Tag Archives: Tea Party

Party Conflicts

The following is an excerpt from an edition of a Pearson Custom Textbook that I wrote in the past:

I am a big fan of political movements. I like how they bring new voters to the political process. For me, the more participation in politics, the better for our democracy. What I do fear, however, is the power of this anti-incumbent, anti-establishment movement that is currently in our midst and how long it will last.

History shows us that political movements that challenge the political status quo tend to start off quickly and then fade away just as fast.   The Liberty and Free Soil Parties of the 1830s and 1840s wanted to abolish slavery to different degrees, but because these parties were considered one-issue parties which could not challenge the breadth and depth of the major parties of the time, the Democrats and Whigs. In fact, those anti-slavery movements gave rise to the Republican Party in the 1850s.

The Populist Party of the 1880s established itself as a party working on behalf of America’s farmers and laborers. The Democratic Party, seeing a rift within their own party, usurped the rising third party’s issues, which in turn, nullified the need of a third party.  By 1900, the Populist Party as a national force was no more.

Progressives found a voice in 1912 with the candidacy of Teddy Roosevelt for President as the Bull Moose nominee. The Progressive movement had been around before 1912, but now they had a national figure to head their cause. When Roosevelt lost that year, the Bull Moose Party dissolved and the Progressive movement sputtered.

In 1992, I remember the anti-establishment candidacy of Ross Perot. He had ballot access in all 50 states. He rode a national tide built on small government, lower tax, and government accountability rhetoric. Perot lost, but Republicans used that same rhetoric to win both houses of Congress in 1994. When Perot ran for President in 1996, his campaign was considered unnecessary because the Republican Party was now firmly entrenched as the party of smaller government.

But what of that smaller government, low tax, government accountability, Republican Party of 1994? By 2008, the party had shifted away from those principles and gave rise to the Tea Party and anti-incumbent movements that we see today.  It is now 2015 and the Republican Party still has a conflict with its membership as so-called Tea Party Republicans have labeled House Speaker John Boehner as an establishment Republican.

My question is: are anti-establishment party movements good for American politics?

Michele Bachmann’s Retirement

Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (R) of Minnesota (Photo Credit:  Congressional Page-Congresswoman Bachmann)

Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (R) of Minnesota (Photo Credit: Congressional Page-Congresswoman Bachmann)

Congresswoman Michele Bachmann announced that she will not be seeking re-election to Congress in 2014.  The former 2012 GOP Presidential candidate and winner of the 2011 Iowa Straw Poll for President, was considered to be a leader amongst Tea Party supporters. 

What Happened To The Freshman Class of the 112th Congress?

In November 2010, the Republican Party regained control of the House of Representatives with the support of the Tea Party movement across the country.  This conservative, anti-establishment, and loosely organized group shook up Washington with its small government, free market rhetoric.  Because of this movement, the Republicans were able to have a net gain of 63 seats in the House.  Eighty-four Republicans in total were elected in 2010.  Supporters and skeptics of the Tea Party knew that holding on to many of these seats would be difficult in 2012 due to redistricting efforts by Democrats in many states as well as with 2012 being a Presidential election year.  Furthermore, a different set of voters tend to turn out in Presidential elections than the ones who vote in off-year Congressional elections.  Low information or casual voters participate in Presidential elections, while voters who have a more rabid or passionate desire to vote tend to vote in off-year Congressional races.  Those voters believe that they have the most to lose if their Congressional candidate does not win.  So, whatever happened to the freshman class of the 112th Congress?

Of the 84 Republicans who were elected in 2010, 12 of them were defeated in either the primaries or in the general election of 2012.  They were:

Ben Quayle (AZ-3) who lost to fellow 2010 elected Republican David Schweikert in the Republican primary.

–Pending a recount, Allen West (FL-22)

David Rivera (FL-25)

Joe Walsh (IL-8)

Robert Dold (IL-10)

Bobby Schilling (IL-17)

Chip Cravaack (MN-8)

Frank Guinta (NH-1)

Charles Bass (NH-2)

Nan Hayworth (NY-19)

Ann Marie Buerkle (NY-25)

Quico Canseco (TX-23)

For the most part, these candidates were Tea Party supported and endorsed in 2010 and 2012.  Do these defeats mean that the Tea Party movement is waning?  Hardly.  For example, some of the defeated can attribute their loses to redistricting (Quayle and all three Illinois defeated Congressmen) while another loss can be attributed to a self-destructing candidate whose campaign was mired by improprieties (Rivera).  However, it is likely that the Tea Party movementwill have to work harder in 2014 to maintain its influence in the Republican Party and in the political discourse.  If not, their movement will go the way of the Populists, Progressives, and Reform Party supporters, who were willing to challenge the status quo and failed in doing so.

What are your opinions of the Tea Party movement?  Do you believe they will have a lasting impact within the political discourse?

For more information about the Tea Party movement, visit Tea Party Patriots.