Stefancic 2001). Critical race theoryÂ’ s next step should be to come up with a general theory of race and economics, one that up to this point has remained elusive


46 (Delgado and Stefancic 2001). One thing that is pla ying a significant role in the shaping of America (and the world for that matter) and its power structure is globalization. Many minorities in this country now find themselves betw een a rock and a hard place. If they do not play along, the capitalists can always use t he threat that investments will relocate overseas to defeat unions, workplace regulations, w elfare, and other programs of interest to U.S. minorities (Delgado and Stefancic 2001). Mo ney as power is just one way that our system is structured to keep some people down. Other forms of current (and seemingly ongoing for decades) power relations incl ude addressing racism in the criminal justice system, increasing voting power and politic al representation, and striving for recognition of language rights (Delgado and Stefanc ic 2001). Some examples of this power dynamic in race relations include the fact th at white collar crime (including consumer fraud, insider trading, and price fixing) causes more damage and property loss, even on a per capita basis, than all street crime c ombined, yet goes seemingly unpunished (Delgado and Stefancic 2001). Other critical race s cholars address racial profiling in which the police stop minority-looking motorists (a nd people of color walking on the side-walk) to search for drugs or other contraband (Delgado and Stefancic 2001). At the same time, there is “statistical discrimination” ca rried out by ordinary people who avoid blacks or Latinos because they believe the members of these groups are more likely than whites to be perpetrators of crime. In essence, the se are practices that penalize lawabiding people of color and certainly alienate our youth. Likewise, critical race theorists must not give up the fight when it comes to a judic ial system that seems intent on working against people of color; a system that seem s very mechanistic and with no leeway when it comes to people of color. Finally, r egarding race and power, communities


47 of color are facing what is sure to become a histor ical battlea fight for their basic voting rights. Between voter ID laws and redistrict ing of voting units, an interesting battle lies ahead. The disenfranchisement of voters which will lead to minority underrepresentation, is a serious issue that this c ountry will face in the months ahead, one where critical race theorists will have plenty of o pportunities to research, respond, and make a difference. Identity wise, there are two broad types of current critical race scholarship. One group is the “real world” scholars who write about issues such as globalization, human rights, race and poverty, immigration, and the crim inal justice system (Delgado and Stefancic 2001). These scholars tend to be sympathe tic to Derrick Bell’s view that race expresses the material interests of elite groups, a nd they set out to understand, analyze, criticize, or change the conditions that badly affe ct communities of color. The other group of scholars, called “discourse analysts,” foc uses on the system of ideas and categories by which our society constructs and unde rstands race and racism (Delgado and Stefancic 2001). These scholars emphasize issues su ch as identity and intersectionality that have to do with words and categories, and are likely to examine the role of ideas, thoughts, and unconscious discrimination. The disco urse analysts feel that our chains are mental and that we will never be free unless we cre ate the discourse to talk about new concepts, leaving ancient restrictions and demeanin g patterns of thought and speech behind (Delgado and Stefancic 2001). In conclusion, the future of critical race theory w ill be interesting. With the population set to flip by about midcentury, one can rest assured that whites will do everything within their power, economically and pol itically, to keep the landscape tilted


48 in their favor. One example of this is the conserva tives currently lobbying effectively for an end to affirmative action in higher education (D elgado and Stefancic 2001). The advantage that these people have can readily be see n in a United StatesÂ’ wealth split sharply between a very well-to-do group at the top of the socioeconomic ladder and then everyone else; and the new economy, based on inform ation technology and a large service sector, will do little to alter this distri bution of wealth and influence (Delgado and Stefancic 2001). One thing critical race theorists will be asking in the future, as people of color become the majority: Will the probable power shift occur peacefully, or will it include some violent aspects from our past racist h istory? As time moves on, critical race theorists must make sure that minority viewpoints a nd interests are taken into account, and essentially become second nature, in every majo r policy decision our nation makes (Delgado and Stefancic 2001). They must fight so th at this country becomes reformed in a way where all people are looked upon as equals, a nd all are given the same opportunities. According to Delgado and Stefancic ( 2001): Critical race theorists will need to marshal every conceivable argument, exploit every chink, crack, and glimmer of interest convergence to make these reforms palatable to a majority that only at a few times in its history has seen fit to tolerate them; then they will need to assure, through appropriate legislation and other structural measur es, that the reforms cannot easily be undone. (P. 133)


49 CHAPTER III METHOD To gain insight into how the Tea Party has impacted politics in this day and age, I conduct a qualitative content analysis of U.S. Dail y Newspapers that are available online. This method allowed me to systematically examine da ta in a manner that allowed relevant data to emerge. Examining the discourse of the selected online newspaper websites is useful because these websites contain u p to date information dealing with the Tea Party and their impact on politics. I wanted to add that although I am a liberal Democrat, I spent my youth and most of my adult lif e living in a small town in rural Texas, surrounded by conservatives. That being said I have witnessed racism first hand and have grown to despise it. For the sake of this study though, and to add to its validity, I used articles from all viewpoints. Creswell (2009 ) states that clarifying the bias the researcher brings to the study and presenting diffe rent perspectives adds to the validity of a study, and that is what I have done here. This study will attempt to answer the following res earch questions: In conducting a content analysis, what characteristics does the T ea Party display, and why? Also, based on CRT, does the Tea Party display racist character istics and, if so, do they pose a threat to our nationÂ’s already racist structures? Sample To construct my sample I conducted a thorough inter net search during the month of February 2014 of U.S. Daily Newspapers online fo und on the Burrelles Luce website. I used this website because the company offers update d and significant information available on Top Media Outlets, including the leadi ng traditional media outlets based on


50 circulation, visits, authority, and market share. T he internet was used because it allows for the timely and inexpensive gathering of data th at would otherwise be difficult to collect, and the general public appears to be incre asingly using the internet to find information promptly on the issues of the day. The Burrelles Luce list I used is from June 2013 and contained a top 50 list of U.S. Daily News papers Online. From that list I started with the number one listed newspaper and worked my way down until I reached a comfortable sample size of 53 articles. I ended up utilizing 11 of the top 14 websites listedthree websites were eliminated because they had sub scription fees associated with accessing their articles. For each website I entere d the search term “tea party racism,” using advanced search with filters when available. The filters I used included dates spanning from January 2009 to present (January 2009 was chosen as the beginning month and year since it marks the emergence of the curren t Tea Party movement), a filter for relevance, and a filter for news articles onlyincluding opinion pieces, but excluding options like photos, etc. Of the 11 articles, only two had no filtering options available. For each website search I chose the first five arti cles that had the term “tea party racism” appear in their search subject lineof the 11 websites, one website only had three articles available. Based upon the criteria just me ntioned, my searches yielded 53 articles that specifically addressed Tea Party racism. The U .S. Daily Newspapers online and their URLs are listed in the attached Appendix. Instrument Development and Application I conducted a qualitative content analysis of the 5 3 articles in my sample in order to identify key themes as they emerged from several readings of the online content. Content examined included news articles and op-ed p ieces published on the newspaper


51 websites. Op-ed pieces (although minimal) were used because the number of overall articles available was limited. However, the op-ed pieces gave me an idea of what Tea Party supporters and detractors think of the Tea Pa rty. My intent was to identity themes and concepts dealing with the Tea Party and their a ssociated ideological characteristics and to obtain the richest data possible. As I have done with the examples I use in my findings, Creswell (2009) states that these detaile d descriptions of various perspectives adds to the validity of this study. According to Hs ieh and Shannon (2005), qualitative content analysis as a widely used research techniqu e embodies three distinct approaches: conventional, directed, and summative. All three ap proaches are used to interpret meaning from the meaning of the text data. In conve ntional content analysis, coding categories are directly derived from the text data, while in the directed approach analysis starts with a theory (or theoretical framework) as guidance for categories in the coding process (Kondracki and Wellman 2002: Mayring 2000). A summative content analysis involves counting and comparisons, usually of keywo rds of content, followed by the interpretation of the underlying context (Kondracki and Wellman 2002). Hsieh and Shannon (2005) indicate that content analysis offer s researchers a flexible and pragmatic method for developing and extending knowledge and t hat researchers may benefit from combining different approaches of data analysis. Wi th this research, this is exactly what I have done. Coding categories, or characteristics, were develop ed from several close readings of the articles. By synthesizing the found informat ion, the results clearly displayed multiple characteristics that were latently coded i nto multiple themes and concepts. In this study, an independent observer (a sociology pr ofessor) coded 10 of the documents


52 (close to 20 percent of the full sample) using the predetermined codes and being informed by the tenants of the critical race theory for emer ging codes. At the end of this analysis, a 98 percent interrater reliability has been establis hed between the researcher and the observer. Interrater (intercoder or interjudge) rel iability is the widely used term for the extent to which independent coders evaluate a chara cteristic of a message or artifact and reach the same conclusion (Tinsley and Weiss 1975; 2000). It is widely acknowledged that interrater reliability is a critical component of content analysis, and that although it does not insure validity, when it is not establishe d properly, the data and interpretations of the data cannot be considered valid. As Neuendor f (2002) notes, “given that a goal of content analysis is to identify and record relative ly objective (or at least intersubjective) characteristics of messages, reliability is paramou nt. Without the establishment of reliability, content analysis measures are useless. ” Kolbe and Burnett (1991) write that “interjudge reliability is often perceived as the s tandard measure of research quality. High levels of disagreement among judges suggest weaknes ses in research methods, including the possibility of poor operational definitions, ca tegories, and judge training.” It is suggested that for establishing interrater reliabil ity at least 10 percent of the full sample needs to be analyzed by independent observer(s) (Ne uendorf 2002; Lacy and Riffe 1996).


53 CHAPTER IV ANALYSIS/FINDINGS Key themes emerging from the content analysis are i dentified and discussed below. In reporting the findings I cite several onl ine U.S. daily newspapers that best illustrate a particular Tea Party characteristic. I combine several of these characteristics under a few key emerging themes. The first findings that I will present are a couple of themes dealing with Tea Party ideology, followed by a theme that emerges from labels given the Tea Party mainly by outsiders, and conclu des with an analysis of the Tea Party using a CRT lens, or perspective. Views on Government One of the themes that emerged during the analysis is that the Tea Party is not a big proponent of government. For the most part, the ir attitudes regarding the government are essentially expressed as the less the governmen t is involved, the better. Many of these are pre-determined characteristics of the GOP and t he Tea Partiers, however, they seemed to become more important and urgent with the electi on of President Obama. Below is a list of characteristics I found in the content anal ysis of newspaper articles that, when combined, allow the Tea PartyÂ’s views on government to emerge as an important theme: Smaller/limited/less government Less spending/fiscal responsibility/conservatism/de ficit reduction Fewer/lower taxes Fewer regulations Eliminate government programs only thought to help minorities Anti-government


54 Uphold constitutional rights Current government not listening to them End to public broadcasting Of the characteristics listed above, the most salie nt in the articles I analyzed tended to deal with economic concerns, including le ss spending, fiscal responsibility, conservatism, and deficit reduction. I will next pr esent a few examples from the articles, which I thought best expressed the Tea Party’s view s on government. For starters, St. Louis Tea Party founder, Bill Hennessy, captures th e Tea Party’s attitudes about the government in a single article in The Christian Sci ence Monitor. According to Hennessey (2010), many Tea Partiers distrust the government; feel that federal legislation needs to be trimmed; that the legislative power of federal d epartments and agencies needs to be eliminated; and that the departments of Education, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, and Veterans Affairs should disappear over time. He adds that “No Child Left Behind” should be eliminated; that s pending needs to be reduced; that we need fewer taxes; and finally, that America needs t o show more fiscal responsibility. Another Tea Partier, Jesse Lee Peterson (a black ma n, founder of the South Central L.A. Tea Party, and a rarity), in an article in the Los Angeles Times, says succinctly that the “Tea Party is about: less government, freedom, lowe r taxes, fewer regulations, God and country” (Morrison 2013). Another example of the Te a Party’s views on government can be found in another article in the Los Angeles Time s where Sarah Palin (2010) says Tea Party Americans “simply want government to abide by our Constitution, live within its means, and not borrow and spend away our children’s futures.” In an article in the Washington Times, Jeffrey T. Kuhner (2013) says tha t the Tea Party is a movement


55 concerned with runaway government spending, and wit h the goal of confronting America’s crushing debt. Moreover, they feel that t he size and scope of the federal government has grown too large and that it must be scaled back, otherwise America will go broke. Finally, another article in the New York Post by Rich Lowry (2010) says that Rand Paul “captures the Tea Party’s understandably apocalyptic worries about the debt.” As can readily be seen by these examples, the Tea P arty does espouse economic concerns regarding the United States, a smaller government, and less government intrusion. Ideal American/America Another set of characteristics I found in my conten t analysis of the Tea Party allowed another theme to emerge, which is that Tea Partiers view themselves as the ideal Americans in what would be their ideal America. Tea Partiers feel that this is their country, they are losing it, and they want it back. Some of the characteristics reflecting their ideology on this are the following: More freedoms/liberty More states’ rights God & country Pro-gun Far right leaning They are the country’s roots They are the ones with character They want political power Pro-military Many believe in creationism


56 They are hard working Most of the characteristics I found of this nature deal mostly with how Tea Partiers view themselves; with the most salient cha racteristics being that Tea Partiers want states to have more rights than the federal go vernment, and that Tea Partiers want more freedoms/liberty. An article in The Christian Science Monitor gives a few good examples of why states’ rights are important to Tea Partiers. One article by Walter Rodgers (2010) begins by stating that the foundatio n for many of the Tea Party’s views on states’ rights was laid in the 1830s, when: South Carolina Senator, John C. Calhoun, argued tha t the individual states possessed power of ‘nullification,’ to cancel any l aws passed by Congress they deemed unconstitutional. Later the South would expand this concept to try and secede from the Union to perpetuate slav ery. Today, that nullification-style sentiment is alive and well at Tea Party rallies. An article in the Washington Post by Harold Meyerso n (2013) adds (also based on Calhoun’s doctrine), “states in general and whit e minorities in particular should have the right to overturn federal law and impede majori ty rule. Like their predecessors in the Jim Crow South, today’s Republicans favor restricti ng minority voting rights if that is necessary to ensure victory at the polls.” Another article in The Christian Science Monitor by Bill Hennessey (2010) adds, “Tea Partier s want to restore a balance of power in America, making state and local governments more important than the federal government, as was intended by the U.S. Constitutio n. Under this arrangement, the number of people you’d need to influence to change the law drops quickly.” An article in the New York Times by Frank Rich (2010) adds that i n regards to the ACA, states are pushing the same old hot buttons (wrapped in racial code) by invoking states’ rights in their lawsuits to nullify the federal health care l aw. Adding to that sentiment is an article


57 in the Los Angeles Times by Nelson Lichtenstein (20 13) saying that since states were given the option to reject the large expansion of M edicaid called for in the original ACA, virtually every Republican legislature and governor in the South did just that, spurning the chance to enroll hundreds of thousands of their residents in the new federal program. As these examples clearly show, Tea Partier’s are s trong proponents of states’ rights. In regards to freedoms and liberty, just about ever y article that was delivered from a Tea Partier’s point of view mentioned these conce pts. For example, an opinion piece in the New York Post by JR Cummings labels the Tea Par tiers as “fighting to keep their God-given freedoms” (Post Staff Report 2010). Anoth er article in the New York Post refers to Tea Party darling, and tough libertarian Rand Paul (Lowry 2010). An article in The Christian Science Monitor by Bill Hennessy (201 0) shares his view (along with most Tea Partiers), that Washington should have a libert arian role. Finally, in an article in the Los Angeles Times by Jonah Goldberg (2013) it is me ntioned that with some Tea Partiers, their ideology can be tied to so-called p aleolibertarians of the 1980s. “The idea was that libertarians needed to attract followers f rom outside the ranks of both the mainstream GOP and the libertarian movement – by tr ying to fuse the struggle for individual liberty with nostalgia for white suprema cy” (Goldberg 2010). Examples like these show there is no doubting that freedoms and l iberty (libertarianism) are strong convictions prized by Tea Partiers. Exclusion The two themes previously presented deal mostly wit h how Tea Partiers see themselves: their ideology, values, beliefs, etc. T he next theme, exclusion, deals both with how Tea Partiers see themselves, and also how outsiders see them. By exclusion, I


58 mean that anyone who does not share their ideologic al beliefs and viewpoints (and sometimes their race), tends to be excluded from th eir circle. Many of these exclusionary characteristics deal with concepts that make the Te a Partiers seem as they feel a sense of privilege, and as result, this is most often displa yed through what others might perceive as prejudice. Moreover, these characteristics appea red to be quite numerous in the articles analyzed. Some of the characteristics that allowed the exclusionary theme to emerge include the following: Anti-Obama/Obama a tyrant/Obama not born in the U.S Wanting to go back to pre-civil rights era Anti-ACA Single-parent families are trouble Blacks lack moral character Welfare reliance by people of color Homophobia Anti-illegals/Immigration concerns/Xenophobia Ties to militia groups Tea Party mostly white/White nationalism/White supr emacy/White privilege Losing their country Anti-Democrats/Anti-liberals/Anti-progressives Muslim-phobia/Anti-Islam Voter restrictions Drug testing for welfare recipients


59 Of the listed characteristics, the most salient I f ound by far is that Tea Partiers do not approve of or like President Obama very much. T he next most salient characteristic in this category is that the Tea Party is made up of m ostly white people. I will next give a few examples of the characteristics I found in my c ontent analysis. In regards to the Tea Party being mostly white: In an article in the Wall Street Journal, NBC reporter Kelly O’Donnell attended a Tea Party rally in Washington (Taranto 2010). O’Donnell says, “I had specifically come to this rally because it was supposed to be especially diverse,” but found “a dearth of it in the crowd.” An article fro m the New York Times by Kate Zernike offers this quote which helps put things into persp ective: “Polls show that the movement has not attracted blacks proportionate to their rep resentation in the larger population. And some Tea Party leaders acknowledge that” (Zernike 2 010). An article in The Star-Ledger (Newark, NJ) by the Associated Press provides this quote of an NPR executive slamming the Tea Party movement. In his quote, Ron Schiller says, “The current Republican Party is not really the Republican Party. It’s been Hijac ked by this group (the Tea Party movement) that is … not just Islamophobic but, real ly, xenophobic. They believe in sort of white, middle America, gun-toting – it’s scary. They’re seriously racist, racist people” (Associated Press, The 2011). One final article in the Los Angeles Times by Jonah Goldberg (2013) also gives an example of the Tea Pa rty’s struggle to attract blacks. The article says that Rand Paul “is sincerely eager to reach out to African American voters on issues like the drug war.” These examples show that the Tea Party, as a white party, has a way to go in regards to diversification. In regards to the Tea Party being Anti-Obama, I fou nd numerous articles expressing those characteristics: To start things o ff, an article in the Wall Street Journal


60 states that Amy Kremer and Jenny Beth Martin (two T ea Party founders) say their impetus for starting the Tea Party was because they were “dismayed by the election of Barack Obama” (Blackmon et al. 2010). In the same a rticle is this quote, which touches on President Obama’s infamous birth certificate: “A vocal faction questioning Mr. Obama’s legal eligibility to be president provided another source of grassroots fuel.” An article in the Chicago Tribune offers this: “Sen. T om Coburn insists Obama is spreading ‘dependency’ on government because ‘it worked so we ll for him as an African American male’” (Walsh 2013). An article in The Christian Sc ience Monitor by Walter Rodgers touches on the Tea Party’s total dislike of Preside nt Obama and the ACA, or as they refer to it, Obamacare. Rodgers (2010) says that Tea Part y rallies are heavy on this nullification-style sentiment, as “Speakers rail ag ainst a ‘government out of control’ under President Obama,” and “They talk of repealing ‘Obamacare’ and cheer on a lawsuit challenging its constitutionality.” Finally, an art icle in the Los Angeles Times by Patt Morrison (2013) captures the Tea Party’s sentiments toward President Obama in a nutshell, as Jesse Lee Peterson says that Obama is “the worst thing to ever happen to this country.” In regards to the Tea Party’s dislike of President Obama or anything Obama related, these examples are just the tip of the ice berg. Analyzing the Tea Party Using a CRT Lens In this section, I will present findings that show a connection between some of the basic concepts and tenets of CRT and the Tea Party. In the first section I will begin with a brief definition of racism, I will then give a few examples of racism charges against the Tea Party, and I will finish with a few examples of what I and others feel are seemingly blatant expressions of racism by Tea Partiers. In t he sections that follow, I will present


61 the CRT tenets color blindness and interest converg ence and show how they relate to the Tea Party. I will essentially be asking and answeri ng the question: By applying this basic concept or tenet to my content analysis findings on the Tea Party, what do I see? Racism and the Tea Party According to critical race theorists Delgado and St efancic (2001:154), racism is defined as: “Any program or practice of discriminat ion, segregation, persecution, or mistreatment based on membership in a race or ethni c group.” They add that racism is ordinary, not aberrationalthe usual way society does business, the common, ev eryday experiences of most people of color in this country That being said, I would next like to give a few examples that I found in my content anal ysis of charges of racism against the Tea Party. I will begin with a couple of celebritie s accusing the Tea Party of being racist. In a USA Today article by Mark Joseph (2013), Oprah Winfrey makes that accusation. Shortly before receiving the Medal of Freedom from President Obama, Oprah Winfrey gave an interview to the BBC in which she seemed to chalk up much of the opposition to the president to racism: She says, “I think there’s a level of disrespect for the office that occurs … because he’s African American.” In an arti cle in the Washington Times by Amanda Carpenter (2009), actress Janeane Garofalo, on MSNBC’s “The Countdown” with Keith Olbermann adds: Let’s be very honest about what this is about. This is not about bashing Democrats. It’s not about taxes. They have no idea what the Boston Tea Party was about. They don’t know their history at a ll. It’s about hating a black man in the White House. This is racism straig ht up and is nothing but a bunch of teabagging rednecks. There is no way around that. In an article in the Washington Post by Michael Ger son (2010), the NAACP at its 2010 national convention approved a resolution condemnin g Tea Party racism. The NAACP


62 resolution did not conclude that the Tea Party move ment as a whole is racist, but called upon its leadership to repudiate racist elements. A dded NAACP President Benjamin Jealous, “We don’t think the tea party is racist, b ut we don’t think they’ve gone far enough yet either” in condemning racist incidents. Finally, one of the more scathing articles I found was an article in the Washington T imes by Stephen Dinan (2011). In that article, Dinan reports on academic studies of the T ea Party by university professors from various schools, which find that although the movem ent’s adherents are knowledgeable and devout, they are more likely to be motivated by “racial resentment.” Christopher S. Parker, a political science professor at the Univer sity of Washington, adds that tea party supporters are more likely to be “reactionary” cons ervatives who strongly oppose change, and live according to this diffuse idea that the co untry is slipping away from them Regarding seemingly racist acts by Tea Partiers, an article in the Wall Street Journal by Blackmon et al. (2010) reports on what c ould be one of the most blatant racist attacks by Tea Partiers at a protest on Capitol Hil l against the ACA. As Representative John Lewis (D., GA) and other African American memb ers of Congress walked through the crowd to enter the building, some protesters sh outed racial epithets, one member was spit upon, and openly gay Representative Barney Fra nk (D., MA) was taunted with antigay slurs. According to the CRT definition of racis m, this is good example of people being discriminated against and mistreated because of their race and sexual orientation. An article in the New York Times by Frank Rich (201 0) reports that just as he thought the racism accusations flying around over the ACA h ad appeared to cool down somewhat, new Republican governor of Virginia, Robe rt McDonnell, issued a state proclamation celebrating April as Confederate Histo ry Month, only to be defended by


63 Mississippi Governor, Haley Barbour, who had issued a Confederate Heritage Month proclamation of his own. According to the CRT defin ition of racism, this example runs the gamut. Here you have two governors celebrating a time when people were discriminated against, segregated, persecuted, and mistreated. An article in the New York Post by Rich Lowry (2010) shares a statement made b y Kentucky Tea Partier Rand Paul. In a controversy over the 1964 Civil Rights Act, Pa ul said that he did not like that the law forced private businesses to serve blacks. Although he did later say that he would have voted for the 1964 Civil Rights Act, it appears tha t his libertarian ways do not include the same freedoms for blacks. With this example, and in relation to the CRT definition of racism, here you have a politician saying he is, at this point in time, still okay with races being segregated. As these examples show, there are people who feel that some elements of the Tea Party are racist. Moreover, through some of their actions, certain Tea Partiers do seem to make racism appear ordinary, not aberrat ional. Finally, and most importantly, because some of the aforementioned Tea Partiers are politicians who make legislative decisions, CRT, as an activist movement, becomes th at much more important in transforming the relationship among race, racism, a nd power. Color Blindness and the Tea Party Through my content analysis of the Tea Party a coup le of critical race theory tenets emerged as being relevant, one of them being color blindness. Delgado and Stefancic (2001:144) define color blindness as: “Be lief that one should treat all persons equally without regard for race.” Although the defi nition sounds like the perfect world, critical race theorists actually have a problem wit h color blindness: Essentially, it is a formal, conception of equality expressed in rules t hat insist on treatment that is the same


64 across the board, and that can only remedy the most blatant forms of discrimination that stand out and attract our attention (Delgado and St efancic 2001). Everyday discrimination that is embedded in our thought processes and our s ocial structures goes unnoticed and keeps minorities in subordinate positions (Delgado and Stefancic 2001). I will next give some examples from the articles that touch on color blindness and the Tea Party. In an article in the New York Times by Kate Zernike (2010 ), the Tea Party Patriots, after being labeled as racists by the NAACP, posted on their we bsite: “We believe, like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., in a colorblind, postracial societ y.” An article in the Washington Times by Jeffrey T. Kuhner (2013) adds, the Tea Party bel ieves in “equality under the law and a colorblind society.” Another op-ed piece in the New York Post gives us this tidbit from a Tea Party supporter: “It would do this nation a ser vice to strike the word ‘race’ from the dictionary, and let those who use it stand on their own merit” (Post Staff Report 2009). An article in USA Today by Mark Joseph (2013), rebu tting Oprah’s racism claim against the Tea Party, offers this quote: “Oprah is still l iving in that other time and era in which people separated themselves from one another primar ily on the basis of race – a real time to be sure – but one that is, for the most part, no t our reality today.” As evidenced by these examples, Tea Partiers and their supporters s eem to believe that we presently live in a colorblind society. The following examples have to do with the Tea Part y and their supporters and their belief that the election of President Obama i s proof that we now live in a postracial, colorblind society. An article in the Washington Po st by Krissah Thompson (2010) poses the question: Because of the election of the nation ’s first African American president, is the NAACP still necessary? Another article in the P ost by Michael Gerson (2010) says,


65 “racial controversies…were temporally closed by his decisive presidential victory.” An article in the Wall Street Journal by James Taranto (2010) adds this: “The election of Barack Obama made nonsense of the idea that America remains a racist country.” An oped piece in the New York Post offered this quote fr om a Tea Party supporter: “One has to admire the sheer chutzpah of the NAACP – a race-bas ed organization…rendered redundant by a black president elected by whites” ( Post Staff Report 2010). An article in the Los Angeles Times offers this quote by Sarah Pa lin (2010): It seemed that with the election of our first black president, our country had become a new ‘post-racial’ society. As one writ er in the Washington Post stated: ‘Barack Obama’s election isn’t just ab out a black president, it’s about a new America. The days of confrontation al identity politics have come to a end.’ Critical race theorists would view these examples o f Tea Party claims of color blindness and America as a post racial society beca use of the election of President Obama as dangerous. Thinking that racism is no longer a p roblem, or that people no longer see color is a pipe dream. According to critical race t heorists, racism is alive in peoples’ everyday thought processes and festers in our socia l structures. Only when they are blatant, are instances of racism sometimes noticed and addressed. To be fair to Tea Partiers and conservatives, critical race theorists are discontent with liberals on this issue as well, feeling that they must be more aggressive and color conscious to change the way things are (Delgado and Stefancic 2001). Interest Convergence and the Tea Party I feel that one of the most important CRT tenets th at relates to the Tea Party is interest convergence. The essence of CRT is that ra cism is embedded in our society’s structures, and interest convergence plays a part i n enabling this. According to Delgado and Stefancic (2001:149), interest convergence is a thesis pioneered by Derrick Bell and


66 is defined as: “the majority group tolerates advanc es for racial justice only when it suits its interest to do so.” In essence, civil rights ga ins for communities of color coincide with the dictates of white self-interest. Bell’s thesis dealt with the idea that around the Cold War era the US had a terrible reputation worldwide in how it treated people of color. Bell felt that the Brown v. Board of Education decision (on school desegregation) started the US toward repairing its reputation. Just for a mome nt, the interests of blacks and whites converged. The following examples will be relevant because they will show that unless Tea Partiers have something to gain, they have a te ndency to not be interested in or like things (policies, laws, health care, welfare, etc.) that might help minorities. In an article in the Chicago Tribune, Joan Walsh (2013) says that th e Republicans’ strategy is to depict government as the enemy. Reason being, they view th e government as an oppressor that works primarily as the protector of and provider fo r African Americans. Another article in the Tribune by Clarence Page (2013) talks of a l aw that tends to work in favor of white drug users. The Fair Sentencing Act that congress p assed in 2010 reduced the disparity between crack (a drug associated with blacks) and p owder cocaine (a drug associated with whites) sentencing from 100-to-1 to 18-to-1. P age (2013) feels that the discrepancy is still too high and adds, “Fairness should never end at the color line.” An article in the Los Angeles Times by Nelson Lichtenstein (2013) com pares Obama and his fight to pass the ACA to passing legislation during the civil rig hts era. An article in The Christian Science Monitor by Walter Rodgers (2010) says that although many Tea Partiers favor Social Security income and Medicare (things they ut ilize), many are stanch enemies of the ACA and view it as socialism. In The Christian Science Monitor, Bill Hennessy, a St. Louis Tea Party cofounder, in one swooping article said the U.S. should get rid of the


67 ACA, the Departments of Education, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, and No Child Left Behind; essentially, health care and agencies that Tea Partiers feel only people of color benefit from. An article in the New York Times by Kate Zernike (2010) adds, “many Tea Party activists beli eve that laws establishing a minimum wage or the federal safety net are an improper expa nsion of federal power. In an article in The Arizona Republic, Froma Harrop (2010) caught fl ak from Tea Partiers for suggesting that Arizona’s new immigration law appeared to be r acist: He termed the law “misguided” for effectively singling out Latinos fo r special scrutiny. An article in the Wall Street journal by Blackmon et al. (2010) gives us the impetus for the founding of the Tea Party. Essentially, the day after the Obama Administration had unveiled a $75 billion program to help homeowners who could no t pay their mortgages, Rick Santelli gave the people needing this assistance, f aces of color. These examples exemplify one thing, and that is Tea Partiers tend to “see recipients of welfare [or any type of government assistance for that matter] as h aving black and brown faceseven though more whites receive welfare than do people o f color” (Delgado and Stefancic 2001:110). Since Tea Partiers feel that they have s eemingly nothing to gain (they see it as unnecessary spending) from people of color receivin g “handouts,” when it comes to most forms of government assistance, the interests of pe ople of color and Tea Partiers do not converge. When these interests do not converge, the result once again is a structured society designed to keep minorities in subordinate positions.


68 CHAPTER V DISCUSSION These findings highlight the racialization of polit ics since the election of President Obama and the emergence of the Tea Party as a far r ight populist movement. The findings indicate that the Tea Party has negative v iews of the U.S. government, feels that they are the ideal Americans in what would be their ideal America, and tends to be very exclusionary toward those that do not follow their ideology to a tee. Specific insights acquired from the findings of this study include a threat to a seemingly white privilege under attack because of the election of our first A frican American president, and because of an ever-growing population of color. Because of the resulting racial resentment among some Tea Partiers, and a seemingly ever-widening ga p in ideologies between the left and the right, the political division in the United Sta tes seems to have grown. The findings also highlight the importance of using a CRT lens t o look at the Tea Party and racism, and the Tea Party and the concepts of color blindne ss and interest convergence. I discuss these specific insights in detail below. The Tea Party According to the Tea Party, they mainly want govern ment cuts and for the American government to show more fiscal responsibil ity (most Tea Partiers are okay with defense spending and Social Security and Medic are though: things they like and from which they benefit) (Hennessy 2010). The Tea P arty is made up of primarily white men, many who seem to hold racial resentment agains t President Obama and against the growing Hispanic population. They are alarmed by wh at they consider rapid demographic changes, and express it through xenophobia mainly b ecause they are afraid of losing


69 political power to Hispanics (Harrop 2010; Rodgers 2010). They feel that Obama is a socialist, and that the United States is becoming s ocialist because of the ACA and because of the number of non-whites on government a ssistance. In showing their disapproval of the ACA (and anything Obama for that matter), many Tea Partiers were calling it a failure before it had even been implem ented, and to this day, there have been forty-something votes in congress to repeal it (Lic htenstein 2013). And even though the Tea Partiers constantly mentioned disapproval of Ob amaÂ’s policies, beyond the ACA, there was seldom a mention in any of the articles o f exactly which polices they disapprove of. There is no doubting Tea Partiers hi ghly dislike and disapprove of President Obama, and they express this in various w ays, but mainly through disrespect of the president. To name a few, in the articles I ana lyzed they refer to President Obama as unqualified, incompetent, dishonest, Un-American, a tyrant, and a Muslim; adding that they are ashamed of him, that he is ruining America and that he should be impeached. Moreover, to this day they are still questioning hi s birth certificate and whether he was born in the United States. This sentiment is so str ong among Tea Partiers (sometimes referred to as birthers), that all but one major Te a Party group has questioned the presidentÂ’s birth certificate (Zernike 2010). Some of these sentiments make me wonder though. For instance, if Tea Partiers are so concer ned with government cuts and fiscal responsibility, why was there no Tea Party during t he George W. Bush years? Additionally, why is the ACA considered socialism u nder Obama, but was perfectly fine when a very similar plan was implemented in Massach usetts by Governor Mitt Romney? I believe the answer to these questions to be that the man now in charge is a black man.


70 CRT and the Tea Party I feel that analyzing the Tea Party through a CRT l ens is both appropriate and useful. In several of the articles Tea Partiers say that they are colorblind, however, many times their actions say otherwise. This can be seen in their inability, or desire, to allow their interests to converge with minorities. Some e xamples are Tea Partiers take on things like voting rights, immigration reform, and governm ent assistance. Since 2010, in North Carolina alone, the Republican party (including fou r Tea Party congress men and women) has voted to eliminate the earned-income tax credit for 900,000; refused Medicaid coverage for 500,000; ended federal unempl oyment benefits for 170,000; cut pre-K for 30,000 kids while shifting $90 million fr om public education to voucher schools; slashed taxes for the top 5 percent while raising taxes on the bottom 95 percent; prohibited death row inmates from challenging racia lly discriminatory verdicts; and enacted one of the countyÂ’s worst voter suppression laws, which mandates strict voter identification, cuts early voting and eliminates sa me-day registration, among other things (Berman 2014). If they feel that they have nothing to gain or will not benefit in any way, Tea Partiers are highly unlikely to support or beli eve in the racial equality, or fairness these rights or programs might bring about. If inte rests do not converge, places like North Carolina will continue to be structured in such a w ay that keeps people of color in subordinate positions. Many times I have found myself asking the question why our interests do not converge, as it seems they should. You would think that it would be in our best interests to mutually support the things that are best for ou r livelihoods, the middle class, and our overall economic interests. For example, why would someone support a party


71 (Republican) that has proven over and over that the interests of business elites matter most when it comes to approving legislation? I thin k that author and legal scholar, Ian Haney Lopez, gives us the answer in his book, Dog Whistle Politics: How Coded Racial Appeals Have Reinvented Racism and Wrecked the Midd le Class In his book, Lopez says that middle-class voters have been seduced to vote against their own economic interests (Moyers & Company 2014). Lopez adds that politician s have mastered the use of dog whistlescode words that turn Americans against each other w hile turning America over to plutocrats. However, dog whistle politics does n ot come out of animus or out of some sense to hurt minorities, but out of a desire to wi n votes. For that reason, Lopez calls it strategic racism. He adds, “It’s racism as a strate gy. It’s cold, it’s calculating, it’s considered, it’s the decision to achieve one’s own ends – here, winning votes – by stirring racial animosity” (Moyers & Company 2014). Since I mentioned voting, I want to share another article that shows why voting and voting ri ghts are so important. An article on Moyers & Company by Joshua Holland provides what I found to be some alarming numbers following the 2012 election. Holland (2014) says that if only white men and women had voted, Romney would have ended up with 44 1 electoral votes versus Obama’s 97. It gets even worse when looking at it i f only white men voted: 501 electoral votes for Romney versus 37 for Obamathis does not do much to support the Tea Party assumption that the election of President Obama is proof they are color blind, and America is now a post racial society. From a Democr atic standpoint, these numbers reiterate the importance of our interests convergin g. For all to be represented, we must make it easier for people to vote instead of puttin g up obstacles like the North Carolina types have been trying to do. If our system becomes less democratic, we are inviting a


72 system that is structured in such a way that favors some over othersmeaning whites over people of color and the wealthy over everyone else. A couple of other concepts arise that I found impor tant but that were not mentioned in my findings, and those are white privi lege and storytelling. In several of the articles, non-Tea Partiers mentioned they felt that Tea Party types cannot identify with the black experience. Storytelling is a CRT concept where narratives are given by people of color giving their point of view, or the nonwhit e perspective. This strategy is useful because critical race theorists believe that this c ountry’s dominant racial group cannot easily grasp what it is like to be nonwhite. The th ing is, whites must be willing to listen to and learn about these different perspectives, and i n most cases, Tea Party types do not want to hear it. In fact, polls show that Tea Parti ers feel that too much is made of the obstacles faced by blacks in this country. Critical race theorists would say that one of the main reasons that the Tea Party came to fruition is their perception that their white privilege is under attack. As a reminder, Delgado a nd Stefancic (2001:78) define white privilege as the “myriad of social advantages, bene fits, and courtesies that come with being a member of the dominant race.” Why do I feel that white privilege is relevant and the impetus for all this? In the articles, Tea Part iers mention that their nation has been taken, that they are American, that character must not matter anymo re since we have a black president, that the country deserves better, that they are the country’s roots, and that they love their country. There is no doubting that the “ their” and the “they” Tea Partiers speak of is a reference to white people who are see mingly owed, or for some reason are more deserving of such “privileges” than people of color.


73 The Racialization of and Division in Politics Soon after President Obama was elected, Rick Santel li provided the spark that ignited the Tea Party movement. One article says th at right-wing populist movements sometimes spring up when a Democratic president is elected (Douthat 2010). That may be so, but with the election of Barack Obama, this populist movement has been like no other I have seen in my lifetime. This one has brou ght with it division and racist elements that I have never seen before. In my content analys is, I found many charges of racism against the Tea Party, but I also found quite a few denials of racism and charges of reverse-racism by the Tea Party. Both sides, Tea Pa rtiers and liberal types, have accused each other of being out of touch. Tea Partiers accu se liberals, progressives, or Democrats of being radicals, ilk, evil, and ethically challen gedjust to name a few. A comment by Tea Party supporter, Jeffrey T. Kuhner (2013), show s just how deep this dislike runs when he says, “Being called a racist by liberals is a badge of honor.” Liberals have labeled Tea Partiers as poorly informed, as extremi sts, and as needing to be more principled. Tea Partiers have blamed President Obam a for being racist and progressives for creating the racism. In my lifetime, I remember and followed two Democratic presidents (Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton), and do not ever recall seeing so much division between the left and right, or a president so disrespected as President Obama has been. The only difference I can see between the thr ee is that President Obama is a black man. Finally, through this research I attempted to answe r the question, “Is the Tea Party racist?” I believe this paper shows that there are some racist elements associated with the Tea Party. I feel that these sentiments emanated fr om the election of our first African


74 American president, and from a general Tea Party di slike of anything liberal. That is not to say that all Tea Partiers are racist, but even t hey have admitted there are some elements associated with their movement that appear to be. A Washington Post/ABC News poll shows that, “About 61 percent of Tea Party opponent s say racism has a lot do to with the movement” (Blow 2010). Even President Obama said, “ There’s no doubt that there’s some folks who just really dislike me because they don’t like the idea of a black President” (Remnick 2014). Again, to be fair to the Tea Party, they have voluntarily removed some racist elements from their movement, a nd even the NAACP has said that they do not think the entire Tea Party is racist; a dding that they feel many of them are genuinely good people (Zernike 2010). Nonetheless, what I find more threatening than anything else are Tea Party legislators that appear to be racist. For example, recently, Chris Mapp, a Texas Tea Party senate candidate, ref used to a apologize for this quote in the Dallas Morning News: “[Mapp] told this editoria l board that ranchers should be allowed to shoot on sight anyone illegally crossing the border on their land,” and referred to such people as “wetbacks” (Isquith 2014). I woul d have to believe this qualifies as racism. Thankfully, he is still just a candidate wi th the possibility of losing. As a person who would propose and approve legislation, one raci st congressman is one too many. According to Harrop (2010), measuring racism and tr ying to determine what is racist is a tough deal, and Blow (2010) adds that there is no w ay to know how many Tea Party supporters are motivated by racism, or to what degr ee, and I agree with both. Most people are not going to admit to being racist if asked, an d often deny it when accused. Eventually though, through my content analysis find ings, I am certain that racist elements do exist within the Tea Party. That being said, as critical race theorists, it is our duty as


75 activists to bring this to peoplesÂ’ attention. We c annot let these elements pull a structure that already favors whites further in that directio n. As scholars, theorists, activists, or as people in general, we must do everything within our powers to make sure that our country is a democracy that works for all


76 CHAPTER VI CONCLUSION This study helps to underscore the contribution a C RT approach makes to the understanding of the race dynamic at work with the Tea Party and politics. The findings indicate that the Tea Partyalthough they swear that they are all about lesser government, appear to be more concerned about the c ountry having a black president and an ever-growing population of color. Although there have been other studies that deal with the Tea Party and race, using a CRT lens I fee l digs deeper into the racial dynamic at work regarding our current state of political affai rs. However, this study does have limitations in that it was a small sample; the Tea Party is a fairly new phenomenon, so not much academic research is available as of yet; and CRT is somewhat new to sociology also with limited amounts of academic research avai lable. As we enter another mid-term election season, this subject could have endless research possibilities. As a person who follows pol itics, word is that Republicans and Tea Partiers feel they are going to make some congressi onal gains in this election, which might result in a Republican controlled Senate to g o with an already Republican controlled House. If that turns out to be true, thi s will open the door for future qualitative and quantitative research possibilities. Future res earch should include the study of policies that could result under such a congressat national, state, and local levels, and what impact they will have on people of color. Furt hermore, with more and more money being doled out by the wealthy to help influence el ections (thanks to our supreme court), this opens the door for future research possibiliti es addressing wealth, politics, and their impact on people of color. Sociologically, future r esearch should include a look at the


77 impact Tea Party policies have already had and coul d potentially have in the future on our nationÂ’s racial hierarchies and class structure s. For example, what impact will southern states not adopting Medicaid under the ACA have on people of color and the poor? Once again, the research possibilities could be endless.


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85 APPENDIX U.S. DAILY Newspapers Online & URLs Accessed The Arizona Republic: 30806obama-phoenix-protestsoutside-school.html les/20100713naacp0713.html 30815thorpe-locks-twitterapologizes-tweets.html rticles/20100511harrop12.html The Chicago Tribune: on/ct-perspec-1004-bait20131003_1_reagan-democrats-northern-strategy-gop on/chi-100719palmer_briefs_1_teaparty-racist-frank-palmer on/sns-201212201700--tms-jgoldbrgctnjg-a20121221-20121221_1_jim-crow-black-m an-tea-party ct-trey-radel-congressman-cocainesentence-page-11-20131124_1_right-sentence-house-re publicans-marion-barry on/ct-oped-1017-pitts20111017_1_herman-cain-tea-party-black-experience The Christian Science Monitor: 2010/0511/Tea-party-s-biggestconcern-isn-t-Obama-s-agenda s-tea-party-populism-verge-intoextremism 23/Tea-party-activists-Dothey-hate-liberals-more-than-they-love-liberty


86 28/Why-tea-party-tensionsthreaten-midterm-election-triumph-for-Republicans 23/Tea-party-founder-Whyour-movement-will-succeed-and-why-it-s-good-for-Ame rica The Los Angeles Times: party-roberts-supremecourt20131111,0,2654838.story#axzz2rQv6UMAi ison-peterson20130814,0,3840221.column#axzz2rQv6UMAi -goldberg-column-rand-paul-jackhunter-20130716,0,7556825.column#axzz2rQv6UMAi htenstein-civil-rights-fightobamacare-20130908,0,3721274.story#axzz2rQv6UMAi naacp-tea-party-sarah-palin.html The New York Post: arty/ / -should-be-sent-packing/ ce/ The New York Times: cp.html?_r=0 ml .html k.html ml


87 The Star-Ledger (Newark, NJ): fe_nj_conservative_activist_relea. html vivian_schiller_resi.html ty_searching_for_pol.html ts_say_tea_party_gro.html testers_gather_at_lo.html USA Today: rah-winfrey-racism-obama-yoursay/3799053/ rah-obama-racist-bbc-freedommedal-column/3693405/ rack-obama-trayvon-martingeorge-zimmerman-verdict-your-say/2576111/ The Wall Street Journal: 2303720604575169892670087892 ?KEYWORDS=tea+party+racism&mg=reno64wsj& 000142405270230372060 4575169892670087892.html%3FKEYWORDS%3Dtea%2Bparty%2 Bracism 8704671904575193921155425154 ?KEYWORDS=tea+party+racism&mg=reno64wsj& 000142405274870467190 4575193921155425154.html%3FKEYWORDS%3Dtea%2Bparty%2 Bracism 8704462704575590660974285290 ?KEYWORDS=tea+party+racism&mg=reno64wsj& 000142405274870446270 4575590660974285290.html%3FKEYWORDS%3Dtea%2Bparty%2 Bracism 2304173704575578332725182228 ?KEYWORDS=tea+party+racism&mg=reno64wsj& 000142405270230417370 4575578332725182228.html%3FKEYWORDS%3Dtea%2Bparty%2 Bracism


88 8703708404575586301582643356 ?KEYWORDS=tea+party+racism&mg=reno64wsj& 000142405274870370840 4575586301582643356.html%3FKEYWORDS%3Dtea%2Bparty%2 Bracism The Washington Post: son-a-tea-party-purge-amongthe-gop/2013/10/15/727ef4e8-35a8-11e3-8a0e-4e2cf808 31fc_story.html The Washington Times: -party-leader-ousted-in-racismrow/ ner-unfairly-tarring-the-teaparty/ /apr/17/liberal-actress-says-teaparties-were-racist/ emics-tea-partyers-devout-morelikely-racist/?page=all k-members-tea-party-disputeracist-claims/