The New York Times and CBS pooled their allowances and bought a little public opinion survey targeting the media’s favorite population sector of the moment: those who identify with the various tea party movements — which turns out to be about 18% of Americans in this poll.
What did they find out?
That those who identify themselves as tea party members or sympathizers are richer, older, and whiter than most US citizens. They are no more afraid of losing economic position than other Americans. Surprisingly, perhaps, they mostly think they are taxed fairly.
Yet they are fervent in their demands for smaller government — even though they are equally dead set against giving up the entitlements of age: Social Security and Medicare. Two of the most expensive non-military items in the US budget — but don’t try to take them away, because then they’ll get really mad.
Tea party folks consider themselves conservative — they are considerably more conservative by most any measure than most Republicans — and they consider President Obama very liberal.
They also — in large part — either believe Obama was not born in the United States — despite everything from the assurances of Hawaiian state government, the Hawaiian paper that printed Obama’s birth announcement nearly a half-century ago, the news division of Fox News, the conservative Annenberg Foundation’s FactCheck.org — who have investigated the issue up one side and down the other, even going so far as to inspect the actual physical certificate — or they are uncertain. (My favorite frequent quote from the tea partiers who flood the news blogs and newspaper comment sections: “Well, if he’s a citizen, why doesn’t he just show us his birth certificate?” It boggles the mind.)
So… most tea partiers are well-off, white, selfish, willfully ignorant, logic-challenged, and just a wee bit irrational.
Tell me something I don’t know already, huh?