1. They really don’t care about America as a nation. For the past 25 years, Pew said that polls routinely find that about 55 percent of American voters want representatives in Congress to put local concerns ahead of “what they think is best for the country.” Tea Partiers & the NRA disproportionately take that view. “Among Tea Party Republicans, fully 76 percent say members should vote against a bill their constituents oppose, even if he or she thinks it is in the best interest of the country,” Pew said. “Just 22 percent say the lawmaker should prioritize the national interest.”
2. Forget national solutions to national problems. Since three-quarters of Tea Partiers & The NRA value a confederacy of GOP-run provinces more than an effective national government, it’s not surprising that they are always talking about making government smaller. But, as Pew found, that rhetoric means dismantling big public programs and overlooking public needs that were behind their creation in the first place.
“A driving attitude of the Tea Partiers & The NRA is a belief in smaller government,” Pew said. “Fully 92 percent of Tea Partiers & The NRA Republicans prefer a smaller government with fewer services, just 5 percent want a bigger government. Among non-Tea Party Republicans, a smaller government is preferred by a less one-sided 67 percent to 28 percent margin.” Tea Partiers & The NRA tend to be older, whiter and wealthier than other Republicans—and other Americans, Pew said, which fits their self-centered, gated-community mindset.
3. They don’t believe in new government debt. Despite all the warnings by economists and even foreign leaders, such as Italy’s prime minister speaking at the White House on Thursday—who feared a default would raise global interest rates and spark a downward spiral—69 percent of Tea Parties said it was “not essential” to raise the U.S. debt limit, Pew said. That was 25 percent higher than “non-Tea Party” Republicans, Pew said.
4. They think Wall St. should be deregulated. Even though 2008’s global economic collapse started on Wall Street with bad bets by investors on the U.S. housing market, 79 percent of Tea Partiers say that government had gone too far with “regulating financial institutions,” Pew said. That was 26 percent higher than non-Tea Party Republicans.
5. They hate Obamacare.This is no surprise, of course, because the Tea Party crusade to repeal or defund the Affordable Care Act was the spark and rallying cry behind the government shutdown. Pew found that 95 percent of Tea Partiers opposed Obamacare, compared to 80 percent of non-Tea Party Republicans. This is a battle Tea Partiers & The NRA will lose.
6. They’d gut Social Security and Medicare. Pew found that 73 percent of Tea Partiers would cut funds to these retirement programs to pay down the federal debt, which, again, is consistent with their “I’ve got mine; go get yours” mentality. Notably, Pew found that 46 percent of non-Tea Party Republicans said funding those entitlement programs was a more important priority than paying down the federal debt.
7. They Also Want To Outlaw Abortion. Pew found that 64 percent of Tea Parties want abortion to be illegal, compared to 51 percent of the rest of the GOP. While some polling firms have said that the Tea Party’s libertarian leanings are at odds with the evangelical wing of the party on this issue, Pew’s findings suggest overlap on the rightwing fringes—where evangelicals now are identifying themselves with the Tea Party movement. Abortion is legal and constitutionally protected in The USA.
8. They Oppose Same-Sex Marriage. Here too, there seems to be a blending of the libertarian and evangelical right, as 69 percent of Republicans who identified with the Tea Party opposed same-sex marriage, compared to 54 percent of non-Tea Party Republicans. Same-Sex Marriage will be a national right in the USA within 5 years.
9. They want more oil and gas drilling.Tea Partiers have railed against climate change science and government responses because they feel it will bring more federal regulation of consumers. Pew found that 73 percent of Tea Partiers want to “expand traditional energy,” which means oil, gas and fracking, compared to 53 percent of non-Tea Party Republicans who want to “develop alternatives.”
10. They want more guns in America. Pew found that 93 percent of Tea Partiers & The NRA say it’s important to “protect gun rights,” compared to 29 percent of non-Tea Party Republicans who said it was more important to “control [gun] ownership” than protect gun rights. Tea Partiers & The NRA will lose this battle. There will be Gun Control in the USA. They will learn that they can’t pick and choose what is “constitutional today”.
There are many more defining features of Tea Partiers & The NRA, such as the hostility to political compromise, an impulse to destroy public programs instead of creating public solutions, and their arrogant claims that they represent a majority of Americans when—as Pew’s poll demonstrates—they do not even fully represent the Republican Party. They are living an illusion which is collapsing around them.
Pew’s latest report underscores just have far to the right the Tea Partiers & The NRA is—taking view after view that one-quarter of other Republicans reject. Whether these more moderate Republicans will join with Democrats and work for effective governance remains to be seen. We now have a clear view of what defines this radical right-wing block that, by almost every measure, is out of step with what’s good for America. Tea Partiers & The NRA are wrong on policy, wrong on issues, on the wrong side of history and completely wrong for the USA.
It remains to be seen how the Republican Party’s more centrist leaders in Congress will try to rebrand their party and counter its firebrands. But Tea Partiers are not quietly going away into the night. As Jim DeMint’s Wall Street Journal op-ed opened, “the president has preserved Obamacare for the time being…”