Is the Tea Party "the Right's New Left"?

Found this interesting bit at the end of the RationalWiki page on the New Left:

And another difference is that the Tea Party has some corporate money behind it. I doubt the New Left ever did.

But another important difference is that the New Left was mostly a movement of the young. The TP has, shall we say, an impending sell-by date. In the 2011 Pew Political Typology, the TP’s base is the Staunch Conservatives, demographically the oldest of the typology groups, “61% ages 50 and older.”

But are the similarities persuasive, WRT forecasting the TP’s prospects and staying power?

I think if you used the word ‘left’ to describe them in any way, shape or form, most of them would have an aneurysm.


I live in Middle Tennessee, hard-core Tea Farty Country.

Bigots, Xenophobes, Ignoramuses & Raving Paranoids, every single one of em.

The whole idea is 100% weapons-grade Boloney-ium.

Forget it. It don’t even come close to passing the sniff test.

Pay attention to the bit about “the far end of the horseshoe.”

Which idea, specifically, are you referring to?

Ideally. If millennials, single women and non-whites keep their disdain for the contemporary GOP as a lifelong bias then yeah you are looking at 30 years of center left political rule.

But who knows if that’ll happen.

The tea party will continue to have massive influence since they are strong in areas where the real election is the primary since the general is largely a foregone conclusion (although the tea party does swing a lot of GOP safe senate seats into the dem category).

I am amazed at how well organized the tea party is. For a group that it only about 10% of the electorate and only came about in 2009 they have had a massive influence in politics and the collective consciousness. OWS was a joke compared to the tea party.

I’d settle for seeing the look on Glenn Beck’s face when he finds out his fans have been comparing him favorably to Abbie Hoffman.

The comparison is lazy and simplistic, lacking any long-term historical perspective, as though political change were nothing more than a timeless, evenly balanced pendulum swinging back and forth in a vacuum. It pretty much ignores the conditions that have led to rise of each of these “movements.”

I had to roll my eyes at this part. Let’s see. We’ve had Fukishama, a fertilizer plant explosion that leveled a town in Texas, the BP oil spill, and a coal-processing spill that cut off the water supply to 300K people. While I think these problems are solvable through regulation and enforcement, it’s hardly irrational to be afeared of nuclear power and industry. It’s not like they haven’t given people cause to be afraid.

But, back to the OP. The New Left never had any significant power in the Democratic Party (with perhaps the exception of the SDS, and even the cited article notes that it never amount to any policy changes). But, even though the never had any significant power, the entire Democratic Party has been portrayed as inexorably intertwined with them for the past 50 years. Whereas, with the Tea Party, lots of people like to believe that they are distinct from the Republican Party, when, in fact, they are completely intertwined with the Republicans. So, in that respect, I’d say they’re the complete opposite of the New Left. They’re certainly better at marketing.

Regardless of whether the analysis is lazy or simplistic, the fact remains that Republicans have embraced – and are identified with – the lunacy of the Tea Party to an extent completely unlike the relative alienation of the New Left by the Democrats, leading to this key point in the article: “If the Tea Party is a modern-day New Left, then judging by history, this has foreboding consequences for the right, and very welcome consequences for the left.” Thanks to the Tea Party, Republicans seem to be increasingly identified by radical defining characteristics: denial of science, Creationist wingnuttery, hatred of government, misogynistic attitudes to womens’ rights, and worship of corporate greed.

Hendrik Hertzberg over at the New Yorker recently posted this quote from Thomas E. Mann of the Brookings Institution and Norman J. Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute:

I prefer to think of the Tea Party movement as political activism for active seniors. It’s good, gets them out of the house.


Nose-blowing rubbish.

These dimwits picketed the local Buddhists, giving the same excuses they did when they tried to shut down the local Mosque.

The whole, goofy, comparison, please and thank you.

Let me try it this way:

What comparison do you think the OP is making?

Errmm, Bosda, with all due respect . . . You wouldn’t happen to have any personal or emotional or historical connection with the old New Left . . . would you?

The Tea Party is certainly as disruptive as the New Left was. And while there may be tactics they adopt from them, I think most of their sway comes from a reaction to leftist policies that some, especially the rich, see as “going too far.” If you look historically, it’s rise came during the end of GB Sr and during the beginning of Clinton’s reign. The wins from 92 and forward slowly emboldened the purist portions of the R party.

Once funding and public sentiment aligned with their aims, they took off. They rode in on a sentiment of “Congress is being a bunch of idiots.” that came after the passage of the ACA. Since they’ve been utterly ineffective at making the law either better or removing it entirely, I’m not sure that the Tea Party will last long.

If it does it will, hopefully, be relegated to the sidelines like much of the New Left was. Sadly, it will probably take 20+ years like the New Left did.

The article is wrong about the New Left and the tea party. The New Left was a reaction to the Kruschev’s admissions about the crimes of Stalin. The younger socialists wanted to distance themselves from the older generation of leftists in America who they felt had been tainted by their taking orders from Stalin. They rejected the old socialist institutions and wanted to start a new revolutionary movement that had its heros as Castro, Mao, and Ho Chi Minh instead of the Bolsheviks. They were bankrolled by rich individuals, mostly young heirs, and not by the USSR as the old left had been. It had a huge role in the antiwar movement, but other than that it was not politically succesful. Its largest influence has been in academia where many of its adherents went after the movement fizzled.
The tea party is a reaction to the financial crisis and the laws passed in reaction to it. The original tea party meetings were in reaction to a proposal to pay mortagages of delinquent borrowers. The political reaction to the financial crisis was a massive increase in the borrowing and spending of government and many bailouts. The tea party was a reaction against that sudden change. It has morphed into an alternate source of power and money for conservative candidates and its primary impact has been to motivate more establishment Republicans not to become too moderate or risk being primaried.

That’s not how I remember it. It sprung up in the national media around the same time Obama was inaugurated ( with the main message being “taxed enough already” flanked by complaints about the deficit and how it was Obama’s fault. This led into massive media coverage of those crazy town hall meetings that summer. It is only in the past couple years that tea partiers try to link it to the pre-Obama days.