Long before Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank claimed to have the “statistics” to prove Hillary Clinton’s assertion that half of Donald Trump supporters are “deplorables,” a liberal outlets that has repeated such slurs — the New York Times — published an article titled “Poll Finds Tea Party Backers Wealthier and More Educated.”
That was back in April 2010, a year after the rise of the “Tea Party movement,” a movement inspired by the “rant” of Rick Santelli in 2009 over Obama’s massive “stimulus” spending on infrastructure (sidewalks that went nowhere), “green energy” (Solyndra), and bribes to governors to participate in the federal takeover of education (Common Core).
The 2010 New York Times poll found that most Tea Party members held views that were typical of the general public. Reporters wrote that their responses to questions “are like the general public’s in many ways.” Most described the amount they paid in taxes as “fair,” most sent their children to public schools, and most believed that Medicare and Social Security are worth the cost. In fact, the poll found that most Tea Party members had higher incomes and were better-educated than the general public.
But they did have three major concerns: “the recent healthcare overhaul, government spending, and a feeling that their opinions are not represented in Washington.”
In other words, these are well-informed middle-class Americans. They are concerned about federalism and spending and believe in representational government.
Such a presentation of the Tea Party was short-lived. The Tea Party was soon transmogrified into an old stereotype: bigoted and uneducated white Southerners.
Their disagreements with Barack Obama’s policies were translated into “racism.”
The journalists had the help of academics, such as those ensconced at the left-wing Berkeley Center for Right-Wing Studies, where the “right-wing” label is applied without distinction to Mussolini and the Tea Party.
In the fall of 2010, the Center hosted a conference and then produced a collection of essays by participants titled: Steep: The Precipitous Rise of the Tea Party. Contributor Charles Postel of San Francisco State University claimed that “’right-wing rage’” leads to a seeking of solutions in the free market, embodies the concerns of older, white Americans, and is a re-emergence of the Cold War’s “apocalyptic fears of communism.”
The pseudo-scholarship of such centers was employed by reporters to cast Tea Party members as irrational and crazed.
At the time, I was still teaching at Emory University as an instructor and making presentations to the Tea Party about Common Core. I found the vast majority of those attending to be well-informed and intellectually curious. Many had college degrees. Many were retired teachers or military.
At rallies, blacks and Hispanics were treated with extra welcome. Patrolmen were bored. The sanitation workers had only to empty the garbage bins that had been filled by the Tea Partiers themselves.
I saw no “right-wing rage.” As a conservative academic with a Ph.D. in English, I felt right at home.
The media, however, glommed onto the left-wing plants or the rare conspiracy theorist.
In 2012, the patrician and meek Mitt Romney and his backers distanced themselves from the Tea Party. After vigorously denouncing his fellow Republicans in the primaries, Romney all but curled up into a fetal position during the second and third debates with Obama.
This spring, in response to Romney’s denunciation of him, Donald Trump said what most of us were thinking: Romney “choked.” He retreated at every opportunity to punch back at Obama, who had shed the left-wing distanced professorial persona of the first debate for the swaggering and insulting community organizer. “Moderator” Candy Crowley acted on Obama’s behalf, backing his false claims about Benghazi. The person who could and should have objected — Mitt Romney — did nothing.
The middle class Tea Party felt betrayed. Many did not even vote.
In his second term, Obama accelerated his agenda with, as he said, his pen and phone. He has flooded the nation with illegal immigrants and refugees. He has stoked the fires of racial tension. In spite of public protest about Common Core, the federal vice grip on education has tightened.
Ransom was used to free American hostages.
Health care premiums have skyrocketed and insurance companies are pulling out of Obamacare. In spite of glowing government reports of an economic recovery, American workers, whether in the manufacturing of air conditioners, or in computer work, are seeing their jobs go to foreigners.
The use of food stamps and welfare benefits has exploded, as have real estate prices for the new wealthy class in Washington, D.C. Our cities — from Ferguson to Charlotte — have been set ablaze, and terrorist attacks are common occurrences.
The insults lobbed by both Obama and Biden during the debates led to their “win” by public and pundit opinion. The 2012 Obama campaign asked supporters to “have his back,” as if it were a street fight. This followed Obama’s call for bringing a gun to a knife fight. When calls for real violence, such as chants about frying “pigs [police] in a blanket,” are made, they are presented as justifiable.
The Hillary Clinton defenders, like Milbank, have to justify her comments by extrapolating racism and xenophobia from surveys. Like Milbank, they display their historical ignorance by casting the term “America First” as part of the earlier movement which is cast as “anti-Semitic.”
Only the half-educated fall for such things, as well for as neologisms, like “deplorables.”
At tonight’s debate, Trump has to continue to be the un-Romney. Bullies should not be allowed to just make things up.