Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Utopian libertaians and the fantasy tea pot

This blog has argued that the so-called Tea Party movement is nothing for libertarians to get excited about. But many libertarians don't listen, particularly the Utopian types who believe that some radical libertarian agenda is going to sweep America. Sorry, but that is simply moronic. It isn't going to happen. This doesn't mean that a libertarianish vision may not come to dominate American politics but the types who imagine some radical vision of that libertarianism are not going to find it happening in their lifetime, or even that of their great-great-great-great grandchildren.

Since these types simply ignore the reality of the situation they find succor in imagining libertarian successes where they aren't. Yet, ironically, they ignore libertarian reforms where they are. Witness how they still cling to the illusion that Ron Paul is a libertarian. Or, even worse, that Randal Paul is libertarian. But the wackiest bunch are those who honestly think the Tea Party movement is libertarian.

We have seen phenomenal successes in watching Americans become more tolerant of gay people, with support for equality of rights rising at a rate that pollsters find astounding. Normally social values change slowly but in that area there has been rapid change. One reason is that the equality movement often argues their case on the basis of traditional American values about the individual's right to equality before the law.

Quite honestly, where the hell are the libertarians? Now and then some libertarian puts out a press release. But all these Utopian frauds are silent about this issue. They can imagine healing the world and yet can't get their brains around a single issue where libertarians could be leading a successful charge against the power of the state. Instead, these libertarians are embracing the knuckle-draggers in the Tea Party movement.

Why? The reason is simple, simpletons don't look any deeper than the surface. Polls show that Tea Party members want "smaller" government, so do most Americans actually. Tea Party activists loudly talk about that and the crank issues like auditing the Fed—which won't accomplish a thing.

The rhetoric of the Tea Party can sound vaguely libertarianish provided you don't actually bother to look at any of the other beliefs held by these people. I reported here about my visit to a Tea Party rally, which I argued was filled with hateful xenophobes who were more worried about bashing Mexicans than they were taxes. But they would get up and say they want smaller government and the libertarians would drool in response—like mindless Pavlovian dogs.

What did this smaller government mean? Talk to the "patriots" and they want government regulating the workforce heavily to prevent Mexicans from getting jobs. They want government to go after landlords who rent to Mexicans. They want Mexicans stopped from opening bank accounts. How do they accomplish all of this—with a system of rigid controls to monitor the ID of people seek jobs, try to rent apartments, or open bank accounts. The particularly inane libertarians will even applaud the bigots for wanting to "protect the borders" (from maids, busboys and gardeners) but urge them to ignore the ID requirements. You can't have the one without the other. The xenophobia of the loony Right fuels the laws that libertarians are find onerous. Yet libertarians applaud movements that throw gasoline on the fires that libertarians say they want put out.

Now we have a survey of Tea Party movement activists. The Public Religion Research Institute looked at the make-up of Tea Party activists, who they are, and what they want. And guess what? They aren't libertarians by any stretch of the imagination.

Who they most closely resemble are the worst elements of the Religious Right. They have more in common with the Neanderthals in Christian fundamentalism than they do with libertarians. A survey of Tea Party activists shows that they say they support small government—not this is what they claim they want but their other values betray that claim.

About half of all Tea Party activists told the pollsters that they are active in the Religious Right. They are almost exclusively Republican in party preferences and they are less libertarian on social issues than average. Realistically they are less libertarian than the average American not more so.

What the survey found was that the Tea Party was mainly a white, evangelical movement. These are people who think Fox News is a source for accurate information and who think Sarah Palin is the messiah.

Here are a few of the findings regarding the Tea Party.

First, only about 11% of all Americans consider themselves as part of this movement.

Second, they are not politically independent as they are often portrayed. According to survey: "More than three-quarters identify with (48%) or lean towards (28%) the Republican Party. More than 8-in-10(83%) say they voting for or leaning towards Republicans candidates...." In the general population about one-third of Americans identify with the Republican party, one-third with the Democrats and the rest are independents. These Tea Party types are more Republican than about any other group, right up there with fundamentalist Christians.

Third, the survey found that: "Americans who identify with the Tea Party movement are mostly social conservatives, not libertarians on social issues. Nearly two-thirds (63%) say abortion should be illegal in all or most cases, and less than 1-in-5 (18%) support allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry. In other words, on these issues they are actually less libertarian than the average voter.

When the survey looked at the demographics of the Tea Party they found a "striking similarity between the demographic of Americans who consider themselves part of the Tea Party movement and Americans who consider themselves part of the Christian conservative movement." The survey found: "On nearly all basic demographic characteristics, there are no significant differences between Americans who identify with the Tea Party movement and those who identify with the Christian conservative movement." The only significant difference was the fundamentalists were more likely to be women and Tea Party activists were more likely to be men.

Tea Party activists are more likely to say they are conservatives, than do fundamentalists. They are more likely to say they are Republicans than do fundamentalist Christians. In this sense the Tea Party is actually worse than the Republican Party.

When compared to the general population the Tea Party nutters are more likely to be white evangelicals (36% to 21%). About one-third of the American people imagine that the Bible is the "literal" word of God. With the Tea Party it is 47%. Only 64% think God "is a person with whom one can have a relationship" but 71% of the Tea Party believe that. When it comes to the delusion that America was, or is, a Christian nation the Tea Party types are actually more deluded that evangelicals or the public. About 42% of all Americans buy into the "Christian America" theory, about 43% of evangelicals do, but 55% of the Tea Party thinks that way.

And, as I have argued, the Tea Party movement is far more antagonistic to minorities than the general public. Asked if government has "paid too much attention to the problems of blacks and other minorities" 37% of public says that is true. But for the Tea Party members agreement with the view is 58%.

Where immigration has divided the general public it has unified the Tea Party. About 48% of Americans think immigrants are a burden while 44% say they make the country better—almost an even split especially if margins of error in polling are taken into account. But 65% of Tea Party members take the anti-immigrant view, which is similar to the view that evangelicals take on the matter (64%).

When it comes to marriage equality rights for gays the Tea Party is on par with evangelicals in their fervent opposition. When given three choices for gay couples, about 37% of the general population opt for full marriage and 27% support civil unions, with one-third wanting no legal recognition for gay couples at all. But only 18% of the Tea Party movement support marriage equality, a statistical tie with the 16% of evangelicals who do.

The survey found that 58% of the general public think undocumented immigrants should have a means by which they can become legal citizens. Evangelicals are not quite so supportive with only 48% favoring such a move. The survey quite naturally found that the most anti-immigrant group around, even more anti-immigrant than Republicans in general, were Tea Party members, were 61% said they opposed immigration reform.

What it comes down to is that the Tea Party advocates want small government for themselves and organized state oppression for groups they dislike. These people are not libertarians and this survey shows that. So when will these deluded libertarians wake up and realize that?

Labels: , , ,