The Duck Test and the Tea Party

There’s a saying: “If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck,  it’s a duck.”   I’ve been watching the Tea Party for a while, and listening to their spokespeople.  All of them will tell you that the movement is “misunderstood,” that they’re not racist, isolationist, or bigoted against any particular group.  They’re just deeply concerned about the deficit, taxes, and various social issues.    Which would be fine, except that when I look at their rallies, read their literature and the comments on their blogs, I keep hearing this quacking sound.  I see a bird with webbed feet, a flat bill, that  swims and quacks.  Despite their saying it’s really a swan, somehow, it I still keep coming back to “it’s a duck.”

Last year, there was a study done which showed some interesting results:

“The data suggests that people who are Tea Party supporters have a higher probability”—25 percent, to be exact—”of being racially resentful than those who are not Tea Party supporters,” says Christopher Parker, who directed the study. “The Tea Party is not just about politics and size of government. The data suggests it may also be about race.”

The NAACP and the Southern Poverty Law Center  also noticed that there were a lot of white supremacist groups latching on to the Tea Party movement.  Which was attacked by the various Tea Party representatives, except that one of them went and made the point.  Which, again, there were excuses made:

To judge by a “satirical” letter he wrote in reaction to the NAACP, Mr Williams, a tea-party activist, is indeed a racist, and for that reason the National Tea Party Federation, an umbrella group, has expelled both him and a group with which he is associated, the Tea Party Express.

Hmm… where have I heard of that group?  Oh, right, the Tea Party Express was the organization that Michele Bachmann gave her State of the Union “response” to.   I knew the name sounded familiar!  A quick look through various magazines, conventions, and other statements would lead one to an impression that intolerance is rather a staple.  There’s also the birthers, and yes, they also have a strong association with the Tea Parties.  Unless you’re a white evangelical Christian, you’re apparently not a “Real American.”

I’ve been listening to the various leaders of these groups, and politicians associated with them, express outrage at being called racist or bigoted.  They keep insisting that the Tea Party movement isn’t about that. They themselves  may well not be bigoted.  They may believe that the Tea Party movement is not about race or intolerance.  The problem is that whatever  they think, there’s still an awful lot of it appearing.  So yes, you can tell me all you want about how it’s not a duck.  I’d listen, except all the quacking is really distracting.

18 Comments

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18 responses to “The Duck Test and the Tea Party

  1. The various tea party organizations have one common theme: hatred and fear of the other.

    Too bad for them that the Scary Other will become the majority by 2030 and leave them shaking their fists at the sky.

    They may be ducks but their swan song is imminent.

    • What I found more than a little contradictory about them is that almost none of them were out agitating about the deficit, runaway federal spending, or weakening of the Constitution when the Republicans were doing it.

      • Nathan Katungi

        Indeed Norbrook! How come they did not organize against Reagan’s deficit, which by the time he left office was the largest deficit since George Washington? How come they did not come out to protest GW Bush’s deficit that replaced Bill Clinton’s surplus? How come they didn’t organize to protest the wasteful spending on the Iraq war, including billions of tax payer money that was embezzled? How come they did not protest, in the Fall of 2008, when GW Bush initiated TARP program to try to stem the impending financial disaster? I also find it laughable when they say that they are concerned about Taxes. Do they not know that a major component of the Recovery and Reinvestment Act went to tax cuts for 95% of Americans? Do they honestly believe that simply giving tax cuts to the super wealth would have rescued the economy from a severe recession and prevented the likely Depression? Do they honestly believe that this country would be better off if General Motors and Chrysler completely went under with thousands of lost jobs for auto workers and other businesses associated with the auto industry?

        I am with you Norbrook because the claims made by the teabaggers about being concerned with taxes and the deficit ring hollow. President Obama inherited, from A Republican President, over a trillion dollar deficit and an Economy on the brink of a major depression. President Obama has cut taxes for both individuals and businesses. In December he agreed to a compromise to protect tax cuts for the vast majority of Americans by accepting the extension of Bush tax cuts for the super rich. The President has pledged to slash domestic spending, even for those programs he says he”holds dear.”

        Given all that, how come are the teabaggers out there stilling spewing their venom against this President? Could it be that it is all about the color of the President? I think you are spot on with the Duck test: “If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s a duck.”

  2. overseasgranny

    Try as I have over the decades to change the minds of some of these people, one just cannot. They are entrenched in their beliefs. I think we just have to let them die off naturally and move around them in the meantime. Some are stuck in getting news off the radio as they did in their youth, and some off the TV, usually Fox. I wish we could at least get them going on some kind of social media so we could go around the MSM and try to get to them.

    • For some reason, it always seems that there’s 20% of the population who believes something that isn’t what the majority believe or isn’t based on facts. There are people who believe the sun revolves around the earth, that the moon landings were faked, that the earth is flat, or something. That’s what I see the Tea Party as – the 20% who want “the good old days” which never existed.

      It is going to be something that’s going to burn out. One of the encouraging factors has been that it’s been unable to really interest or involve young people. So, in 20 years from now, as the current “activists” die off, there’s nobody coming behind them.

    • Nathan Katungi

      I am with you Overseasgrany. The tragedy, of course, is that the MSM enables these idiotic “entrenched beliefs,” that have no basis in reality, to be taken seriously. Why can’t the MSM media ask the teabaggers at least these three questions?

      1. How come you are now so overly agitated about deficits when you showed little or absolutely no concern over the high deficits under Presidents Ronald Reagan, George Bush Sr. and George Bush Jr?

      2. Why are you attacking President Obama on taxes when he has never raised any one’s taxes and has, instead, cut taxes for the majority of individual tax payers as well as businesses? And, why did you not form a tea party when Presidents Ronal Reagan, George Bush Sr., and Bill Clinton raised taxes?

      3. Suppose Barack Obama had been defeated and John McCain was the President: What measures would have been acceptable to you, from the McCain-Palin administration , to stem the impeding economic disaster that may have plunged the country into a second Great Depression? Related to this query: Do you think our country would be better off if the President- and here I mean any president- took no action to save GM and Chrysler?

      Personally, I’ve given up on the MSM. But I think the information on blogs like Norbrook’s, BWD, Ecletablog, TPV, p m Carpenter, and others can begin to challenge the uncritical stenographers of MSM. Of course, as an older person who is technologically challenged, I still don’t know how to effectively share the good information I get from blogs like this one. All I have been doing is to refer friends, family and colleagues to these sites.

  3. g

    There needs to be a follow-up. “You are misunderstood. Then please provide an explanation as to who you really are, your goals, your values. You need to be specific, soundbites and slogans will not suffice.”

    Norbrook, I cannot remember where the photo was posted, but a TP event showed middle-to older white Americans carrying LAWN CHAIRS. That said it all. Not exactly a palpable energy level.

  4. I Love OCD

    On the up side, these are the only remaining fans of hate radio and hate TV, and they’re aging rapidly – Gleen Beck is losing his audience, so are Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh. They got some attention outside their base for a time, but they’re back to the core group now, and radio stations are dropping them.

    I think this is what we can look for as time passes – fewer and fewer outlets. I had a thought today, based on the extreme anxiety of the RW punditry – the country is indeed moving left, they know they’re about to become defunct, and their own frenzy and rage are speeding up the process.

    President Obama is very consistent about continually reaching out to all Americans, and his message seems to be the one most warmly received. It must drive the frustrati crazy!

    • I have seen the ratings reports, and Beck and Hannity’s ratings are down – Beck’s by almost 50%. Which I think explains a lot of his hysteria and amping up the crazy – he’s trying what he “knows” to boost his ratings. He’s also getting dropped by several of the radio stations, since his ratings aren’t what they’d like. There’s a point where most people get turned off, where the hosts have become too divorced from reality, and Beck and his ilk have hit that point.

      It is generational. One of the stories from last year was that the Tea Party movement wasn’t attracting – or attractive to – young people. A look at most of the conservative rallies and meetings shows an enormous preponderance of older white people.

  5. majii

    What I have always resented most about the GOP and specifically, about the tea partiers, is the fact that I, who grew up under segregation, have been told by them that I don’t recognize racism, intolerance, and bigotry when I see it. This is very insulting to me, because these people have no frame of reference for judging their own words/behavior. There’s a type of cognitive dissonance among them that doesn’t allow them to see, or acknowledge, that pics/posters of the president as a witch doctor, and a pic of the WH lawn with rows of watermelons lining can be interpreted as signs of racism. Their leaders are equally clueless. Lindsay Graham saw nothing wrong with saying that he was against HCR because most of the people in S.C. that are poor and in need of healthcare are black. Although this is probably true, he made it a point to ignore the whites and other persons of color in the state who are in the same category as the blacks to make a direct, although subtle, connection between the race of our president and those who he identified as the “problem” with S.C. participating in the ACA. Another thing that upsets me about them is that they don’t think that we are intelligent enough to realize what they are doing when they do these kinds of things. Just because they are in denial doesn’t mean they aren’t guilty as charged. I hold them all accountable. Some may not be racists and/or bigots, but the fact that they close ranks and protect the racists and bigots among them shows that they have given their silent consent to their racism/bigotry.

    • I found the “outrage” on their part to be more than a little false. I generally dislike automatic assumptions that there’s racism behind statements and actions, when just stupidity will suffice as an explanation. But the reason I wrote this post was that even with that reluctance on my part, it’s so often overt that it’s impossible to dismiss. What I really disliked about the various leaders in the Republican Part was that they were pandering to it, instead of stepping on it. For example, the waffling statements to the birthers during the campaign – and their later statements once the election was over which made it clear they really didn’t believe the birthers.

      I think some of these people are going to be in real trouble electorally later on, because once the reality of their actions hits, it’s going to cause some serious backlash. As you point out, there’s a lot of poor white people as well, and while doing the dog whistle pointing to people of color, they’re ignoring that. My congressional district is about as lily-white as you can get, and I know a lot of people who benefit from WIC, Medicare, Medicaid, disability, etc. A lot of the cuts proposed – like the slashing of the LIHEAP program – may sound “good” to someone who comes from an area where you don’t need a lot of assistance for energy costs, but it’s a major deal in our area, where the cost of heating in the winter is high.

  6. g

    The TP’s, The Repubs, The Extreme “Left”….I just watched the Egyptian people cheering in the streets, told my husband that BHO can now toss down another pen with “and that’s done.”, after giving desperate people HC, turning around the economy, he effing fixes a ME country. I had insomnia last night (stressful week coming up) I websurfed. My ex-blog is mourning the loss of the “Progressive Dream” effectively killed by Barack Bushlite. My head is spinning.

    Thank you Norbrook, for having been a voice of sanity snce we “met.”…g

    • That’s why I stay far, far away from that place. Most of them live in a fantasy world, just like the Tea Party groups.

      • The other day I was listening to an NPR show discussing the economy. A caller came on and started talking about how businesses are deliberately sitting on piles of money in order to put Republicans back in power in the next elections. It was a classic DK rant, and a moment of clarity for me — good grief, but it all sounds so superficially silly and juvenile when you hear it outside of the echo chamber.

  7. Dorothy Rissman

    Fascinating read. Well, I hate to be doom and gloom, but I think more than 20% of the people in this country are bigoted. Most of them would deny it . A teeny portion of the population that would be willing to admit it.
    I would base part of this on the number of states who basically refuse to acknowledge Obama as our President. They will take money from the Feds, but they would never say thank you or acknowledge our president. Also, we now have states trying to keep Obama from being able to run for office in their states. A few states are blabbering about Succession . These people just can not deal with the fact that our wonderful president is an African American.
    By the way, I actually feel hate towards those people. I was raised by parents that were bigots. White trash. I escaped it once I was in college. I do not like to hate, because I am the one who suffers, but somethings are not to be tolerated. thanks.