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On Astroturf and Frankenstein: Reflections on “the Tea Party,” the People, and the Ruling Class


"I had desired it with an ardour that far exceeded moderation; but now that I had finished, the beauty of the dream vanished, and breathless horror and disgust filled my heart." So said Victor Frankenstein about the “monster” and “daemon” he had created in Mary Shelley’s 1818 novel Frankenstein. You have to wonder how many corporate and Republican elites are starting to feel at least a little like that about the hard right Tea Party.

We can dispense from the beginning with the notion that “the Tea Party” reflects any sort of independent, anti-establishment, and grassroots right-populist uprising of middle and working class people[1]. To be sure, the Tea Party phenomenon draws heavily on, fans, and exploits the economic and social anxieties and related cultural prejudices of its largely white, suburban, professional, and small-business-rooted “base.” It also taps into the overlapping fears and biases of a minority of white, native-born workers.  Still, it is largely the creation of corporate and Republican Party overlords – people like the billionaire oil capitalists Charles and David Koch, key backers of the Tea Party-seeding group Americans for Prosperity (AFP)[2]; Sal Russo, a former Reagan aide and founder of the national Tea Party Express; leading Tea Party spokesman Dick Armey, former Republican House of Representatives majority leader and founder of Freedomworks, a leading sponsor of the initial Tea Party protests; and Roger Ailes, the chairman of FOX News and a former top media strategist for Republican presidents Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and George H.W. Bush. According to Russo, in a recent interview with New York Magazine’s Gabriel Sherman, “there would not have been a tea party without FOX”[3] – a rather candid insider expression of our recent finding that the Tea Party phenomenon is a largely media-driven affair.4

 

Top Down Tea

In our new book Crashing the Tea Party: Mass Media and the Campaign to Remake American Politics (Paradigm, May 2011), we have undertaken the first systematic and in-depth analysis of the 2009–2010 (really 2007-2010[5]) Tea Party phenomenon. On top of the standard media and polling data investigations, our research included attending Tea Party rallies, meetings, and other events during the spring, summer, and fall of 2010 throughout the Chicago metropolitan area, following electronic correspondences with Tea Party groups, and conducting discussions with Tea Party members. As we quickly learned, the conventional, quickly entrenched, and mainstreamed “movement”-friendly description and imagery of “the Tea Party” as a populist uprising was highly misleading. The “movement’s” claims – widely seconded and disseminated across the corporate “mainstream” media (including the New York Times and PBS as well as FOX News and right wing talk radio) – that the phenomenon represented a refreshing, independent, nonpartisan, antiestablishment, insurgent, grassroots, populist, and democratic force and constituted a leaderless and decentralized popular social and political protest movement are, we show, deeply inaccurate.  It is every bit as false as Tea Partiers’ fallacious claim that Barack Obama, the Democratic Party, and the nation’s dominant corporate media are part of the “radical socialist Left.”

The Tea Party phenomenon we uncovered is not an independent and grassroots social or political movement. It is a loose, elite-directed conglomeration of partisan interest groups set on returning the Republican Party to power. Despite protestations to the contrary,[6] it is Astroturf and partisan Republican to the core, its leading activists and main supporters accurately described by a Bloomberg survey of Tea Partiers as “super-Republicans.”  It is not an “uprising” against a corrupt political system or against the established social order. Rather, it is a reactionary, top-down manifestation of that system, dressed up and sold as an outsider rebellion set on changing the rules in Washington and across the country. Far from being antiestablishment, the Tea Party is, we determined, a classic, right-wing, rancid and fundamentally Republican epitome of what the formerly left political commentator Christopher Hitchens once called “the essence of American politics”: “the manipulation of populism by elitism” (emphasis added).”  Its basic function, deeply enabled by corporate media, was to help the deeply unpopular (because so transparently plutocratic) Republican Party re-brand itself in deceptive grassroots clothing so as to take full political advantage of the widespread economic insecurity imposed by the epic recession of 2008-2009 during the mid-term congressional and state elections of November 2010.  Furthermore, the members of the sizable “Tea Party caucus” in the House of Representatives have received massive funding from, and granted significant concessions to the very corporate banking and finance interests that succeeding in destroying the U.S. economy.  They benefit from serious campaign contributions from the health care interests that benefitted from the expansion of market based care under Obama – this while working to ensure that any reforms passed by the Democrats would not go too far in challenging the for-profit health system.7

We find that “The Tea Party’s active membership and leadership are far from “grassroots” and “popular.”  They are far more affluent and reactionary than the U.S.citizenry as a whole and even than the segment of the populace that purports (at the prompting of some pollsters) to feel “sympathy” for the Tea Party. The real Tea Party phenomenon we discovered was relatively well off and Middle American (not particularly disadvantaged), very predominantly white, significantly racist, militaristic, narcissistically selfish, vicious in its hostility to the poor, deeply undemocratic, strongly Republican partisan, deeply hostile to the Democratic Party, profoundly ignorant and deluded, heavily paranoid, wooden-headed, and overly reliant on propagandistic right-wing news and commentary for basic political information. Many of its leaders and members exhibit profound philosophic contempt for collective action; a disturbing and revealing uniformity of rhetoric across groups, cities, and regions; a stunning absence of real and deeply rooted local organizing; and a predominant prioritization of Republican electioneering over grassroots protest of any kind.

Deeply emblematic of the Tea Party’s subservience to the rich and powerful and the fake nature of its “populism” is Wisconsin Tea Party congressman and U.S. House budget committee chair Paul Ryan’s provocative plan to privatize the remarkably popular and successful Medicare program (essentially single-payer government health insurance for Americans 65 and older). Under the Ryan budget proposal, passed 235-193 by the House last April 15th, Medicare would be changed (starting in 2022) from a government-provided health-coverage plan into a “subsidy program” that gives those 65 and older money to purchase private insurance.  The plan is incredibly unpopular with older Americans in particular and even with Tea Party supporters, According to an April 18th Marist Poll, 70% of Tea Party members strongly oppose the Paul Ryan plan to dismantle Medicare as we know it. This is hardly surprising given the disproportionately middle aged and senior demographics of the Tea Party’s “grassroots.” A recent Bloomberg National Poll of adults finds that that 40% of “Tea Party members” are 55 or older. [8] A CBS-New York Times poll in April of last year determined that three fourths of “Tea Party supporters” were at least 45 years old and that 62 percent of Tea Party supporters agreed with the following statement: “the benefits from government programs such as Social Security and Medicare are worth the costs of those programs for taxpayers.”9

 

TEA PARTY TRIUMPH

Explaining 2010

How did the fake-populist and plutocratic Republican Tea Party score such a big victory in the mid-term elections of November of 2010?1 [10] The Tea Party took on political relevance beyond its limited and hard-right “super-Republican” core last fall thanks above all to two key factors:

1. The “hall of mirrors” effect of modern American mass media. The Tea Party has had an outsized impact in part because its supposedly new message—little different in core fundamentals from the basic pro-business, anti-poor messages of an evermore right-wing and unpopular Republican Party (the real/actual political party “the Tea Party” was rolled out to re-brand) — appealed to a corporate mass media system that favors conservative, false-populist protest over genuinely grassroots and progressive social movements. This preference helped inflate the Tea Party’s meaning and “brand” far beyond what it would have enjoyed without media hype. One of the great ironies of the contemporary Tea Party, we show, is that it owes much, even most of is significance to the very mainstream media it insistently (and absurdly) accuses of liberal and left bias.

2. The Democratic Party’s demoralization and stand down of its own progressive base as it acted in accord with its own longstanding identity as “history’s second most enthusiastic capitalist party.” By the fall of 2010, a large number of Democrats and independent swing voters agreed with progressive blogger and author Les Leopold’s observation that “Obama hasn’t produced the reforms he promised, while embracing policies like Bush’s ‘war on terror,’ and the Afghanistan war that they abhor.” For a large number of core Democratic supporters, mainstream Democratic liberalism had egregiously failed to live up its idealistic campaign rhetoric.11

The electoral consequences of this failure were deadly.   At a time when most Americans were looking to the Democrats to stabilize the housing market and help create jobs in a downtrodden economy, Democratic Party was pleasing its own elite corporate sponsors by harping over the need to balance budgets and cut popular social welfare programs such as Social Security.  In the general midterm contest, the Democrats suffered from significant declines in voter participation on the part of segments of the electorate that played key roles in their triumphs in the 2006 (Congressional)  and 2008 (Congressional and presidential) elections cycles.  Union households (predominantly Democratic) comprised 23 percent of the active electorate in 2006; in 2010 they were 17 percent. Their support for Democratic House candidates dropped from 64 percent in 2006 to 60 percent in 2010. Young people (18-29 years olds)were 18 percent of voters in 2008, when two-thirds of them voted for Obama; in 2010 they made up just11 percent of the electorate and they voted 56 to 40 percent for Democratic candidates. Black voters (90 percent Democratic in the 2010 elections) fell from 13 to 10 percent of the voters between 2008 and 2010. By contrast, voters who identified themselves as “conservative” increased their share of the active electorate from 32 to 41 percent between 2006 and 2010. “Conservatives” were more enthusiastic about GOP House candidates last fall than in 2006, when 74 percent of self-identified conservatives supported Republicans. Last November, 84 percent did.[12] And this was all it took for the highly energized and re-branded Republican Party – what I only half-jokingly call “the Tea.O.P.” – to clean up in a mid-term election, when turnout is considerably smaller than during the quadrennial race that include a presidential election.

No big “shift to the right” in the populace was required or took place. As the left analyst Charlie Post notes, “An 8 percent shift in an election where only 40% voted—a shift of approximately three percent of the total eligible voters—accounts for the Republicans’ victory.”13

 

Obama’s Latest Shift Right

Thanks to the Tea Party’s role in energizing the pseudoconservative[14] ultra-Republican base, the dominant media’s partnership in selling the Grand Old Party’s latest (Tea Party) makeover, and (last but not all least) the critical role of the state-capitalist Democratic Party and its corporatist standard bearer Barack Obama in demobilizing the nation’s progressive majority and working and lower-class voters, hard Republicans swept into majority power in the House of Representatives, came close to achieving a majority in the U.S. Senate and took over a large number of governor’s mansions and state legislatures in the south, Midwest, and across the country.

To the delight of many in the elite business class, no doubt, much “mainstream” media commentary responded to the historic elections by advancing the preposterous line that the center-right Obama had governed “too far to the left” in his first two years in power. Also warming the heart of capital, Obama himself undertook yet one more of his many “shifts to the right” in response to the Tea Party Republican triumph.  Claiming that the American “people ha[d] spoken” in the Republican Tea Party electoral triumph of November 2010, President Obama made a number of moves calculated to win the more heartfelt allegiance of top business players. He continued his pattern of disregarding and irritating his liberal and progressive “base” by agreeing to sustain George W. Bush’s deficit-fueling tax cuts for the rich beyond their original sunset date of 2010.[15] Accepting the false business and Republican Tea Party claim that “overpaid” public sector workers are a leading force behind rising government deficits and economic stagnation, Obama ordered a two-year freeze on federal worker salaries and benefits.[16] He published an Op-Ed in the plutocratic editorial pages of The Wall Street Journal – an essay that praised  “free market capitalism” as “the greatest force for prosperity the world has ever known”) and  said that government often places “unreasonable burdens on business” that have a “chilling effect on growth and jobs.” The tone of his editorial suggested that it wasn’t neoliberal deregulation that sparked the financial collapse of 2008, but all those nasty little government rules and guidelines that stifle innovation and growth.17

Obama signed an executive order calling for a government-wide review of regulations to remove or revise those that supposedly inhibited business. He appointed JPMorgan Chase’s William Daley – a leading agent of the corporate-globalist North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) under Bill Clinton – as his chief of staff.  He put Goldman Sachs’ Gene Sperling (another legendary neoliberal) at the head of the National Economic Council.  He tapped General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt to head his new “President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness.” The new council’s title referred to specifically American jobs and competitiveness – something that made Immelt’s appointment more than a little darkly ironic: with fewer than half its workers employed in the United States and less than half its profits coming from U.S. activities, New York Times columnist and Princeton economist Paul Krugman noted, “G.E.’s fortunes have very little to do with U.S. prosperity.” 18

 

Consistent with these rightward moves, Obama’s late January 2011 State of the Union Address (SOTUA) claimed that American business was plagued by the highest corporate tax rate in the world. Obama opened the door to lowering that rate (something advocated by the Tea Party and Republican right), stating that he hoped to slash it “without adding to our deficit.” He offered no bold, large-scale economic stimulus, antipoverty or public works programs to address the mass unemployment and economic destitution still stalking the land two years into his presidency. Whether out of political necessity, ideological preference or both, Obama appeared to have pinned his hopes for an expanded economic recovery (vital for his chances of re-election) on appeasing the right and the business class.

 

THE TEA PARTY v. SMART CAPITAL

All of which was certainly good, as far as U.S. business elites were concerned. But many such elites must now be wondering if (contrary to Mae West) there can in fact be too much of a good thing.  They are perhaps also contemplating the wisdom of the old maxim: “be careful what you ask for, you might just get it.”

 

Toying with Shutting Down the Government and “Recovery”

Big capital is willing to support the “populist right” when it serves their interests, of course. It applauds the right’s push for tax cuts on corporations and the rich, rolling back union power, de-regulating business, and slashing social spending. But what about the Tea.O.P.’s repeated threats to impose draconian cuts on the federal government, threatening to shut the national government down in the name of fiscal responsibility? The Business Roundtable, which represents giant transnational corporations, naturally backs the right’s call for deep cuts in corporate taxes. But it stridently opposes “any attempt to shut-down the Federal government that would disrupt the global operations of their constituents. During a conference call on March 30, 2011,” Charlie Post reports, “Ivan Seidenberg, Chairman and CEO of Verizon Communications and the Chairman of Business Roundtable was quite clear: ‘I don’t think any of the CEOs would welcome a Government shutdown. I think you have all sorts of disruptions in the value chain, the supply chain, and our government services, so hopefully that could be avoided.’” On April 7, 2011, Post adds, the Business Roundtable issued the following press release: “We urge the Administration and Congress to agree on a sensible budget solution in time to avoid a government shutdown. A shutdown would have negative and unforeseen consequences, including heightening uncertainty and disrupting basic business services to government agencies.”[19]

“To even toy with shutting down the government in this uncertain climate,” former Sunday columnist Frank Rich noted last February in the leading corporate newspaper, The New York Times, “is to risk destabilizing the nascent recovery.”  Rich’s warnings were supported by Goldman Sachs forecasters who calculated that steep $60 billion austerity-based budget cuts favored by the Republican House of Representatives would severely harm prospects for economic growth.[20] In a confidential report prepared by Goldman Sachs for its clients, Wall Street’s leading financial firm warned that spending cuts passed by the House of Representatives in mid February 2011 would impose a “fiscal drag” on the economy, cutting growth by about two percent of gross domestic product.21

 

People in Power Who Use Teabags as Headgear

Last week, U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner officially notified creditors at home and abroad that that the U.S. government could no longer meet all its obligations. This was because Republicans in Congress were blocking the federal government’s timeworn practice of raising its debt ceiling (the maximum debt the Treasury is allowed to contract), undermining the government’s ability to borrow what it needs to continue operations. The Tea.O.P. zealots in the House claim falsely that U.S.debt levels are “a fiscal emergency” that calls for deep spending cuts. As Wall Street insiders like the financial columnist (and incidentally Marxist) Doug Henwood know quite well, “There is no reason to panic about U.S. debt levels. We have some economic problems, but we are not the Greece of tomorrow. Deficits should decline markedly over the next several years and Social Security and Medicare won't eat us.”  There have a few debt-ceiling “melodramas” in past U.S. budgetary history, Henwood notes, and they have all been reasonably resolved before the current one, in which the leading deficit hawks are not the usual “creatures of the boardroom” but rather now “some extraordinary personalities [in] positions of political power…who use teabags as headgear….The Treasury can play some games to keep going for several months,” Henwood counsels. “But if Social Security checks start bouncing — or, more seriously, if the Treasury can't continue to pay interest on its bonds — it would be a maximum political and economic disaster”[22] – not the least for big U.S, and related global capital, whose political operatives have certainly not forgotten the fact that even the pre-Tea Party congressional Republicans voted against George W. Bush and Henry Paulson’s original Wall Street bailouts by 2 to 1.

 

Closed Borders v. Flexible Labor Supplies

Immigration is another issue where Tea Party madness does not match the interests of many in the capitalist class and the Republican Party. Reflecting the deep underlying racism of the Tea Party phenomenon and the related economic anxieties that fuel many of its constituents’ fears and anger, the Tea Party politicians and activists are on board with Arizona’s harsh anti-immigrant legislation and are pushing similar bills in other states. They call for militarizing the U.S.-Mexico-border, mass deportations, and the criminalization of undocumented immigrants and mass deportations. This is not the position of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, whose members include many firms in industries that rely heavily on the “flexible” (cheap and stateless, disenfranchised) labor of undocumented immigrants. The Chamber has joined with the ACLU and civil rights groups in challenging the constitutionality of the Arizona bill.  For its part the Business Roundtable has distanced itself from the right’s immigration agenda, reflecting its own declared interest in an “immigration reform” that respects big business’ need for “flexible” global labor supplies.

The Republican Party recently lost a special, open-seat election in New York’s historically Republican 26th Congressional District to Democrat Kathy Hochul thanks in part to the efforts of a bizarre Tea Party candidate named Jack Davis.  A wealthy industrialist who began as a Goldwater and Reagan Republican and later became a Democrat largely because he felt that the GOP did not share his concerns with the negative effects that multinational corporations and “free trade” policies were having on American workers, Davis garnered 9 percent of the vote with a campaign that called for the mass deportation of Latino immigrants and the sending of inner city blacks into U.S. farm labor. (The local Republican establishment was horrified when Davis made this proposal at a bid for the Republican nomination in the special election). Most of his support was poached from the Republican candidate Jane Corwin, who captured 43 percent of the vote to Hochul’s 47 percent.  Corwin was challenged by the extreme unpopularity of Ryan’s Medicare plan, which Hochul ran against and Corwin weakly defended. Still, Corwin might well have won the special election but for Davis’ nativist “Tea Party” run [23] – another sign, no doubt, for the Republican establishment that the Tea Party phenomenon is not without serious “populist” dysfunction.

 

Unwanted Mass Labor Protests

Big capital is no friend of organized labor.  It has been calling for the rollback of public sector unions – the last outpost of real labor economic and political power in the U.S. – for some time now. But smart capitalists can hardly look with favor on the militantly anti-union and Koch-backed Tea Party governor Scott Walker’s success in organizing a giant, rolling, five-week mass labor protest and a related progressive political rebellion (including a campaign to recall Walker and numerous Republican legislators) in Madison, Wisconsin and across the Midwest to some degree in February and March of 2011.  It is not lost on sophisticated capitalists that Democratic and more moderate Republican governors are able to push back public sector wages, salaries, benefits and collective bargaining rights without sparking massive labor and progressive political uprisings in California, New York, Illinois and other states. Who needs the labor unrest produced by the messianic, arch-plutocratic “populist right” when the basic goal of balancing budgets on the backs of workers and the poor can be achieved without mass protest and rebellion by less maximalist and less provocative politicians like Jerry Brown and Andrew Cuomo? In a similar vein, Paul Ryan and the Tea.O.P’s declaration of war on the popular Medicare program is certainly seen as needlessly provocative and destabilizing by intelligent corporate elites and election investors.

There is more in the “rancid populist” Tea Party right that intelligent and cosmopolitan business chieftains find distasteful and dysfunctional.  Smart capitalist elites have little use or respect for Tea Partiers’ paranoid obsession with Obama’s alleged foreign birth, for their over-the-top anti-Arab racism, for their sexist assaults on Planned Parenthood and gay marriage, and for their chest-pounding claims (recently challenged by Obama’s paramilitary  “bagging of bin-Laden”) that Obama is soft on (and even, at the paranoid absurd, allied with) Muslim terrorism.  Smart capitalists have little patience for racist, white-nationalist birthers, border-obsessives, homophobes,  Islamophobes, and biblical and constitutional “fundamentalists”  who would crash the federal government, wreck health care and retirement yet further, provoke mass labor uprisings, and generally destabilize the domestic and global political economy yet more in the name of fiscal discipline and obsessive white-constitutionalist  nationalism. This is part of why the insane, paranoid-style Tea Party icon Glenn Beck was fired from his prime time job at FOX News.

We expect the smarter members of the ruling class to do their part to return the loyal, disciplined, and deeply conservative corporatist Obama to a second White House term.  And perhaps to advance a centrist, un tea-stained candidate like John Huntsman or Mitt Romney within the Republican presidential field. (Whoever wins the Republican Presidential nomination, one thing is clear: the Tea Party is over with regard to prospects for winning this country’s highest office in 2012.  A May public opinion survey from NBC finds that just 26 percent of Americans consider themselves “supporters” of the Tea Party, compared to nearly three quarters who do not.  These numbers are unlikely to change much in the near future, considering that support has hovered around one-quarter to one-third of the public since at least mid 2010.  The Tea Party will likely be unable to attract the needed voters to propel its preferred candidates into the White House.)

Do the “responsible men” of American power atop the nation’s unelected dictatorship of big money really want to undermine the populace-disabling sweet spot the rich and powerful are currently enjoying by replacing the empire’s new clothes (Obama) with a de-stabilizing Tea Party freak like Sarah Palin or Michelle Bachman (or even a more measured Tea Party friend like Mitch Daniels)? Corporate profits have skyrocketed and imperial adventurism has more than survived under Obama, after all, even as tens of millions of ordinary Americans U.S. struggle with insecurity and existential nothingness under the rule of a soulless, ecologically lethal profits system. If Wisconsin’s governor is a relevant example, Tea Party folks in executive power stir up the rabble in ways that sophisticated Democratic officer-holders like Obama do not. “The Tea Party” and the hard right more generally have their continuing roles to play for the financial and corporate elite when it comes in protecting the business elite from government regulation, union power, progressive taxation, and the like. But the ruling class does not really need much of what hard right reptiles like Paul Ryan, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Scott Walker and the Koch brothers have to offer at the end of the day. Neither, of course, does most of the American populace, including even a fair number of those who have voted and otherwise acted in Tea Party ways over the last couple of years.

Paul Street and Anthony DiMaggio’s new book Crashing the Tea Party: Mass Media and the Campaign to Remake American Politics (Paradigm, 2011) is available at http://www.paradigmpublishers.com/Books/BookDetail.aspx?productID=280225.

 

Selected Endnotes

1 For an almost cartoon-like epitome of this “grassroots” myth, see Tea Party leader John O’Hara’s propaganda work: The New American Tea Party: The Counterrevolution Against Bailouts, Handouts, Reckless Spending, and More Taxes (New York: Wiley, 2010).

2 Jane Mayer, “Covert Operations: The Billionaire Brothers Who Are Waging War Against Obama,” New Yorker, August 30, 2010.

3 Gabriel Sherman, “The Elephant in the Green Room,” New York Magazine, May 22, 2011 at http://nymag.com/print/?/news/media/roger-ailes-fox-news-2011-5/ 

4 Paul Street and Anthony DiMaggio, Crashing the Tea Party: Mass Media and the Campaign to Remake American Politics (Paradigm, 2011).  We do not restrict our sense of corporate media’s role to FOX News.  We find that that the entire “mainstream” media played a key role in creating the Tea Party phenomenon and its grassroots and movement mythologies.

5 For the origins of the contemporary Tea Party phenomenon, see Chapter 2, “The World Turned Upside Down: From the Original Tea Party to the Current Masquerade,” in Street and DiMaggio, Crashing the Tea Party.

6 See, for example, O’Hara, The New American Tea Party, 14, 16–17, 62, 80–81, 194–195.

7 For more on these relationships between the Tea Party and entrenched corporate interests, see Anthony DiMaggio’s forthcoming book: The Rise of the Tea Party: Political Discontent and Corporate Media in the Age of Obama, due out from Monthly Review Press in September 2011.

8 Rick Ungar, ‘The Tea Party R.I.P. February 19, 2009 – April 15, 2011,” Forbes at

http://blogs.forbes.com/rickungar/2011/04/27/the-tea-party-r-i-p-february-19-2009-april-15-2011/

9 CBS/New York Times, “Polling the Tea Party: Who They Are and What They Believe,” New York Times, April 14, 2010, atwww.nytimes.com/interactive/2010/04/14/us/politics/20100414-tea-party-poll-graphic.html#tab=4. According to Rick Ungar in no less an establishment business outlet than Forbes. Ryan’s plan has planted the seeds of some difficult and overdue questions in the mind of many of those who had been misled by the corporate Tea Party ruse: “Had they been used by their wealthy sponsors as some perverse investment in a scheme to lower taxes even further for those who need it the least at the cost of those who gave their loyalty to the cause?…supporters had to wonder if the Tea Party had inadvertently -and ironically- created government as the enemy by electing people who would take away Medicare and other entitlements that are a part of our cultural and national covenant that the Tea Partiers rely on every bit as much as the rest of us  - and all so that they could allow billionaires and others who can afford high-priced lobbyists to keep more of their money…” Ungar, “The Tea Party R.I.P.”

10 For an in-depth analysis of the Tea Party’s triumph and role in the 2010 Republican victories, see Chapter 7, titled “Elections 2010” in Paul Street and Anthony DiMaggio, Crashing the Tea Party: Mass Media and the Campaign to Remake American Politics (Paradigm, 2011).

11 Leo Leopold, “Obama Is No FDR, We’re No Mass Movement,” Huffington Post, February 10, 2010, at www.huffingtonpost.com/les-leopold/obama-is-no-fdr-were-no-m_b_457452.html; Lance Selfa, “Preparing for a Republican Comeback?” International Socialist Review (September–October 2010), 1–2.

12 Karlyn Bowman, “What the Voters Actually Said on Election Day,” The American (November 16, 2010), citing CBS exit polls athttp://www.american.com/archive/2010/november/what-the-voters-actually-said-on-election-day; Street and DiMaggio, Crashing the Tea Party, Chapter 7.

13 Post, “Why Has the Capitalist Economic Crisis Benefited the Right in the U.S?”

14 The word “conservative” merits quotation marks when it comes to describing the U.S. right these days.  As Sheldon Wolin noted three years ago, “The character of the Republican Party reflects a profound change: radicalism has shifted its location and meaning.  Formerly it was associated with the Left and the use of political power to life the standard of living an life prospects of the lower classes, of those who were disadvantaged under current distributive principles.  Radicalism is now the property of those who, quaintly, call themselves ‘conservatives’ and are called such by media commentators.  In fact, pseudoconservatism is in charge of and owns the radicalizing powers that are dramatically changing, in some cases revolutionizing, the conditions of human life, of economy, of politics, foreign policy, education, and the prospects for the planet.  It is hard to imagine any power more radical in its determination to undo the social gains of the past century.”  Sheldon Wolin, Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism (Princeton, NJ: Princeton university Press, 2008), 206.

15 Nick Wing, “Rep. Gary Ackerman: Tax Cut Deal Is GOP's 'Wet Dream Act,'” Huffington Post (December 9, 2010) athttp://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/12/09/gary-ackerman-wet-dream-act_n_794374.html; D. Herszenhorn and S.G. Stolberg, “Obama Defends Tax Deal, But His Party Stays Hostile,” New York Times, December 8, 2010, A1; Paul Krugman, "Obama's Hostage Deal," New York Times, December 9, 2010, at http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/10/opinion/10krugman.html?_r=1&ref=todayspaper

16 Paul Krugman, “Freezing Out Hope,” New York Times, December 2, 2010 at http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/03/opinion/03krugman.html?ref=paulkrugman; Peter S. Goodman, “Obama’s Bogus Explanation For Troubles: Too Much Regulation,” Huffington Post (January 18, 2011) at

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/01/18/obamas-bogus-explanation-regulation_n_810262.html

17 Barack Obama, “Toward a 21st-Centuryr Regulatory System;” Wall Street Journal, January 18, 2011 athttp://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703396604576088272112103698.html; Goodman, “Obama’s Bogus Explanation.”

18 Paul Krugman, “The Competition Myth,” New York Times, January 24, 2011; Paul Street, “State (of) Capitalist Absurdity: Reflections Before and After Obama’s State of the Union Address,” ZNet (January 28, 2011) at http://www.zcomm.org/state-of-capitalist-absurdity-reflections-before-and-after-obama-s-state-of-the-union-address-by-paul-street; Patrick Martin, “Obama Outlines right-Wing, Pro-Corporate Agenda in State of the Union Speech,” World Socialist Web Site, January 26, 2011); Glen Ford, “Obama’s Comfort Zone: King of Collaboration,” Black Agenda Report, January 12, 2011, at http://www.blackagendareport.com/?q=content/obama%E2%80%99s-comfort-zone-king-collaboration).Some Obama fans applauded Immelt’s appointment because, they said, he represents a company that actually produces goods rather than just being a parasitic manipulator of paper, financial wealth. But this praise was ridiculous, since, as Krugman  noted, G.E, actually “derives more revenue from its financial operations than it does from manufacturing.”

19 Business Roundtable, Taxing American Corporations in the Global Marketplace: The Case for Corporate Tax Reform (April 2011) [http://businessroundtable.org/uploads/studies-reports/downloads/Taxing_American_Corporations_in_the_Global_Marketplace.pdf]; Business Roundtable, “BRT Releases First Quarter 2011 CEO Economic Outlook Survey Media Conference Call Transcript” (March 30, 2011) [http://businessroundtable.org/news-center/brt-releases-first-quarter-2011-ceo-economic-outlook-survey-media-conferenc/; and Business Roundtable, “Business Roundtable Statement on a Potential Government Shutdown” (April 7, 2011)http://businessroundtable.org/uploads/news-center/downloads/Business_Roundtable_Statement_on_a_Potential_Government_Shutdown.pdf], all cited and quoted in Post, ““Why Has the Capitalist Economic Crisis Benefited the Right in the U.S.?”

20  Jonathan Karl, “Goldman Sachs: House Spending Cuts Will Hurt Economic Growth,” The Note (ABC News), February 23, 2011 athttp://blogs.abcnews.com/thenote/2011/02/goldman-sachs-house-spending-cuts-will-hurt-economic-growth.html.  See also Paul Krugman, “How to Kill a Recovery,” New York Times, March 3, 2011,

21   Kari, “Goldman Sachs."

22 Doug Henwood, “What Fiscal Emergency?” Special to CNN (May 20, 2011) at http://www.cnn.com/2011/OPINION/05/20/henwood.debt.ceiling/index.html

23 New York Times, Times Topics: “Jack Davis (updated May 25, 2011)” at http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/d/jack_davis/index.html; Jerry Zremski, “Davis’ Comments Shock GOP Leaders,” BuffaloNews.com (March 15, 2011) at http://www.buffalonews.com/topics/chris-lee/special-election/article367437.ece; Raymond Hernandez, “Democrat Wins G.O.P. Seat; Rebuke Seen to Medicare Plan, New York Times, May 24, 2011; Mary Kate Cary, “Democrats Spinning New York Special Election Results,” U.S. News and World Report, Politcs (May 27, 2011) at http://www.usnews.com/opinion/blogs/mary-kate-cary/2011/05/27/democrats-spinning-new-york-special-election-results; Associated Press, “Democrat Kathy Hochul Wins Special Election for New York’s 26th Congressional District,” Syracuse.com (May 24, 2011) athttp://www.syracuse.com/news/index.ssf/2011/05/democrat_wins_special_election.html 

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