Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Tea Party radicalism is misunderstood: Meet the “Newest Right” (You're richer than average, he says)
Salon ^ | October 6, 2013 | Michael Lind

Posted on 10/07/2013 6:24:53 PM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet

Our sense of the force currently paralyzing the government is full of misconceptions -- including what to call it.

To judge from the commentary inspired by the shutdown, most progressives and centrists, and even many non-Tea Party conservatives, do not understand the radical force that has captured the Republican Party and paralyzed the federal government. Having grown up in what is rapidly becoming a Tea Party heartland–Texas–I think I do understand it. Allow me to clear away a few misconceptions about what really should be called, not the Tea Party Right, but the Newest Right.

The first misconception that is widespread in the commentariat is that the Newest Right can be thought of as being simply a group of “extremists” who happen to be further on the same political spectrum on which leftists, liberals, centrists and moderate conservatives find their places. But reducing politics to points on a single line is more confusing than enlightening. Most political movements result from the intersection of several axes—ideology, class, occupation, religion, ethnicity and region—of which abstract ideology is seldom the most important.

The second misconception is that the Newest Right or Tea Party Right is populist. The data, however, show that Tea Party activists and leaders on average are more affluent than the average American. The white working class often votes for the Newest Right, but then the white working class has voted for Republicans ever since Nixon. For all its Jacksonian populist rhetoric, the Newest Right is no more a rebellion of the white working class than was the original faux-populist Jacksonian movement, led by rich slaveowners like Andrew Jackson and agents of New York banks like Martin Van Buren.

The third misconception is that the Newest Right is irrational. The American center-left, whose white social base is among highly-educated, credentialed individuals like professors and professionals, repeatedly has committed political suicide by assuming that anyone who disagrees with its views is an ignorant “Neanderthal.” Progressive snobs to the contrary, the leaders of the Newest Right, including Harvard-educated Ted Cruz, like the leaders of any successful political movement, tend to be highly educated and well-off. The self-described members of the Tea Party tend to be more affluent and educated than the general public.

The Newest Right, then, cannot be explained in terms of abstract ideological extremism, working-class populism or ignorance and stupidity. What, then, is the Newest Right?

The Newest Right is the simply the old Jeffersonian-Jacksonian right, adopting new strategies in response to changed circumstances. While it has followers nationwide, its territorial bases are the South and the West, particularly the South, whose population dwarfs that of the Mountain and Prairie West. According to one study by scholars at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas:

While less than one in five (19.4%) minority non-Southerners and about 36% of Anglo non-Southerners report supporting the movement, almost half of white Southerners (47.1%) express support….

In fact, the role that antigovernment sentiment in the South plays in Tea Party movement support is the strongest in our analysis.

The Tea Party right is not only disproportionately Southern but also disproportionately upscale. Its social base consists of what, in other countries, are called the “local notables”—provincial elites whose power and privileges are threatened from above by a stronger central government they do not control and from below by the local poor and the local working class.

Even though, like the Jacksonians and Confederates of the nineteenth century, they have allies in places like Wisconsin and Massachusetts, the dominant members of the Newest Right are white Southern local notables—the Big Mules, as the Southern populist Big Jim Folsom once described the lords of the local car dealership, country club and chamber of commerce. These are not the super-rich of Silicon Valley or Wall Street (although they have Wall Street allies). The Koch dynasty rooted in Texas notwithstanding, those who make up the backbone of the Newest Right are more likely to be millionaires than billionaires, more likely to run low-wage construction or auto supply businesses than multinational corporations. They are second-tier people on a national level but first-tier people in their states and counties and cities.

For nearly a century, from the end of Reconstruction, when white Southern terrorism drove federal troops out of the conquered South, until the Civil Rights Revolution, the South’s local notables maintained their control over a region of the U.S. larger than Western Europe by means of segregation, disenfranchisement, and bloc voting and the filibuster at the federal level. Segregation created a powerless black workforce and helped the South’s notables pit poor whites against poor blacks. The local notables also used literacy tests and other tricks to disenfranchise lower-income whites as well as blacks in the South, creating a distinctly upscale electorate. Finally, by voting as a unit in Congress and presidential elections, the “Solid South” sought to thwart any federal reforms that could undermine the power of Southern notables at the state, county and city level. When the Solid South failed, Southern senators made a specialty of the filibuster, the last defense of the embattled former Confederacy.

When the post-Civil War system broke down during the Civil Rights Revolution of the 1950s and 1960s, the South’s local notable class and its Northern and Western allies unexpectedly won a temporary three-decade reprieve, thanks to the “Reagan Democrats.” From the 1970s to the 2000s, white working-class voters alienated from the Democratic Party by civil rights and cultural liberalism made possible Republican presidential dominance from Reagan to George W. Bush and Republican dominance of Congress from 1994 to 2008. Because their politicians dominated the federal government much of the time, the conservative notables were less threatened by federal power, and some of them, like the second Bush, could even imagine a “governing conservatism” which, I have argued, sought to “Southernize” the entire U.S.

But then, by the 2000s, demography destroyed the temporary Nixon-to-Bush conservative majority (although conceivably it could enjoy an illusory Indian summer if Republicans pick up the Senate and retain the House in 2016). Absent ever-growing shares of the white vote, in the long run the Republican Party cannot win without attracting more black and Latino support.

That may well happen, in the long run. But right now most conservative white local notables in the South and elsewhere in the country don’t want black and Latino support. They would rather disenfranchise blacks and Latinos than compete for their votes. And they would rather dismantle the federal government than surrender their local power and privilege.

The political strategy of the Newest Right, then, is simply a new strategy for the very old, chiefly-Southern Jefferson-Jackson right. It is a perfectly rational strategy, given its goal: maximizing the political power and wealth of white local notables who find themselves living in states, and eventually a nation, with present or potential nonwhite majorities.

Although racial segregation can no longer be employed, the tool kit of the older Southern white right is pretty much the same as that of the Newest Right:

The Solid South. By means of partisan and racial gerrymandering—packing white liberal voters into conservative majority districts and ghettoizing black and Latino voters–Republicans in Texas and other Southern and Western states control the U.S. Congress, even though in the last election more Americans voted for Democrats than Republicans. The same undemocratic technique makes the South far more Republican in its political representation than it really is in terms of voters.

The Filibuster. By using a semi-filibuster to help shut down the government rather than implement Obamacare, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas is acting rationally on behalf of his constituency—the surburban and exurban white local notables of Texas and other states, whom the demagogic Senator seems to confuse with “the American people.” Newt Gingrich, another Southern conservative demagogue, pioneered the modern use of government shutdowns and debt-ceiling negotiations as supplements to the classic filibuster used by embattled white provincial elites who prefer to paralyze a federal government they cannot control.

Disenfranchisement. In state after state controlled by Republican governors and legislators, a fictitious epidemic of voter fraud is being used as an excuse for onerous voter registration requirements which have the effect, and the manifest purpose, of disenfranchising disproportionately poor blacks and Latinos. The upscale leaders of the Newest Right also tend to have be more supportive of mass immigration than their downscale populist supporters—on the condition, however, that “guest workers” and amnestied illegal immigrants not be allowed to vote or become citizens any time soon. In the twenty-first century, as in the twentieth and nineteenth, the Southern ideal is a society in which local white elites lord it over a largely-nonwhite population of poor workers who can’t vote.

Localization and privatization of federal programs. It is perfectly rational for the white local notables of the South and their allies in other regions to oppose universal, federal social programs, if they expect to lose control of the federal government to a new, largely-nonwhite national electoral majority.

Turning over federal programs to the states allows Southern states controlled by local conservative elites to make those programs less generous—thereby attracting investment to their states by national and global corporations seeking low wages.

Privatizing other federal programs allows affluent whites in the South and elsewhere to turn the welfare state into a private country club for those who can afford to pay the fees, with underfunded public clinics and emergency rooms for the lower orders. In the words of Mitt Romney: “We pick them up in an ambulance, and take them to the hospital, and give them care. And different states have different ways of providing for that care.”

When the election of Lincoln seemed to foreshadow a future national political majority based outside of the South, the local notables of the South tried to create a smaller system they could dominate by seceding from the U.S. That effort failed, after having killed more Americans than have been killed in all our foreign wars combined. However, during Reconstruction the Southern elite snatched victory from the jaws of defeat and succeeded in turning the South into a nation-within-a-nation within U.S. borders until the 1950s and 1960s.

Today the white notables of the South increasingly live in states like Texas, which already have nonwhite majorities. They fear that Obama’s election, like Lincoln’s, foreshadows the emergence of a new national majority coalition that excludes them and will act against their interest. Having been reduced to the status of members of a minority race, they fear they will next lose their status as members of the dominant local class.

While each of the Newest Right’s proposals and policies might be defended by libertarians or conservatives on other grounds, the package as a whole—from privatizing Social Security and Medicare to disenfranchising likely Democratic voters to opposing voting rights and citizenship for illegal immigrants to chopping federal programs into 50 state programs that can be controlled by right-wing state legislatures—represents a coherent and rational strategy for maximizing the relative power of provincial white elites at a time when their numbers are in decline and history has turned against them. They are not ignoramuses, any more than Jacksonian, Confederate and Dixiecrat elites were idiots. They know what they want and they have a plan to get it—which may be more than can be said for their opponents.

TOPICS: Business/Economy; Culture/Society; Extended News; Government; News/Current Events; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: affluent; cruz; extremists; rich; shutdown; teaparty; teapartyrebellion
Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first previous 1-2021-4041-56 next last
To: Henry Hnyellar

“In fact, the role that antigovernment sentiment in the South plays in Tea Party movement support is the strongest in our analysis.”

Not hardly. I guess this guy hasn’t bothered to look at the changes in the populations of the southern states over time. Migration from northeastern states to the states of the south and west has occurred in pretty large numbers in the later half of the 20th century. When he tries to tie the Tea Party to the Dixiecrats and etc he’s claiming that those groups derived their support from whites from the northeast. Or, he’s implying that by either moving south and/or living there for some time, these once non-problematic north easterners were magically transformed to Tea Partiers. Maybe it’s the water in the south.

His analysis is laughable.

21 posted on 10/07/2013 7:14:33 PM PDT by Henry Hnyellar
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 17 | View Replies]

To: Henry Hnyellar
The author is both a fool and a liar.

He tries to portray the tea party as a southern phenomena but the midwest has been a regular hotbed of serious conservative change in recent years with tea party sentiment driving it. The union fight in Wisconsin, the passage of RTW laws in Indiana and Michigan, Gun laws in Illinois, and Wisconsin. I think Michigan is the only state to seat a tea partier on the RNC.

The tea party has natural strength in the south but the midwest is where its effects have been most striking.
22 posted on 10/07/2013 7:21:52 PM PDT by cripplecreek (REMEMBER THE RIVER RAISIN!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 16 | View Replies]

To: sgtyork

Let me rephrase that.

What word, exactly, bothers you?

And, precisely, WHY?

23 posted on 10/07/2013 7:25:10 PM PDT by Nervous Tick (Without GOD, men get what they deserve.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 14 | View Replies]

To: 2ndDivisionVet

What an ignoramus. He neglected to explain why this movement chose the name “Tea Party.” Ya think maybe they were concerned about loss of freedom?

24 posted on 10/07/2013 7:27:54 PM PDT by Liberty Wins ( The average lefty is synapse challenged)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: TigersEye

It’s funny how the left has been saying the Tea Party’s dead. Now we’re shutting down the whole country. And we’re doing it because we don’t want to lose control of those we feel are beneath us. Projection anyone? That is how liberals operate. We don’t want to control anyone, nor do we wish to be controlled, that’s the whole point! Ted Cruz scared the living crap out of them; they really did believe we were a bunch of ignorant Neanderthals.

25 posted on 10/07/2013 7:27:56 PM PDT by informavoracious (Of course I want people to have healthcare, I just didn't know I was the one who would be paying...)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 12 | View Replies]

To: informavoracious
Image Hosted by
26 posted on 10/07/2013 7:32:06 PM PDT by cripplecreek (REMEMBER THE RIVER RAISIN!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 25 | View Replies]

To: Nervous Tick; sgtyork

It must have been the word “illegal” followed by “Mexican”.

Because we all know that great, small government constitutionalist W. Bush told us family values don’t stop at the border.

27 posted on 10/07/2013 7:33:21 PM PDT by noprogs (Borders, Language, Culture)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 23 | View Replies]

To: 2ndDivisionVet

What BS...the Tea Party grew out of grassroots outrage at Obamacare and
Obama’s stated goal to fundamentally transform this country. It grew out of the town halls back in 2009 and spans the country. When I went to DC in 2011 for the Tea Party rally the people were from every state and from every walk of life. The only thing I will agree with is that Tea Party members are more intelligent than your average low-information voter - and definitely smarter than Obama voters. It’s pathetic to see how the left will spin the narrative to make the Tea Party fit into its “racist, sexist, homophobic, neanderthal right-wing” template.

28 posted on 10/07/2013 7:33:56 PM PDT by madmominct
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: 2ndDivisionVet; seeker41; Texas Fossil; All

Michael Lind, it all boils down to this:

The Silent Majority is what you call the TEA Party.

Deal with it.

The only thing that is “new” is THE NEW REPUBLICAN PARTY.

RINO Hunting Season begins 1-1-2014.

BTW, this 2014 RINO hunt has no bag limit, tents or caves - - -

29 posted on 10/07/2013 7:43:02 PM PDT by Graewoulf (Traitor John Roberts' Marxist Obama'care' Insurance violates U.S. Constitution AND Anti-Trust Law.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: 2ndDivisionVet

Oh goodie - another far left wing activist douche bag is going to explain conservatism....

30 posted on 10/07/2013 7:46:16 PM PDT by Tzimisce (The American Revolution began when the British attempted to disarm the Colonists.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: 2ndDivisionVet

It is such a sad statement that asking government to cut back after tripling in size in 13 years is considered “radical.” That asking the ever-expanding, unsustainable Welfare State Ponzi Scheme to slow down and not take on more obligations is “extreme.” And if living within our means is so outside the mainstream, its no wonder the country is swirling down the toilet with no hope of coming back.

31 posted on 10/07/2013 7:50:29 PM PDT by Opinionated Blowhard ("When the people find they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic.")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: 2ndDivisionVet
Michael Lind is an ignorant snob. Worse, he's willfully ignorant. He oozes condescension and arrogance. He's your typical lib from Austin [Heart of Darkness], Texas. He brings no value added to the table.
32 posted on 10/07/2013 7:56:07 PM PDT by MasterGunner01
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: 2ndDivisionVet

This leftist actually hit the nail on the head. The important quote from his article is

“The Newest Right is the simply the old Jeffersonian-Jacksonian right, adopting new strategies in response to changed circumstances.”

I agree. What he characterizes as the New Right does follow the Jeffersonian-Jacksonian model. Which is a firm comitment to small government. From 1801-1849 this political movement kept Big Government Federalism and Whiggism from concentrating power in Washington DC. Time after time Presidents vetoed bills for the simple reason that they expanded the scope of the Federal government beyond constiturional restrictions.

Where he goes of the rails historically, is when he equates Jeffersonism as regional. It was not. It was strong nationally. The opposition from 1816-1828 did not even field an opposition. Plus equating Jeffersonism with the Confederacy is also historically inaccurate. The Big Government southern Whigs were very prominent within the CSA.

The differences I have is that I consider myself a Jeffersonian in spirit thus I’m ecstatic over the Tea Party activism, while the writer being a Statist despises the Jeffersonian-Jacksonian ideal.

33 posted on 10/07/2013 8:31:32 PM PDT by gusty
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: noprogs; sgtyork

>> It must have been the word “illegal” followed by “Mexican”.

I’m just chalking it up to a swarthy fella who worships PC and culture bonding over the plain truth.

34 posted on 10/07/2013 8:39:47 PM PDT by Nervous Tick (Without GOD, men get what they deserve.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 27 | View Replies]

To: TigersEye

Truly BIG business (GM, BOA, Citi) are like families in the old New York “Commission”. They divy up territory and market and conspire to knock off any upstarts who try to set up on their turf.

It is far easier for them to co-opt and harness the vast and unimaginably powerful bureaucratic machine to guarantee their profits than it is to engage in the difficult, messy and risky business of actual competition. Crony capitalism exists because crony capitalism works.

Insurance companies loved Obamacare because the gubmint would FORCE you to buy their product. This is just one example. They are willfully blind to the fact that that Obama set it up to fail, so he could build his socialized medicine system in the wreckage. Since the time horizon of American companies rarely extends beyond the next shareholder meeting, they don’t care. The CEOs will rotate from HP to PepsiCo to UPS in the great game if executive Musical Chairs, picking up options and golden parachutes along the way. As Keynes said, in the long fun, we’re all dead.

The casualties are the small and mid size companies who find themselves getting swatted like flies. Dare to dream that your enterprise could become an Apple or Microsoft? Guaranteed they won’t out compete you, they’ll just let the weight of regulation and gubmint harassment drag you down while they are big enough to stand on the bottom and still keep their noses above the water, if only barely. They got there first and now they have all of the money they need to buy access and influence and so effectively pull the ladder up behind themselves.

But they are deluding themselves. They think that the crocodile will eat them last. Was it Jefferson who compared government to fire, saying that both are fickle servants and fearful masters?
When and if the Fortune 500 CEOs find themselves kneeling and looking down into the proverbial trench, it’s going to be hard to resist the temptation to say, “I told you so!’

35 posted on 10/07/2013 8:46:04 PM PDT by SargeK
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 12 | View Replies]

To: 2ndDivisionVet
"non-Tea Party conservatives"?

Who B doze?

36 posted on 10/07/2013 9:00:19 PM PDT by Paladin2
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: 2ndDivisionVet

Interesting read. First conclude that the Tea arty is upscale and educated, then write them off as self interested racist toglodytes.

37 posted on 10/07/2013 9:11:53 PM PDT by DaxtonBrown (
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: 2ndDivisionVet

Notwithstanding the distinct possibility that Lind is just another lib hack who is more of a liar than anything else, do these wackjobs ever actually talk to Tea Party members? And as far as disenfranchising minorities, it is almost impossible to find “minorities” that have been disenfranchised because of the voter ID laws. In short, he’s talking out of his posterior orifice.

38 posted on 10/07/2013 9:17:45 PM PDT by driftless2
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Neoliberalnot

Lind has a record of writing from the “intellectual Left”, but much of it is just the same old far-left crap wrapped up in “high faluting words”.

He wouldn’t know a real Tea Party member if one bit him in the butt.

However, he might know a Tea Bagger or two.

39 posted on 10/07/2013 9:24:04 PM PDT by MadMax, the Grinning Reaper
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 9 | View Replies]

To: SargeK

Big business has always been in bed with the Statists since the founding. They were Federalists in 1798 and are part of the Democrat coalition in 2013. What big business despises most of all is competition. They are monopolists at heart. Big Unions, hyper regulation, high taxes all work in favor of big business. They have their Democrat stooges in Washington and various state houses working to force out their competition from the market. Big business can absorb the costs of big government where their mid to small competition cannot.

40 posted on 10/07/2013 9:24:58 PM PDT by gusty
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 35 | View Replies]

Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first previous 1-2021-4041-56 next last

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794 is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson