On the pure economic issues, the key indicator is that there wasn't a single march or rally when Bush massively increased the size of the federal government and the national debt, launched massive new expenditures including two wars, and instigated a massive bailout of the financial industry. If there's a rational explanation for why the protests happened only after Obama became president, I've yet to hear it.
These protests aren't about the issues. If they were, you'd hear specific, fact-based claims. For instance, "Bush's $3 trillion budget was just right, but Obama's $3 trillion-plus budget crossed the line." Or, "We support Method X to ensure that everyone can afford health insurance, but we oppose the so-called public option." (Note: Method X is a fiction since conservatives haven't presented a viable alternative to healthcare reform.)
Instead, what you hear at these protests is irrational paranoia and fear. You hear scary sound bites such as "Socialism!" and "Death panels!"--which the people uttering them can't even define. You see scary signs such as Obama as the Joker, Hitler, or a "half-breed Muslin." The protests usually veer into rants against gun control, illegal immigration, or whatever it is that conservatives claim to loathe.
In short, these protests aren't about anything real, concrete, or specific. They're about conservatives' fear of the unknown--of "them."
Who are "they"?
As for who the "they" and "them" are, look at the composition of the so-called Tea Parties. As previously noted, these people are 99% white. Lower middle class. Middle-aged men with either military crew cuts or biker tattoos. Too many people who watch Fox News and not enough people with college educations. Heck, not enough people who can write or spell correctly.
"They" is everyone who isn't a teabagger: a Palin-style "real American." In other words, liberals, socialists, One-Worlders, poor people, minorities, immigrants, feminists, homosexuals, atheists, intellectuals, "elitists," et al. Basically, anyone who isn't a white male Christian who loves God and country in roughly that order.
Given the teabaggers extra credit for inspired use of the term "half-breed." In old Westerns, the half-breed vied with the Indian as the villain. One could argue that the half-breed was worse. He was white enough to know how society worked, how civilized people acted. He could live and move among "real Americans" without fear of detection. But he was really a spy for "them," the forces of evil. He was a traitor to his race, a backstabbing Judas. Inside the facade of civility lurked a monster.
Not convinced? After you're done explaining why there were no protests against Bush, explain why the Tea Parties are overwhelmingly white. Are minorities too stupid to understand that conservatives are trying to help everyone, not just themselves? Or have minorities correctly read the Tea Parties as a pure expression of white privilege? As patriotic, God-fearing white Americans who are trying to protect themselves from anyone who's "different"?
White teabaggers vs. brown "others"
As I've shown, the teabagger mentality is little more than "them vs. us." America vs. the rest of the world. Good guys vs. bad guys. Cowboys vs. Indians. White skins vs. brown skins. White vs. black.
In other words, it's a xenophobic, racist fear of the other. This has been a driving force in America ever since the first colonizers saw Indians and deemed them "savages" and "heathens." It's still a driving force, but now the "savage" is a Harvard-educated black man--i.e., a radical, socialist "half-breed" who's turning the White House into a black house.
Note to conservative idiots who don't understand hyperbole: This entire posting, especially the paragraphs directly above, consists of gross generalizations. Please don't waste my time listing exceptions that you think disprove my claims. Unless you can come up with a general theory that explains the teabagger movement better than my general theory, don't bother responding.
Any questions? If you need any other teabagger code-words decoded, feel free to e-mail me. For more on the subject, see America's Cultural Mindset.
Below: Some "real Americans."