The Million Vet March, a typical peasants’ protest. Does it portend more serious protests in our future?

Summary:  The Million Vet March is typical citizen activism in America, much like the Occupy movement’s street parties. Naive, weak leadership. Poorly conceived goals (the GOP, not Obama, shut down the government). Delusional thinking about the breath of their appeal (“million man”). And a lack of internal discipline (tolerance of off-point or even inappropriate messages). They are nice men and women, but rebels without a cause. Futility in motion, typical of peasants’ protests — venting frustration that if well-directed might threaten the regime.

Still, this might portend greater events in our future. These are fine political shock troops, needing only someone to give them focus and direction. Someone to forge them into a powerful political force.

MVM: rebel flag
Respecting our Vets by flying the flag of those that killed 365,000 US soldiers
By John Aaravois @aravois

Obama must go!
Shut down the White House!
Slogans chanted at the Million Vet March


  1. ABC describes the event
  2. Typical Tea Party false packaging
  3. CNN describes the event
  4. Good advice from long ago
  5. An honest statement of their naivete
  6. They don’t care about the real outrage
  7. For More Information

(1) ABC describes the event

Thousands Protest Closures During ‘Million Vet March’“, ABC News, 13 October 2013:

Thousands of protesters descended on Washington D.C. today to protest the closure of national war memorials as a result of the government shutdown. The protesters broke through barricades at the World War II memorial today as part of the “Million Vet March.” The memorial has been closed since Oct. 1, when the shutdown began. … As they took apart barricades protesters chanted “Tear down these walls,” in addition to singing patriotic songs such as “God Bless America.”

… A few high profile political figures also appeared at the rally including Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Sarah Palin, the former governor of Alaska and GOP vice presidential candidate. “Let me ask a simple question,” Cruz told the crowd. “Why is the federal government spending money to erect barricades to keep veterans out of this memorial?”

The march organizers, however, tried to keep partisan politics out of the protest. In a Facebook post for the protest, organizers said all elected officials — and the people who voted them into office — were to blame for the shutdown.

(2) Typical Tea Party false packaging

The event looks like the false packaging typical of the Tea Party. Mostly hard core Republicans, they claim to be Independents. They stage an event as a non-partisan protest on an unobjectionable cause (“Open the memorials”), and use it to attack the President. These tactics are necessary for an unpopular minority to get favorable attention while they shut down the government — against the wishes of a large majority of Americans.

Jim Acosta of CNN, on Twitter :”US Park Police have arrived in front of WH. Some in riot gear! Tea party/veteran protesters start booing.”

Million Vet March, by NBC
Million Vet March, by NBC

(3) CNN describes the event

Rallier tells Obama to ‘put the Quran down’“, CNN, 13 October 2013:

High-profile speakers with close ties to the tea party appeared at the event, including former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas. The rally, billed as the “Million Vet March on the Memorials,” … evolved into a protest that resembled familiar tea party events from 2009, with yellow “Don’t Tread On Me” flags throughout the crowd and strong anti-Obama language from the podium and the audience.

One speaker went as far as saying the president was a Muslim and separately urged the crowd of hundreds to initiate a peaceful uprising. “I call upon all of you to wage a second American nonviolent revolution, to use civil disobedience, and to demand that this president leave town, to get up, to put the Quran down, to get up off his knees, and to figuratively come out with his hands up,” said Larry Klayman of Freedom Watch, a conservative political advocacy group.

… “This is the people’s memorial. Let me ask a simple question. Why is the federal government spending money to erect barricades to keep veterans out of this memorial?” {Senator Ted Cruz} asked. “Our veterans should be above politics. Enough games.”

… “You look around though and you see these barricades and you have to ask yourself, is this any way that a commander in chief would show his respect, his gratitude to our military? This is a matter of shutdown priorities,” Palin said.

Essence of Leadership
More satisfying than elections

(4)  Good advice from long ago

“Max, you’re a good boy. But there just ain’t no demand for good boys.”

— Sound advice to a young man, from Robert Heinlein’s Starman Jones (1953)

(5)  An honest statement of their naivete

Posted by the organizers on their Facebook page, expressing surprise at how their event was exploited for political gain by their fellow conservatives. Excerpt:

For some, it is hard to separate the politics from the issue at hand. Some will blame the President, some will blame the Congress. Make no mistake about it Americans. We, as Americans, voted everyone of our elected officials into office. We are ALL responsible for this mess. It is up to us, as Americans to correct this mess. We all have opinions, but we need to drop them and get to the business of fixing what is wrong with our government, not what is wrong with America. America is a great nation with people from all over the world and to blame one party, faction or group over another is counter productive to democracy in a Constitutional republic.

Why were Veterans prevented from visiting their memorials and monuments dedicated in their honor? We don’t know. We would really like to know the justification for why this was done. However, to us, it is one issue. Monuments, Memorials and Parks dedicated to honor the sacrifices of our American Veterans and their brothers and sisters-in-arms know NO politics.

… It is our official position that the purpose of this march and the accompanying rallies is focused on the re-opening of the Veterans memorials and keeping them open. While we understand that a Constitutional republic requires the equilibrium of checks and balances to maintain the democratic process, the memorials, monuments and parks built in honor of Veterans should NEVER be closed, blocked or restricted from use. We take the official position that no government office holder shall have ability to abridge the freedom of access to these hallowed grounds.

We have, as a group, been prevented from certain groups that have piggy-backed off our grassroots efforts, to effectively create a comprehensive media message campaign. We made the mistake of trying to partner with some Washington insiders that thwarted many of our genuine concerns for keeping this apolitical and grassroots. While we support many of those groups common causes for Veterans, we do not support the manner in which they go about it. We chose instead to not incite or create panic.

(6) Update: They don’t care about the real outrage

The WWII Memorial Protest: Sound and Fury Signifying Nothing“, Conor Friedersdorf, The Atlantic, 14 October 2013 — “Conservatives rally on behalf of veterans and liberty in a way that does nothing to advance either cause.” Excerpt:

What actually bothers me most about this little rally is what it says about the priorities of Tea Party leaders like Senator Cruz and Sarah Palin, and the rank-and-file conservative activists who trudged out to the World War II Memorial to protest its closure. They speak the language of liberty in expressing outrage at the metal barricades, insisting that it’s an insult to soldiers who risked their lives to beat the fascists. Meanwhile, the Veterans Affairs Department has furloughed almost 8,000 employees (half are veterans). Its backlog of disability applications has been increasing for the duration.

… And even when the federal government is functioning normally, it fails to adequately care for the veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, who are suffering from high rates of suicide, PTSD and joblessness, in large part due to the wars of choice they were asked to fight and that conservatives, who are still allied with a faction of haws urging even more wars of choice, overwhelmingly backed.

On liberty, Tea Party leaders, including Senator Cruz, have spoken out against domestic use of drones, and many Tea Partiers are better than President Obama on the subject of surveillance, at least in their rhetoric. At the same time, protesting temporary barricades at the WWII Memorial in the name of liberty seems rather absurd at a time when every single American is having their phone records and Web behavior monitored by surveillance agencies, laptops and other electronic devices are being seized without even the need for reasonable suspicion at airports and other border crossings, whistleblowers are being persecuted for telling the American public the truth about surveillance, and the NSA invests more money to further increase its activities.

… What I think, when I see that memorial closures are the thing that gets conservatives in the streets, is that movement leaders and rank-and-file activists alike cannot be counted on to identify and take on the most serious issues facing veterans, or the most serious threats to liberty. Instead they spend their time seizing on symbolic issues that promise to result in the best optics for a given news cycle — World War II veterans traveled to Washington and can’t visit the memorial dedicated to them!

(7)  For More Information

We are a great people, but have lost our way

(a)  Articles about the March:

(b)  References pages listing posts on the FM website:

(c)  Posts about the right-wing of America:

  1. The key to modern American politics:  the Right-Wing Id Unzipped, 15 February 2012
  2. A nation lit only by propaganda, 3 June 2013
  3. Gallup sounds an alarm, again, about our lack of confidence in ourselves, 25 July 2013
  4. Conservatives show us their thinking, not well glued to reality, 30 September 2013
  5. What are the odds of violence from the Right in America?, 2 October 2013
  6. Surveys look into the heart of GOP weirdness: belief in conspiracy theories, 3 October 2013
  7. The Oath Keepers want to give America its own Freikorps!, 11 October 2013

(d)  About political protests and reform:

  1. Fixing American: taking responsibility is the first step, 17 August 2008
  2. Fixing America: the choices are elections, revolt, or passivity, 18 August 2008
  3. How to stage effective protests in the 21st century, 21 April 2009
  4. More people participating in politics: is this good for America?, 20 June 2010
  5. Five steps to fixing America, 19 October 2011
  6. How do protests like the TP and OWS differ from effective political action?, 26 October 2011



23 thoughts on “The Million Vet March, a typical peasants’ protest. Does it portend more serious protests in our future?”

  1. Pingback: The Million Vet March, a typical peasants’ protest. Does it portend more serious protests in our future? - Global Dissident

  2. “Why were Veterans prevented from visiting their memorials and monuments dedicated in their honor? We don’t know.”
    — organizers of the Million Vet March

    I thought, “This is not naïveté; this is disingenuousness. How difficult can it be to find out why the memorials are closed? Surely quite a bit less difficult than organizing a national protest.”

    I thought I knew the answer: the Antideficiency Act, as interpreted by the Department of Justice, creates a situation in which non-essential government activity that incurs any costs must be stopped, even if the stoppage results in other costs (such as protection of property, an essential service, when that property is closed because keeping it open is a non-essential service), and without regard to whether the cost of the stoppage will exceed the costs of continuing the activity.

    Granted, that’s the kind of absurd conclusion that can only make sense to lawyers and politicians, but they’re the ones in charge.

    Ah, silly me. When I did a simple search for a concise explanation (to demonstrate that the question isn’t hard to answer), I found this:

    News archives from the start of the last federal shutdown in late 1995 offer conflicting accounts of what was closed in Washington at the time.

    Some attractions like the National Zoo and the Smithsonian museums were closed. But news stories from the time conflict about whether sites like the Lincoln Memorial were closed.

    A Dec. 16, 1995 story from the Associated Press said “tourists were free to … touch the walls of the Vietnam Memorial and climb the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to read the Gettysburg Address.”

    However, a Dec. 19, 1995 story by the Miami Herald’s Washington bureau described the Lincoln memorial as “locked up.”

    Sanford Repeats Claim That DC Memorials Were Open During Last Shutdown, Talking Points Memo, October 13th, 2013

    So, a well-known (presumably well-staffed) site cannot determine whether or not memorials were actually closed during a shutdown just 18 years ago.

    Are there no facts, at all, anymore?

    1. Coises,

      Thanks for the research, and sharing the results.

      My sympathy in this question lies with the journalists. You assume that the public wants facts, and research like yours leads to career success for journalists. I very much doubt both assumptions.

      Certainly web traffic suggests the reverse is true.

    2. What troubles me is that I seem to have demonstrated the converse of my original hypothesis: Apparently, it is easier to organize a national protest than it is to get basic, not-up-for-debate information about the history and causes of the thing you are protesting.

      Without that simple bit of history—Was this done the same way in past shutdowns?—it’s difficult to guess whether the President and the Executive branch are following established protocol in good faith that it is required by law, or whether they are manipulating the shutdown for what they expect to be political gain (i.e., Washington Monument Syndrome).

      If the former, the protests make no sense; if the latter, then the protests are (or should be) political, directed squarely against President Obama. Without knowing… what are they protesting?

      There are times protest without answers is appropriate. Sometimes, the first step must be calling attention to the absurdity and unacceptability of a situation. People have to recognize that there is something very wrong before the (typically conventional) mentality that creates the problem can be challenged. I guess this seems to the marchers like one of those times, though personally I don’t see it.

      1. “What troubles me is that I seem to have demonstrated the converse of my original hypothesis”

        I have done that often, but takes me several hours and a thousand words to realize it.

  3. I used to go jogging down on the mall winter nights, there was nobody except me, no cops, park rangers nada, they all go home at night, the memorials were open and everything was fine, so closing is just a political stunt too.

    1. dashui,

      It’s an old tactic by the bureaucracy, with its own name: the Washington Monument Syndrome. From Information Today, Vol. 26, No. 4:

      George Hartzog, the seventh National Park Service director, served during the Nixon administration and was the first such official ever fired from his position.

      Despite the fact that his department continued to increase the amount of property under its purview, the park service started 1969 with a smaller staff and a reduced maintenance budget. Hartzog warned secretary of the interior Stewart Udall that the service had no choice but to close all the national parks 2 days a week, which it did, including such popular venues as the Grand Canyon and the Washington Monument.

      Legislators from both parties condemned Hartzog, and he received no support from the executive branch under Nixon. He anticipated being fired, but he achieved his goal.

      Though closing the parks had been a drastic measure, it did encourage citizens to complain to their elected representatives. The end result? Congress reversed its budget decision. Hartzog’s strategy proved to be so successful that The Washington Post gave it a name: The Washington Monument Syndrome.

  4. The choice that some of these veterans have made to openly display the Confederate flag only serves as further evidence that a person can justify and rationalize anything once they’ve convinced themselves that their feelings are facts and their opinions are truth.

    To display a flag which is associated with one specific historical ideology and nation — such as the Nazi flag, the Soviet flag, or the Confederate flag — understandably implies that the person supports and embraces the ideology represented by that flag. As paradoxical as it is for an ordinary citizen to openly display the Confederate flag, it’s even more so for a veteran of the Union (as it currently stands) to do it because that flag is really not so much a symbol of “Southern pride” as some people claim — it is a symbol of disloyalty, rebellion, rejection, and separation. Let’s face it…”Southern pride” is one thing, but secession is something else entirely. How would most of these people react if they saw someone displaying the hammer-and-sickle? For that matter, how *do* they generally react if they see someone displaying the flag of any other nation?

    It’s a rhetorical question, of course — I think most of us already know very well how such people would and do react in these situations. What they (conveniently) refuse to see is that they’re not applying the same principle to themselves that they apply to other people. Then again, this is not especially surprising…hypocrisy is, after all, an all-too-common human failing (and unfortunately, it seems particularly strong among members of the Tea Party).

    If a person supports and embraces the political spirit of the Confederacy — a group of people who disagreed with the United States of America so strongly that they chose to reject it outright and create their own nation — enough to display its flag publicly, why did he (or she) consent to serve in the United States military in the first place?? How can they logically or rationally claim that they’e doing this on behalf of patriotism and in the interest of the people when the flag they display essentially proclaims that they have disavowed this country and/or do not consider themselves or wish to be part of it (regardless of what they’ve decided to believe and convinced themselves the flag says)?

    1. Bluestocking,

      I agree with your analysis, but put the display of the Confederate flag in a different context.

      How many people there agree that display of the Confederate flag at the M.V.M. was appropriate? A similar question was asked at the Occupy protests about some of very Leftist signs (nothing as remotely odious, IMO, as the Confederate flag).

      My guess — emphasis on guess — is that only a minority.

      So the larger question is why the majority allows someone to fly this flag, tainting their event? My guess — emphasis on guess — is that these people are not serious about their protest. This is a street festival, and so wide latitude is given to the fellow parties in their dress and self-expression.

      This is like “Burning Man”, the paradigmatic “protest” of our time. Anything goes within the broad norms of the group (would a confederate flag be tolerated at Burning Man?). Complaints marks one as a spoil sport, one who “does not get it”.

      These are peasants protests. The participants do not, in their hearts, expect them to influence policy changes by the Great.

    2. I marched with the veterans. The guy with the Confederate flag was not a part of the veteran’s group. He showed up at the White House for a photo op and was asked to leave by the veterans. He was told in no uncertain terms that his flag was not welcome at this protest. And he left. I repeat, he was not a part of the veteran’s protest.

      1. Bob,

        Thanks for the additional information! Too bad that the response was only after so many pictures had been taken. Reputations are built slowly, but can be ruined quickly.

      2. More about this: “What This Cruel War Was Over“, Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Atlantic, 15 October 2013 — “It is not so much the behavior of the lone idiot that matters, but the tenor of the crowd around him.” Excerpt:

        On Sunday, a group of conservative radicals held a protest in Washington. Eventually they walked to the White House. One of these radicals felt it was a good idea to wave the flag of slavery, treason, and terrorism in front of the home of America’s first black president. Lone idiots are often drawn to protest action. The behavior of such idiots, while alarming, should not necessarily be taken as an indicator of the aims and thrust of the protest. On the contrary, it is not so much the behavior of the lone idiot that matters—but the tenor of the crowd around him.

        If, for instance, you witness a march against military action in Syria and see a Nazi flag among the protestors this should disturb you. But you would be heartened to see the protesters snatch the lone idiot in their midst, eject him from their party with great vigor, and give him some blows for good measure. The flag would still disturb you, but perhaps you might be able to see it as a fringe action, and not the heart of the protest itself.

        It is the wisdom of the crowd that matters. The wisdom that marked Sunday’s crowd was the idea that the president “bows down to Allah” and needs to “put the Qu’ran down.” The wisdom that marked Sunday’s crowd was the notion that Obama was not the president of “the people” but the president of “his people.” The wisdom of Sunday’s crowd held that the police, doing their job, looked “like something out of Kenya.” It’s not so much that a man would fly a Confederate flag, as Jeff Goldberg notes, in front of the home of a black family. It’s that a crowd would allow him the comfort of doing it.

  5. FM, protests would be a sign that people want to get involved. Setting the facts straight, as you often do, wouldn’t help if noone cared.

    Flip side is that the PR game doesn’t give big points for integrity, i suppose that’s the problem.

    1. Asdff,

      “protests would be a sign that people want to get involved.”

      As someone who has extensive experience recruiting for local causes, charitable and political — and know others doing so across the country — in my experience that is not (as a general rule) correct.

      Street parties show that people want to hold mass events. That they are uninterested in actual involvement is what makes these peasants’ protests, with minimal follow-up activity.

      Time will tell which one of us is correct.

  6. What I find most bewildering about all this is that a lot of the people who participated in this march are among the same group of people who supported forcing the shutdown in the first place — the fact that Ted Cruz spoke at this rally is evidence of this. So even though they originally supported and encouraged it, now they’re protesting it (and trying to blame it on Obama — so much for their much-vaunted principle of “taking personal responsibility!)…and only because they’re being subjected to temporary restrictions which they were *informed beforehand* would have to be put in place if they ended up getting what they said they wanted. Looking at this, it’s a bit difficult to avoid regarding this protest as merely another excuse to complain so that Obama is “damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t” — a little like the immature behavior of a child throwing a tantrum because he’s been put in “time out” even though he was warned beforehand what the consequences of continuing an inappropriate behavior would be. (Is it possible that this is a by-product of our increasingly narcissistic culture?)

    I think it’s also important to remember a pertinent fact that many of these protesters have apparently chosen to forget. Many of the governmental intrusions which Mr. Friedersdorf describes in his article actually began during the Bush administration — a time during which many of the people protesting now were claiming back then that any governmental action taken in the name of security was in no way objectionable or un-American, that any criticism of the President was unacceptable, and that “the only people who have reason to fear are those with something to hide.” (It didn’t take long at all for these people to change their tune after Obama was elected, at least on the second point.) This would appear to support FM’s point that a lot of these people are hard core Republicans masquerading as and trying to convince other people (and perhaps themselves) that they’re Independents. (If these people truly are Independents, they’re quite obviously people who consider the Republican Party too left-wing for their tastes…which says a great deal about them by itself.)

    Taking all this together, it’s not too hard to see that these people are convinced that they’re the only ones who understand and have the right to decide what words like “freedom” and “liberty” really mean — and that can actually be a little scary when those words come up in a discussion about government and what it should look like. Unfortunately, a lot of people seem to have a problem understanding the fact that abstract concepts like these are tricky and can even be dangerous — in large part because people unfortunately often have very different ideas about exactly what these words mean while at the same time assuming that other people should and do define these words in exactly the same way that they themselves do instead of realizing and acknowledging the validity of other interpretations.

    1. Bluestocking,

      You point to several notable contradictions in the thinking of these conservatives, the root stock of the Tea Part movement. These are so,I’d middle class people, as or better educated than the average of Americans. How do we explain this?

      My guess — emphasis on guess — is that these are followers. They believe what they are told by sources they trust. Rush on radio, Fox TV, National Review in print, and countless right-wing websites. These in turn reflect the views of the plutocrats who fund the right-wing think tanks and advocacy organizations which provide their talking points.

      In short, they are pawns. Free from the burden of thought. Much like those on the Left who worry about the extinction of humanity — that almost every major weather even is “extreme weather– because they are told that is what science says (despite the IPCC and the major climate agencies saying otherwise).

      It is who we are today. Credulous, eager to follow. Lacking only a strong leader. I wonder how long until one emerges.

    2. FM, on what evidence are the claims based that members of the Tea Party are better educated than the average middle-class American? Personally, I no longer use level of education obtained as a reliable — or perhaps even accurate — measure of intelligence anyway. This is not only because there are actually many forms of intelligence — not all of which are benevolent or even beneficial — but also because increasingly, just because someone has obtained a certain level of education (say, an undergraduate degree) unfortunately does not necessarily guarantee that they are either good at critical thinking or that they possess a high degree of intellectual curiosity (both of which I consider to be much more accurate and reliable measures of native intelligence).

      The reason why I use intellectual curiosity as a defining feature of intelligence is because people who lack this trait, no matter how well educated they might be, are usually less willing to expose themselves to points of view which might challenge whatever cognitive bias they might already have (a cognitive bias which they very well might have absorbed unconsciously from their parents even if only because children primarily learn through observation and imitation) — and as a result, they either “don’t know that they don’t know” or else “do know that they don’t know but don’t care.” George W. Bush is certainly well-educated given that he possesses degrees from Yale and Harvard, but intelligent is most definitely not an adjective that I would apply to him — at least not when it comes to the kind of important factual knowledge and logical reasoning that anyone who occupies the Oval Office really ought to have (and he shows every sign of being woefully lacking in terms of intellectual curiosity). He does seem to possess a certain kind of intelligence when it comes to persuading and manipulating people — but I consider that kind of intelligence somewhat suspect since it can very easily be put to ethically questionable ends.

      Even in terms of intelligence, it’s really not enough to be able to simply regurgitate the correct answer — anyone with a good enough memory can spout the correct answer (for that matter, any talking parrot can do that with sufficient training) At least as I have observed it and understand it, what truly defines intelligence is the ability to perceive and comprehend *why* the answers are correct so that the underlying formulas or principles can potentially be applied to other (possibly very disparate) situations when and as appropriate. Sadly, at present, this does not appear to be a skill which is being emphasized or even encouraged in our educational system as it currently stands — in part because Americans increasingly appear to regard education (and especially higher education) as merely a means to a (comparatively superficial) end instead of a worthwhile end in itself, a pathway to a better job and higher income instead of as a way of gaining a deeper understanding and clearer vision of the world.

      Worse still, there seems to be a growing (and worrisome) trend in this country on the part of both parents and students of expectations that education will somehow occur through osmosis and that simply showing up should be enough to merit a passing grade — that the teachers are entirely responsible for what happens in the classroom when the most that can really be expected from them is that they hold open the door for the student to walk through. This is somewhat less true at the post-secondary level, but it is nonetheless happening at nearly all levels of education. The slowly but steadily increasing reports of cheating, dropping out, and functional illiteracy (especially when it comes to math and science and technology) strongly suggest that whatever the American people are receiving from the educational system isn’t benefiting us nearly as much as it ought to be.

      1. Bluestocking,

        Education of people in the Tea Party movement compared with the average of Americans: “Who are the Tea Party activists?“, CNN Polling Center, 18 February 2010 — “Activists in the Tea Party movement tend to be male, rural, upscale, and overwhelmingly conservative, according to a new national poll.”

        From the poll results:
        [caption id="attachment_56923" align="aligncenter" width="467"]CNN Poll of Tea Party CNN, 18 February 2010[/caption]

    3. I clicked on the link which you included in the last comment and reviewed the full results of the poll, which was interesting…but I also noticed that the people whom the poll identified as “Tea Party Activists” actually represented a *very* small subsection of the overall subject pool for this poll, namely anyone who gave positive answers to questions asking whether or not they have made at least one active effort to support the Tea Party in some way (including attendance at a meeting on behalf of or donation of money to any group associated with the Tea Party movement).

      Granted, it could be argued that the heading for this group of questions was poorly worded since it asked whether the respondent had done *each* of the following instead of *any* of the following — possibly encouraging some respondents to conclude that they should only answer affirmatively if they had done *all* of the following instead of just one. Regardless, however, less than 10% of the subjects gave positive answers to any of these questions. Furthermore, since it can probably be safely assumed that many of those who did so gave positive answers to more than one of these questions (i.e., gave money and attended a meeting or provided support in some other form), this means that no more than 10% of the 1023 people who answered this poll and possibly less — meaning probably no more than 102 people at most — would fall into the group identified as “Tea Party Activists”. Forgive me for saying so — but with all due respect to both you and CNN, statistics on 102 or so people from a nationwide poll is not nearly a large enough sample for anyone to make reliable extrapolations or judgments about the larger group as a whole. Actually, the best it can do is talk about this particular sample, which may or may not (and quite likely does not, given the relatively small number of people — averaging about 2 or 3 per state!) reflect the demographics of the larger group

      As someone who has taken courses both at the undergraduate and graduate level on how to conduct social science research — including all the cautionary information on how unbelievably easy it is for people to distort, manipulate, or misinterpret the results of a poll for one reason or another (either unconsciously or not) — I understand only too well why Benjamin Disraeli is quoted as saying that “there are three kinds of lies: lies, damn lies, and statistics.”

      1. Bluestocking,

        Those are all valid points. However, most of the polls I have seen show similar results about the key demographic characteristics of Tea Party supporters. And those characteristics are correlated: education, income, race. So the picture is logical.

    1. Coises,

      A great reference! But in fact Americans are as a whole quite comfortable with current conditions. Like most consumers, they we about life. Prices could be lower; quality could be higher; the servants and staff more obsequious.

      But voting rates are among the lowest of any republic in the world; re-election rates among the highest. Taxes, crime, strikes, and civil disorder are near or at multi-generational lows.

      No we are NOT “mad as Hell”, and certainly are prepared to “take it” more. But we love to think of ourselves as bold revolutionaries. We are drama queens, at least in our own thoughts.

      1. I believe this is a more accurate picture of America today.

        “The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty” (it’s really a documentary)

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