Therapy on the SA forums pretty much summed up the pertinent thoughts and problems with the Tea Party:

It occurs to me that the Tea Party is not only the minority opinion, but a terrified, fearful minority. I’ve been trying to figure out what they’re so scared of, and unfortunately I think it really does come down to change of any type. They view the progression of society as a threat to their expectations. The Norman Rockwell idealization of 1950s America that they hold so dear has been destroyed in their minds, and they are looking for somebody – anybody – to blame.

Largely I think this fear has been created by the media. We have exceptionally low crime rates in this country compared to where we were, historically. Since 1990 we’re down almost 40% in violent crimes alone. But just ask anybody in the Tea Party “is the country more safe or less safe than it was 20 years ago” and you’ll almost assuredly get the latter response.

It’s easy to understand why. They view the country as being taken away from them by the things that have changed. What’s changed since the 1950s?

* Civil Rights movement for African Americans
* Advent of the 24-hour cable news channels (gotta fill it up with something)
* More targeted news media – specialized. Sports channels, finance channels, etc.
* The “Gay Rights” movement
* Roe vs. Wade

My view of the average Tea Party member is a white guy in his mid 50s from the Midwest. I don’t know if that’s accurate – but that’s the perception I have. He barely remembers the 50s because that’s when he was born, but the 50s/60s are his ideal society, in his mind. He idealizes that time because he was a child and doesn’t understand the complex social issues of the time, and that not everyone was middle class and white and happy with the picket fence, dog, and two cars.

They blame taxes, they blame government, they blame minorities, they blame gays, they blame abortion, they blame everybody for what they see as “this country going down the tubes” but in reality the country is largely better off than it was, though we’re more obese and compare worse educationally to the rest of the world.

But nobody wants to believe that – my mother in law steadfastly refused to accept that society was safer now than it was when she was a child in the 1950s/1960s. I showed her the FBI crime statistics, which she declared “can’t be trusted because they come from the Obama administration”, and once I realized the futility, I left it at that. She’s a sweet woman, not terribly well educated or intelligent even, but a very good person for the most part. She’s just got this feeling, as Colbert would call it, Truthiness. She knows how she feels – she doesn’t drive at night, she won’t go out to dinner with us after dark unless we go to two restaurants in her neighborhood, she’s terrified of black people, and even though she’s been married to a Mexican for nearly 40 years, she doesn’t trust them, either. She would be a Tea Party member if it didn’t require the effort to go out and drive to these events – she respects them and really dislikes Obama, though she couldn’t tell you why. She also thought he was a Muslim at first, because of his name, but we cleared that up.

There are a lot of people like that out there – and it’s not that they’re incapable of learning or understanding – it’s that they would rather believe in the things that “feel” right to them. They’re not comfortable challenging themselves or changing their views unless it really benefits them.

I think the Tea Party is doing a disservice to real political discourse in this country – but I don’t see that real political discourse has actually happened in my lifetime (I’m 32) and I don’t think I’ll ever see it again.

Depressing, I guess. But if Liberals or Conservatives really want votes, they have to tap into the raw emotions of their voters and energize them. The easiest way seems to be fear.

Thanks to Therapy for letting me repost that.

This came from SA also, and I thought it was humorous: