Deconstructing the Tea Party

by Dennis Coday

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John Gehring over at Bold Faith Type, makes a "contribution to the burgeoning field of Tea Partyology."

This confirms my sense that the Tea Party movement is less a defined political movement wedded to specific policy goals than a loose nexus for the inchoate anger and sense of cultural loss that a certain segment of America (largely white, older and male) is now experiencing. "Take Our Country Back" and "Restoring Honor" are Tea Party mantras that reflect a particular response to a changing nation that is less white, less traditionally religious and losing global preeminence.

For a Tea Party sympathizer who lost his job, is unnerved by immigrants moving into the neighborhood and doesn't feel comforted by a black president with a foreign-sounding name, patriotic appeals to an idealized past anchored by Christian values resonate in powerful ways. This emotional, cultural identity appeal is far more potent than calls for smaller government or lower taxes - even as those principles fit easily with a vaguely defined "liberty" agenda.

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