A Tea Party Primary

Friday, September 17, 2010


Karl Rove’s criticism of Christine O’Donnell ignited the political media this week. It also ignited the Twittersphere and other social media, which play a pivotal role in the Tea Party movement. Ken Vogel of Politico describes the landscape of what has been called hashtag politics, and Michael Patrick Leahy, co-founder of a popular hashtag for conservatives on Twitter, explains how he uses social media to organize.

    Music Playlist
  • Heaven and Hell
    Artist: Black Heart Procession

Comments [18]

jccalhoun from bloomington, in

I find this story about how the tea party is using twitter to organize to be just about as reliable as media coverage that said that protests in Iran were being organized by twitter. Further analysis found out that Iranians by and large weren't using twitter and I would wager that tea party members by and large aren't either.
The story also failed to point out that contrary to their assertions that they represent "the people," the tea party is not a random cross section of all USA citizens. By and large the tea party is made up by white baby boomers. Despite their self-centered cries for attention, white baby boomers are no longer the center of the world and it is sad to see the news media pretend that were true.

Sep. 28 2010 10:45 AM
Scott Brown from Tigard Oregon

I, like Ms. O'Donnell, don't believe in "goo to you" evolution. Within Kinds, animals, for instance, change and adapt but not from monkey to me. The myriad examples of that fine gradation of animal types from one to the next, expected by Mr. Darwin, has been shown not to exist in the fossil record. He knew this would be a problem if that was found and mentioned it. Other questions such as irreducible complexity have not been answered sufficiently by evolutionists. Another of Mr. Darwin's concerns as he mentions the organ of the eye in that context. The bacterial flagellum is another. Had Mr. Darwin understood the complexity of the cell he may not have been as assured of his hypothesis. I think Mr. Mahar thinks he is smarter than he is.


Sep. 27 2010 01:36 PM
Mark Richard from Columbus, Ohio

To Long Time Listener - fair enough. But point out to me the NPR piece that meditates, in a detached manner, on the districts full of rich people which vote for 'the left' consistently, and explains why this is. Apparently neither you nor NPR 'gets' that nothing sets off the BS detectors of the middle-class like wealthy people endorsing the Democrats in the name of the 'average guy'. If there is an incitement of anger toward 'rich elites' on the part of Democrats, why should anyone be surprised when it comes back to bite them? I know a couple of Tea Partiers, and they are far from affluent - quite the opposite. And when they see gazillionaires denouncing 'the rich' and pushing the Democratic Party, the latter gets into a familiar 'Who are you going to believe, me or your own eyes?' conundrum about wealth and the wealthy which is seldom discussed as a source of hostility to the Democrats.

Sep. 27 2010 01:09 PM
Long Time Listener, Second Time Poster

Mark Richard: I didn't mean all or even a majority vote against their interests. It's just a sufficient quantity that, when added to the people more sensibly (by your standard) voting in their interests, can form a majority that defies expectations.

Sep. 21 2010 08:23 PM
Martin from Honolulu, Hi

I give the tea party more credit now than I did when they first appeared on network news--I don't agree with most of their agenda. I think they think they are really taking the country back for liberty and economic freedom, ntm the buffoonish quality of Glenn Beck. To be sure, many in the movement don't know what socialism is and should be dragged off to Marx 101 before they label Obama a "Stalinist." In addition, Not a Chance's post about Big Network Media backing the movement is most likely very/partially true, but there seems to be among the party some real informed people and indeed grassroots momentum that is using social media very effectively to organize. I largely disagree with the Tea Party, but the Wall Street bailouts made it so easy for them to make their case and no movements on the left seem to be as outraged as they could be about the Wall Street bailouts--essentially, their is no effective left in this country, at least some people are speaking out.

Sep. 21 2010 04:12 AM
Chris Gray from New Haven, CT

I just don't understand why everyone in media pretends this doesn't exist, while using their camera shots regularly, to the point that the Newshour neglected to identify the Washington Journal as an important aspect of Libby's professional expertise and another medium to discuss in this context.

Callers can only legitimately call in once a month but e-mails and Tweets are regularly read. I'm tagged as MilgramsMistake, but they only read my e-mails for some reason.

I'm trying to defend us against the willful ignorance from Conservatives, there, but it ain't easy. Join in! Even you, Just a thought.

Sep. 21 2010 03:48 AM
Chris Gray from New Haven, CT

Meanwhile, most are grateful for this "alternative to the Hollywood-produced, corporate-funded mainstream-media entertainment/infotainment propaganda" , ignoring that C-SPAN regularly identifies itself as "begun by Cable, in the public interest", now, supplemented by the telecom industry, which both reckon as corporate entities or cabals of such entities the way I see it. But they all spat this patently false mantra.

The other programing includes lots of Republican speeches in Congress in prime time, a good indoctrination for the family rather than entertainment or infotainment, (do the Dems go home?)hearings authors of various political stripes & panels, upon panels.

Sep. 21 2010 03:33 AM
Chris Gray from New Haven, CT

Sorry, Chris,the fascists, they're not quite that small.

This evening Libby Casey was part of a pair of reporters interviewed on PBS Newshour about Palin. She was identified as from Alaskan NPR. True, but it points to a blind spot PBS and all MSM (except on sketch on SNL about auto execs during the bailout hearings) have about a "social" media that is an elephant in the room, C-SPAN.

While available to all with cable (or satellite, these days) it seems to serve the Right best as an organizing tool. Libby is one of 7 or so daily hosts of Washington Journal, touted by one pundit as "home of the anti-semitic crazies" (true enough, that and profane proposals to Libby, Greta & Susan are why they have a 7 sec. delay for their live, 3-hour call-in show),

Conservative callers are always complaining that the producers are giving preference to Independent or Democratic callers but save their worst bile for Republican callers who do not toe the most conservative line.

Sep. 21 2010 03:18 AM
Chris from Portland, OR

I love OTM and listen every week without fail, but I am a little weary of hearing about the TP over and over again on every NPR/PRI show.

I wish public radio and the media in general had been this thorough and exhaustive (even the TP's Tweeting habits are now news?) in their coverage of, say, the 2003 global anti-war movement, or the global anti-WTO movement or, for that matter, the Green or Libertarian parties or all the independent political candidates, parties and movements here in America.

Whatever the TP is, statistically it is still a group of mostly Republicans. When it becomes a true non-partisan movement, when it's not based entirely upon Republican ideas about what constitutes socialism, ethics, sexuality and culture, when TP candidates aren't just the big movers in Republican primaries, and when it includes a proportionate number of non-white and LGBT people, then you can treat it like it's a broad public movement.

Until then, though, it is still primarily a Republican endeavor, and even then it's largely a subset of the most conservative Republicans. If we're all going to pay this much attention to this small, select group of people, then I assume that we're going to pay this much attention to all movements of equivalent size and scope, right?

I look forward to hearing OTM's story about the United States Marijuana Party's Tweeting habits very soon.

Sep. 21 2010 02:15 AM
Mark Richard from Columbus, Ohio

To Long Time Listener, that's your analysis, not one I've heard discussed by mainstream political commentators. Was your analysis similar when 'rich people' voted mostly Republican not too far back in the day?

The rich districts I'm talking about are strikingly full of trust-fund babies, not people who were responsibile for their own 'individual success'. This is the psychologically interesting aspect, seldom explored by the above pundits.

The less starry-eyed view is that once people become wealthy, they have greater interest in 'lifestyle' issues than in making more money, and go in for lots of new regulations on those stragglers still trying to make a fortune, too. "I've got mine, now I'm going to make it harder for others to do the same, by changing the rules under which I got mine."

BTW, most college-educated people vote Republican, and this was true (according to The Economist) even in 2008. They are not the children of gazillionaires or movie stars or glib trial lawyers, but they are engineers, pharmacists, accountants, technicians, entrepreneurs, and the like, and they are the backbone of the middle class.

Sep. 20 2010 12:55 PM
Just a Thought

Rich people's "individual success" did not happen because the state punished their success.
"..and now it's their turn..."
So they want to tax other people who may not have cleaver accountants so they can feel morally superior.

Sep. 20 2010 09:05 AM
Long Time Listener, First Time Poster

"The political media will discuss the 'Thomas Frank' question about why people of modest means still will vote Republican. But I've never - never - seen a discussion about why so many rich people support the Democrats."

Then you're not paying attention. Rich people are typically more educated, and many--though clearly not all--gain an appreciation that their individual success occurred in the context of a society their predecessors have contributed to, and now it's their turn.

Sep. 20 2010 04:58 AM
Not a Chance

The Tea Party is a dangerous experiment by Rupert Murdoch and his close circle of elite class power-mongers to see just how far they can take manipulation of the ignorant in America- the ultimate goal is a political franchise in the world's greatest "democracy," powerful enough to challenge any entrenched interest, and which they can direct at a whim.

This is the most sinister, direct, and terrifying approach to institutional domination by the power elite that the world has yet witnessed.

Murdoch has spent his life building the world's most massive, influential, and diverse media empire on the planet, and before the old man departs this world, he's keen to see just how powerful a machine has resulted from his life's work.

Murdoch and pals have reached demigod status in terms of influence, and they're now toying with the population of the world's most powerful country for their own glorification and nefarious ends.

This is the culmination of the life's work of the world's greatest Machiavelli.

Sep. 19 2010 02:03 AM
Mark Richard from Columbus, Ohio

To Nolan, finally, an interesting comment after the predictable blather above you on the thread. I have been surprised to learn of two acquaintances who 'friended' the Tea Party on Facebook - one a sometimes-employed pal who plays in a blues band in Rochester, on weekends, and the other a soldier serving in Afghanistan at the moment, and who is the son of two liberal academics. These guys aren't very 'political'. They don't follow Washington inside-baseball and don't put bumper-sticker slogans on their cars. A Democratic Party which professes to act in the interests of the average guy, but which now represents 47 of the 59 richest Congressional districts in the country, and whose public faces are very wealthy liberals, and whose strongest financial backing is in Hollywood, seems to guys like these to be 'the elite' against 'the average guy'.

The political media will discuss the 'Thomas Frank' question about why people of modest means still will vote Republican. But I've never - never - seen a discussion about why so many rich people support the Democrats.

Sep. 18 2010 09:42 PM
Nolan from NYC

I'd like to propose a different angle on the 'Tea Party' narrative -- that it bears a remarkable resemblance to popular Socialist narratives of the last century. The OTM story touches on the fractured, 'headless' nature of the Tea Party, which reminds me of internal fracturing between other historically headless groups, like the Italian Autonomia movement which (still, I believe) has major disputes with French socialist groups over fundamental principals. Also, the grassroots appearance of the Tea Party movement and it's flirtation with anti-corporate language along with it's emphatic anti-state leanings (a much ignored 'plank' of the Tea Party platform) bear an interesting resemblance to anarcho-socialist and libertarian-socialist ideas of the early 20th century.

Sep. 18 2010 01:39 PM
KadeKo from suburban New England

Blackbelt, you forgot the top-down millionaires' funding of the Tea Partiers.

And let's not worry Thought with the arrogance it took to cram a budget-busting tax cut (loaves to the rich and crumbs to rest) through Congress via reconciliation. Why 51-vote reconciliation? Because, even with an economic expansion, Bush's pet pan did not pay for itself and never will. And it's worse to the deficit than the stimulus, and about the worst way imaginable to create economic .

No wonder such a majority (http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503983_162-4923732-503983.html, just one of many) want the rich to pay what Bush negotiated nine years ago.

But, yeah, Obama trying to work with a GOP who are flinging feces into everything the government wants to do, that's arrogant.

Sep. 18 2010 01:29 PM

Okay, "Just a thought", lets take a look at your narrative, shall we?

Maybe their success can be attributed to an organic and natural reaction to the most massive federal spending in the history of mankind with no end in sight during a period of record unemployment and foreclosures while an arrogant Congress forces through legislation despite public protest.

You can't be serious.

The right wing media is pushing the idea that declining unemployment is empirical proof that the Obama stimulus has failed, but according to a survey in the Wall Street Journal, 70 per cent of economists believe that unemployment in America would have become far worse without the Obama stimulus. Now maybe they're wrong economics being what it is, but the idea that's being pushed suggests empirical proff, and I'm calling shenanigans. You're pushing a "narrative" that suggests some kind of disconnect, or even a counterintuitive negative effect, like for some reason, laying off a bunch of teachers would bring up employment.

And for God's sake have you seen how Fox News was promoting the Tea Party? Nothing organic about that.

And wow, yeah, like NO ONE protested the Bush administration and the Republican Congress.

Sep. 18 2010 12:26 PM
Just a Thought

The media "narrative" about the Tea Party Movement is an old story. It seems some must credit their success of bringing to a halt the agenda of Speaker Pelosi and the revitalization of the Republican Party to right-wing media "megaphones" and "tech savvy ideologues" in their quest for "ideological purity" (whatever that means, but it sure sounds scary). All of that amounts to nothing if the message does not resonate and ring true with the public.

Maybe their success can be attributed to an organic and natural reaction to the most massive federal spending in the history of mankind with no end in sight during a period of record unemployment and foreclosures while an arrogant Congress forces through legislation despite public protest.
If millions of Americans respond to this with modern day activism and successfully persuade others despite the "MSM filter" of constant ridicule and slander, it is all due to a sinister use of Twitter and talk radio? (or as they used to say before the internet "the right to peaceably assemble and the petitioning for government redress of grievances").

Of course no disturbing "ideological purity" evident in old school machine politics like Democrats sending twenty term Charles Rangel back to Congress while under ethics investigations but on the same night Tea Party activism getting Christine O'Donnell the nomination for US Senate despite the political establishment's best efforts..... now that's disturbing. Thanks

Sep. 18 2010 10:59 AM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.