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In light of the 2013 shutdown of the federal government, much proverbial ink has been spilled trying to understand the lumbering, lily-white, unreasonably enraged, largely geriatric albatross known as the Tea Party that has taken the Republican Party into its paranoid talons and simply refuses to let go. Understanding what drives these Medicare-scootering reactionaries is key to understanding the mind of contemporary American conservatism. But these neck-vein bulging, spelling-challenged, addlepated political equivalent of howler monkeys are, in fact, only the most recent manifestation of a seemingly intractable American tradition: nativism.
A recent Salon piece by Michael Lind characterizes the Tea Party as the “Newest Right;” the angry progeny of historically southern-based movements like the Jacksonian Democrats and the supporters of the one-time Confederate States of America, who are lashing out at impending changes that threaten the national and local power of various subgroups of white people. The Tea Party…
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