Examiner Editorial: Independents rally to the tea party’s ideals 

Democratic activists and office-holders, and their liberal friends in the media, have told us for more than a year that the tea party movement is nothing more than a bunch of lily-white conservative Republicans, gun-toting far-right kooks, and unreconstructed Confederates who hate President Barack Obama because of the color of his skin. This liberal narrative of the tea partiers as dangerous right-wing bigots reached its apotheosis last month after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Democratic leaders paraded around the Capitol just before the decisive congressional vote on Obamacare. Allegations flew for weeks afterwards that the assembled tea party protesters lining the march route hurled spit, racist taunts and violent threats at Pelosi and her fellow marchers. It got so bad that columnist Eugene Robinson of The Washington Post said last week that “the danger of political violence in this country comes overwhelmingly from one direction — the right, not the left.”

But now comes hard facts from multiple sources that put the lie to the liberal stereotype about tea partiers. For one thing, the tea partiers are almost certainly more in tune with the views of the average American voter than Obama is. Pollster Scott Rasmussen found that 48 percent of his respondents say their views are closer to those of the tea party than to Obama. Not surprisingly, far more Republicans than Democrats said that to Rasmussen. Less predictable and more important, 50 percent of the independents identified with tea partiers over Obama, while only 38 percent of independents said the president’s views matched their own. It appears the independent center of American politics has shifted decisively to the right as the tea party has grown during the past year.

It turns out as well that tea partiers aren’t exclusively conservatives or Republicans. The Winston Group has done perhaps the most extensive polling among voters who identify themselves as tea partiers, and found that “57 percent of tea party members called themselves Republicans, another 28 percent said they were independents, and 13 percent were Democrats. Two-thirds of tea party members identify as conservatives but 26 percent say they are moderate and 8 percent described themselves as liberal.”

As for those allegedly growing threats of violence by tea partiers, no less an authority than IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman said this week that “no, the threat has not increased.” He added that much of what has been written in the media about such threats “actually is not accurate.” Since the IRS has a unit that tracks such threats, if anybody would know about growing anti-government violence, surely it would be the head tax man.

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Staff Report

Staff Report

A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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