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The Tea Parties are the historic tendency of Americans to form third parties in a huff over how things are going. Sometimes, as with the Bull Moose party, they are organized from on high. Other times, they arise from a more or less radical grass roots. The Tea parties of today are somewhat of a mixture--right-wing leadership folks generally sick of governments. We will use the plural until all factions agree on a common definition of who they think they are. Today's movement was largely energized by the media, Fox News in particular. Coming from the right wing behind governor Palin,--a figure head so far--prospects for this new movement are not yet clear. Meanwhile we provide some links for your reference.

Today's Tea party has the aura of Sarah Palin, a potential plus at the polls. But most of the real leaders are very savvy politically--and Republican. Some are very charismatic, so much so that their followers will believe anything they say, anything at all. The media, Fox News in particular, makes much too much of their movement so far. That the leadership is clothing the movement as as an independent backlash, betrays their desire to continue the failed polices of the recent Republican era. We will reserve further comment on the Tea Party's future until we know more.

When you read of listen to their leaders and candidates, look for the following threads in what you hear and read:

  • Obedience to the extent that they believe what their leaders say--without question.
  • A degree of paranoia, the extent that they fear and think Obama is a dictator while in fact he is a mere shadow of their hero George W Bush.
  • Self righteous, they believe they are the only patriots. So look for that label when they define themselves. They may, they may in fact, know little or nothing about what they so zealously believe in.
  • Aggressive, even hostile, behavior in the Rush Limbaugh style.
  • Illogical arguments and positions, assertions that Obama is a socialist, that climate change is myth, even that the Health Care Bill marks the end of our liberty, and similar extreme positions devoid of fact.
  • Along with illogic, look for compartmentalized thinking, and beliefs in extremes in Either-Or options
  • The previous bullet makes it easy for them to apply double standards to almost any issue, their own behavior most of all.
  • Bully behavior when acting in groups, Whatever the group does, most will follow in the mold of Abu Ghraib.
  • Dogmatism dogs most of us in some degree, but Tea Party leaders tend to take it to extremes while their followers eat it up without question.
  • You are with us or against us is a common attitude. They respond to those who share their beliefs while shutting out all others.
  • Prejudice. Racism, sexism and bigotry are other hall marks to be on the alert for. The uncommon vitriol we hear directed at Obama may also be politics as usual for these folks.
  • Framing. Look also at their own backgrounds and oddly enough we hear them describe liberals using terms that in fact apply better to them.

To be sure, while the rank and file may buy into or behave as in the above bullets, most Tea Party members are otherwise ordinary decent folks. They are just sick of the government and its inefficient use of our tax dollars. They have differences but are nevertheless at least somewhat out of tune with social/political realities. Third parties have swung elections, but none has risen to lasting influence. Current Tea-party leaders are quite savvy politically; some are as ready to exploit their followers as quickly as they would game the system to gain and exercise power--their ultimate goal.

A wolf in sheep's clothing is a ruse as old as humanity itself. That this ruse is still around attests not only to its longevity, but to the longevity of humanity's inborn gullibility toward itself. See the articles under Authoritarianism for more about what drives these people.

The above was motivated in paqrt by Bob Altemeyer's posting Comment on the Tea Party Movement .


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