Yesterday I quoted from Richard Cohen's column in the Washington Post and noticed later that he took a lot of heat for it. Wow! Everywhere I looked the old guy was getting beat up.
But I think I read the piece, not as most people did, but rather as it was intended to be read. And what I heard Cohen saying was that the average tea partier is not necessarily a bad person, just nostalgic for an earlier America, i. e., the one of their childhood.
Andrew Sullivan had a post on it in which he said:
The argument that the GOP is fueled by cultural bewilderment at a
multi-racial, multi-cultural, gay married, multi-faith America is a
vital one if you want to understand our irrational politics right now.
And I think that's how I read it too: the tea party, or the Republican Party base, is bewildered by the cultural changes that have taken place in their lifetime. Again, I don't see them as inherently bad individuals, just people who are having trouble processing rapid change.
P. S. If and when the economy comes back the tea party will fade away anyway. People will go back to watching their kids' Little League games instead of marching on Washington to protest health insurance for those who can't get it. I'm still convinced that the whole phenomenon is just a byproduct of the Great Recession. Fear has a way of manifesting itself that way.