The big question about the Tea Party has always been: is it for real? It's all very well to have rallies and infuriate liberals, but can the Tea Party move the needle?
For two years liberals have been busily telling us that, in addition to being a bunch of rich racists, it was all a storm in a teacup, an astroturf outfit, engineered by the billionaire Koch brothers.
Then came the 2010 election and clear victories for Tea Party inspired candidates adding up to a once-in-a-generation flip of 63 seats in the House of Representatives.
So now the question has shifted. This year the Tea Party turned out fewer people at rallies. Does this mean that the Tea Party is peaking? Not according to its activists.
In the Washington Post Amy Gardner reports that the Tea Party is shifting its priorities "to focus more on policy."
The strategy appears to be working, both on the presidential campaign trail, where most Republican candidates are eagerly embracing tea party priorities, and in Washington, where loyalists are setting the terms of the debate over taxes and spending.
Ned Ryun in the American Spectator agrees. And then there is the fact that people don't really know what the Tea Party stands for, and are uncertain about associating with it. Yes. Liberal slurs on the Tea Party actually do work! Jason Hoyt of the Florida Alliance has experienced the effect.
Jason related that he speaks at many non-Tea Party events, and will ask the audience to raise their hands if they consider themselves part of the Tea Party. In one women’s Republican group, only three or four raised their hands. Then Jason asked one of them what her definition of “being a part of the Tea Party” was. She stated the core principles of the Tea Party movement (limited government, fiscal responsibility, and free enterprise) perfectly. Jason then asked, “Based on that definition, who here believes they are part of the Tea Party?” Everyone present raised her hand.
Yes, but what about the future? Here is Ken Emanuelson of the Dallas Tea Party:
I'm confident that the Tea Party's best days are still ahead, whether it calls itself the Tea Party, or something else. If you want to see a true revolution, just wait until the center-right grassroots finally succeed in making common cause with the center-left and minority grassroots against the public/private crony corporatist establishment. If and when that happens, game over. I think the proper term is, "sea change."
Yes. The thing about the United States is that it is peopled by people that up-sticked from wherever they are to change their lives. There is no reason to suppose that the can-do attitude has completely disappeared from the American experience.