As you may have noticed, the Tea Party is rapidly drying up. Well, maybe you haven’t noticed, since there isn’t nearly as much media fanfare about its demise as there was about its ascendancy. And let’s face it, the media hype hasn’t exactly been honest and accurate. In fact, few movements, if any, have ever depended more on deception to gain support. Here are the five most common myths you’ll hear about the tea brigade.
Myth # 1: It’s a new faction.
The Tea Party believes that taxes are evil, government regulation of business is evil, secularism is evil, and above all “liberals” are evil. And guns are supremely good. If this sounds familiar, it should. It’s the same sermon that radical Republicans have been preaching for years. So what exactly is new?
Myth # 2 : It represents a large segment of the American public.
Depending on the poll, as little as TWO PERCENT of the American public consider themselves members of the Tea Party (which in fact, is not even a single organization, but several groups sharing the same ideology). A larger percentage (25-30) of Americans have voiced support for some of the Tea Party’s stated objectives, but that covers a broad swath – and bear in mind that its claimed objectives and its actual objectives don’t necessarily mesh. The movement’s decline is probably due to the fact that people have discovered that Tea Partiers are really just radical Republicans in populist garb. Oh, and if you’ve ever enjoyed trying to find Waldo, you might want to study photos and videos of Tea Party rallies and attempt to spot minority faces.
Myth # 3 : It’s a grassroots movement.
The genuine grassroots movement is an endangered species these days, and the Tea Party is not exactly a preserve. Sure, there were a handful of “tea party” and “tax day” protests that sprang up spontaneously. That had been going on for years. But it didn’t become a full-blown movement, much less an official organization, until the media began loudly beating the drum – first right-wing pundit Michelle Malkin and then, immediately, Fox “News”, which has promoted Tea Party events relentlessly. (And by “promote”, we don’t just mean giving coverage to events that had already happened, but giving advance notice for future events and urging people to attend.) One organization that got the kettle boiling was FreedomWorks (Notice how extremist groups like to co-opt noble words like freedom, liberty, and family?) This right-wing think tank is the brainchild of former congressman Dick Armey, a classic Texas Republican. Additionally, the movement has been heavily funded by a number of right-wing interests, including the billionaire Koch Brothers, who never spare any expense to provide the best democracy money can buy.
Myth # 4: They’re protesting higher taxes.
According to one poll, 44% of Tea Partiers believed that President Obama had raised their taxes, while 34% believed that he’d kept them about the same. Only 2% were aware (or just made a lucky guess) that he’d actually LOWERED their taxes. In fact, taxes in 2009 under Obama and the heavily Democratic Congress were the lowest they’d been since 1971 – that’s THIRTY-EIGHT YEARS, folks. Of course, that applies only to 98% of the population. Taxes indeed were increased on the richest 2% – which, by some wild coincidence, is the bracket to which the Tea Party masterminds belong.
Myth # 5: They’re doing what those guys in Boston did.
The protestors in Boston weren’t just opposing taxes. They were opposing a monopoly on tea that the crown had granted the British East India Company, the Wal-Mart of its day, which would have been able to jack up tea prices as high as it wanted. Given the fondness for unfettered corporatism demonstrated by today’s Tea Partiers, it’s likely that if those guys from Boston showed up at a Tea Party rally today, they’d be branded socialists and possibly subjected to violence.