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Tea Party Supports Segregation -Sociologists

It’s not really a surprise to anyone that the social sciences in American academia skew far out of the political mainstream, and so even less of a surprise that sociologists are blasting their polar opposites on the right, who call themselves part of the “Tea Party” movement.

But the level of partisan spin in a pre-primary American Sociological Review paper is surprising even for sociology. The authors create a history where in 2008 a great hero was elected, and he was ready to fix the worst economy since the Great Depression, but wealthy elites on the right created a racist Tea Party movement to oppose his every move – and those groups support segregation, since segregation made them who they are.

University of Notre Dame sociologist Rory McVeigh and co-authors, Kraig Beyerlein, Burrel Vann and Priyamvada Trivedi, the final two from California and Michigan, say Republicans who oppose the president are engaging in educational Jim Crow. How did that pass peer review, you may wonder. Sociology is not science, so peer review is finding other sociologists who agree with you, not difficult in a country when the field is over 90 percent on the fringe left.

The authors looked at statistics and then drew conclusions as to why certain U.S. counties embraced Tea Party organizations. They concluded the Tea Party formed in areas where different people of different races live in different neighborhoods – and correlated it to educational segregation, a phrase they use with full grasp of what they know it implies.

“Acceptance or rejection of the Tea Party’s views on the government’s role in redistributing wealth is shaped, to a large degree, by the extent to which those who have benefited from higher education are set apart in their daily lives from those who have not,” McVeigh says in their press release. “As the article explains, the commonly held view that individuals and families who are struggling to get by are undeserving of government assistance is reinforced when the highly educated have limited contact with those who have been less fortunate.”

This is at least an interesting conjecture. On the left, elites claim they are on the left because they are better educated and they are protecting the uneducated. This says that on the right the more educated have contempt for the less educated and less wealthy and simply exploit them to act against their own best interests by not becoming more educated. If this makes no sense to you, you are not a Mother Jones reader. So by comparison, wealthy progressive elites in Irvine, California must live among the poor and send their kids to those public schools, and thus there is little Tea Party support. Except that is not true.  In the last election, 8 of the 10 wealthiest counties voted for Obama, he is the candidate of the 1% by an overwhelming majority.

McVeigh and colleagues set out to debunk the notion that there was anything ‘grassroots’ about the Tea Party and believe that it was elite sponsorship from highly resourced conservative groups exploiting poor people on the right, who could not possibly want lower taxes since presumably they benefit from government largess. If so, it’s  no surprise, the exact same thing happens among Democrats a decade ago. MoveOn.org eventually collapsed when they were exposed as exploiting voters and their wealthy elite sponsorship dried up.

The authors set out to create a polarizing Tea Party for Democrats to oppose, by insisting this Tea Party thing remains a viable force, even though their impact on politics is negligible. MoveOn.org at least got Democrats control of Congress in the 2006 election before collapsing. The Tea Party has accomplished nothing by comparison, unless Bernie Sanders being a Senator means Democratic-Socialists are controlling things too . Basically, the authors seem trapped in 2010 – or they wish it was 2010 so their statistic fairy tale had a chance of being valid. “If they represent a district where there is a lot of Tea Party support, they are vulnerable to challenges in primary elections from candidates who claim to be representing the Tea Party agenda — supporting sharp spending cuts and low taxes and vigorously resisting most any proposal that Obama and the Democrats have put forth,” McVeigh says.


“The analyses help us understand how a movement enabled by highly resourced conservative organizations has been able to draw the support it needed to credibly present itself as a grassroots movement representing ordinary Americans, and thus exert influence on voters and the political process.”

If you are not an American, their claims help you understand everything you need to know about the state of sociology in America. Heck, I can barely understand this bizarre rationale. I don’t even think I know a Tea Party member, but I know that if I am looking at this paper and Tea Party conspiracy tracts and trying to figure out which is legitimate, they come out about even.

Citation: Rory McVeigh, Kraig Beyerlein, Burrel Vann Jr., Priyamvada Trivedi, ‘Educational Segregation, Tea Party Organizations, and Battles over Distributive Justice’, May 23, 2014, doi: 10.1177/0003122414534065.  American Sociological Review.

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