Shift in Tea Party Ideology and Frames 2007-2016
The U.S. Tea Party Movement began as an elite conservative campaign designed as“astroturfing,” which is a propaganda model that creates the false impression of an actual grassroots movement. The idea, however, gained momentum and swept across the country. The Tea Parties became an actual social movement, and by the autumn of 2009 were beginning to build social movement organizations in most states, and negotiate with the Republican Party over policy matters.At first much of the energy for organizing the grassroots portion of the movement came from libertarians and supporters of Ron Paul. Over time, participants in the pre-existing Christian Right and Patriot Movements emerged as playing an increasingly significant role in local units and chapters of the Tea Party Movement. They brought into the tea party racial antipathies towards people of color, and opposition to gay rights and reproductive rights. They also brought in a broader range of conspiracy theories than those promulgated by Ron Paul supporters.
Signs appear at rallies comparing Obama to both Hitler and Stalin.Within several subcultures of the political right in the United States, such claims are common sense and received wisdom from a long line of authors whose books sit on the shelves of conservatives, economic libertarians, and right-wing Christian evangelicals. These tomes warned of the dangers of collectivists, banksters, the Federal Reserve, and organized labor bosses. At meetings the debate over dinner centers on who is really behind this awful conspiracy to destroy our nation. Is it the Bilderberg banking group, the Trilateral Commission, the Rockefeller family, the Freemasons and their Illuminati handlers, or the Jews? Since the terror attacks on 9/11/2001 Muslims have been incorporated into some right-wing conspiracy narratives. For some Christians who embrace conspiracism, the devil is in the details, working behind the scenes like a fire-breathing chimera.
Tea Parties & Conspiratorialism
It became a paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association Caesar’s Palace, Las Vegas, NV, 2011-08-12A revised version appeared in Critical Sociology as: “Collectivists, communists, organized labor bosses, banksters, and subversion:The Tea Parties as a countersubversion panic”
Significant Recent Critical Essays
- Middle American Radicals Come of Age in Texas Attack by Eric Ward
- Texas Suicide Flyer Had Real Populist Grievances by Rich Benjamin
- Watch Out for GOP Populism by Thomas Frank
- Is Obama Responsible for Wall Street’s Meltdown? Where Populist Rage is Heading by Robert Reich
Chip Berlet’s Series on the Tea Bag Movement & Right-Wing Populism
- Roots of Right-Wing Populist Rage: The Christian Right
- Roots of Right-Wing Populist Rage: Political Realignment
- Roots of Right-Wing Populist Rage: From Reds to Bed
- Why Right-Wing Demagogues Are Tying to Peddle Ludicrous Conspiracy Theories
- Where is there a Potential for Organized Violence? (Chart)
- Right-Wing Populism and Neofascism v. “Liberal Fascism”
- Angry Voters, Right-Wing Populism, & Racial Violence: People of Faith Can Help Break the Linkages, on Religion Dispatches
Video & Audio Resources
- Democracy Now! – Militias, Right-Wing Populism, & White Nationalism
- Terry Gross Fresh Air program: Toxic to Democracy – PRA study of conspiracy theories.
- Democracy Now! – Tea Parties, Town Halls, & Healthcare
- Wanted: Barack Obama Swiss TV Documentary (In French)