First up, the latest breaking news on the bizarre and bitter end of the Rightwing militia standoff at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon and the concurrent arrest of Nevada's scofflaw rancher Cliven Bundy. Next, more disturbing Photo ID voter suppression news out of New Hampshire and elsewhere, including a new paper out of UC-San Diego finding that strict Photo ID restrictions result in an alarming rate of suppressed Latino and African-American votes. In general elections, for example, based on examinations of some 50 elections in states both before and after implementation of polling place restrictions by GOP lawmakers, "states with strict photo ID laws show a Latino turnout 10.3 points lower than in states without them."
Then, after a brief throwback to the early days of the so-called "Tea Party" (our complete short documentary from 2009, Rise of the Tea Bags, can be enjoyed here), I'm joined by political science researcher Sean McElwee of Demos to discuss his new study, with Jason McDaniel, offering empirical evidence that it is not opposition to "Big Government" or concerns about the economy or spending or taxes that mainly drives those who identify as being sympathetic to the Tea Party — it's racial resentment. McElwee explains how his study controlled "for race, ethnicity, partisanship, ideology, income, education, gender, religiosity" and that "once you compare the various strengths of these variables, the one that ends up becoming really the overwhelming predictor of Tea Party identification is racial resentment."
"From the beginning," of the movement, he tells me, "what you're seeing is this sort of racially-coded rhetoric. So, right from the beginning, you have a very great explanation of conservative politics of the last 30 years — which is plutocratic policies being wrapped up in racist rhetoric in order to benefit a plutocratic agenda. And you have a lot of white middle class and working class people who have bought into that agenda."
"What Fox News has done is taken that model and actually weaponized it, politicized it, and used it to attack policies that benefit the vast majority of Americans," McElwee argues, even as the Rightwing network's viewers have little clue how they are being played. "What we have in a lot of cases are people who are very frustrated about what is going on, but lack the political knowledge to actually understand the causal mechanism for how this bad thing is happening. And if you don't have that, if you don't connect government policy to your lived experiences — what you end up doing is saying 'I'm upset, I don't know why my life is bad'. And if someone tells you your life is bad because 'immigrants are taking your jobs', or 'the government is helping black people with your tax dollars', people are susceptible to that message."
McElwee goes on to explain how his research finds that many who previously identified with the Tea Party have now folded into the Trump campaign, even though the Republican 2016 front-runner has called for massive government programs and increased spending — things that Tea Partiers previously decried. We also discuss much more, including whether hatred for Obama from the Right can be attributed to the fact that he is black or, simply, that he is a Democrat.
You can find Brad’s previous editions here.
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