Tea Party is just a media spectacle, Joe Bageant

Interview with Joe Bageant by RT, a global tv network based in Russia

“For some reason in this country, there’s always been an assumption that the poor, or the underclass, are the non-white people that live in this country, and the fact that there has always been a white underclass has become taboo,” remarked the interviewer.

Indeed. And urban elites don’t see them either. One reason is because they don’t get out to the areas between the big cities much. In big cities, most of the underclass is “color-coded.” But out in the country, it’s mostly whites.

“The Tea Party is a media spectacle to make working people believe they have power. A lot of good people joined the Tea Party movement without understanding it’s a political media production for mass consumption,” says Bageant, adding that the Tea Party is funded by billionaires and managed by super conservative capitalists. “We have a theater state and television is the operating instructions for our society…Corporate owners create the reality.”

He says at a Tea Party rally the media always focuses on the looniest people there, ignoring the masses who are there because “take our country back” sounds like a good idea, even if they aren’t sure what they really think.

The same thing happened at Iraq antiwar rallies. The vast majority who came were not hardcore Marxists as the organizers often were, and were turned off by the socialist ranting from the podium. There were there because they thought something had gone badly wrong in the country, not because they wanted a Socialist Paradise and to call each other Comrade. Of course, the media would always find the loony with a ‘Kill Bush’ poster, ignoring the middle-aged mom with a Peace Now sign.

Rainbow Pie: A Redneck Memoir has just been published in Australia, the follow-up to his well-received Deer Hunting With Jesus. Dispatches from America’s Class War. From the publisher.

Rainbow Pie is a coming-of-age memoir wrapped around a discussion of America’s most taboo subject — social class. Set between 1950 and 1963, Joe Bageant uses Maw, Pap, Ony Mae, and other members of his rambunctious Scots–Irish family to chronicle the often-heartbreaking post-war journey of 22 million rural Americans into the cities, where they became the foundation of a permanent white underclass.

Along the way, he also provides insights into how ‘the second and third generation of displaced agrarians’, as Gore Vidal described them, now fuel the discontent of America’s politically conservative, God-fearing, Obama-hating ‘red-staters’.

These are the gun-owning, uninsured, underemployed white tribes inhabiting America’s urban and suburban heartland: the ones who never got a slice of the pie during the good times, and the ones hit hardest by America’s bad times, and who hit back during election years.

Of course, the white working class and underclass used to vote solidly Democrat. That was before the Democratic Party turned their back on them (when not insulting them.) The Republican Party didn’t make that mistake, and instead at least pretended to pay attention to them and their concerns. The result of that has been a huge shift in voting patterns, and the Democratic Party has no one to blame but themselves.


  1. I have always felt that when I see news or a documentary of America, the big cities show mainly signs of wealth and the small towns show mainly signs of poverty. That has always made me think of America as at least two different countries. With all the latest figures coming out it looks like the poverty country is taking over the majority of the people. Though I must admit I can never quite get my head round a lot of the political views that seem to come from what I can only believe to be ordinary people. There seems to be more extremists in American than almost anywhere else that I know and that frightens me somewhat. Extreme fundamentalist Christians seem to hold too much sway and that frightens me even more.
    I will add that I do not know an awful lot about America, these are just opinions I have from what information comes my way but no real research.

    • It is two different countries. The Republican Party understands this, the Democratic Party, to its huge disadvantage, doesn’t.

      As for extremists here, well, the US was founded when you in the UK got rid of your religious wackos. 🙂

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