It’s tempting to think Tea Partiers, which is ostensibly a movement hostile to government services and the public sector, would be reflexively hostile to nearly all federal agencies, but that’s not quite right.
For that matter, if we were to make assumptions about the exceptions the Tea Party would make, identifying which parts of government they’ll tolerate, it’s tempting to think they’d oppose agencies that provide benefits to those Tea Partiers don’t like, but that’s not quite right, either.
The Pew Research Center published a report this week highlighting the differences between Democrats, mainstream Republicans, and Tea Party Republicans when it comes to support for the federal government, and Pew highlighted what it said is a “love-hate relationship.”
For example, all three groups have similarly favorable views of the Defense Department and the Department of Veterans Affairs, which didn’t come as a surprise. But I largely expected Tea Party support to drop off when it came to the federal role in domestic policy.
It seems Tea Partiers’ distaste for government is selective. They like the Centers for Disease Control, for example, about as much as everyone else, and also back NASA in large numbers.
A majority of Tea Partiers even like the FDA, suggesting they like the idea of federal officials helping ensure safety of food and medicine.
But this wing of the Republican Party doesn’t like a variety of other federal agencies that provide domestic services, including the Department of Homeland Security (39%), the Department of Education (29%), the Justice Department (28%), the HHS (26%), the EPA (22%), and of course the IRS (15%).
Why support the CDC and the FDA, and not the EPA? Probably because far-right arguments tend to ignore the first two.
I also wonder how much common conservative conspiracy theories shape these attitudes. Maybe Tea Partiers don’t like the Justice Department because of “Fast & Furious” and reject HHS because of “Obamacare” apoplexy?
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Those with a selective distaste for government