Is the Tea Party … mad?

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The recent Tea Party victories in Republican primaries make me wonder: Is this populist movement more than just a flash in the political pan? Many dismiss the Tea Party movement as just a white geriatric spasm—a short-lived emotional overreaction by middle class, white, older Americans. But a new book about the movement—“Boiling Point” by New York Times reporter Kate Zernike—makes the case that the Tea Party has more substance, and perhaps more staying power, than many think.

This week on OurValues.org, we’ll consider Zernike’s findings, some quite surprising and contrary to stereotypes about the tea baggers.

Who, for example, do you think initiated what became the Tea Party crusade? You couldn’t figure it out from the usual TV coverage of Tea Partiers. The originator is a half-Mexican woman, who teaches math, has her nose pierced, and does improv on the weekend. (In the photo above today: That’s her, Keri Carender, in a frequently circulated photo of a Tea Party protest in the Pacific northwest.)

Oh, yes—and she is mad, boiling mad. She was so mad about the bailouts, the stimulus package, and everything else that she organized a protest, aided by a plug by a conservative blogger and a radio host. The rest is history.

Anger seems to be the core emotion of the Tea Party movement. In polls cited by Zernike, over half (53%) of Tea Party supporters chose “angry” when given the chance to describe themselves as “dissatisfied but not angry.”  If you look at those who are active in the Tea Party, you find even more anger. Three of four of the Tea Party activists define themselves as angry.

What are they so mad about? Tea Party supporters feel that they did everything right, Zernike says, holding down jobs, paying the mortgage, raising families, paying taxes, and going to church—but all is in jeopardy now. Most of all, they feel betrayed by a government that wants to take what they earned and give it to others.

Are you boiling mad, too?  

What’s your reaction to the recent Tea Party victories? And what do they mean for the elections in November?

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