White, Old, Republican, Married, More Educated, Male + ANGRY

For Your Reading // News

Yup, that basically sums up the 18% of the country self-identifying as Tea Partyers,  according to a new NY Times / CBS poll released today. The findings were fascinating–validating some stereotypes, debunking some others–and I encourage everyone to check out the full report.

But why are they so… angry?

Frank Rich argued persuasively in a column several weeks ago that the anger espoused by the Tea Partyers against healthcare reform has roots far deeper than just this legislation, and is a reaction to wider (and yes, unstoppable) demographic shifts in America:

Demographics are avatars of a change bigger than any bill contemplated by Obama or Congress. The week before the health care vote, The Times reported that births to Asian, black and Hispanic women accounted for 48 percent of all births in America in the 12 months ending in July 2008. By 2012, the next presidential election year, non-Hispanic white births will be in the minority. The Tea Party movement is virtually all white. The Republicans haven’t had a single African-American in the Senate or the House since 2003 and have had only three in total since 1935. Their anxieties about a rapidly changing America are well-grounded.

Rich also pointed out that no one in the Republican leadership is taking on the extremism and violence increasingly supported by Tea Partyers and their de facto spokespeople (e.g., Palin’s “reload” language). His conclusion was that because of this, we should all be afraid, and fearful of what this movement can do.

I reach a more optimistic, and hopeful conclusion: the President and Congressional Democrats must be doing something real and substantive if so many people are this pissed off about it. And that’s all the more reason to keep fighting — like we did for healthcare reform — for the issues we care about. Change, by definition, is all about rocking the boat.

Also, be sure to check out this awesome visual timeline of the Tea Party movement, brought to you by colorlines:

An Interactive History of the Tea Party's Many Co-Conveners

Hat Tip: Martine & Sam