Friday, April 16, 2010

NYT Tea Party Poll - missing questions leave the story incomplete

Here's the text of Wednesday's New York Times news alert email:

Poll Finds Tea Party Anger Rooted in Issues of Class

The fierce animosity that Tea Party supporters harbor toward
Washington and President Obama in particular is rooted in
deep pessimism about the direction of the country and the
conviction that the policies of the Obama administration are
disproportionately directed at helping the poor rather than
the middle class or the rich, according to the latest New
York Times/CBS News poll.

Plenty of adjectives - angry, fierce, pessimistic, poor, middle class, rich. What struck me was how they all applied to the Tea Party or to economic groups who might be impacted by government policies - but there were no adjectives describing the government.

I went to the full article and found that the paragraph was a quote from it, not a summary or paraphrase. Other than terms used by Tea Party respondents, there were still no adjectives describing government in the rest of the piece.

The net impression is that there are real people with perceived needs, real people with feelings, and government. Two "thems" and an "it." Two human entities subject to value judgments and an "above it all" entity that can't be evaluated for adjectives.

The missing questions that would flesh out the discussion are ones that would provide adjectives for "the government," that is, the people in political office:

Who are they, demographically?

What are their feelings about the country?

What opinions do they hold of various groups of citizens?

If the human dimension is important to sorting out the Tea Party and income groups for purposes of our public debate, then certainly we need to know the human reality behind the titles in DC.

1 comment:

Danny Dolan said...

The NYT really doesn't get it with regards to the Tea Party people.

I've done some Tea Party rallies myself. It isn't that we don't like government helping "them" more than it helps "us". It's that, constitutionally, the government shouldn't be in the business of "helping" anybody! Even the people whom the government proposes to help with its policies are hurt, because they become enslaved by dependency.

But of course, we're all "angry", and we all "harbor animosity". It's all about "issues of class".

Sorry, NYT. You just don't get it.