From The Tea Party to The Resistance


Imagine it's early. Two thousand nine. Barack Obama has just been sworn in as the first african-american president in the history of the United States after momentous election soon resistance arises. The Tea Party comes into being all over the United States. In many places people come out to say they don't like what's going on and they wanted to stop now fast forward another eight years too early. Two Thousand Seventeen President. Donald trump has just been elected and the same thing happens people all over the come out to say they don't like what's going on and they wanted to stop so the tea party and the Democratic Resistance. Are they similar? Are they different? What can we learn by looking at the two of them together? Hi I'm Avi Green. And this is the scholar strategy networks no jargon each week we discussed an American policy problem with one of the nation's top researchers without jargon in this episode. I spoke to Lagos. She is a doctoral student. Sociology at Harvard University and it contributed to the book a- bending American politics which just came out edited by Caroline Turbo and are very unbeatable. And here's our conversation. Thanks so much for coming under jargon. Thanks for having me so we could. You've set the stage by telling us some something about the tea party. No what what did professors got bull. I think. One of your other colleagues Vanessa Williamson. Learn about the tea party. You can give us that background that that would be great. Yes so professor. Scotch and Vanessa Williamson have published a lot of really interesting work on the birth of the Tea Party. And what they've done since they started in two thousand nine so after. President Obama was elected there. Was this backlash and it started off really small and small in the way that it was something people were talking about. They weren't excited for the politics of of Obama they weren't excited particularly for the economic policies. That would come with a stimulus which was referred to as Porculus and so a commentator on Fox News Rick Santelli told supporters and people who are listening. Let's go out let's protest. Let's throw t in the river. Which really translated to? Let's make our own uprising against what we think are really bad. Economic Policies so the tea party was a movement of people acting at the local level and they did this by making friends at protests between Tax Day April two thousand nine to the march on Washington in September of that. Same year organizing their friends reaching out to people on meet up on this before facebook. I really popular we kind of have to remember. This was actually ten years ago now. And the idea truly became something of we are trying to make a movement out of educating people who are interested and saying no to Obama's politics and as educational movement was wasn't is really spectacularly unique because it involved local groups engaging with one another so sharing information where he together to host lectures workshops but also working with national level funders and think tanks and candidates support groups that would be their packs that would be the candidates themselves and then also the RNC and what happened in two thousand nine is Americans for prosperity Civitas. The John Locke Foundation the coke brothers. They all got together whether in public or privately and we're starting to fund these groups not just through grants to do things or signs but their education. We want to support certain economic and voter policies in particular so came down to this idea that we're going to give education opportunities to these local groups e solid partnerships between the John Locke Foundation between Civitas. And this idea of saying let's go on educate people on the constitution. Let's talk about how local politics works and so these groups working in tandem with national organizations and there was a relationship there that started to push the party to the right large part the Republican party largely. Because there's no compromise so the tea party wasn't about finding a middle ground. It was like they took their suitcase. And they marched to the right and they haven't really stopped since and think tanks and these foundations went with them and at this time the Republican Party. Rnc were particularly hollowed out in a sense that there wasn't a lot of national and local support and there wasn't a lot of work between those two factions of the organization. So they kind of just had to go with the. Rnc could say we're a powerful group of tons of people who love the RNC who loved the Republican Party. Being what it currently is and we're GONNA fight for our status quo or are moderation or center right or there's a few people and they were basically quickly stampeded. Moseley by this this kind of insurgency on the right yes so jumps forward eight years to the flip side and before you tell us what. You found out about the resistance. Because I think you've found out a ton of things I love for you to tell me about what it was like to do this research like was this about like looking at big data sets and sitting in front of computers. Or did you get in a bus or a train or a car go someplace and if so where did you go? Yes so the thing that interests me most about the jumping forward as we have to remember that the tea party still exists so jumping forward as almost like getting on a train and we're all going in a direction of the future which is currently now the tea party produced all of this knowledge about how to engage congressmen and senators congresswoman. Anyone WHO's working in local national politics and so when it came time for the two thousand Sixteen Election Liberal Democrats were all just of course Hillary Clinton's going to win and didn't everyone was unbelievably stunned. Stunned sad I haven't seen the word devastated so often on social media and in the news before this moment and so you have. This question of people are wondering who voted for him. What's the direction America's going in? I'm devastated what's happening. And this is happening in local communities in rural areas and cities on college campuses and churches. There's this response that you see your friends on social media and this big idea of what we're looking for an we're trying to understand right like what happens after election of Donald Trump is. We automatically know. There's going to be something similar to the tea party solely because of this massive immediate response on facebook so there was a group. I don't know if anyone was a number. It was a secret group. It was called pantsuit nation. But I I'm just going to tell tell our listeners. I have to admit it I was not a member I was. It was an exciting experience. I think at the height of the group which was the day of the election. There's almost three million members and grew the idea that was you would share your excitement for a female president would wear your pants suit or your child aggressive dress up in a pantsuit to go to vote and once. Hillary Clinton lost this group went from being cheerleaders to being a support group and all of a sudden a member in this group. Teresa shook was like why don't we have a march on Washington and I'm going to jump ahead a little a pants. State Nation Actually took on nonprofit status. It was no longer able to be politically engaged in the same way so groups. This is where this whole local grassroots movement kind of picked up force. I WANNA fly there too. I think that's like a whole interesting story in itself you know. And we've had other researchers talked about the ways in which the land therapy and tax laws distort what people are able to do because activists say like. Oh I want to do war of this work and then the first thing people say. Let's get some grants so we can do it and it was like well. Let's be a five hundred eighty three and then you can't do politics the way that you were doing it before and it's a it's a very strange set of things that are happening. We talk about like it's a natural thing but it's all a manifestation of ways in which our our tax laws in our laws about regulating politics advocacy and. Who GETS TO DO IT? You know play out in real life. It's almost as if we walked into a vacuum where people want it to be able to tell stories of that experience of the support of a woman running for president her loss. And that's what happened with dancing nation but at the same time you had millions of people primarily women who were saying. I want to be more involved. I WANNA do more. How do I do it? And so there's this large push for March on Washington which became women's March which happened and two thousand seventeen and at the same time. So we're still kind of in December. You see something pop up online. It's the indivisible guide so who wrote it in and what is it and how did that play a role so visible guide was written by as relevent Leah Greenburg? Who are at this point in time have experienced as congressional staffers. Dc insiders so they understand what the tea party has been doing for the last eight years. So they post a Google doc and remember tea parties. You've been using meet up basic aged him out where eight years in the future. We've got new technology. The Google doc explodes wasn't side of it is a list of ways to beat. Donald Trump in the future based on what the tea party did. Just kind of completely agitate Obama's efforts for eight years

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