The Decline of the Tea Party

tags: Republican Party, Tea Party



Bruce Bartlett held senior policy roles in the Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations and served on the staffs of Representatives Jack Kemp and Ron Paul. He is the author of the forthcoming book The Benefit and the Burden: Tax Reform – Why We Need It and What It Will Take.

There is an apocryphal story about the origins of neoconservatism in the 1960s. Some liberal professors at Harvard were sympathetic to the New Left and such radical groups as Students for a Democratic Society. But one day one of these professors heard the radicals suggest burning down the Harvard library as an act of protest, and the professor suddenly realized that he had nothing in common with them at all. He organized some other professors into a vigil to protect the library at all cost.

Today, the problem isn’t the New Left, but the radical right, which has dominated American politics at least since the rise of the Tea Party movement in 2009 following the election of Barack Obama. It’s too soon to say for sure, but recent events suggest that some of those previously supporting the Tea Party have had their Harvard library moment. There are signs of a pushback among the wealthy, conservative elites and the business community that may see the political pendulum begin to swing back toward the middle.

No one particular event seems to have created this moment. The government shutdown is one, the impending Republican loss in the Virginia governor’s race is another, and so is the dawning recognition that the right-wing war on the poor and glorification of profits and wealth may have gone too far....




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