The new political article of faith is that tea baggers are blatant or closet racists. MSNBC's Keith Olberman, Meghan McCain, and Captain Marvel Comics Captain America and his black sidekick Falcon, are the latest to poke fun at and pick a fight with the tea baggers over their alleged serial racism. Although it's worth noting, Marvel Comics had a second thought about it and promptly apologized for the slam.
It's true, that the very thought of a black man in the White House turns the stomachs of many tea baggers and they make no bones about that. The cameras caught a few ranting at the tea party convention, their signs, banners, Joker posters, confederate flags, Texas lone star flags, and crude borderline bigoted race baiting misspelled scrawls on signs and posters at their marches and rallies are ample evidence of that. They deserve to be mocked and dismissed as the loony, bigoted, paranoid cranks they are. The endless pack of conservative bloggers, talk show gabbers, websites, and web chat rooms that have made Obama bashing a lucrative growth industry with their endless knocks, crude racist digs, slurs, cartoon depictions have been wildly effective in working up some tea baggers into a fever pitch against Obama.
But the race rap against the tea baggers misses a big point, in fact several points that tell much about why they've roared on the scene seemingly from nowhere. And why they've caught the fancy of the public and media, triggered a nervous twitch among Democrats and send terror through the GOP mainstream.
Nearly two decades ago the GOP found that the always volatile mix of big government and economics could whip frustrated, rebellious, angry whites (and more than a few non-whites) into a tizzy far better than crude race baiting. Many blue collar white males were losing ground to minorities and women in the workplace, schools, and in society. The trend toward white male poverty and alienation became more evident in the early 1980s when nearly 10 million Americans were added to the poverty rolls; more than half were from white, male-headed families. Two decades later, the number of white men in poverty or among lower income wage earners continued to expand. The estimate was that more a significant percent of white males who voted in the 2004 and 2008 presidential elections made less than $45,000 in household income.