According to Vanessa Williamson’s article, The Tea Party and the Remaking of the Republican Conservatism, she discusses several aspects that define The Tea Party in the United States after they rose to power immediately after the inauguration of Barack Obama. Their movement was built upon a bundle of resentments, including George W. Bush’s Republican platform, and objection to Obama’s progressive reforms. Much debate about racism has been elevated since the Tea Party establishment. Even though members of the Tea Party deny being racist from their anti-immigration policies and promoting white supremacy, scholars argue that some of the Tea Party members’ conservative beliefs can be seen as a racial problem.
Williamson’s article touches on the idea that Tea Party members look down upon racial innuendos and argues that they do support people of color, especially since many Tea Party members of color have been prominently put forward as speakers or entertainers at Tea Party rallies, as to promote a racially diverse movement. However, even though the Tea Party claims to support anti-racial issues, their party ideology can be seen to have racialized results. The fact that the Tea Party movement resents illegal immigration and government aid for undocumented immigrants more than any other social or economic phenomenon shows the movement can be argued as racially prejudice towards immigrants, specifically the Latino population. Freeloading and “deservingness” is a key issue for this movement. There’s a concern of changing demographics with an opposition of government support for undocumented immigrants who the Tea Party believes are “freeloaders” because they are not working and not paying taxes while receiving government aid.
According to Devin Burghart’s and Leonard Zeskind’s article, Tea Party Nationalism: A Critical Examination of the Tea Party Movement and the Size, Scope, and Focus of its National Factions, when the Tea Party is challenged as a racist movement, Tea Party leaders argue that the 14th Amendment (everyone born in the U.S. and subject to jurisdiction, are citizens of the U.S. and no state shall enforce a law that reduces this right of citizens) should be enforced and respected. Many of these leaders would repudiate the notion that they are white racists by featuring black people who have allied themselves with the Tea Party at rallies, conventions, and other gatherings.
Burghart and Zeskind mention that Tea Party nationalism is organized by excluding those deemed not be “real Americans;” including the native-born children of undocumented immigrants. This nationalism can cause people to believe the party has a stigma of being racist. In order for the Tea Party to successfully portray themselves as a non-racial movement they need to make sure their conservative beliefs are not projecting any racial insinuations.
Burghart, Devin, and Leonard Zeskind. Tea party nationalism: A critical examination of the tea party movement and the size, scope, and focus of its national factions. Kansas City, MO: Institute for Research & Education on Human Rights, 2010.
Vanessa Williamson, Theda Skocpol, and John Coggin. (2011). “The Tea Party and the Remaking of Republican Conservatism.” Perspectives on Politics 9(1), 25-43.