FDL Book Salon Welcomes Vanessa Williamson, The Tea Party and the Remaking of Republican Conservatism

Welcome Vanessa Williamson, and Host Paul Street (Website).

[As a courtesy to our guests, please keep comments to the book and be respectful of dissenting opinions. Please take other conversations to a previous thread. – bev]

The Tea Party and the Remaking of Republican Conservatism

Search Google and Amazon.com for “Tea Party” book titles and you will find a vast outpouring of mostly right wing propagandistic nonsense, including one of the worst books of all time: Scott Rasmussen and Doug Schoen’s Mad As Hell: How the Tea Party Movement Is Fundamentally Remaking Our Two-Party System (2010). The tide of Tea Party book-writing turned a bit toward sanity with New York Times reporter Kate Zernike’s useful account Boiling Mad (2010) and Harvard historian Jill Lepore’s thin reflection The Whites of Their Eyes: The Tea Party’s Revolution and the Battle over American History (also last year). Still, Harvard sociologist Theda Skocpol and Harvard graduate student Vanessa Williams’ new book is just the second substantive, systematic, and detailed investigation of the Tea Party phenomenon (2009-2012) to appear in print. The first such investigation (I say at the risk of self-promotion) was a volume I co-authored with political scientist Anthony DiMaggio that appeared last summer: Crashing the Tea Party: Mess Media and the Campaign to Remake American Politics (Boulder, CO: Paradigm Publishers, May 2011. DiMaggio has just followed up with The Rise of the Tea Party at Monthly Review Press).

Skocpol and Williamson’s book is partly dedicated to rescuing Tea Partiers from the enormous condescension of stereotyping. Along with impressive secondary research that included reading a large number of opinion surveys, journalistic accounts, public documents, academic papers and the like, the authors put in time in the field. They observed Tea Party meetings and interviewed Tea Party members (many of whom they seem to have ended up liking despite the fact that they are liberal allies of President Obama – the “devil incarnate” for many Tea Partiers). They also enlisted two undergraduate assistants in the construction of a large dataset of local Tea Party chapters across the fifty states. What they found from all this is something different from the “exaggerations and distortions from commentators at both ends of the partisan spectrum.” Contrary to many liberals’ early description of Tea Party enthusiasts as a “bunch of uneducated, white racist rednecks,” Skocpol and Williamson determined that the predominantly (yes) white Tea Partiers are relatively well-off and well-educated, predominantly middle class/petit-bourgeois (including many small business owners, especially in construction), middle-aged and senior. Tea Partiers might disproportionately subscribe to “harsh generalizations about blacks and immigrants” but they do “not reject normal interactions with people of other races.”  [cont’d.] (more…)

FDL Book Salon Welcomes Vanessa Williamson, The Tea Party and the Remaking of Republican Conservatism

Welcome Vanessa Williamson, and Host Paul Street (Website).

[As a courtesy to our guests, please keep comments to the book and be respectful of dissenting opinions. Please take other conversations to a previous thread. – bev]

The Tea Party and the Remaking of Republican Conservatism

Search Google and Amazon.com for “Tea Party” book titles and you will find a vast outpouring of mostly right wing propagandistic nonsense, including one of the worst books of all time: Scott Rasmussen and Doug Schoen’s Mad As Hell: How the Tea Party Movement Is Fundamentally Remaking Our Two-Party System (2010). The tide of Tea Party book-writing turned a bit toward sanity with New York Times reporter Kate Zernike’s useful account Boiling Mad (2010) and Harvard historian Jill Lepore’s thin reflection The Whites of Their Eyes: The Tea Party’s Revolution and the Battle over American History (also last year). Still, Harvard sociologist Theda Skocpol and Harvard graduate student Vanessa Williams’ new book is just the second substantive, systematic, and detailed investigation of the Tea Party phenomenon (2009-2012) to appear in print. The first such investigation (I say at the risk of self-promotion) was a volume I co-authored with political scientist Anthony DiMaggio that appeared last summer: Crashing the Tea Party: Mess Media and the Campaign to Remake American Politics (Boulder, CO: Paradigm Publishers, May 2011. DiMaggio has just followed up with The Rise of the Tea Party at Monthly Review Press). (more…)

FDL Book Salon Welcomes, Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Color Blindness

[Welcome Professor Michelle Alexander, and Host Paul Street]

[As a courtesy to our guests, please keep comments to the book.  Please take other conversations to a previous thread.  – bev]

Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the age of Color Blindness

Early in her courageous and important book The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness (New York: New Press, 2010), Michelle Alexander offers a poignant reflection from the evening of November 4, 2008:

“As an African American woman, with three young children who will never know a world in which a black man could not be president of the United States, I was beyond thrilled on election night. Yet when I walked out of the election night party, full of hope and enthusiasm, I was immediately reminded of the harsh realities of the New Jim Crow. A black man was on his knees in the gutter, hands cuffed behind his back, as several polices officers stood around talking, joking, and ignoring his human existence. People poured out of the building: many stared for a moment at the black man cowering in the street, and then averted their gaze. What did the election of Barack Obama means for him?” (more…)

FDL Book Salon Welcomes Greg Mitchell: Why Obama Won: The Making of a President 2008

greg-mitchell-why-obama-won.thumbnail.jpgWhy Obama Won: The Making of a President 2008

Beneath its ambitious title, this is a modest book. Greg Mitchell does not undertake a grand investigation into the multiple factors that came together to bring about the historic Obama triumph. That synthesis awaits deeper inquiry and analysis.

The veteran editor, author, liberal blogger, and self-described political junkie Mitchell provides a readable, entertaining, and perceptive month-by-month diary of – and reflection on – the 2008 presidential campaign as seen through both the “mainstream” (corporate) media and the ever-more politically significant eyes of “new,” that is Web-based media, where progressives (Mitchell argues) hold the day.

The diary is constructed from Mitchell’s blog-posts on media election coverage and commentary during the campaign. The subject focus is fairly wide-ranging. It includes the Republican as well as the Democratic primaries. Mitchell’s entries often include insightful comments on issues related to such topics as mainstream media bias, race, foreign policy, the ideological orientation of Netroots activists (not intellectual “Chomsky lovers” on the whole, he says), and more.

In one of his entries for November 2007, Mitchell regales us with the hilarious, short-lived Steven Colbert campaign, including Colbert’s visit on Tim Russert’s Meet the Press.

An April 2008 entry reflects on Senator Joe Lieberman’s (“D”- CT) preposterous suggestion (on the Brian and Judge radio show, following an earlier bizarre Marx-Obama connection suggested by neoconservative New York Times columnist William Kristol) that Obama might be “a Marxist” (yes, a “Marxist,” you read that correctly). (more…)