A bright future?

An article in The Hill discusses the future of the Tea Party. This topic has been discussed here before but as the “movement” reaches five years old the article is woth noting. It opens, “As the Tea Party turns five years old, some of its stars gathered Thursday to argue the movement is still growing and not on the wane. Hundreds of activists met in Washington, D.C., to mark the cause’s advent, acutely aware their nascent movement faces challenges. But together, they sought to reassure themselves they’re as vibrant as ever even in the face of building criticism. The event was hosted by Tea Party Patriots to mark the fifth the anniversary of CNBC contributor Rick Santelli’s on-camera rant against the federal government’s “promoting bad behaviour” with its housing market bailouts and calls for a new “tea party” protest against President Obama, comments that many credit with sparking the movement. Favorites like Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) discussed their own upset victories and promised great things for the future”.

Thankfully however the article goes beyond this and mentions the real problems behind the movement, “their words of optimism come at a time when the movement is under intense scrutiny within the GOP after suffering setbacks in recent months. Cruz and other leaders took blame from within their caucus for the government shutdown as the Republican brand sank to record lows. And despite a continued push from some Washington groups to dethrone establishment Republicans, many appear to be easily cruising in their primaries, including top targets like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Sens. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.)”.

The piece notes “Both Paul and Lee suggested that to sustain itself, the Tea Party movement needed to outline a positive agenda, and move beyond its initial focus on protests”. However, in order to do this it will need serious policy thinking, something which the movement has been lacking. Its obession with throwning out experienced incumbebts and hatred for President Obama have done nothing to assure the long term stablity or sustainability of the movement. The group has also shown no desire to move away from social causes, like gay rights, that have been all but settled.

The article adds that “Heritage Foundation Chief Economist Stephen Moore, who spoke at the event, told The Hill that the Tea Party movement needed to find that uplifting message Lee and Paul called for in order to continue to wield significant power within the GOP. ‘What the Tea Party was originally about back in 2009 and ’10 when it was really given birth was stopping the incredible excesses of Obama in terms of borrowing, spending. Now, I think to galvanise the movement you need really populist, positive, pro-growth initiatives,’ said Moore. As a former Club for Growth president and one-time Wall Street Journal editorial board member, Moore straddles the void between movement conservatism and the establishment. From his perch, he warned that the internal war in the GOP is hurting the party’s prospects as a whole”.

It goes on to note “The strict ideological adherence the party still calls for clearly still has strong pull in the party. Cruz’s opposition to a clean debt ceiling increase made it much more difficult for the GOP to allow it to pass earlier this month, and even McConnell and Cornyn had to break with their party and vote on a motion to allow the bill to proceed. Many centrist Republicans are constantly wary of crossing deep-pocketed Tea Party-affiliated groups like the Club for Growth and now Heritage Action that help dictate policy and fire warning shots with their key vote scorecards”.

The piece ends, “GOP leadership and establishment business groups have begun pushing back more forcefully against the movement. The fact that both McConnell and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) were willing to break with most of the party to help increase the debt ceiling without conditions shows that their frustration with the base may have surpassed their fear of it. While there are dozens of Tea Party challengers to incumbent Republicans, only Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) and Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) appear to be facing a real threat. Martin argued that just defeating incumbents was only part of what the movement needed to accomplish, though she said admitted that those races were what scared the GOP more than anything”.


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