Introduction: The Tea Party Election: Thatcherism Mark II?

Contributed by Nick Mirzoeff NYU
November 10, 2010
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Part of the Cluster:

The Tea Party Election: Thatcherism Mark II?

The New Everyday is a Media Commons project designed to be a reflection space on how everyday life has (and has not) been transformed since the theorizing of the 1980s by Stuart Hall and Michel de Certeau. It's purpose is to serve as a space of public reflection before (or instead of) the print/refereed publication.

Hall's impulse to this project was what he called "The Great Moving Right Show," or more academically put, Thatcherism's hegemonic project. It's easily forgotten now but the analysis of Thatcherism was widely derided at the time, with people on the left insisting that this was simply old fashioned class politics in a slightly dressed up format; that Thatcher was stupid and by extension people were being stupid to vote for her.

Is this starting to sound familiar yet?

I wonder what you think of the Tea Party and the 2010 election— it's been all about them. Let's consider the phenomenon. Is this a media manufactured movement? One paid for entirely by a small group of rich propagandists like the Koch brothers? Or is this another Moving Right Show, another hegemonic project? How might critical engagements begin to do this work of making distinctions?

Rather than wait for the usual academic process, I'm hoping we might start a discussion immediately. This cluster will discuss what has happened, how we might respond, where we go next.

The results are in but there is no consensus as to what happened. Some see this as the start of a New Right; others as a passing distraction; others still as a convenient figleaf for corporate America.

Whatever the political conclusions, the media context has clearly changed. Whereas in 2008, the internet benefitted the Obama campaign, it's been Sarah Palin that has ruled Twitter in 2010. With the Glenn Beck/Fox News/Rush Limbaugh trifecta, old and new media have worked well for the Tea Party.

This cluster features Sean Cullen on Glenn Beck's rally; Joan Saab on the baseball bat wielded by New York gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino; Steve Brauer offers us a reality check; Stephen Duncombe tours the white mediascape of the Tea Party; while Amelia Jones offers a view from the safety of Canada.

It remains open for contributions, which you can post yourself or send to us.

Margaret Thatcher: Milk Snatcher (1979)