Tea Partiers a New Force in Politics

February 12, 2010 at 12:04 (Politics, Society)

We’ll see how this goes. I would imagine the GOP will be wooing and buying as many people off as possible, trying desperately to turn the movement into an unofficial branch of the Republican Party. Meanwhile the left will be portraying the movement as a bunch of whackos, despite the polling data which clearly shows they are the majority. I think if it stays independent totally then the USA may have a chance. If the movement is co-opted by the GOP then things will for the most part continue as they have, possibly with some token changes.

The problem is what I heard on the radio yesterday from a caller. With a chuckle he said the big secret was that the next President was going to be either a Democrat or a Republican, so the Tea Party needed to work with one or the other. I submit that as long as that is true, then there will be no real change. The big money and entrenched interests know that bit of wisdom too, and as long as it is the case, then the best we can hope for is a slowing of our decline via a few bones thrown to the crowd from the royal seat.

A year ago this movement did not exist. Now it is by some accounts the most potent force in American politics. So when the “Tea Party Nation” began its first national convention in Nashville, Tennessee, on February 4th, Republicans paid particular attention. The event’s grand finale was a tirade against Barack Obama by the movement’s unofficial patron saint, Sarah Palin, who now says that she might run for president in 2012. But although the former governor and self-described “hockey mom” from Alaska captured the headlines, she was shrewd enough not to claim leadership of a movement that is suspicious of leaders. The bigger message to the Republicans from Nashville was this: whatever else they may or may not stand for, tea-partiers do not want to see Republicans making compromises in Washington.

Even after a long weekend of speeches and workshops in Nashville, the precise composition, aims and ideology of this movement remain hard to pin down. That is because the tea-party is precisely what its supporters say it is: not an artificial “Astroturf” creation of the Republican Party, but a genuine grassroots movement, highly decentralised and composed of many people who have not participated in politics before. They have no agreed platform and no unified national organisation: the Tea Party Nation is itself only one of many tea-party organisations that have sprung up spontaneously around America. These people are learning their trade, honing their tactics and defining their politics as they go along.

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