Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Democratic Foundation Finds That Tea Party Donations Came from Average Americans

One of the misleading tales about the Tea Party that media sources have spread is that the movement has been supported by wealthy-one percent donors.  The Roosevelt Institute, whose aim is to further the aims of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, funded a study that found the opposite:  Much of the Tea Party candidates' donations have come from average Americans.  

It is true that the authors, Ferguson, Jorgenson, and Chen, conclude "The Tea Party and its allies cannot sensibly be treated solely in terms of mass politics."  They also note, of course, that Obama, the Democratic Party, and their allies cannot be treated solely in terms of mass politics. Indeed, that is the gist of Ferguson's extensive writings: Capital intensive and pro-free-trade industries supported Roosevelt, and among the supporters were Standard Oil and an array of investment banks that opposed JP Morgan Jr.  In other words, the authors are willing to concede that there is public support for free market-based candidates just as there is public support for collectivist ones. 

That shows considerable integrity.  It is inconceivable to most collectivists that average Americans might prefer freedom; it is inconceivable to them that hardworking, blue collar workers might prefer lower to higher taxes; it is inconceivable to them that those who prefer to support themselves free of government authority might prefer being paid fairly for their labor instead of living off government subsidies, welfare scams,  or the Social Security pyramid scheme.  

Although I disagree with their politics, the authors of the study are exceptional scholars who have carefully tested the lead author's, Thomas Ferguson's, insightful investment theory of politics.  They write this

The statistics in Table 1 provide the answer, which is somewhat surprising. Bachmann, Cain, and Paul attracted truly significant percentages of unitemized funds – essentially half or more of all their funds. Though we suspect Republican donors are likely to be somewhat wealthier than most Democratic donors, we do not doubt that most of this money streamed in from people reasonably described as “average Americans” too.  Gingrich and Santorum also attracted significant amounts from this quarter. By contrast, Huntsman’s and Texas Governor Rick Perry’s contributions of this type were plainly derisory.

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