The Tea Party is unpopular, but Mitt Romney has to pretend to be “in synch” with the movement. And that’s the box the GOP finds itself in.

The Tea Party is unpopular (though admittedly less unpopular than the Republicans). The NYT poll shows 20% of the voters favorable to the movement, while 40% are unfavorable, while CNN shows an even worse 31%-51%.

So what does Mitt Romney, who supposedly wants to be President, think he’s doing when he claims (falsely) to be “in synch” with the yahoos? Answer: seeking the Republican nomination. And there you have the box the GOP finds itself in. Even with a thoroughly rotten economy, the positions someone has to take to become the Republican nominee will make it almost impossible to get elected President.

Footnote Coincidentally, a new op-ed by David Campbell and Robert Putnam (drawn from the same research that produced their magisterial American Grace) discredits the Tea Party promoters’ origin myth about politically naive folks coming together to oppose “big government.” In fact, Tea Party supporters are characterized by long-standing Republican affiliation, religiosity, opposition to abortion, and hostility to blacks and immigrants. Putnam also claims that TPers are now less popular than Muslims or (shudder) even atheists, but doesn’t provide the actual data.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact:

One thought on “Self-destruction”

  1. I don’t know. This makes a lot of sense. Crazy doesn’t come out of no where.

    But the one tea partier I know was formerly a seemingly liberal/libertarian San Francisco musician who wasn’t interested in politics. After moving to relatively conservative Riverside county and working for a few years as an apprentice to his FOX-watching father’s business, he suddenly began spouting Glenn Beck talking points, complaining about “illegals” and our “illegitimate” president.

    It seems he stumbled into it, and was thus swept away in the tide of the noise-machine. I wonder how much of the tea party success was merely the old die-hard nutters rallying no-nothing friends and neighbors in a time of uncertainty, laying blame where before none was necessary.

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