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The Tea Party in the Age of Obama: Mainstream Conservatism or Out-Group Anxiety?

Rethinking Obama

ISBN: 978-0-85724-911-1, eISBN: 978-0-85724-912-8

Publication date: 30 November 2011


With its preference for small government and fiscal responsibility, the Tea Party movement claims to be conservative. Yet, their tactics and rhetoric belie this claim. The shrill attacks against Blacks, illegal immigrants, and gay rights are all consistent with conservatism, but suggesting that the president is a socialist bent on ruining the country, is beyond politics. This chapter shows that Richard Hofstadter's thesis about the “paranoid style” of American politics helps characterize the Tea Party's pseudo-conservatism. Through a comprehensive analysis of qualitative interviews, content analysis and public opinion data, we find that Tea Party sympathizers are not mainstream conservatives, but rather, they hold a strong sense of out-group anxiety and a concern over the social and demographic changes in America.


Barreto, M.A., Cooper, B.L., Gonzalez, B., Parker, C.S. and Towler, C. (2011), "The Tea Party in the Age of Obama: Mainstream Conservatism or Out-Group Anxiety?", Go, J. (Ed.) Rethinking Obama (Political Power and Social Theory, Vol. 22), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 105-137.



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