Gramsci's Common Sense: Inequality and Its Narratives
The Common Sense of the Tea Party
The remarkable rise of the Tea Party and its project to make a specific economic narrative out of common sense provides the material for a second case study. According to this narrative, jobs are created by the rich; welfare payments simply reward moochers; and, in the distorted sound bite into which Adam Smith’s complex argument has degenerated, all economic decisions are best left to the invisible hand of the market. Emerging suddenly and apparently out of nowhere, the Tea Party has succeeded in becoming a major force in U.S. politics, which has shifted the Republican Party to the right. The chapter traces the roots of the Tea Party and its links to earlier attempts to advocate for limited government, fiscal responsibility, and free markets. It explores the complex intertwining of the three factors that the political scientists Theda Skocpol and Vanessa Williamson have identified as underpinning the rise of the Tea Party and its commonsense narrative: “Grassroots activists, roving billionaire advocates, and right-wing media purveyors’ (Skocpol and Williamson 2012, 13).