This weekend, I wrote an article about my Tea Party experiences, sharing a personal evaluation of the character of the movement.
Since that time, I have received an overwhelming response from Americans from all walks of life. Both positive and negative. Some, predictably, were extremely hostile.
This morning, I noted a response from a Black Republican, Aaron Laramore, who keeps up a site, “A Political Season”, a Conservative Blog which highlights Republicans who are making or sharing worthwhile news.
He offers what I found to be a provocative and interesting response to my article:
“A really interesting piece you have written, at least interesting to me, mostly because you are writing as someone with some up close and personal experience with Tea Party members. I think the things you have pointed out are fairly accurate, but I also think you are holding back a bit in terms of addressing the issue of race or prejudice as it relates to the Tea Party.
Let me preface what I say next but pointing out that in my opinion, the issue of whether the Tea Party is or is not racist is complicated by the fact that we as a community of citizens no longer have a shared understanding of what we mean when we say something is racist.
The terminology, through misuse, abuse and overuse by black and white, has become nearly useless to discuss the issue among ourselves. I’m black, so on this topic I talk about it from perspective of blacks and whites.
I would agree with you that Tea Party members are not racist, meaning that I don’t believe they are motivated by a belief in the racial superiority of white people over black people in a way more prevalent than the general population. I’m sure there is some percentage of TP members who we would all agree could reasonably be labeled racist, but that’s true of the universe of non TP members.
So sure, racism is not the prime motivation of TP members.
However, I think you can’t end the analysis there. You are glossing over the topic if you do. To be sure, the Tea Party is motivated by concerns about the growth of government, the size of the debt, the erosion of freedom and liberty.
Those issues are real to them because they are real issues and it would be unfair to say that those concerns don’t motivate the Tea Party. But its no coincidence that these concerns racheted up to near hysterical levels of anger, venom and activism when there was a black president to personify the government and all the concerns, spoken and unspoken, the Tea Party has.
I don’t charge that racism is what typifies the Tea Party faction of the GOP. That’s not accurate. But there is little denying that part of what is operating in their mental background is a concern that their control of America and its government as part of a white voting majority in this country is coming to a close.
The browning of America and transition to a country politically guided by a multiracial electorate is one that they fear.
Here is where the smallness of the Tea Party vision is exposed. Rather than pursue a path of inclusion or of shared opportunity (which requires tolerance of dissenting views as you noted), the Tea Party champions positions which will help to preserve the political strength they have enjoyed and maintain their competitive advantage as against other demographics (so called voter integrity efforts, for example).
It is TRUE that government IS too big and spends TOO much money. But the makers vs. takers meme widely bought into by Tea Party supporters betrays the other impulse at work here. Within 40 years, a multi-racial electorate will determine our elected leaders, not a white majority.
The reality is that a degree of Tea Party fervor is in part about shrinking and diminishing government power to tax them, or to restrain their behavior before that moment arrives to preserve their advantage.
That is part of what’s motivating TP members. And while I think few would admit to the impulse, that it is there is implicitly clear in the tone, tenor and content of their rhetoric, whether its something they can acknowledge consciously or not.”
Mr. Laramore is essentially asserting that the Tea Party Movement is fighting against a “White, Black, Brown and Beige Future” in America, whether consciously or not.