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An expert deconstruction of the Tea Party
on September 30, 2013
"The Rise of the Tea Party" by Anthony DiMaggio is an expert deconstruction of the Tea Party as a pro-business tool of mass persuasion. Mr. DiMaggio is a scholar whose writings on mass media, propaganda and politics have been widely published. Helping us understand the forces that have recently driven American politics in a more strident, intolerant and proto-fascist direction, this enlightening book will empower readers who might be concerned about democracy and the future.
Mr. DiMaggio discloses how the Tea Party was engineered by wealthy individuals with extremist pro-business, anti-environment and socially conservative ideologies. Mr. DiMaggio attended numerous meetings in the Chicago area where he found a near total lack of audience participation that belied the organization's highly directed, top-down structure. Indeed, the evidence gathered by the author refutes the widespread but misbegotten notion that the Tea Party is a grassroots movement. Chillingly, it seems more the case that Tea Partiers - many of whom embrace Ayn Rand's philosophy of selfish individualism - have been molded into subjects who are easily manipulated by elite interests.
Mr. DiMaggio explains how the Tea Party limited progress on president Obama's health care initiative. Mr. DiMaggio cites Sarah Palin's ridiculous allegation about 'death panels' as part of a successful campaign to remove serious consideration of the public option from prospective legislation. Faux populist outrage expressed by Tea Partiers at Town Hall meetings further derailed the opportunity for the American public to benefit from a more open, informed and civil discourse. The author's work suggests that our democratic processes remain far too vulnerable to well-orchestrated campaigns of misinformation and demagoguery.
On that point, Mr. DiMaggio explains that the Tea Party has fulfilled its mission of rebranding a Republican Party that was widely disdained in 2008 for its mismanagement of the economy. Although the Tea Party's obsessiveness about socialism, deficits and costs is congruent with the Republican Party platform, extremist Tea Party rhetoric allows most rank-and-file Republicans to appear moderate by comparison. In fact, Mr. DiMaggio presents data showing that Tea Party leaders are Republican stalwarts whose Congressional voting patterns remain virtually indistinguishable from others in the Party.
Mr. DiMaggio goes into detail about the key role media has played in perpetuating the Tea Party hoax and making cruel right-wing austerity policies more palatable to a confused public. Mr. DiMaggio conducted statistical analysis to reveal how Tea Party sympathies are highly correlated with propaganda disseminated by right-wing media channels who are credited with playing a key role in sowing mass confusion and exploiting the opportunity to drive attendance to Tea Party rallies. In fact, Mr. DiMaggio presents polling data that shows how the myth of a grassroots mass movement went unchallenged by the wider media, allowing the Tea Party to gain a certain level of credibility, exert influence beyond its core base of supporters and nudge the American public overall slightly to the right. Fortunately, as the people of Madison, Wisconsin and elsewhere have struggled to push back against the right-wing agenda of corporate welfare and attacks on worker's rights, the author believes that real social movements dedicated to improving the lives of ordinary people will ultimately prevail over the fakery of the Tea Party.
I highly recommend this timely and informative book to everyone.