EXCERPT | " ... Former Congressman Vin Weber joins us here at the Aspen Ideas Festival, along with Democratic consultant Anna Greenberg in Washington, D.C., to talk about just who is the political base of the political parties as we go into 2012. (NPR. June 29, 2011. LINK) ... "... REPUBLICANS ...
CONAN: And Michele Bachmann says she wants a constitutional amendment to define marriage as one man and one woman, yeah. Vin, is the Tea Party the base of the Republican Party?
WEBER: It's a big part of the base. I mean, the base of the Republican Party has traditionally, I would say, been small-business people who are primarily economically motivated and anti-tax folks, and that part of the base has grown substantially into what we now call the Tea Party.
People are motivated by fiscal issues growing out of the spending of the last couple years, really motivated by the TARP bill, which was a Bush administration initiative, and then by the stimulus package in the Obama administration.
I like to point out to people in about a six-month period of time, between fall of 2008 and March of 2009, the Congress spent almost $2 trillion or a trillion and a half dollars, and that's kind of scared people and gave rise to the Tea Party.
But there still is also a substantial social conservative base, which has been growing in the party basically since the 1970s, when Evangelical conservatives in the South, particularly, as well as some conservative Catholics and others in the North, switched their allegiance from the Democratic to the Republican Party.
... DEMOCRATS ...
CONAN: And Anna, we talked about the LGBT community as part of the Democratic base. You think of the rest, a big part of the rest of it as labor.
GREENBERG: Labor for sure, but I think that the Democratic base is more diverse than the Republican base and in some ways as many challenges as the Republican base faces around Tea Party versus more moderate folks and what that means for their ability to either get elected nationally or deal with an agenda in Congress, I think Democrats have some of the same issues. So in addition to LGBT and labor, you have African-Americans, Latino voters, younger people, though they look a little shaky relative to where they were in 2006 and 2008, but also very well-educated voters, people with post-graduate education, very Democratic, especially women, so very well-educated women and also single women.
So Democratic base is actually really, really diverse. I want to make one point on the Tea Party, just to follow up on Vin's point. There's no doubt that a lot of sentiment that the Tea Party reflects or represents reflects a lot of what the Republican base is about, but it isn't just an organic, bottom-up, small-business reaction to big spending.
It's actually initially organized around cap-and-trade vote and funded by the Koch brothers, and it's not as organic as I think the press makes it out to be or they would represent themselves to be. (LINK)
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