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Friday
Mar182011

Common Ground for Tea Partiers and Liberals

We are accustomed to thinking of the US political spectrum as a linear spectrum from left to right and the need always to have a center-left coalition or a center-right coalition in order to elect Congressional majorities or to pass legislation. In this framework, left and right are polar opposites in terms of political philosophy. But what if the political spectrum is not a straight horizontal line but is shaped like a horseshoe?

In this configuration, one can imagine a political polarization that is not left-right but is top-bottom based on economic class instead of political theory. The Tea Party representing the far right and socialists representing the far left both have strong populist sentiments, and both are angry that both major parties are effectively controlled by wealthy elites.

The Left has long feared Big Business and Wall Street and has tried to use government to check their power to exploit the lower economic classes. 

On the other hand, Tea Partiers identify Big Government as the biggest threat to their interests.  However, I suggest they react strongly against any powerful institution that intrudes negatively into their lives.  They are anti-Wall Street and were very upset at the 2008-09 Bush-Obama bailout of the financial system.  They are anti-free trade and very suspicious of MNCs and foreign companies and people, which our increasingly open borders largely benefit.  And, despite their anti-government rhetoric, they are strongly in favor of Social Security and Medicare. They seem to feel that their lives are getting worse, not better, and that, rather than having control over their own lives, they are being dictated to and victimized by powerful people and institutions. They feel alienated from these shadowy forces and exploited by them--and that's not so different from how liberals feel.

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Reader Comments (1)

skeptic -

I'm skeptical. You've identified certain, very specific areas of overlap. But the fundamental differences in world view between teabaggers and deep, fundamental, and numerous.

Teabaggers like Michelle Bachman, Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh and accept without question all of their pronouncements.

Progressives recognize that government is the only entity with the heft to stand up to trans-national corporations. Teabaggers are against socialized medicine, but want Medicare untouched. Bit of a perception problem, I'd say. Much of what they "know" is the
opposite of reality, and they are totally immune to facts and data.

Cheers!
JzB

March 18, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterjazzbumpa
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