SELF-SELECTION. Elites, not masses, rule America (apologies to Dye and Ziegler). That's no more and no less true of Tea Party adherents than it is of any other collection of politically active people.

Highly informed and politically active individuals are a small subset of the American public, and they are much better educated and more wealthy than the general public. A minuscule percent of Americans has attended a political rally; it's sometime like 5%. If someone knows what the tea party movement is, even if they haven't even gone to one of their rallies, they represent a small, elite fraction of the American public.

The New York Times failed to compare Tea Party supporters with other politically involved Americans. So, their findings about the comparative wealth and education of the Tea Party supporters are meaningless.

Great theater that it provides for Our President's cheerleaders on a few cable channels notwithstanding.


YM2008 said...

Is it the small fraction of people that attend the rallies who actually fund the movement? While I do believe the people funding the Tea Party movement are intelligent and wealthy, for the most part they are not the ones attending the rallies with all the crazy signs denouncing the President as some curious brand of Socialist among other things. I would even go so far as to say that the funders are masterful at manipulating the average Tea Party protester to voice the extreme opinions which they cannot, for business or professional reasons.

Stephen Karlson said...

That's an interesting hypothesis. Please elaborate.

YM2008 said...

I wish I could say the idea was mine alone but it is along the lines of an article read in the Shepherd Express alternative newspaper. Take that as you may but some of the pieces fit. The movement is very well funded and connected enough to consistently make news even though many of the messages being broadcast at the events are extreme fringe ideas.


Stephen Karlson said...

Isn't the Shepherd Express really making the same point, that Tea Party protests, just like any other political protests, are organized and primarily attended by self-selected individuals not necessarily representative of the general population (which is 11-D's point)? (And thus it's internally inconsistent for some people to criticize the Tea Party faithful as lumpen-proletariat one day and elitist populists the next.)

That noted, political rallies tend to attract crazies, and it's not unknown for the opposition to plant crazies (whether it's Confederates today or Maoists in 1969.)