Here’s the Saturday open line. A friend sends a link about new Stanford research on recent and current political trends.

Threats to racial status among white Americans have driven support for the Tea Party political movement and may also help explain the rise of Donald Trump, a Stanford sociologist said.

Since the Tea Party’s rise in 2009, academic experts have offered different explanations for its growth. The latest evidence from Stanford researchers shows that a perception of a “decline of whiteness” among some white Americans may be a key reason.

In a new study, Stanford sociologist Robb Willer found that popular support for the Tea Party derives in part from perceived threats to the status of whites in America.

For example, white people who were shown an artificially darkened picture of President Barack Obama were more likely to report they supported the Tea Party than if they were shown an artificially lightened version.

Robb Willer, a Stanford professor of sociology, writes in a new research paper that the election of Obama as the first non-white president converged with other economic and demographic trends around 2008 to spark the rise of the Tea Party. In short, these factors were perceived as threatening the relative “racial standing” of whites in the United States.

Willer says the rise of Donald Trump may be explained by some of the same feelings.

“Donald Trump’s candidacy pulls support from much of the same base that the Tea Party did and has. And there is good reason to think that many of the same psychological forces propelling Tea Party support also propel support for Trump’s candidacy. Indeed, Trump’s statements probably go further in criticizing minority groups than the Tea Party did,” he said.

Some of you would undoubtedly respond, “Duh.”

Others, if not in high number at this venue, would bridle at the notion that race has anything to do with the Tea Party, Donald Trump or the Republican Party generally.


But while we’re on the topic: I have to wonder, too, whether President Obama’s race helps explain the vitriol embodied in Republican reaction to the president’s guidance on the law’s requirement of equal treatment of transgender school children. Arkansas politicians’ condescending and angry reaction to the release was typical. The use of sexual threats from black men  as a political tool is well known in the South, particularly, a region where the hottest reaction has occurred. Take advice from a black man on the safety of women in restrooms? The reaction has been nearly explosive from the likes of Asa Hutchinson, Tim Griffin and others