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Right-Wing Populism/Tea Parties

How Did the Tea Party Movement Emerge?

According to author and veteran anti-racist activist Leonard Zeskind:

The Tea Parties are a little bit like a poison apple--with three layers. At their center is a hard-core group of over 220,000 enrolled members of five national factions, and hundreds of thousands more that we have not yet counted but are signed up only with their local Tea Parties. At the next level is a larger less defined group of a couple of million activists who go to meetings, buy the literature and attend the many local and national protests. And finally there are the Tea Party sympathizers. These are people who say they agree with what they believe are the Tea Parties' goal. These rank at about 16% to 18% of voters, depending on which organization is doing the polling. That would mean somewhere between 17 million and 19 million adult American voters count themselves as Tea Party supporters. (Read More)

Leonard Zeskind is the director of the
Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights


Since the inauguration of Barack Obama as President of the United States there has been a resurgence of the mostly white middle class populist movements that have appeared sporadically in the last two decades in the U.S. and Europe. The largest such movement, the Tea Parties, are primarily a collection of small activist groups basing their name on a famous pre-revolution colonial period protest that included dumping cases of tea into Boston harbor to protest the tax policies of the British government.

In 2009, the Tea Bag and Town Hall protestors, spawned as astroturf, morphed into a constellation of actual grassroots right-wing populist movements. The anxieties of the Tea Partiers are not just about the economy, but also dark-skinned immigrants, Muslim terrorism, gay marriage, abortion, and a liberal Black man in the White House.

Reading the Tea Leaves

Our Allies' Sites with Useful Resources

  • Center for New Community
  • Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights
  • Talk to Action

The formula for real democracy is a process that is profoundly populist.
It is the faith that:

The majority of people,
Over time,
Given access to enough accurate information,
And the ability to participate in a free and open debate,
Reach decisions that will:
--Benefit the whole of society,
--Protect liberty,
--Extend equality,
--Preserve freedom, and thus
--Defend democracy.

Right-Wing Populism

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