NYT Op-Ed: “Let’s Marginalize the Tea Party, Social Conservatives and Christians”


If you enjoy watching the “spin cycle” that goes on in politics, this article is indeed top-notch.

The article is an op-ed jointly written by David E. Campbell, an associate professor of political science at Notre Dame, and Robert D. Putnam, a professor of public policy at Harvard, both of whom are highly respected members of the academia.

The title of this post basically conveys what it is that this op-ed attempts to do…marginalize the Tea Party, social conservatives, and Christians in one fell swoop.  And I have to admit that the authors did an excellent job of trying to draw a causal relationship between political unpopularity and these three groups of citizens within American society.  They manage to “clump” all three groups of citizens under the heading of Tea Partiers, and then proceed to proclaim various elements of this Tea Party movement that contribute to their self-defined political unpopularity.  Take the charge of being both racially and ethnically biased as an example.

So what do Tea Partiers have in common? They are overwhelmingly white, but even compared to other white Republicans, they had a low regard for immigrants and blacks long before Barack Obama was president, and they still do.

Then there is also the example of public prayer.

This inclination among the Tea Party faithful to mix religion and politics explains their support for Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota and Gov. Rick Perry of Texas. Their appeal to Tea Partiers lies less in what they say about the budget or taxes, and more in their overt use of religious language and imagery, including Mrs. Bachmann’s lengthy prayers at campaign stops and Mr. Perry’s prayer rally in Houston.

And obviously, the attempt to discredit these two conservatives in the eyes of the general public by presenting a direct correlation between their appeal to Tea Party members and the so-called unpopularity of the Tea Party stands out in a very blatant way, doesn’t it?

Like I said, if you enjoy watching the “spin cycle”, this article is definitely top-notch.

It isn’t until the very last paragraph of the article that a very different implication is conveyed in what has been written by these authors.

On everything but the size of government, Tea Party supporters are increasingly out of step with most Americans, even many Republicans. Indeed, at the opposite end of the ideological spectrum, today’s Tea Party parallels the anti-Vietnam War movement which rallied behind George S. McGovern in 1972. The McGovernite activists brought energy, but also stridency, to the Democratic Party — repelling moderate voters and damaging the Democratic brand for a generation. By embracing the Tea Party, Republicans risk repeating history. (emphasis mine)

Ahh, so there it is…a not-so-subtle message from the elite of one party to whom?  The elite of the second party, perhaps?  It would not surprise me in the least if that was the intent.  After all, the elitists of both parties are facing tough times right now.  The general public no longer blindly trusts these elitists in the way that we might have in the past, and we’ve begun to question not only their actions but also their ability to make wise policy decisions for our nation’s future.  We’re becoming more proactively involved in the political process on local levels.  And we’re actually using words such as “accountability” in connection with politics.

Conservatives, primarily those who DO associate themselves with the Tea Party, have been the most vocal in expressing the need among the general public to see greater accountability displayed in the actions of those who have been elected into office, AND they have been the most adamant in bringing about  change that restores government to a limited status rather than its current bloated-beyond-all-recognition status.

This is NOT what these elitists want.  They want a restoration of the status quo, where they do their “thing” in the realm of politics unhindered and unfettered by the common citizenry (meaning you and me and other citizens of this nation who are watching them like hawks).

It’s almost as if the authors of this article are attempting to give Republican elites an “out”, isn’t it?  The elitists amongst the Democrats will take on discrediting Tea Party members (and the authors go even further by including both social conservatives and Christians into the package in the process), and all Republicans have to do is to take it and run with it.

Any remaining remnant of Tea Party influence could then be eradicated by Republican elites.  So-called sanity in the form of the status quo will be restored.  And they can get back down to “business as usual”.

Given the fact that it is “business as usual” that has brought us to where we are today, conservatives need to stay engaged, regardless of how unpopular anyone, even Republicans, portray us as being.

If there was ever a time to prove the elitists wrong, this is it!

Excellent, lineholder, and important to get the truth out.  (Lady P – Ed.)

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August 18, 2011 8:37 am

This is an academically-cloaked attempt to pile on the Administration’s efforts to condemn the Tea Party as an identifiable bad thing, a la Alinsky. Identify, isolate, polarize, etc. They make one categorical and one tactical error. One, the Tea Party is much less an organized group, with all of an organization’s characteristics, than an attitude or world-view. It’s impossible to Alinsky a philosophy rather than a person or distinct group. Second, and even more fun, they give themselves away with the phrase “they had a low regard for immigrants and blacks long before Barack Obama was president, and they still… Read more »

August 18, 2011 8:38 am

If I were a Leftie, this is what I’d say, too, LH. Great post on both your parts. What they draw up is a classic confrontation between man-made theology and morality and one that is transcendental. In the end, rock worshipers are no different that me-worshipers.

I don’t know about toy, but I’m pumped.

August 18, 2011 12:25 pm

They forgot that when used as a slander “raaaaacist” has 5 a’s. At least we know the declaration of war against Christians and small government types is officially declared now.