Skip to comments.U.S. election: Is the Tea Party over? (Cover your keyboard)
Posted on 11/09/2012 3:55:58 PM PST by 2ndDivisionVet
A chilly day in February came to a boil without warning. A frenetic CNBC reporter, Rick Santelli, took the floor at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange in 2009 to vent his rage against the U.S. governments foreclosure-relief plan.
The government is rewarding bad behaviour, he ranted to cheering traders. Subsidized losers didnt deserve to have mortgages. The people who needed support were ones who carry the water instead of drink the water.
Then, to louder cheers, Im going to have a Chicago Tea Party in July, all you capitalists that want to show up at Lake Michigan, Im going to start organizing!
Enter the Tea Party.
Hailed as Americas most invigorating new political movement of the 21st century, it poured across the country into state legislatures and the seat of government in Washington a movement steam-powered by people who were mad as hell and not going to take it any more.
By the time the Republicans won a thumping majority of 242 to 193 in the House of Representatives in 2010, the Tea Party was a force to be reckoned with in the most hallowed halls of American politics.
Now, pundits pronounce, the party may be over.
In this weeks election, Senate hopefuls Richard Mourdock and Todd Akin were trounced after overheated remarks about women and rape. Popular partier Josh Mandel, a former Ohio state treasurer, was steamrolled by incumbent Sherrod Brown, named the capitals most liberal legislator.
One-time pin-up boy Scott Brown lost his Massachusetts seat to consumer activist Elizabeth Warren, mooted for an eventual run at the White House.
High-profile North Dakota lawmaker Rick Berg who succumbed to right-wing pleas to run in Washington was sent back west after just one term, and a squeaky-close election.
Paul Ryan, the Tea Partys favourite budget head-butter, kept his seat in the House, but lost his bid for the vice-presidency under the more moderate Mitt Romney.
The list goes on.
Uber-partier Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, a founder of the Houses much-feared Tea Party Caucus, hung onto her seat by a (manicured) fingernail. Sandpaper-tongued Congressman Joe Walsh was shot down by Tammy Duckworth, an Iraq combat veteran and double amputee whom he slagged as a dubious true hero.
And House freshman Allan West, a rare black Tea Party candidate known for his extreme rhetoric and attack ads, narrowly lost in Florida to Democratic rival Patrick Murphy.
Although the Tea Partys hope for a Republican Senate majority is quashed the Democrats will keep their slim advantage but miss the 60 seats needed for easy passage of bills the House remains firmly in Republican hands.
Those who have studied the movement closely say that reports of the Tea Partys death are premature, and prospects for political compromise still distant.
Its a more liberal Senate, says Norman Ornstein, co-author of Its Even Worse Than It Looks, on the rise of extremism in American government. But the House grows more conservative and polarized.
Most of the Republican freshmen who were elected in 2010 won again this time, but at the price of resisting compromise.
They were challenged from the right. The lesson they learned is that you move to the centre at your peril, Ornstein said.
Discipline imposed by House leaders under the sway of the Tea Partys no surrender ideology has kept it that way. So has the redrawing of congressional districts. And the primary process, in which moderates who win seats can be removed from the next election slate, makes it likely that the Tea Partys grip will not slip any time soon.
The big money that has flowed into the Tea Party from its early days has also ensured that candidates stay steeped in the movements policies.
The national billionaire-backed advocacy groups that manipulate funding and endorsements in the name of the Tea Party are not merely trying to win the next election for the (Republicans), say Theda Skocpol and Vanessa Williamson in their book The Tea Party and the Remaking of Republican Conservatism.Instead they aim to remake the Republican Party into a disciplined, uncompromising machine devoted to radical free-market goals.
Those goals include smaller government, lower taxes and shrinking social programs for the undeserving poor who were the subject of Santellis rant.
But Harvard sociologist Skocpol, who has studied the movement since 2009, points out that the Tea Partys influence is more complicated than that, and its amoeba-like quality oozing from the grassroots to the pinnacles of power makes it hard to pin down, or to shut down.
A lot of those at the grassroots are regular folk whipped up to activism by fear, which often comes from media hype. They are in their own right-wing world locked into things that arent true, she says.
They put pressure on the office-holders to stick to that agenda, and so do the big money funders who want no compromise.
In the past, says Tea Party constitutional scholar Rob Natelson of the Colorado-based Independence Institute, similar conservative groups have sprung up and vanished once a Democratic president leaves office. But prospects for a quick exit for this movement are dim.
People are asking if it will give up now and go home, he says. The answer is that (President Barack) Obama hasnt been replaced. Some of the folks may be demoralized, but the Tea Party wont dry up and fade away.
Eventually, though, the movement appears doomed unless it can weed out the extreme social-conservative factions that dragged it down in this election, connect with mainstream values and re-energize younger members.
The dividing line for (joining) the Tea Party is about 45, says Skocpol. Theyre older voters who are frightened by the changes hitting them all at once. Doomed? It will take a while.
conservatives will have even less political representation that way if that’s even possible at this point.
No she didn’t, her bus tour was ambushed by Perry pulling that stunt and temporarily filling in her Romney killing spot, long enough to step on her momentum as it was peaking and protect Mitt.
Governor Palin is still the most important republican in America, the top endorsement in either party, and in history.
Palin is still reshaping the GOP into a more conservative party.
He's talking about Brown, who many, including here, pegged as a rising star. By losing, he's been made moot.
The gloomier and “atlas shrugged” ‘ier the right gets, the more I want a third party.
A party about growth, low taxes and winning.
If that is the tea party, then that is what we need.
I’ll only answer one of your posts.
Sarah Palin was facing Mitt Romney.
She had young children at home, and decided to go with the children. Rather than running a mudslinging race as her kids were growing up.
It is not at all clear yet what she intends to do next time. But do not insult her or us.
Her decision was personal, and may change as her children grow up.
Deal with that.
Registered Independants vote in the open Republican Primaries, don’t they ?
” - - - Harvard sociologist Skocpol - - - “ is the expert queried for this sorry article.
BTW, maybe Skocpol could unseal fellow Haaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhvud student Obama’s grades in Economics?
History teaches us, but Empires never learn their lesson.