The book, released just two weeks ago, is titled Mad As Hell: How the Tea Party Movement Is Fundamentally Remaking Our Two-Party System. It’s based on research and polling conducted by Rasmussen and Schoen. The authors tackle head-on the nature and origins of the Tea Party movement. As to the authenticity of the movement, they write:
The question has been asked of whether the Tea Party is an authentic national movement with broad-based support, or a more limited narrow movement that has only been able to produce real crowds and real enthusiasm because of so-called Astroturf.
Fortunately a large amount of research has been done by a wide variety of organizations that answer the question definitively.
First, the Tea Party movement is broad based with wide support.
A theme in the book is that the elite class in America simply does not understand the depth and breath of the Tea Party movement. And according to Rasmussen and Schoen, the Tea Party represents a real and powerful uprising or groundswell of right-wing populism. Not understanding the depth and breadth of the Tea Party — or if they do understand it, then fearing it — elites criticize it. They denigrate tea party supporters by labeling them as Astroturf — fake grassroots.
That is an insult. It illustrates that the political elite in this country do not believe that ordinary citizens are capable of forming their own opinions. Casting the tea party as Astroturf is an easy way for elites to criticize the party without dealing with the realities of the issues that Tea Party supporters are confronting.
In a similar fashion, by concentrating on the fringe elements of tea party supporters — racists, “truthers,” and “birthers” — critics are able to deflect attention from the very real and important issues that tea party supporters are working on.
This book contains many important observations about American politics and society. I’ll be looking at more over the next weeks.
The Washington Examiner has a series of excerpts of the book at Scott Rasmussen and Douglas Schoen: One nation under revolt