Black Conservatives Balk at Howard Dean’s Depiction of ‘55 and White’ Tea Party That ‘Has Trouble with Diversity’
(CNSNews.com) – The black leadership network Project 21 accused former Democratic National Committee Chairman and presidential candidate Howard Dean of “playing the race card” over remarks Dean made at a breakfast event hosted by the Christian Science Monitor on Wednesday in Washington, D.C.
Dean said the Tea Party was the “last gasp” of a 55-year-old generation and that most people involved in the Tea Party movement are “almost entirely over 55 and white.”
“This is the last gasp of the generation that has trouble with diversity, and the new generation doesn’t,” Dean said. “As I am fond of telling college audiences, you all have friends of different races, different religions and different sexual orientations and you all date each other.
“That’s not how I grew up and not how the Tea Party grew up,” Dean said. “The Tea Party is almost entirely over 55 and white.”
However, Dennen Borelli, a fellow at Project 21, said, “I’m black and nowhere near 55 and a strong supporter of the less government, less taxes and spending and increased freedom that the tea parties embody.”
Project 21’s statement issued Friday called Dean’s analysis of the Tea Party’s role in the recent mid-term elections and the upcoming presidential race in 2012 a “simplistic interpretation,” which opens “the new year on a hateful note by playing the race card against ‘tea party’ supporters of limited government.”
Dean said the Tea Party is reacting to a changing demographic in the United States, including the election of the nation’s first black president.
“I think it’s a group of older folks who’ve seen their lives change dramatically,” Dean said. “The country’s not the same.
“Every morning when they see the president they’re reminded that things are totally different than when they were born,” Dean said.
“Dean may be right that many tea partiers are older and more are whiter than me, but I don’t see the racial panic that Dean infers,” said Jerome Hudson, a 25-year-old college student and Project 21 member who has spoken at numerous Tea Party events.
“I receive applause and cheers for speaking from my heart about individual responsibility, the values of hard work and American exceptionalism,” Hudson is quoted as saying in the statement released by Project 21.
Borelli said that Dean, formerly a practicing physician, had misdiagnosed the political change happening in the United States, including the Tea Party’s influence on elections that put Republicans in charge of the House of Representatives.
“The Tea Party is the remedy to the toxic policies of the Obama administration,” Borelli said. “The recent progressive legislation and regulatory stranglehold brought high unemployment and three dollars-a-gallon gasoline.”
“You don’t need a medical degree to see the real cause of what’s unsettling Americans, and now – as a body politic -- they are treating what ails them,” said Borelli.
"Obviously struck and frustrated by the complete rejection of progressive policies and the reality of a host of new Tea Party-backed members of Congress coming to Washington, Howard Dean threw a verbal tantrum and made unfounded claims eluding to racism being a big factor. He should be ashamed of himself," said Borelli.
At the Christian Science Monitor event, Dean said the “vast majority” of Tea Party activists are populists who are against free trade, who do not mind taxing wealthy Americans and who want to see the federal budget balanced.
As for their influence on the 2012 election, Dean said it will depend on what faction of the Tea Party is dominant among the three he thinks make up the movement: the “racist fringe” Tea Party, the “corporate” Tea Party led by former Republican House Majority Leader Dick Armey or the populist Tea Party crowd.
“I can’t wait to see which Tea Party really emerges,” Dean said.
"Dean's comments are of a consistent and tactical narrative meant to spin the situation,” said Hudson in the Project 21 statement. “The midterm election proved that the tea party message of less spending, lower taxes and a constrained federal bureaucracy won with American voters. In response, Dean and others on the left appear ready to play the race card to shore up any remaining vestiges of power."