Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Tea Party's Religious Right Roots: Mainstream Media Finally Corrects Its Meme

I just mentioned the coming elections in the U.S., and who wants to do what to whom in those elections.  As an addendum to this analysis,, I'd like to point out two among many excellent articles about the links between the tea party and the religious right, which are coming out now as the election nears.  I recommend these articles because they provide a valuable corrective to a (false) mainstream media meme that the tea partiers have transcended the religious right roots of neoconservatism and are interested only in economic issues--not in imposing a theocratic agenda on America.

First, I want to note Nancy Cohen's recent HuffPo piece entitled "Hiding in Plain Sight: The Christian Right in the Tea Party Movement."  As Cohen notes, 

If you liked Rovian anti-gay marriage referendums, the Terry Schiavo saga, anti-abortion litmus tests for diplomatic service in a war zone, and creationism in the Grand Canyon bookstore, you'll love this season's Tea Party candidates.

Why have we failed to see the religious right hiding in plain sight in the tea party movement until folks like Christine O'Donnell emerged on the national scene?  Cohen notes two factors: first, the mainstream media have helped to craft the dominant narrative about the tea partiers, and have colluded with them in hiding the Christian right ideology they're promoting; and, second, the tea partiers have deliberately sought to deceive the public about their real agenda.

Cohen writes:

So why did the Christian Right flock to the Tea Party movement, and what explains their libertarian posturing? To survive after Bush, the Christian Right had to rebrand and lay low. That's nothing new. When Clinton took office, as I detail in my forthcoming book, Christian Right operatives were explicit--among themselves--that their recovery depended on deception. As Ralph Reed, head of the Christian Coalition, put it: "I want to be invisible. I do guerrilla warfare. I paint my face and travel at night. You don't know it's over until you're in a body bag. You don't know until election night."

I'd also like to recommend Amanda Marcotte's analysis of the tea party and the mainstream media's role in hiding its theocratic agenda at Reality Check yesterday.  I particularly like Marcotte's chilling conclusion about what will happen if (in my view, the operative word here is "when") the tea party gains power in the coming elections:

But despite the demographic deadline facing the conservative movement, they can still massive damage on their way out the door. As the Center for Reproductive Rights documented, 2010 was a particularly bad year for reproductive rights, as many state legislatures passed increasingly strict regulations on abortion.  And even as the country as a whole moves more to the left, we’re also seeing increasing geographic polarization, making some areas of the country ever more right wing by the day.  For these areas, the crackdown on women’s rights may have just begun.   

If you think you've seen that male-female binary model in full macho swing already, wait until you see what happens when the angry party of the angry nay-sayers regains power after the fall elections.  Believe me, the Knights of Columbus don't intend to beat those swords into plowshares anytime soon.

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