Old Wine, New Skins
As it turns out, fewer than 1 in 5 Americans "supports" the tea party movement in any respect, and just 4% of all adult Americans have contributed to it or attended one of its events or both. (On any given day, you probably could drum up twice as many people who think the Pentagon is hiding dead aliens in Area 51.)
Of the 18% of all adults who expressed support for the tea party, the overwhelming majority were white (89%), male (59%) Republicans over age 45 (75%) and significantly more affluent and better educated than the majority of Americans. One in five has an annual income greater than $100,000, and 37% have advanced degrees. More than 9 out of 10 think President Obama is pushing the country into "socialism."
In other words, the movement itself is heavily populated with Angry White Men, a phenomenon not that unusual in this country. This time around, however, the phenomenon is getting some slick and very expensive packaging:
...the public packaging of the tea party movement -- and particularly events that win it TV airtime, like cross-country bus tours, rallies and ads -- is mainly the product of California Republican political consultants, foremost among them the Sacramento-based firm of Russo Marsh and Rogers. That company has not only promoted the movement but also used it to raise money for a political action committee, Our Country Deserves Better, founded to oppose Obama during the general election. This week, Politico reported that, according to federal filings, the Our Country PAC has raised $2.7 million since launching the Tea Party Express bus tours.
"That fundraising success," Politico wrote, "has also meant a brisk business for Russo Marsh." The website found that Russo Marsh and a sister firm received $1.9 million of the $4.1 million in payments made by the PAC; some of those funds would have gone for TV airtime and to vendors. [Emphasis added]
I admit to being a little embarrassed by the fact that to a very great extent the Tea Party movement is a gift from California to the rest of the nation. That said, I am delighted that Tim Rutten and Politico have managed to shine a little light on the "gift." As usual, somebody is making big money on the deal and Mr. Rutten spotted the irony in his concluding remarks:
It's good to see that all the creeping socialism in the nation hasn't silenced traditional voices, like those of the angry white male, nor wrung the profit motive from our politics.
Nicely done, Tim Rutten. Keep it coming.
Labels: Tea Party