Anger and contradictions in the Tea Party


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This story was originally reported by PRI's Here and Now. For more, listen to the audio above.

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Political pundits are continually analyzing the Tea Party in anticipation of the upcoming midterm election. In the new book Boiling Mad: Inside Tea Party America, Kate Zernike, a national correspondent for the New York Times, sets out" to understand how these protesters with goofy hats and 'Don't Tread on Me' flags had become a political force powerful enough to confound a new administration and unhinge the Republican Party."

"It really starts with a bunch of young libertarians often 20- and 30-somethings, who continue to organize the movement today. And they really kind of set the ideology for the movement," Zernike told PRI's Here and Now. Many of these people are trying to get rid of government benefits like in Social Security and Medicare.

The movement truly took off when older people began joining the ranks. According to Zernike, "Half of these people are either on Medicare or Social Security themselves, or live with someone who is."

There is a certain "disconnect between the young libertarian strain of the movement and the older people who are often on Medicare or Social Security themselves," Zernike points out. She quotes one Tea Party faithful saying, "I think I want my social security and I want smaller government," too. According to Zernike, "It's wanting it all, and I think it shows the pure frustration of this movement.

Many of the Tea Party adherents "saw this as a way to get their frustration out," Zernike says. " So I think it's a purely emotional reaction." She talks about one Tea Party faithful, Diana Reimer, who may have actually benefited from many of the reforms of the Obama administration that she rails against. Zernike says that her politics stems from frustration, and "had the Left gotten a hold of her, she would have been just as passionate."

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