Speaking to reporters at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast this morning, former Vermont governor and 2004 Democratic presidential candidate Dr. Howard Dean shared his thoughts on the Tea Party.
“I think it’s the last gasp of the 55-year-old generation,” said Dean, who was also chairman of the Democratic National Committee from 2005-2009. “Older folks have seen their life change dramatically. The country’s not the same.”
“Every morning when they see the president, they are reminded that things are totally different than they were when they were born,” he continued. “The economy, and the uncertainty of the economy fuels [the Tea Party movement], but this is the last gasp of a generation that has trouble with diversity.”
Dean argued that the Tea Party has a problem with the younger generations. “You all have friends of different races, different religions, and different sexual orientations, and you all date each other,” he said to hypothetical members of the “new” generation. “Well that’s not how I grew up, and that’s not how the Tea Party grew up. The Tea Party is almost entirely over 55 and white. And the country has changed dramatically as a result of what happened in 2008.”
Dean’s characterization of the Tea Party, however, doesn’t square with the facts. In July, USA Today reported that 23 percent of the Tea Party are non-white Anglos, while non-white Anglos make up roughly 25 percent of the total American population. Additionally, only 47 percent of the Tea Party is 55 years old and older, while 23 percent are under 35 years old. It may be a tough pill for Dr. Dean to swallow, but it seems the Tea Party is actually a fair representation, demographically speaking, of the American voting public.
Dean was sure to clarify, however, that he does not think the majority of Tea Party supporters are racist or bigoted.