Do you ever wonder why people believe in the Tea Party ideology? I’ve wondered. And, I’ve spent time gathering information that may glean some light on why they believe what they believe. Most anyone who considers themselves left of center could take this information and formulate strategy and talking point to change some minds. The garden variety Tea Party member is a college educated white Christian male, making over $50,000 a year who owns a gun.
First, here’s what the number show about the average Teabagger?
In a nutshell, the average person who identifies with the Tea Party is a mad as hell white Christian married male, who makes above $50, 000/year and owns a gun. This hypothetical garden variety Tea Party member is a person who believes government is out of control and caters to special interest groups and lobbyists. It’s all about the money. They think government hands out too many welfare checks at the drop of a hat, using their hard earned money, in an effort to get reelected over and over again. They’re sick of it.
They believe they could actually get ahead and have a better life if government did away with social programs. After all, when’s the last time government actually made a difference. It could be handled better in the private sector anyway. The average person who identifies with the Tea Party doesn’t believe they’ve ever benefited from any government social program. They think too may people abuse the system and lie to get assistance. They also believe that if someone is on public assistance, they’ll stay there forever unless they are made to get off welfare and go to work. The best way to get people off welfare is to stop writing the checks. That will motivate them to go out and find a job.
“The reason is that the Tea Party is an oppositional movement, and oppositional movements only thrive when they’re in the opposition. They can talk all they like about both Republicans and Democrats being part of the problem, and being opposed just to “Washington,” but we all know that at its heart it’s about Barack Obama and everything he represents. If Hillary Clinton or another Democrat becomes president in 2016, most of the anger and resentment that gives the movement life will get transferred to that person, and it will continue.” http://prospect.org/article/why-winning-elections-last-thing-tea-party-wants
They don’t like Obama because he doesn’t look like them, act like them, believe what they believe, talk like them and simply has the wrong attitude and mindset because he’s not one of them. And, while the majority don’t necessarily think Obama is a Muslim or was born in Kenya—it wouldn’t surprise the average Tea Party member if one day they learned it was all true.
When it comes to political party affiliation, the average Tea Party member could care less. They think the Republicans have lost there way and have gone the way of the liberals. They believe there are too many Republicans In Name Only (RINOs). For too long the average Republican has done everything and said anything just to get elected or reelected. They simply don’t trust politicians.
They think Democrats are basically tree-huggers that love to tax and spend. They blame the Democrats for environmental protection laws that harm the private sector companies ability to make a profit and grow. If it wasn’t for all the fines and regulations, more jobs would be created and America wouldn’t be in the shape it is in now. Democrats find ways to tax when, in reality, what we need to do is to find ways to cut taxes. After all, if people had more money in there pockets, they would spend more, invest more and create more jobs.
When it comes to the media, most TP members get their information from Fox News, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, the Blaze and The Drudge Report. They believe most media outlets are liberal and slanted towards a liberal ideology favoring the Democrats, including CBS, NBC, ABC and PBS. They report reading their hometown newspaper, but believe The New York Times, the Washington Post and others are left of center publications that look for liberally biased stories.
In general, the average Tea Partier believes most, if not all, of the above. Now, the question is why. Why are they mad as hell?
Most Tea Partiers who report being angry also report carrying a large debt load. In other words, they’re just trying to keep their heads above water. They report having to work harder for less money while their number one asset, their home, has slid in value over the years. If they are lucky enough to have a retirement account such as a 401K, 40% report having borrowed at least once from the funds. Of those who have not borrowed from their retirement account, most report thinking they probably will be forced to do so within the next four years, if another Democrat is elected president. They say they are stressed because of finances and worry that their job may end and they will not be able to get another job quickly because of age and the economy. The number one comment told to me was, “I’m just not as young as I use to be…and I shouldn’t have to start over again.” Of the people who work for themselves, most report owning a small business in a service related industry. Of the people who reported working for a company, 55% reported being there more than five years and more than half report working for a company with less than 50 employees.
While making less money now than they did a few years ago, most TPM’s (Tea Party Members) also say they are spending a little more than they use to spend. Over 70% report they “probably” spend more than they can afford. They cite the reasons as a) the kids need more stuff because they’re getting older; b) they’re paying more interest on things like credit cards and personal loans, and c) the cost of living, from gas prices to insurance to the cost of food is higher. Interestingly, just as many women as men report their spouse or significant is the person in the household who has the hardest time not spending the money.
But, at the end of the day, people who report siding with the TP, say they are mad as hell because they can’t buy what they want and sometimes have trouble just making ends meet. The feel they should not have to decrease their standard of living just because the government has too many people on welfare. And, that—overall—is why the TP wants less government, no welfare and zero taxes.
Michelle Boorstein (5 October 2010). “Tea party, religious right often overlap, poll shows”. The Washington Post.
Peter Wallsten, Danny Yadron (29 September 2010). “Tea-Party Movement Gathers Strength”. The Wall Street Journal.
Kirby, David; Ekins, Emily McClintock (Aug 6, 2012). Libertarian Roots of the Tea Party. Cato