This week, I wanted my blog post to focus more on the Tea Party. I didn’t know much about the Tea Party before we read the article, “The Tea Party and the Remaking of Republican Conservatism” by Vanessa Williamson, Theda Skocpol, and John Coggin. I knew the Tea Party was largely a conservative-leaning organization, but that covered the extent of my knowledge. I researched the Tea Party, and found the website: www.teaparty.org. On their website, they list their “15 Non-negotiable Core Beliefs”:
- Illegal aliens are here illegally.
- Pro-domestic employment is indispensable.
- A strong military is essential.
- Special interests must be eliminated.
- Gun ownership is sacred.
- Government must be downsized.
- The national budget must be balanced.
- Deficit spending must end.
- Bailout and stimulus plans are illegal.
- Reducing personal income taxes is a must.
- Reducing business income taxes is mandatory.
- Political offices must be available to average citizens.
- Intrusive government must be stopped.
- English as our core language is required.
- Traditional family values are encouraged.
When I first saw this list, I was surprised to see “Illegal aliens are here illegally” as number one. We know from Williams’ article that Tea Partiers oppose illegal immigration (33). The article states that the Tea Party opposes unauthorized immigration because illegal immigrants are “included in the ‘nonworking’ population who may try to freeload at the expense of hardworking American taxpayers (Williams et al. 33).
However, the article also notes, “In general, Tea Partiers do not explain their opposition to unauthorized immigration in terms of a job threat. Of all those we spoke to, only one Tea Party member, Janet, expressed concern that ‘these people are going to be coming in and take our jobs” (Williams et al. 33).
Additionally, the article points out, “One commonly expressed fear among Tea Partiers, not only in Massachusetts but on Tea Party blogs from Arizona to Michigan, is that President Obama intends to grant amnesty to all illegal immigrants in order to develop a new bloc of potential voters” (Williams et al. 33).
Williams and her colleagues write, “We find this concern about immigration to be central to Tea Party ideology,” and I think they are absolutely right (33). The concern about unauthorized immigration is listed as number one on the Tea Party’s “15 Non-negotiable Core Beliefs,” which are directly from the Tea Party’s website. However, I do not find the reasons for their concerns to be explicitly racist, and neither do Williams and her colleagues. The authors write, “The Tea Party dichotomy of the ‘freeloader’ versus the ‘hardworking taxpayer’ has racial undertones that distinguish it from a simple reiteration of the longstanding American creed” (34). I agree that some motivations behind the Tea Party’s reasoning for opposing illegal immigration may have racial undertones, but those undertones do not definitively prove the Tea Party is a racist organization or that their members are racist. In fact, I’d like to point out that Williams’ argument in this article is not solely attempting to prove whether or not the Tea Party is racist; I am simply focusing on this particular aspect of their argument for the purpose of my blog post.
I also agree with the authors’ point that, “Tea Partiers who talk about immigration control regularly mention the security of the US border with Mexico, suggesting that their primary concern is with Latino immigration” (34). The Tea Party may be primarily concerned with Latino immigration because of America’s southern border with Mexico and because “Mexicans represent the largest unauthorized immigrant group in the United States,” according to an October 2014 article from the Migration Policy Institute by Jie Zong and Jeanne Batalova.
Tea Party concerns specifically about Latino immigration are not explicitly racist, even if some Tea Partiers hold racist opinions about Latinos. I am not supporting any type of racist opinions, but I do want to point out that opposing illegal immigration from Mexico is not necessarily racially or ethnically motivated.
Williams and her colleagues also suggest Tea Party opposition to President Obama is racially motivated. Some Tea Partiers, may, in fact, be racist, but that does not suggest or prove the Tea Party is a racist organization. Williams writes, “It is no coincidence that the Tea Party emerged only weeks into the new president’s term; in Greenberg Quinlan Rosner’s study, only five percent of Tea Party supporters report having voted for Obama in 2008” (34). While I was researching the Tea Party, I found some interesting information. Did you know the Tea Party was founded September 2, 2004? The Tea Party may have emerged just weeks into President Obama’s term, but that does not prove that the Tea Party’s opposition to President Obama is racially motivated because Barack Obama is African-American. The Tea Party has been active since 2004, and its history dates back to the 1980s, according to Tom Head, a Civil Liberties Expert for About.com. It is possible that the Tea Party garnered more attention just weeks into President Obama’s term because they opposed his policies, not his race.
Did you know the Tea Party Patriots was founded in 2009? Did you know they are the largest grassroots Tea Party organization? Did you know they even existed? I didn’t until I did some more research. The core values of the Tea Party Patriots, according to their website www.teapartypatriots.org
- Fiscal Responsibility
- Constitutionally Limited Government
- Free Markets
It’s important to note that these values aren’t numbered, like they are on the Tea Party website. To me, this suggests that the three core values are equally important for the Tea Party Patriots, rather than being ranked according to importance like they seem to be on the Tea Party’s website. It’s also important to point out that the Tea Party Patriots’ core values are different than the core values of the Tea Party. I think this supports Williams’ point that Tea Partiers’ ideologies and opinions vary across the country (34).
Overall, this was a learning experience for me. I did not know anything about the Tea Party before I read this article and did some of my own research. As a person, I am always skeptical to assume that correlation implies causation. I think one of the things we’ve all learned in college is that correlation does not imply or equal causation.
As it relates to this blog post, I think it is wrong to assume the Tea Party is racist because they oppose Latino immigration and President Obama, among other things. The correlation of Latino immigration to America and the Tea Party’s opposition to illegal immigration, specifically Latino immigration, does not imply or prove that the Tea Party is racist against Latinos. Williams and her colleagues are not proving this with their article, but I do think they suggest it.
Also, the correlation of Barack Obama as an African-American male and the Tea Party’s opposition to President Obama does not imply or prove that the Tea Party is racist against African-Americans or Barack Obama. Though the Tea Party’s opposition may have racial undertones, their ideology and values are not definitively racist. These racial undertones may not even be intentional.
I would argue that racial undertones are present in most things, but that doesn’t prove those things are racist. Again, Williams and her colleagues are not solely focusing on whether or not the Tea Party is racist. This is merely one aspect of their article on which I chose to focus.