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Tax Day

The observation that "Tea Party supporters are wealthier and more well-educated than the general public" opens this NYT article on their recent poll (with CBS) on the Teabaggers. Here are more of the results:

The 18 percent of Americans who identify themselves as Tea Party supporters tend to be Republican, white, male, married and older than 45.

They hold more conservative views on a range of issues than Republicans generally. They are also more likely to describe themselves as "very conservative" and President Obama as "very liberal."

And while most Republicans say they are "dissatisfied" with Washington, Tea Party supporters are more likely to classify themselves as "angry."



Much has been made of the educational component of the poll, partly because it goes against stereotype. Pandagon's Amanda Marcotte notes in "Stupid can't be cured with a degree" that the Teabagger stereotype is "based on the illiterate signage, the bad clothes, the obnoxious pride in having bad taste, and of course the mind-bendingly stupid shit they believe:"

And that's not just regarding the paranoid fantasies about Obama, but more straightforwardly asinine stuff, like that Medicare isn't government health care. It's easy to assume that these folks are just uneducated, and that they'd wise up if they got educated. And of course, the assumption that lack of education correlates with lower income is something that comes from demonstrable facts, so it's easy to leap to thinking the tea baggers are less wealthy than the liberal elite they carp about.

She continues the same line of attack, writing that "even though tea baggers are, in reality, highly privileged people who are motivated by a mean urge to sneer at and beat down the people they think are beneath them, they also come across as giant fucking morons. Which they are! But alas, the problem has nothing to do with lack of education. They have plenty of degrees and access to learning. But you can lead a horse to water, you know?"

No, tea baggers believe stupid shit because they want to. It's willful ignorance. They spin outrageous theories because they know that the naked truth about what they believe would make them look like giant bigots and big meanies. So, instead of saying, "I don't want health care reform because I like a system where poor people are shut out because that means I don't have to see them in my doctor's office," they start yelling about the slide into socialism. Instead of saying, "I'm an incredibly selfish person who wants to keep my government-funded Medicare, but I don't want to see that single mom down the street get health insurance because she's a slut and I want to see her suffer," they say that Obama's trying to take their Medicare and that's socialism. They're not confused because they were badly educated and don't have a grasp on critical thinking. [...] They're willfully ignorant, and this distinction should never be forgotten when trying to understand them.

Steve Benen writes that the poll results "confirm much of what we already know -- this is a confused contingent of conservative white people older than 45 -- but there were a few interesting tidbits:"

Tea Partiers are obviously not part of the American mainstream. Its activists are to the right of the Republican Party, they have favorable opinions of George W. Bush, and rely heavily on Fox News.

I haven't had a Quote of the Day for a while, but this one deserves the honor:

If you were to make a Venn Diagram of the issues Tea Party members care about, and the issues Tea Party members are confused about, you'd only see one circle.

Benen continues:

These folks claim to be motivated by concerns over taxes, but Tea Partiers tend not to know anything about the subject. They claim to be angry about the Affordable Care Act, but they don't know what's in it. They claim to hate expensive government programs, except for all the expensive government programs that benefit them and their families.

It's inherently challenging to create a lasting, successful political movement predicated on literally nothing more than ignorance and rage. In the case of Tea Partiers, we're talking about a reasonably large group of people who seem to revel in their own ignorance, but nevertheless seek an active role in the process. [...] The bottom line seem inescapable: Tea Party activists have no idea what they're talking about. Their sincerity notwithstanding, this is a confused group of misled people.

Politico notes the presence of GOP operatives among the Teabaggers, and that nuttiest of wingnuts, Michelle Bachman (R-MN), is being investigated regarding an anti-healthcare rally in November that "cost US taxpayers nearly $14,000" because she called it a press event. "An ethics group has raised questions about Bachmann's use of her congressional website to promote the Tea Party rally:"

But several Washington ethics attorneys and experts say that paying for the event's $13,600 bill with official funds likely fell within congressional rules, so long as it was not campaign-related. [...] Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed a complaint alleging that Bachmann had used her official website to promote "grassroots lobbying," which is prohibited under House rules. CREW also said organizers inappropriately bypassed permit requirements by calling it a press conference.

On a lighter note, Michael Silverstein suggests at The Moderate Voice that we should abolish taxes altogether. It's a parody, but it still makes more sense than the Teabaggers do.

[fixed typo]

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