The “Tea Party” rose at a time when the political landscape in American had seen President George W. Bush’s administration begin a series of bailouts for failing businesses and President Obama Barack continue this legacy. Many conservatives and libertarians were extremely frustrated by what they viewed as the government far over-stepping its bounds. Then on February 19, 2009 an impassioned speech on CNBC’s by analyst Rick Santelli became a rallying cry for many of those in these frustrated constituencies. Santelli raved: “This is America. How many of you people (turning to the traders on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange floor) want to pay for your neighbor’s mortgage that has an extra bathroom and can’t pay their bills? . . . We’re thinking of having a Chicago Tea Party in July. All you capitalists that want to show up at Lake Michigan, I’m going to start organizing!”

The video went viral and “Tea Party” websites went up all over the internet, representing groups large and small. As it was a decentralized, individual, and small group driven movement, the Tea Party has never had a specific agenda. Characterized largely by conservative and libertarian themes, it is clearly an anti-establishment movement promoting smaller government and fiscal responsibility.

However, today the Tea Party is dead.

Individual candidates and the Republican Party tried to capitalize on and attach themselves to this popular movement, as popularity translates to votes, and votes win elections. Orrin Hatch, a person the some Tea Party groups have targeted to defeat and a career politician who has often been instrumental in the growth of government, especially during the Bush administration once claimed: “I’ve been a Tea Party person I think since before the Tea Party came into existence”.

But now the credibility of the Tea Party is nearly gone. Although its members often blame the media for mischaracterizations of its positions, which certainly has happened and were inevitable due to the disparate nature of the movement, the Tea Party has ruined itself. Credibility was lost when it promoted unprepared and inadvisable candidates such as Christine O’Donnell and Sharron Angle, though at the time, the movement generally remained true to its principles of anti-establishment, smaller government, and fiscal responsibility.

A recent poll shows this collapse is practically complete. Forty seven percent of likely voters that favor Newt Gingrich also identify themselves as Tea Party members. Only 43 percent of Tea Party members prefer all the other candidates combined! Meanwhile, Gingrich personifies the Washington establishment. He has been in Washington for 30 years, and remained closely connected to it since his resignation in 1999. He supports subsidizing the businesses and industries of his choice, the individual mandate in Obamacare, and helped form the Department of Education.

If the Tea Party actually drives Newt Gingrich to the Republican nomination, it will have completely lost its way, having no principles, and the Tea Party’s demise will be complete.

Comments