In our new book Over The Cliff, David and I explain how the Tea Party was created and where they stand ideologically. That ideology happens to be conservatism -- which, under the impetus of the Tea Parties, has become a right-wing populist
August 25, 2010

In our new book Over The Cliff, David and I explain how the Tea Party was created and where they stand ideologically. That ideology happens to be conservatism -- which, under the impetus of the Tea Parties, has become a right-wing populist movement.

We also prove that FOX News, right-wing publications and AM talk radio actively created an opposing party dedicated to attacking a newly elected President. And the man that won was the first African American elected to our country's highest office. That was unprecedented in American history. Never before have media outlets worked in conjunction to whip up an intense hatred for an incoming administration even before they took office.

A new study done by Democracy Corp reveals, as we did, that the Tea Parties are nothing more than an extension of the conservative movement, a chance for the Republican Party to rebrand itself in the right-wing populist mold. They are not just some all-American/grassroots congregation of dissatisfied people, as they like to portray themselves.

  • 86 percent of Tea Party supporters and activists identify with or lean to the Republican Party.
  • 79 percent identify as conservatives.

Poll after poll tells us the same thing, so I wish the media would just get with it already and stop making them into something they are not. If they need any more convincing, the study also reveals that Tea Partiers overwhelmingly believe President Obama is a socialist.

Tea Party activists and supporters see Obama as the defining and motivating threat to the country and its well-being, typified by his socialist agenda. Among supporters, 90 percent say the socialist label describes Obama well and 68 percent say it describes him very well. Obama fares no better on the other attributes tested: nine-in-10 think he is too liberal (93 percent) and a big spender (90 percent).

The driving force behind their negativity toward Obama is the belief that his actions and goals are un-American. Throughout the focus groups, people repeatedly invoked “Obama’s Socialist Agenda” – with the occasional communism comment thrown in.

Can you name many left-leaning American voters who actually think Obama has been acting like a socialist? If anything, the nosedive in Obama's poll numbers is a result of him not being progressive enough.

Fox News ranks as the leading agitator of this newly formed group, and one of their primary methods of whipping up their base is to use the the divisive tactic of race-baiting. They are reaching into the darkest corners of right-wing hatred which target the poor and non-whites in our society. It's a familiar strategy to anyone who knows history, and now we know that it never really died out, as many of us think it did. This country has taken decades to repair the damage inflicted by this kind of politics -- and now it's returning.

The very type of racist resentment Tony Snow famously proclaimed was dead is alive and well, and Fox has been injecting race into the public discourse as a wedge issue. It's ugly and vile, but it's touched a nerve with Republicans and it's the primary source of information for Tea Partiers:

The only news source that participants said they could trust was Fox.

If that's the case, then how does Glenn Beck rate with the Tea Partiers?

Glenn Beck is the most highly regarded individual among Tea Party supporters of the people we tested. He scores an extraordinarily high 75 percent warm rating, 57 percent very warm.

This affinity for Beck came through very clearly in the focus groups. The only news source that participants said they could trust was Fox. Glenn Beck, Bill O’Reilly, and Sean Hannity were cited as people who “are not afraid to tell it like it is” and support their arguments with solid facts. Beck was undoubtedly the hero in these groups. Participants consider him an “educator” (in contrast to the popular Rush Limbaugh who is an “entertainer”) who teaches people history and puts himself at risk because he exposes the truth. In the words of a woman in Ft. Lauderdale, “I would trust my life in his hands.”

Other comments are just as laudatory:

I like the way he’s trying to get back to the basics of the Constitution of the United States because I think that’s where our government is losing focus. They’re trying to change the Constitution or somehow twist it…

He brings out facts… And he actually shows the people saying the things. It’s not like just sound bites. It’s not chopped and really edited. And he is scary because every time I watch the show, which is pretty much every day, my heart feels…and I feel like I want to do something.

I’m frightened for him… Because of the things that he says. I think that he is stepping on some big toes.

He really does his research and he really lays it out to you well; a good professor.

That's right. The people in the focus groups actually believe that when Glenn Beck whips out his chalk and blackboards and gives them lessons about the history of America---they buy it hook, line and sinker.

Digby believes that this is really a big problem and I concur.

Racism has been at the core of the Tea Partiers' outrage. Glenn Beck has stoked this racial resentment in successive steps, each one a bit further, beginning with his charge that President Obama has "a deep-seated hatred for white people", or the "white culture."

And there's some ugly eliminationism there, too -- especially his vicious attacks on progressives, comparing them to diseases and vermin and calling for them to be excised from society. Glenn pretends to be a professor then, too -- trotting out "experts" like Jonah Goldberg to produce "documentaries" portraying progressives as the source of the world's great genocides.

But to Tea Partiers, he's only educating them. I think Americans understand the impact Martin Luther King had on American history, so Glenn Beck has fixed his racist views onto a hero of African Americans and is planning an event that is as disgusting as it sounds.

On August 28, Glenn Beck plans to hijack Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech by marching on DC so he can try to claim it for his own nativist self.

August 28 will mark the 47th anniversary of Martin Luther King's seminal "I Have a Dream" speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. The occasion, however, will be marked by an orator of a decidedly different stripe standing at the foot of the memorial's marble steps: Glenn Beck, frontman of the populist conservative Tea Party movement. The event is a rally for Beck and his supporters, dubbed "Restoring Honor," where the talk show host will present his "100 Year Plan for America" and which will include an address by former Alaska governor and Mama Grizzly-in-Chief, Sarah Palin.

Beck, asserting that whites "do not own" the legacy of Abraham Lincoln and, by this logic, "blacks don't own Martin Luther King," said on his own radio program in June that he initially chose the day by default. Originally planned for Sunday, Sept. 12, Beck changed the date because he was not "going to ask anyone to work on the Sabbath." When one of his staff members informed him of the significance of Aug. 28, Beck says he thought the coincidence was "divine providence."

Even though Glenn Beck calls himself a rodeo clown, the Tea Party groups feel he is a guru of the highest magnitude and he will be enlightening them with valuable historical information so his intention is to suddenly transform himself into a reincarnation of MLK that has the same transformative powers for the white people of today. Will Beck give us his own version of 'I Have a Dream? This new study on the Tea Parties is quite enlightening if you've never seriously taken a look at them before.

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