Destroying the Destroyer

In another fine item at Wonkblog today, Ezra Klein interviews University of Washington political scientist Christopher Parker, who’s done considerable research on the Tea Party, and particularly its attitudes towards racial and ethnic minorities. Parker has focused additionally on differentiating Tea Party conservatives from regular old-fashioned non-radicalized conservatives. And when Ezra objects to Parker’s characterization of Tea Folk as relatively more “racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, and anti-Obama,” he replies:

What I do in these surveys and models is I account for desire for limited government. I account for ideology. I account for all these other things where people could say they’re just more conservative. There’s just this empirical connection between support for the tea party and antagonistic views toward quote-unquote marginalized groups, or, if you prefer, toward quote-unquote not real Americans…..

But however you feel about Parker’s general take on the Tea Folk, what’s most immediately gripping is his data on their attitudes about Obama and the danger he represents, as presented in a new book he wrote with Matt Barreto entitled Change They Can’t Believe In: The Tea Party and Reactionary Politics in America:

We also ask if people think Obama is destroying the country. We asked this question of all self-identified conservatives. If you look at all conservatives, 35 percent believe that. If you look at tea party conservatives and non-tea party conservatives, only six percent of non-tea party conservatives believe that vs. 71 percent of tea party conservatives.

71% think Obama is “destroying the country.” Wow. So is it any great surprise that these same people, and the House members who identify with them, are willing to go to dangerous lengths to mess up Obama’s signature policy achievement and force a significant change in the federal government’s direction? Who cares about the risk of destroying the economy if the destruction of the country itself is the current trajectory?

Fighting dystopia with dystopia!

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.