Neo-Confederates, the Militias and the Tea Parties – Are We Heading for a Second Civil War?

by on January 10, 2011 · 41 comments

in Civil Rights, Culture, Election, Popular, War and Peace

tea party san diego gun 2-27-10

San Diego: a Tea Partier with a gun - February 27, 2010, at San Diego Bay. Our counter-rally was across the street.

Originally posted April 21, 2010

I began writing this nearly a week ago, on Tax Day, April 15th, as thousands of Tea Party members were rallying across the nation.  I wanted to write something substantive, authoritative, a summary, a review of the extreme right mobilizations, of the militias, the new secessionists, the  open-carry activists with guns. And what it all meant.

For background, I began reading probably more than a dozen reports and posts on and of  the Tea Partiers, the militias, and other extremist nefarious goings-on in our country. Not surprised by all the attention the Tea Parties were getting, I kept reading and searching for more – I put off writing for another day or two.

There were these two Republican Southern governors who both announced that April would be “Remember the Confederacy Month” – without mentioning slavery, initially at least.  There was the secessionist talk by mainstream GOP politicians in Texas.  There were those 8 or 9 armed militiamen in the Mid-West who were recently arrested as they were plotting an armed “uprising.”  Then there were the Oklahoma legislators supporting the formation of “militias” to defend their state – against the Feds.

And of course, there were the oft-cited displays of racism and homophobia when Tea Partiers spit at and heckled Black and gay congressmen in front of the Capitol building around the time of the passage of the health reform bill. These were all denied, naturally, by the right’s spin-makers.  There were the 42 known threats or incidents of violence done against the offices of Democratic lawmakers after the bill was passed. Bricks were thrown through office windows.

tea party DC armed rally 4-19

Armed protesters across the Potomac from the Capitol, April 19, 2010.

There was that rally of armed extremists just this past Monday, April 19th, just across the Potomac from the Capitol. There was that rally in South Carolina where the guy who advocated throwing the bricks made even more threats against the government. There’s all these promises to “take our country back,” the really violent rhetoric we’re hearing, there’s the huge uptick in threats against President Obama.

Again, after reading more over the weekend and it became time to punch the laptop, I got stuck and overwhelmed.  I made more notes. And finally, when it came time to figuratively put pen to paper, I couldn’t write anything.  My mind balked. My fingers stalled over the keyboard.

I was too depressed to write.  I felt demoralized, demoralized with the state of politics in America. This country is really going downhill, I thought, and we could be involved in a new civil war if this all keeps up.  It was disgusting what some of these Tea Party leaders and members were saying, it was disheartening to understand why these gun-toting angry white men and women were bearing arms.

Why bother? I asked. It could be all over. These extremists are brewing and stewing for another civil war. Besides, people in OB were too caught up in their paradisaical state to care about gun-toters, about threats from militias – and, ‘hey, dude, those tea partiers are way-too angry!’ for my fellow OBceans.

How can you think about militias when there’s beautiful days, bountiful surf, a warm sun, and scantily clan young bodies laying and frolicking on the sand? Besides, after tax day, there was 4/20 to celebrate.

I pushed on to read more about the Tea Parties. I checked out the nearly half dozen local websites and blogs they have here in San Diego County.

On Tax Day – April 15th, supposedly by one estimate, half a million Tea Partiers rallied – against taxes presumably,  in 800 different locations across the country. I read the reports, clicked on the photos, watched the videos on the blogosphere.  The more I saw, the more demoralized I became.


They rallied against taxes while most of them enjoyed tax cuts by the current President – the “socialist”, the Muslim, the Kenyan. They decried big government and the “socialism” while enjoying public parks where they rallied, the public infrastructure and public health care and benefits they receive.

I felt sorry for America.  We had elected the first Black man as President, but his very election had unleashed a hatred and anger not seen from the Right for decades, an anger – apparently submerged during the eight long George W Bush years – that has surfaced and now has supposedly changed the political climate in the nation.

Even though I knew there was a building backlash against the Tea Parties – I have even been part of it -, I couldn’t go on.  Too frustrated, too depressed to write – so I put it off again.

These feelings were nothing new, either, as last Fall and Winter, I had written a three-part series entitled “The Dilemma of the Disenchanted Progressive,” laying out why progressives – while disenchanted with Obama – were caught up in an historic twist and couldn’t ignore the developing homegrown variety of American fascism rising up among the ranks of the racists who could not accept the election of our first African-American to the White House.

I summarized then:

Put it all together – the racism, the authoritarianism, the aggressiveness and threats of violence, the bullying, the ignorance, the manipulation, the outright deception, the corporate links and funding and media support – and we have something that is – by definition – a movement of American fascism.

Who would have thought that the election of the first Black president would have sparked a renewal in the lingering, smoldering coals of the Southern Confederacy?  This particular polarity – the election of a Black president and the re-newel of interest in the Confederacy – has an eerie parallel in the  election of Abraham Lincoln and the secession of the Southern States 150 years ago.  In both cases, the election of a President caused an extreme political reaction. In the first, it torn the country apart, costing 600,000 American lives, but destroyed slavery. In the second case – well, it ain’t done yet.

This trend and repeat of history, first as tragedy and now as comedy, of a renewal of the rhetoric and interest in secessionist ideology, – is part and parcel of this dark trend in American politics we have been observing of late.

ok-city-bombingOn this past Monday, we watched Rachel Maddow’s sobering two-hour piece on Timothy McVeigh and his bombing of the Federal building in Oklahoma City, and its 168 deaths – including 19 children – and over 500 wounded and  injured. It was very sad remembering those days and viewing video of the tragedy.

The day before, in the New York Times, Bill Clinton wrote an op-ed piece, warning America about the new threats from extremists.

Finally, we should never forget what drove the bombers, and how they justified their actions to themselves. They took to the ultimate extreme an idea advocated in the months and years before the bombing by an increasingly vocal minority: the belief that the greatest threat to American freedom is our government, and that public servants do not protect our freedoms, but abuse them. On that April 19, … deeply alienated and disconnected Americans decided murder was a blow for liberty.

… we do not have the right to resort to violence — or the threat of violence — when we don’t get our way. … Criticism is part of the lifeblood of democracy. No one is right all the time. But we should remember that there is a big difference between criticizing a policy or a politician and demonizing the government that guarantees our freedoms and the public servants who enforce our laws.

We are again dealing with difficulties in a contentious, partisan time. We are more connected than ever before, more able to spread our ideas and beliefs, our anger and fears. As we exercise the right to advocate our views, and as we animate our supporters, we must all assume responsibility for our words and actions before they enter a vast echo chamber and reach those both serious and delirious, connected and unhinged.

Civic virtue can include harsh criticism, protest, even civil disobedience. But not violence or its advocacy. … Fifteen years ago, the line was crossed in Oklahoma City. In the current climate, with so many threats against the president, members of Congress and other public servants, we owe it to the victims of Oklahoma City, and those who survived and responded so bravely, not to cross it again.

Who would have thought that 15 years after the worst incidence of domestic terrorism in this country’s history, a former President has to publicly warn the nation that violent rhetoric from certain quarters could cause extremists to “cross the line” again?

That same day, Sunday, April 18th, David Axelrod, Obama’s senior White House adviser, was on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”  He also was using cautionary language.

QUESTION: What do you make of this spreading and very public disaffection with not only the government, but especially the Obama administration, the TEA parties this week? …

AXELROD: I think any time that you have severe economic conditions, there is always an element of disaffection that can mutate into something that’s unhealthy.

Axelrod was talking about the disaffection turning into something other than free expression – the  ugly potential for violence.  That same weekend, at a rally in South Carolina headlined by former GOP Presidential candidate and current rightwing fringe activist Tom Tancreado (R-CO), a Baptist preacher got up and declared that he was prepared to “suit up, get my gun, go to Washington, and do what they trained me to do.”

This was the same rally where Tancreado said:

(Americans are) “going to have to pray that we can hold on to this country.”

He added, referring to President Obama:

“If his wife says Kenya is his homeland, why don’t we just send him back?”

This is exactly the kind of rhetoric and dark trends Clinton and Axelrod were warning about. A good and significant chunk of this dark trend has been the development of the Tea Party movement and most all its factions.  Even though it appears that on a national level, there are two distinct wings of their movement: the Palinists and the Paulists, despite the denials of racism and claims they only want “smaller government and less taxes”, neither wing would exist if McCain had been elected.

tea baggersIt is just so easy to rally these forces because there’s a Black man in the White House.

Along with the Tea Parties, the militias, and the neo-Confederates, there’s also the “open-carry” movement.  It has thrust its ugly head out in public even here in San Diego County, appearing at shopping malls in Escondido and other locales.  Their converts appeared at a recent Tea Party rally at San Diego Harbor – where at least one man was seen with a gun strapped to his hip. (This is the same rally that we mobilized a counter-rally against.)

These “Second Amendment” activists swagger hypocritically across our political landscape.  For instance, at that armed rally across from the Potomac, it was held in a park – a park where it was just recently authorized to carry guns in by the Obama administration when it sponsored legislation allowing guns in national parks. During the Bush years, that group could not have held their gun-toting gathering. Open carry rallies also took place in Michigan, New Mexico and Ohio last week, and rallies also took place in Arizona.

There’s also plenty of evidence that demonstrates that the open-carry folks and the Tea Partiers are given preferential treatment by law enforcement. In the past, anti-war protesters were limited to certain size sticks and poles for their signs, yet at Tea Party rallies, there are no such limits.  During the Bush years, anti-war protesters were arrested or removed for wearing controversial T-shirts if Bush was nearby.  But nowadays, right-wing protesters with guns are undisturbed, even when they’re in proximity to President Obama.

A recent mainstream media poll of Tea Partiers had 27% of them supporting violence against the government.  And in general, 38% of all Americans polled in another rating fear domestic terrorism over foreign terrorism.

Despite the dangers, the warnings, the hypocrisy – the right-wing extremist rhetoric is not diminishing. Just recently at another Southern rally, a Congressman from Georgia, Republican Paul Brown, called Obama the head of a “tyrannical government” and that Congress represents “the enemies of the people.”

Larry Pratt, the president of the NRA (the National Rifle Association), just very recently announced, “We’re in a war.” To clarify, he shouted out at yet another public gathering, “They’re coming for us, for our lives, our kids, and for our property!”

Remember that militia group that was arrested in late March? The Southern Poverty Law Center listed them (Hutaree) among the 127 active militias associated with so-called “Patriot” groups.  The SPLC monitors groups like these.  One of their leaders, Mark Potok, warns that radical right extremist groups are on the rise. These groups are fueled by racism, especially anti-immigrant racism and rage at the nation’s first African American president, Barack Obama, he says.

“Furious anti-immigrant vigilante groups soared during 2009,” Potok writes.

Violent militia groups who had their “heyday” during the 1990s, including in the Oklahoma City bombing, have reemerged, according to SPLC’s research.

“Already there are signs of similar violence emanating from the radical right. Since the installation of Barack Obama, right-wing extremists have murdered six law enforcement officers,” Potok writes.

These are all very sobering and upsetting things to ponder about our nation.

So, you may ask, am I still depressed and demoralized?  Afterall, I did end up writing this….

Mad HatterThe Backlash Against the Tea Parties

Well, a couple of things.  First, I realized that there is a backlash occurring against the Tea Parties and say, the open-carry movement.  Just recently, Lori Saldana, one of San Diego’s state legislators, offered legislation to ban unloaded  weapons from being worn in public, as there have been many complaints from shoppers and mall store owners about the open-carriers frightening people.

Also, there is a solid and serious backlash against the Tea Partiers.  There is the group called “The Other 95%” that is tired of the TP’s yelling about taxes when most Americans received tax breaks (95% did).

There’s even a group that wants to crash the Tea Parties with outrageous signs and behavior, further discrediting that movement, called appropriately “Crash the Tea Party”. (I can’t figure out if they are more than an online store though – somebody tell me.)

coffee party 3-13 meet 01

First San Diego Coffee Party meeting, March 13, 2010.

However, the most serious and wide-spread political reaction to the Tea Partiers is the Coffee Party Movement.  Stressing civility and getting results and solving the country’s problems without partisanship, it has exploded across the country, apparently stoking a public interest that has not been tapped before. Beginning this past end of January, it already has held 900 events in 48 states, and has 205,000 fans on its facebook page.

I’m involved in the local San Diego chapter. In  just a month’s time, we’ve had over a half dozen meetings, we’ve met with both Susan Davis and Bob Filner, and have engaged hundreds of San Diegans from all over the County. There’s chapters in North County, in Ramona, and several in metro San Diego itself.  And it looks like campaign finance reform will be our first primary issue, in response to the recent US Supreme Court decision that is stymieing what remains of this democracy.

The Survey of the Tea Partiers

Yet, one of the primary reasons my depression and demoralization has lifted has been the results of a New York Times/ CBS survey of the Tea Partiers.  Even though they claim they represent most Americans, the “silent majority” – it turns out they make up only about 18% of the Republic.  They are more wealthy than average Americans – which means they really represent a class distinct from the rest of us – and that class is upset at President Obama’s drift toward the poor. That class already has health care – they just don’t want it for the rest of us.

Here’s a summary of the poll:

that the Tea Party movement does not represent a broad demographic cross-section of the American electorate were confirmed last week by a new survey of the movement by The New York Times and CBS News that found that Tea Party supporters are overwhelmingly white, predominantly male, middle-aged and older, fiercely conservative and heavily Republican — essentially the GOP’s electoral base. The survey also found that the Tea Party movement, which comprises less than a fifth of the total nationwide electorate (18 percent), is economically more affluent than the general U.S. population.

The poll also found that Tea Partiers believe too much is made of the problems facing black people.  This question was asked:

“In recent years, do you think too much has been made of the problems facing black people, too little has been made, or is it about right?”

Twenty-eight percent of all Americans — and just 19 percent of those who are not tea-party loyalists — answered “too much.” But among tea-party supporters, the figure is 52 percent.

tea party lil girl funnyThe Tea Party supporters also consistently side with the wealthy, and not the poor, putting them at odds with most Americans. The poll found that while only 38 percent of all Americans said that “providing government benefits to poor people encourages them to remain poor,” 73 percent of Tea partisans believed this. Among all Americans, 50 percent agreed that “the federal government should spend money to create jobs, even if it means increasing the budget deficit.” Only 17 percent of tea-party supporters took this view.

As for raising taxes on households making more than $250,000 a year to provide health care for the uninsured, 54 percent of Americans favored doing so, compared to  only 17 percent of tea-party backers.  That’s because a fifth of the Tea Partiers make that much.

This survey is comforting.  It shows that the GOP may be more at risk come election time than the Democrats. It shows that the Tea Partiers are not mainstream, do not represent Americans, and that they are the mobilized one-fifth of the electorate that has been extremely right-wing for decades.

Although the survey is comforting, the future of this country is not.  Is there a second civil war on the  horizon? Will the militias and open carriers go berserk and violently confront the rest of us?

I don’t know, but I just know, there’s a lot more of us than them.  So I say this with seriousness and purpose: all power to the people.

{ 41 comments… read them below or add one }

Christi D April 21, 2010 at 4:54 pm

The most hateful racist rhetoric I have seen in my lifetime coming out these days. Yesterday Shaun White posted he was going to hang with Obama today. The ensuing comment thread was nothing I have ever seen. There were at least 5 death threats to the President in one thread. People have no manners anymore and no shame. They also don’t seem to be afraid to threaten our Commander in Cheif.
SAD. My husband has the guns ready if we need em. Being a outspoken progressive out in cyberspace, I know I have become a target.


Patty Jones April 21, 2010 at 7:28 pm

Welcome Christi D!


Christi D April 21, 2010 at 7:34 pm

Thank you Patty


PSD April 22, 2010 at 9:09 pm

Welcome aboard! Should we need ’em, I’ll hit you up for the guns – too many simple-minded skull-effs I’d be tempted to blast if I ever kept one of my own, though I certainly support the right of others to have them…


Dave Sparling April 21, 2010 at 6:53 pm

Very interesting read Frank. I must correct you on the 8 years of Bush. It was 8 years of Cheney/Rummy/Pearl/Wolfie. Chucklenuts was just playing president and horseless cowboy rancher. In spite of all their screaming that they are not racist, those good old right wing white boys just can not accept the fact that a BLACK family is “being served dinner” “NOT serving dinner” in their WHITE HOUSE.


Frank Gormlie April 21, 2010 at 8:10 pm

Dave, I stand corrected.


Patty Jones April 21, 2010 at 7:25 pm

Great job Frank. Glad you finally wrote this, I know it’s been stewing in ya for awhile.

It’s crazy… remember what they did to the Dixie Chicks because of their comment about Bush? Those unpatriotic *&^^%$ traitors… That was nothing compared to what’s going on now, and all this is being said and done by “patriots”.

Me? I’m a matriot, and one of the people.


Christi D April 21, 2010 at 8:30 pm

I posted this on the American Progressive Party page on facebook. There are many comments.


Editordude April 21, 2010 at 8:57 pm

Christi D – thanks so much. We’ve tracked a whole lot of visitors via your facebook. Welcome, friends of APP.

Checked out your page and it all looks good. Some of us are involved with the Coffee Party – check some of those links in the post.


Larry OB April 21, 2010 at 10:15 pm

Did any of the polls determine the percentage of Tea Partiers that know how to correctly spell the word “diapers?” I sometimes wonder how many of the Tea Partiers know it was tax-free tea that was thrown overboard in Boston.


Frank Gormlie April 21, 2010 at 10:21 pm

Larry OB, not only that, the patriotic colonists then began drinking coffee – the revolutionary drink! They wouldn’t be caught dead with a tea bag.


PSD April 22, 2010 at 9:17 pm

I always find that funny- the tea bag as a protest symbol, when the original American patriots abandoned tea as their drink of choice and adopted coffee in a form of revolt…


BillRayDrums January 13, 2011 at 7:51 am

Tea Partiers are not known for their stunning intellect.


JMW April 22, 2010 at 7:50 am

“Muslin?” Isn’t that a kind of cloth? And, even if the misspelling is an optical illusion, what is wrong with choosing to be something other than a Christian? Wasn’t there something about people being able to practice the religion of their choice, in the original paperwork for this place? Freedom of religion? Doesn’t that mean I do not have to accept Jesus Christ as my own personal savior? I can if I want, but I don’t have to? Doesn’t that mean if my god has a different name than your’s, that that is legal, acceptable, part of the basis of the fabric of the nation?
What’s next? Will I now have to buy a Cadillac and premium gas? Watch Dancing With The Stars? Listen to Fox News 24 hours a day? Think George W. Bush was a great American? Eat grits? Buy and display a Confederate flag? Spit on people with dark skin?
How can an elected representative say “congress is the enemy?” He’s a congressman. Didn’t anyone at the rally notice that? Did anyone take a shot at him?
What does seem obvious to me are these things:
1. The so-called “extreme right” has only what it conceives to be its own interests at heart.
2. The sign makers and some of the speakers in this group don’t seem to have stayed awake much in school.
3. Even if the reported 18% includes a huge number of non-committed yes-men, that is people without the sand to say, when confronted, “That is a stupid idea, you’re an idiot and a pig.” people who, when push comes to shove, will not be pushing, (though when a guy has a sidearm strapped on his waist, who can tell whether is loaded or not?), 18% is still a sadly large number.
Let us hope that the direst possibility you’ve suggested, Frank, doesn’t come to pass.


Abby April 22, 2010 at 8:01 am

Muslin? I prefer to worship satin!


Sarah April 22, 2010 at 11:15 am

too funny… you win


PSD April 22, 2010 at 9:20 pm

Ooh, satin is nice and smooth…I’d rather worship that than the stuff potato sacks are made out of.


PSD April 22, 2010 at 9:23 pm

Don’t you get it? This is a CHRISTIAN nation, founded on CHRISTIAN values! You’re welcome to worship CHRIST via whatever CHRISTIAN sect fits you best (Catholic, Puritanical, Evangelical, Baptist, etc.), not to disrespect CHRIST OUR SAVIOUR by taking ‘freedom of religion’ to mean that you’re free to practice any religion (or, if you prefer, none at all)!


JMW April 22, 2010 at 7:53 am

Oops! Just checked: It does say Muslim.


lane tobias April 22, 2010 at 8:54 am

It is demoralizing, especially if on some level, one can understand a legitimate argument to shrink government. Unfortunately, brandishing a gun and talking about taking back the country isn’t going to help in recruiting those that agree with smaller government. And complaining about taxes, which have been cut under Obama, isn’t going to do that. And most of all, claiming that the President wasn’t born here….still. These folks are fools.

I hope some of these folks wake up at some point and realize their hate-talk is counterproductive. I just don’t see that happening.

Thank you Frank. It has been hard for me too, lately, and I think a lot of other folks around the country. I was brought up to embrace any and all people, and to try and find common ground with pretty much anyone. I try to do that, still. But when I look at the Tea-Party signs and listen to their rhetoric, it makes me physically sick.


jettyboy April 22, 2010 at 11:11 am

I think the Tea Party and it’s different incarnations are way over blown by the media looking for a quick, enticing story. While I acknowledge the points made in the post by Frank, I disagree with the power and influence the Tea Party actually has. These idiots are less that 1% of the population according to recent data and polling. It’s the media that is driving them and their importance. I’d be willing to bet if the coverage stopped they wouldn’t last 6 months. They really have very little organizational structure, other than calling people to rallies. They are disaffected, mostly racist, Republicans who make noise, little else.


Sarah April 22, 2010 at 11:13 am

I’m with you Frank. It hurts to even try to think about this stuff long enough to sort it out. In many ways I’ve chosen escapism. Hence my 92107 address, I guess.

The little voice in the back of my mind keeps saying, “Will someone please make this stop”, but when I put on my “big girl” pants I realize that “someone” is me/us.

We need to turn off our televisions and turn on our brains. That people actually consider that crap that comes out of the major media outlets to be NEWS is heartbreaking. Some of those shows should have disclaimers, “Please do not mistake this show for a news source, it’s for entertainment purposes only”.

I’ve a big hole in the sand, if anyone would like to bury their head alongside mine, you’re welcome to join me.


Sarah April 22, 2010 at 11:18 am

Oh, and as far as honouring “Confederate History Month”, my youngest son posted this on his Facebook page and I love it.


doug porter April 22, 2010 at 2:23 pm

what really maddening about the tea party types is their absolute ignorance about history. here’s a great article that expounds on that point:


Nancy April 22, 2010 at 2:42 pm

Wow! Frank, you are to be commended for taking the time to finally write what many of us have been thinking, and for the excellent writeup when you did finally do it! Glad it’s been posted somewhere else too. I’m of the same semi-depresssive/non-optomistic mind and am in a voluntary position of encouraging people to vote in this upcoming June primary, and it’s hard. The article stating the stats about the Tea Party members was great to read, but it hasn’t changed the mood of a lot of us in terms of what’s going on in this country. Yes, they get the news media attention, and even though we know they’re in the minority, it’s hard to face. I wonder if they themselves have read the very recent news about how well the economy is doing (GM paid bck their full govt. loan, being one good indicator), but it probably wouldn’t make a difference to them anyway, as do believe they’ll be anti-Obama.

Also, want to commend Sarah’s son for writing his excellent writeup.

We all just have to get out there and vote and as the old saying goes “keep on keepin’ on.”


annagrace April 22, 2010 at 3:06 pm

Frank- I am truly grateful that you were not too depressed to write this piece which is so well thought out and articulate. Well done!

I have read it a number of times. My blogger response is “What is it about a Democrat president that yanks all those ‘patriots’ right out of the woodwork?”

The truth is that there is a part of me that has been thinking about your words for days now- not counting 420 of course.

I finally got around to watching Capitalism A Love Story. We watched it with good friends from the library and we talked a lot about it afterward. What happened to that incredible optimism after Obama was elected that was translated into workers taking on management and the banks? What has happened to the disbelief of hard working Americans who lost their homes? There was some weird right turn last summer during the debate over health care that took the anger and frustration of ordinary citizens and morphed it into a bloated pseudo-movement dubbed the Tea Party. Not only is that not the whole story, I don’t believe that it is the real story.

Many of us are frustrated and angry, but for very different reasons and the media, eclipsed by Fox, is incapable and unwilling to pick up on those differences. How many of us are unhappy with policies because they are not PROGRESSIVE enough?

Michael Moore presented the interesting analysis that what we have witnessed since October 2008 when the economy was purportedly crashing was nothing less than a fiscal coup d’ etat.

It is perhaps difficult to equate the excesses of Wall Street, the bonuses, the high life on the other side of the continent with our friends here in San Diego who have stopped paying their mortgages on homes “under water,” our friends and family members who can’t get a job and don’t have health insurance, or our children who have truly been left behind by draconian cuts to the education budget. But there is a relationship and a clear one.

We must and can pick up what was started in 2009, with so much optimism and good faith. Sí se puede.

And Abby- thank you, you cracked me up. Yes, it is satin…..


jettyboy April 23, 2010 at 9:24 am

Had to post this link, as it says more clearly what I was attempting to say with my post the other day. Give it a quick read it’s worth it to relieve some anxiety…


Frank Gormlie April 23, 2010 at 9:55 am

It’s a nice, comforting article, agreeing with part of my post. However, neither you nor the writer were standing across the street from people packin’ at our recent counter-rally to the Feb 27 Tea rally. The NYT poll agrees that the TP’ers only make up less than 20% of the electorate, yet a bullet or a brick from a 20 percenter still does damage. Don’t share your sense of “comfort” although I’m glad I’m not demoralized. And I’m glad you’re not depressed by the state of things in this nation.


Chris Moore April 23, 2010 at 11:06 am

I’ve encountered some of these people, my estimation is that very few of them would actually resort to violence unless the nightmare scenarios they envision – people being hauled off to “reeducation” camps, SWAT teams going door-to-door confiscating legally owned firearms, their businesses seized by some sort of Maoist “people’s army” were actually happening.

There are outliers like McVeigh who will gladly kill because they are truly damaged people.

But most of these people are not – they’re simply ordinary citizens who’ve been bombarded by a steady diet of fear and misinformation by a political movement that is acting more and more like a cult – I don’t want to describe it as “conservative”, it’s a peculiar faction of extreme conservatism, or rather several competing ones.

But while they may be angry, most of them are out protesting peacefully, not shooting people or blowing stuff up. Unless there is a radical overreaction by Federal law enforcement, where innocent citizens are actually getting hauled into jail for simply protesting or mouthing hyperbole, I doubt a “civil war” is much of a possibility.

On the other hand, I do expect to see terrorist acts by isolated groups and individuals.

But are the Tea Partiers in general likely to start shooting up their neighbors?
I strongly doubt it.


Frank Gormlie April 23, 2010 at 11:17 am

Chris, I have to disagree with the comment that “they’re simply ordinary citizens” – as this recent survey of the Tea Partiers found otherwise. They are wealthier than most Americans, and way more to the right than most, more educated, more male, more older and more white (LOL) than most of us. The survey concludes that they are the mobilized far right crowd that has been in the American political landscape for decades. For instance, do you know of or remember the John Birch Society? The Birchers are involved deeply in the TP. They are the ones who yelled back in the Fifties and Sixties that Eisenhower was a communist.


Christi D April 23, 2010 at 11:45 am

Noticing the numbers in the poll of the U.S. populace who identify with the Tea Party movement at 18%. I remembered Bush II left office with a approval rating at 18%. Coincidence , or the same 18% who still approved of Bush after 8 disastrous years?


Frank Gormlie April 23, 2010 at 12:16 pm

Hmmmmmmm, I think you’re on to something.


Chris Moore April 23, 2010 at 4:34 pm

Well I’m talking about the rank & file, not so much the people behind the whole thing.
And they’re certainly to the right, or they wouldn’t be Tea Partiers – I don’t swallow the absurd claim that it is somehow a bipartisan movement.

I read an interesting article the other day about the Koch family and how they were backing the various “wingnut welfare” groups that have been funding the Tea Party.

All I meant to say is that while they may be way over to the right, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re all Tim McVeighs in waiting. I think there are a lot more armchair warriors than real killers among them.


Frank Gormlie April 23, 2010 at 6:13 pm

I agree certainly. The Tea Parties have tapped into a genuine anger of the citizenry – and misdirecting it. The harsh economic times are pissing a lot of people off. Apparently, less than one out of five, however, are allowing themselves to demonstrate that anger at Obama, liberals, etc. And even those who would never throw a brick or scream a racial epithet, they’re hanging out with those who do.

If you dig into the different factions of Tea Partiers, you’ll find that there’s at least one branch that is demanding that racists and homophobes get out of their movement – and that is commendable. Plus they’re populists. And it may be worth it trying to sit down and talk to them.


Chris Moore April 29, 2010 at 10:48 am

I agree.

Of course, as with any group, some will be willing to talk, some only want to shout at you.


PSD April 23, 2010 at 11:09 am

Frank – thanks for this piece, as well as the ‘Disillusioned’ series – I’m pretty much in agreement with everyone else here, thinking the exact same way you do, but when we try to put those thoughts to paper (or screen) it just becomes too much of a bummer…


PSD April 23, 2010 at 11:10 am

Excuse me – ‘Disenchanted’ series.


Marilyn Steber May 2, 2010 at 10:21 am

Regarding your headline question of whether we are heading to another Civil War, as a member of the “Civil War Community” who has studied the war for many years I see many attitudes that existed before the war: regional “patriotism” among them. Some have even taken up the same sort of anti-tax rhetoric of the Whiskey Rebellion that George Washington squelched early on in our national history. Some take the road of John Brown who attacked Harper’s Ferry. The question is still asked: Was John Brown a terrorist or a patriot?


tj May 19, 2010 at 12:12 pm

The middle-class was what once made America different …. & great.

As it has been plundered by the greed of Wall Street Bankers, & their stooges in Washington – everyone’s well-being is threatened.

“Greed is good” – is the philosophy/mantra that accelerated the decline.

It’s the Robber Barrons who NEED the 2nd Ammendment routed – guess why?


editordude January 10, 2011 at 6:21 pm

Dear readers: up to here all the comments are from last April and May 2010 when this post was originally published.


Mark November 28, 2011 at 12:42 pm

I.E “Normal” Americans

” The New York Times and CBS News that found that Tea Party supporters are overwhelmingly white, predominantly male, middle-aged and older, fiercely conservative and heavily Republican — essentially the GOP’s electoral base. The survey also found that the Tea Party movement, which comprises less than a fifth of the total nationwide electorate (18 percent), is economically more affluent than the general U.S. population. “


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