Tea culture

The Tea Party, Now and Forever

Flickr/Rob Chandanais

People (including me, I'll admit) have been predicting the demise of the Tea Party for a long time, yet it has managed to stick around, the tail wagging the Republican dog even unto the point of shutting down the government and bringing the country within hours of default. Yet at the same time, if you paid attention to this crisis, you would have seen the words "Tea Party" escaping only the lips of Democrats (and a few reporters). None of the Republicans holding out to destroy the Affordable Care Act started their sentences with "We in the Tea Party…" It has become a name—or an epithet—more than a movement, even as its perspective and its style have woven themselves deeply within the GOP. Not that there aren't still Tea Party organizations in existence, but how many Republican politicians in the coming months are going to be eager to show up at a rally where everyone's wearing tricorner hats?

What this moment may mark is the not so much the death of the Tea Party as the final stages of a transition. The silly costumes will get put away, and the angry rallies may draw no more than a handful of fist-shakers. But we should finally understand that the Tea Party has metastasized itself within its host, even if fewer people use its name. It would probably help to come up with a new name for it, since the word "party" misdirects us into thinking that if it isn't doing practical things like endorsing candidates or putting forward a policy agenda, then it's fading. But it isn't, and defeats like this one don't necessarily make it weaker.

The time has come to finally stop looking at the Tea Party as a political movement and understand it as a psychological, sociological, and religious phenomenon.

Three New Facts about the Tea Party


For a movement that’s helped to reshape the Republican Party—and by extension, reshape American politics—we know shockingly little about the people who make up the Tea Party. While some in the GOP once hoped to co-opt the movement, it’s increasingly unclear which group—the Tea Party or establishment Republicans—is running the show. Politicians have largely relied on conjecture and assumption to determine the positions and priorities of Tea Party activists.

Tea Party Racism: Some Experimental Evidence


Lavine and his colleagues designed an online survey and got responses from a sample of about 800 citizens, including many who expressed sympathy for the Tea Party and many who did not. The survey asked about programs designed to help people who can’t keep up with their mortgage payments stay in their homes…

What Happened to the Tea Party?

When the 2012 Republican nominating contest was getting underway earlier this year, it was widely predicted (I predicted it myself) that the race would eventually come down to a contest between an establishment candidate like Mitt Romney or Tim Pawlenty, and a Tea Party candidate more appealing to the party's base. It seemed perfectly reasonable at the time; after all, the Tea Party had energized the GOP and propelled it to the historic 2010 congressional election victory. With its anti-Obama fervor, the Tea Party was the focus of all the GOP's grassroots energy, to such a degree that nearly every Republican felt compelled to proclaim him or herself a Tea Partier.

I'm Mad As Hell, And...Friday? Sorry, That's Not Too Good For Me. Maybe Some Other Time.

South Carolina's The State newspaper (h/t/ Ben Smith) reports on a Tea Party rally at the statehouse featuring the governor herself that didn't really turn out as planned. They expected 2,000 people, but when Donald Trump canceled on them, Nikki Haley spoke to a crowd of only 30. Here's the sad, sad photo:

Is the Tea Party On the Wane?

Josh Green says yes:

The Tea Party may continue to alter races across the country, and could also shape the Republican presidential field. But it appears to have reached the limit of its influence in Washington. Here, where it counts most, the Tea Party is looking like a spent force.

The Tea Party Fades Away

About a year ago, I began predicting that this Tea Party thing was going to just peter out, particularly once the 2012 GOP nomination contest began. All those tricorner hat-sporting folks would divide up between the primary candidates and start worrying more about that than about their infantile understanding of the Constitution or their alleged hatred for government spending. Wishful thinking? Sure. But it seems to be coming true. Time's Michael Scherer argues that "anyone and everyone is 'Tea Party.' The term is open-sourced.

Tea Party Senators Propose Changes to Citizenship Rules

Gotta love the Tea Party and their standing for life, liberty, and the exclusion of people that they don't like or who don't look like them. ABCNews.com has a piece saying that Sens. David Vitter, Rand Paul, Mike Lee, and Jerry Moran are sponsoring a bill to limit U.S. citizenship to only those children born in the United States who have one parent who is a legal resident, member of the military, or a U.S. citizen.

Stop Listening to the Tea Party

Nate Silver points to a new CNN poll that shows that unfavorable views of the Tea Party are at 47 percent. Moreover, they've been on a steady rise, though favorable ratings have been pretty flat, or possibly slightly increasing, as well. Still, favorables are only at 32 percent. Silver argues:

White Flight and the Tea Party.


Matthew Yglesias flags this bit from Stephanie Mencimer's article on the Tea Party's weird opposition to sustainable-use policies:

The Tea Party Should Be Crazy for the Tea Party to Work.

Brendan Nyhan did a little research, and argues that Tea Party candidates aren't that crazy -- in fact, they're often conventional candidates. Various respondents suggests that this means the Tea Partiers are pragmatic. But I beg to differ -- The Tea Party isn't pragamatic. It's just a bunch of Republicans.

The Same Base You've Always Known.

Ben Smith sees a Tea Party that isn’t too interested in fighting the culture war:

Roots of the Tea Party's Rage.

The Tea Party is frequently described as a new phenomena in American politics, but as Kevin Drum notes in a piece for Mother Jones, the opposite is true; like the John Birch Society or Arkansas Project before it, the Tea Party is the latest instance of a right-wing reaction that happens whenever we have a Democratic president:

What's the True Face of the Tea Party?

Dave Weigel makes a good point about congressional candidate and now-famous nutball Rick Barber, whose loss in a runoff for a seat from Alabama Jamelle wrote about this morning: