Saturday, July 03, 2010

Demographics and Tea Parties

The Daily Kos carried an interesting interview with UW grad Ruy Teixeira  (Ph.D., University of Wisconsin, 1984; M.S., University of Wisconsin, 1981) about America's changed and still changing demographics and what it probably means for US politics. At the same time that minorities are making up a larger and larger share of US voters, the voting bloc of white working class voters keeps on shrinking. At the same time, the voting share of white college-educated voters is also rising. And the number of "millennials" in the voting populace is also growing (The what? The who?: Pew report on millennials and an analysis by American Progress).

Those four demographic trends all favor progressive politics and disfavor the right-wing agenda of the new Republican Party, especially on social issues. The GOP will gain in 2010, but long-term it's not pretty - unless you, like Millenials "support gay marriage, take race and gender equality as givens, are tolerant of religious and family diversity, have an open and positive attitude toward immigration, and generally display little interest in fighting over the divisive social issues of the past. They are also notably progressive on foreign policy issues, and favor a multilateral and cooperative foreign policy more than their elders. Millennials, more so than other generations, want a stronger government to make the economy work better, help those in need, and provide more services. These views extend to a range of domestic policy issues including education, clean energy, and, especially, health care."

You can read his entire report (45 pages) here.

This all suggests the tea party phenomenon is a tempest in a teapot (that was easy). The tea party folks make pols nervous because they are new and many are real grass roots and not astroturf; they are a sort-of-known unknown. They certainly hold sway in the GOP.

Mother Jones story:
Try some tea for Texas (tea party and GOP women in Texas):

The tea party is more properly the "tea parties", so they can be a bit of "all things to all people" and hard to define. However, the anger they express is overdue. American workers have not fared well in a long, long time (roughly since the 1970s with a brief respite in some of the Clinton years) while the powers-that-be keep getting richer and richer and richer and do so in ways that exclude the rest of us from getting richer and with the help of a government that is all too often in the hip pocket of whatever corporate lobbyists care about (see e.g., the late but not great Minerals Management Service). We should be mad (and by 'we' I mean just about everyone you know), but President Obama was elected to begin taking back our government (albeit he has had limited success and in some cases it's because he's not really trying, see, e.g., the influence of former Goldman Sachs execs in his administration). So get mad, but don't go mad.


  1. Of course the demographic trends are against them. That's why the right wing is working so hard today to destroy people's faith in government by disrupting its operations.

  2. I do not understand how so many people allow themselves to be hijacked by corporate interests. We could have every social program we need in this country if 80% of us agreed that the top 20% need to pay more taxes. A lot more taxes. The top 20 would still have gobs of money to spend on fabulous vacation homes, expensive private schools, live-in help and 5,000+ square foot homes. But too many of the other 80% allow themselves to distracted by guns, god and gays. I can't help but think how screwed we are.