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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Tea parties define mainstream America

By Dennis Byrne
Chicago Tribune

If you just listened to unfair and unbalanced CNN as well as some Chicago media outlets, you'd get the idea that the growing number of "so-called" tea parties is just a right-wing conspiracy that managed to lure a few hundred impressionable loonies from their dark recesses.

No one in his right mind, we're told, would ever think that it's a manifestation of the growing split between mainstream Americans and the political class; a mushrooming fear of the out-of-control audacity of the Obama administration; or rising disgust with political machinations, no matter what the party.

Consider the numbers. Rasmussen Reports has tried to quantify the split between the political class and the rest of us using a "political class index." It shows:

•Three-quarters of the political class gives Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner rave reviews; only 12 percent of mainstream Americans did.

•Fifty-nine percent of "mainstreamers" think that troubled insurance giant American International Group Inc. should be allowed to fail; only 7 percent of the political class does. Sixty-seven percent of mainstreamers say politicians should give back any campaign contributions they received from AIG; only 29 percent of the political class agrees.

•Two-thirds of mainstreamers say that better protection for the nation's borders and reducing illegal Immigration is "very important." Only one-third of the political class does.

•More than half of Americans can be classified as "mainstream" or "populist." Only 7 percent identify with the political class.

Rasmussen found that Democrats, Republicans and independents generally share mainstream views in equal proportions. In other words, the greater divide in this country may not be between Democrats and Republicans or conservatives and liberals, but between the mainstream and the political class.

I think that the fundamental split between the political class and rest of us shows up in other ways: Rasmussen recently found that 62 percent of Illinois voters want Sen. Roland Burris to resign, 54 percent would definitely vote against him next year and only 19 percent have a favorable opinion of him. Only 4 percent will definitely vote for him. Lest we forget, Burris is a Democrat in a Democratic state, and Burris is a creature spawned by the political class. Could Illinois voters finally have had enough?

Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. was once the most popular choice to take President Barack Obama's place in the Senate, but after reports that the feds were looking into claims that Jackson's associates might have offered then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich as much as $5 million for the seat, 63 percent viewed him unfavorably. Seventy-four percent of the state's voters say future Senate vacancies should be filled by a special election, like the one that the state's political class—which happens to be mostly Democrats—blocked.

On the national level, only 27 percent of voters want a second economic stimulus package, but 74 percent say Congress likely will pass one anyway. Fewer than a quarter of Americans believe the federal government reflects the will of the people. Democratic congressional candidates now are regarded with about the same disdain as Republicans. While some polls show that Obama's approval ratings are generally high (as they are for most starting presidents), the percentage of people who strongly disapprove of his conduct in office now is just about equal to the number of those who strongly approve. (All of these polls were conducted by Rasmussen.) Obama's election has failed to mend the split between the mainstream and the political class. If anything, his wild, reckless economic policies are widening that split. The folks at the tea parties only confirmed it.


Anonymous said...

There may be a split between mainstream America and politicians, but I'll use an analogy my mother used to use on me: If the mainstream American thinks the country should jump off a bridge, do you think the politicians should follow?

Most of the disagreements you cite can be explained by insufficient knowledge and understanding of the issues by mainstream, especially in the financial arena. Most of us don't know squat about financial markets, but we all think we have the answers.

We elect the politicians to handle these things in an intelligent and thoughtful manner. If they fail us, there is always another election. That's where we show our disappointment.

As for the "Tea Parties", turnout was small everywhere but Atlanta, where it was estimated at 15,000. But don't fool yourself: 14,500 of them came to see Hannity. He is a celebrity of the right wingnuts, and they'd show up to watch him cut his toenails. I know... I lived there.

Anonymous said...

The GOP Circus left town a few months ago and now the clean-up begins. The "tax-cut and spend"
clowns almost completely did in the American economy--no small feat.
I'm glad Obama is doing what he is doing. McCain would have bombed bombed bombed Wall St.
According to Runurass Reports the failure of AIG would have affected mostly low to mid income people.
56% of American wish they could afford Mexican help.Nine (not percent--just nine people) wish the best for Dick Cheney.

Anonymous said...

I prefer Bill Clinton's "tea-bagging" much more than Rush Right's

Dennis Byrne... said...

"Runurass Reports"?

Stephen Schade said...

Mr. Byrne:

You seem to have forgotten one of the problems with democracy -- the majority is not always right. And if Obama's programs revive the economy, no one will call them reckless.

Dennis Byrne... said...

Steve, which is what Democrats frequently said when the votes didn't go their way, such as the election of George Bush. Which is what liberals continue to say whenever a democratic-minded pro-lifer suggests that regulation of abortion be put to the vote. Or constitutional amendments pass banning gay marriage.