Tea Party on Civil Rights



Majority oppose gay marriage or civil unions

Tea Party support for regulation of marriage is certainly not limited to [the few groups that raise the issue]. Although the Tea Party includes a significant portion of libertarians who think differently, Tea Partiers are more likely than Americans in general to oppose legal recognition of gay marriage or civil unions. About 2/3 of all Americans favor one or another of those forms of recognition, but less than half of Tea Party supporters do--and 40% of them advocate "no legal recognition" of any kind
Source: The Remaking of Republican Conservatism, by T.Skocpol, p. 58 , Jan 2, 2012

More male Tea Party members, but more female leadership

We were urged to talk about "sexism" in the Tea Party. [But] in our field observations, we saw many energetic women taking the lead in grassroots Tea Party activities. Both men & women serve as local and state Tea Party leaders, of course. But it appears that, although men may be more likely to support the Tea Party, women are dominating the organizing efforts.

Many of the men who tell pollsters that they sympathize with or generally support the Tea Party may be doing so from their armchairs. In the local Tea Party meetings we visited, women provided active leadership. Even when a man chaired the meeting, women were invariably in charge of the sign-up sheets & email lists.

It certainly appears that some women have a great deal of influence at the local level, and some have used grassroots Tea Party activism as a stepping-stone to state and national influence. That would be nothing new in the annals of American civic democracy. Women's leadership has been well documented for the Christian Right.

Source: The Remaking of Republican Conservatism, p. 42-43 , Jan 2, 2012

Racial minorities seen as undeserving, but so are whites

As we listened to our Tea Party interlocutors talk about underserving people collecting welfare benefits, racially-laden group stereotypes certainly did float in and out of the interviews, even when people never mentioned African-Americans directly. A sense of "us versus them" along racial and ethnic fault lines clearly marks the worldview of many people active in the Tea Party.

At least one scholarly study suggests that problematic racial assumptions are widely held by Tea Party supporters. Tea Party supporters tended to rate blacks and Latinos as less hardworking than did other respondents. Tea Partiers' views of minorities were even more extreme than other avowed conservatives and Republicans. It is important to note that, compared to other Americans, Tea Partiers rate WHITES relatively poorly on these characteristics, too. Tea Partiers have negative views about all their fellow citizens; it is just that they make extra-jaundiced assessments of the work ethic of racial and ethnic minorities

Source: The Remaking of Republican Conservatism, p. 68-69 , Jan 2, 2012

2010: Supported two Southern blacks for House; both won

Critics write: The Tea Party movement is virtually all white.

While the Tea Partiers have been stung by accusations of racism--a popular sign at rallies reads, "It doesn't matter what this sign says/You'll call it racism anyway"--most have not been intimidated. Why not? First, even the president does not believe the change.

Second, few harbor the guilt of country-club Republicans and all regard the accusation of racism as an unsupportable slander. While Tea Partiers are ant-Obama, they were also anti-Pelosi, anti-Harry Reid, anti-Martha Coakley, and anti-Charlie Crist, all of them white. In 2010, the Tea Party supported two Southern black GOP candidates, both of who were elected to the House.

Source: Suicide of a Superpower, by Pat Buchanan, p.127&131 , Oct 18, 2011

Equality of opportunity, not equality of outcomes

Although Tea Party activists come from a variety of backgrounds, they are united in a core set of beliefs. When you have principles to guide your activism, you do not need an organizational hierarchy.When yo speak with activists, no matter where you find them, four recurring themes inevitably become clear:
  1. The Constitution Is the Blueprint for Good Government: The Tea Party movement is asking to be left alone. The federal government should only exercise those powers we the people have delegated to it through our Constitution.
  2. In a Free Society, Actions Should Have Consequences: The call for personal responsibility means Tea Partiers value equality of opportunity, not equality of outcomes. For us, it is all about the rights of the individual ove the collective.
  3. The Federal Government Is Addicted to Spending: we're unfairly expecting our children and grandchildren to pick up the tab.
  4. Our Bloated Bureaucracy Is Too Big to Succeed.
Source: Give Us Liberty, by Rep. Dick Armey, p. 65-69 , Aug 17, 2010

OpEd: Few African-Americans at Tea Party events

This is not a political party; it is a social gathering. Any activist will tell you about the essentially fun and celebratory nature of any Tea Party event. It's like a tailgate party before a football game or the annual family picnic. I am reminded of the sense of community you used to experience in the parking lots before a Grateful Dead concert: peaceful, connected, smiling, gathered in common purpose.

At the 2010 Tax Day Tea Party, we had 40,000 people gather on the National Mall. It was a typically joyous gathering. The press desperately wanted to report otherwise. So when a reporter questioned a black participant that day she started with a not-so-subtle observation. "There aren't a lot of African American men at these events," she said. "Have you ever felt uncomfortable?" He responded, "No, these are my people, Americans."

This is the difference between a canned stump speech and a Grateful Dead concert. It is a community in the fullest sense of the word.

Source: Give Us Liberty, by Rep. Dick Armey, p.179 , Aug 17, 2010

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Page last updated: May 05, 2021