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A Social Tea
03-15-2010
This article in the New York Times caught my attention over the weekend. It looks at attempts by some within the Tea Party movement to build electoral clout by downplaying divisive social issues in favor of a single-minded focus on fiscal responsibility. I wish them good luck with that undertaking. So much of the early grassroots energy motivating the Tea Party movement has been driven by the twin goals of opposing President Obama's agenda and challenging elected Republican institutional elites in party primaries from the right. This makes it somewhat difficult to visualize the Tea Party movement as a big tent with room for independents and disaffected moderates from both parties, but that seems to be what the article is suggesting.
 
It is true that opposing profligate spending by elected officials in both parties can be considered a conservative act. But with culture warriors like former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, and South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint out in front helping to shape the Tea Party movement’s national profile, I wouldn’t be surprised to find that some voters are skeptical of the idea that its most high-profile engagements won’t be significantly shaped by values questions (and voters). In the end, organizational fractures along this ideological fault line may limit the overall impact that the Tea Party movement can have on the elections, even if it is eventually more fully co-opted by the Republican Party.


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