Change They Can't Believe in

Change They Can't Believe in

The Tea Party and Reactionary Politics in America

Book - 2013
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Are Tea Party supporters merely a group of conservative citizens concerned about government spending? Or are they racists who refuse to accept Barack Obama as their president because he's not white? Change They Can't Believe In offers an alternative argument--that the Tea Party is driven by the reemergence of a reactionary movement in American politics that is fueled by a fear that America has changed for the worse. Providing a range of original evidence and rich portraits of party sympathizers as well as activists, Christopher Parker and Matt Barreto show that what actually pushes Tea Party supporters is not simple ideology or racism, but fear that the country is being stolen from "real Americans"--a belief triggered by Obama's election. From civil liberties and policy issues, to participation in the political process, the perception that America is in danger directly informs how Tea Party supporters think and act.

The authors argue that this isn't the first time a segment of American society has perceived the American way of life as under siege. In fact, movements of this kind often appear when some individuals believe that "American" values are under threat by rapid social changes. Drawing connections between the Tea Party and right-wing reactionary movements of the past, including the Know Nothing Party, the Ku Klux Klan of the 1920s, and the John Birch Society, Parker and Barreto develop a framework that transcends the Tea Party to shed light on its current and future consequences.

Linking past and present reactionary movements, Change They Can't Believe In rigorously examines the motivations and political implications associated with today's Tea Party.

Published: Princeton :, Princeton University Press,, [2013]
ISBN: 9780691151830
Branch Call Number: 322.4409 PAR
Characteristics: xv, 361 pages :,illustrations ;,24 cm


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Dec 11, 2013

I suspect those who gave 1-star reviews on Amazon did not read the book. If they had and if they were honest, even if they don't agree with Parker's opinions and/or don't like the book, they would have to give him credit for writing a carefully researched, methodological, empirical and fact-based look at Tea Party supporters.

If they read the book, they'd understand that the Ku Klux Klan comparison is specifically based on the relatively political Klan of the 1920s, not the more violent Klan of the Post-Civil-War South or the 1950s and later. If they read the book, they'd understand the comparison with the '20s Klan and the John Birch Society is based on strong demographic and political similarities of supporters of these groups, again from fact-based research. And the authors certainly do not say that all Tea Party member or supporters are racist. Particularly interesting to me is the research on how Tea Party supporters differ from other conservatives, in some ways they are very similar and in some ways very different.

As a graduate of both the University of Washington undergrad and U of Chicago grad, I take pride in Parker having his Phd from Chicago and being currently a tenured faculty at UW. A little bit academic for my tastes, repetitive at times.


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