Tea Party turns five today

posted at 12:01 pm on February 27, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

And just like any birthday, the Tea Party plans to celebrate in style — and in Washington DC, where the grassroots movement has made an indelible impact. The Tea Party Patriots has reservations at the Hyatt Regency for an all-day symposium (which started at 8:30 this morning), with an impressive list of headliners. Mark Levin and Sean Hannity demonstrate the media reach of the movement, but it’s the new Washington insiders that are the most impressive. Five years ago, Senators Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, and Rand Paul weren’t even on the radar screens for most Americans.

Roll Call has a report on the five-year mark and the progress made in changing the direction of conservatism, which depends on who one asks:

But five years in, the political movement is not easy to evaluate. Among the sentiments we heard from Republican lawmakers as we assessed the tea party over the past week were that it’s been successful, that it’s pushed legislative change on spending issues, that it’s still experiencing growing pains, and even that it’s “dangerous.”

There’s not much of a central organization inside the Congress. (Bachmann’s Tea Party Caucus website hasn’t been updated since June.) Newer lawmakers, like Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, have taken over much of the tea party spotlight.

Still, many of the tea party’s goals have been thwarted — Obamacare still stands largely untouched and the president is moving forward with a vast regulatory agenda. But the one area where the tea party’s impact has been lasting and deep is in reversing the stimulus spending policies of the president and enacting the deepest discretionary spending cuts in memory.

“The tea party’s legacy is to really expose the spending that’s out of control in Washington,” said RSC Chairman Steve Scalise of Louisiana.

“We were elected as a restraining order,” said Michael C. Burgess of Texas.

And they gave Republicans what may be an enduring House majority.

I’d say that Burgess comes closest to the point. The Tea Party arose to oppose a further erosion of personal liberty and put a brake on the expansion of spending. Those short-term goals have largely been accomplished, although they may not be as satisfying to some as they should. It takes time for a movement to evolve into a broad force that can win national elections, or even state and local elections. It took the New Left decades to reach that potential, from its start in the 1960s to the eclipse of the Democratic Leadership Council formed in part to blunt its radicalism and make Democrats competitive in the 1992 presidential election. Bill Clinton was the last and only DLC President; Barack Obama is the first true New Left President, and it took 40 years for that movement to win it.

On that timeline, the Tea Party is well ahead of schedule. They need time to move key figures into party leadership in order to eclipse the old establishment, but they’re already winning key elections to start that process. The key issue for the Tea Party may be patience, and improving messaging in order to broaden their appeal. The American Enterprise Institute notes that results from six polling series indicate that messaging may be an issue at the moment:

Six pollsters ask people whether they have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of the Tea Party. All of the polls with recent askings show that unfavorable sentiment has risen, sometimes quite sharply, since the questions were first asked. In a February 2010 ABC News/Washington Post poll, 35 percent had a favorable opinion and 40 percent an unfavorable one. In October 2013, those responses were 26 and 59 percent respectively. In a March 2010 Quinnipiac poll of registered voters, 28 percent had a favorable opinion and 23 percent an unfavorable one. In November 2013 those responses were 27 and 47 percent, respectively.

Let’s celebrate a happy birthday to the Tea Party by celebrating its success, and learning from the missteps along the way.


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Of course I’m a Wacko Bird so what would I know. ; )

Bmore on February 27, 2014 at 2:22 PM

I’m a hobbit myself, lol.

Fallon on February 27, 2014 at 2:52 PM

Fallon on February 27, 2014 at 2:52 PM

Lolz! I have been called a troll. I wear that back handed compliment as a badge of honor. ; )

Bmore on February 27, 2014 at 2:57 PM

Nice turn by the way. ; )

Bmore on February 27, 2014 at 2:58 PM

Trajectory: It flew all the way to the crash site.

Teahadis have been unmitigated blessings to Democrats and menaces to conservatives, dragging the Republican Party from one defeat and humiliation to another. They were given one chance to try to set policy this fall, screwed up horrendously, and are now being shoved off the stage. I suggest you go quietly. Otherwise, states will pass SB 1062-like laws to keep from having to have anything to do with you.

BrianJ on February 27, 2014 at 12:28 PM

Just curious, Brian J. Which part of the Tea Party Movement do you disagree with? Would it be the call for fiscal sanity? Or the insistence that we live by the enumerated powers of the Contitution? Or maybe it’s repealing Obamacare you disagree with?

Seriously, what is your objection to the principles of the Tea Party movement? This hatefest of the Tea Party is tiresome, due in large part to the utter lack of reason, logic and critical thinking on the part of the Tea Party haters.

And, BTW, it is a violation of the First Amendment to pass laws banning political free speech. But then, maybe the Tea Party insistence on enjoying our right to freedom of political thought and speech is what you really object to, eh, Comrade?

idalily on February 27, 2014 at 3:10 PM

I don’t grade the past as much as I try to improve in/for the future. ; )

Bmore on February 27, 2014 at 2:40 PM

OK sure. Just seemed like a 5 year anniversary is a good time to evaluate the current situation to see which improvements are needed for the future.

The TEA party has slowed Obama’s agenda. I give them a solid B, with an A for effort. The GOPe? I give them the a solid C, with an A for effort for trying to stop and silence the TEA party.

Fallon on February 27, 2014 at 2:50 PM

Very interesting! I haven’t been reading hotair as much recently, but is the general consensus around the commenters here that Obama’s agenda has been now been slowed down?

sauldalinsky on February 27, 2014 at 3:16 PM

BrianJ sneered: Teahadis have been unmitigated blessings menace to Democrats and menaces blessings to conservatives, dragging the Republican Party Pelosi House from one defeat and humiliation to another.

ftfy

Cluebat to RINO: TEA candidates wrested control of the House from Nancy Pelosi, maintained control and are now poised to retake the Senate. Meanwhile, RINOs McCain and Romney were humiliated.

If that record of success humiliates RINOs, then so be it.

Try harder to avoid projecting the pain and shame of RINO losers onto your conservative betters.

Terp Mole on February 27, 2014 at 3:26 PM

sauldalinsky: is the general consensus around the commenters here that Obama’s agenda has been now been slowed down?

Nominally, yes… unless you consider Boehner as a mouthpiece for Pelosi.

At least they had the backbone to let Sequestration go forward. That move offered FreedomWorks and the Conservative Action Project a platform to propose horse trading Sequestration cuts for Obamacare defunding.

Taxpaying fiscal conservatives need to offer stark adult choices, not RINO socialism-lite.

Terp Mole on February 27, 2014 at 3:33 PM

OK sure. Just seemed like a 5 year anniversary is a good time to evaluate the current situation to see which improvements are needed for the future.

sauldalinsky on February 27, 2014 at 3:16 PM

As far as grading TEA party performance, I have to ask:
Do they get any credit toward their grade now that we know the IRS kept grabbing their pencils away from them while they were trying to take the test?
Do they get any credit for having people who are theoretically on their own team (Boeener, McLame, et al) stabbing them in the back when they tried to make the Dems stay within the confines of the Constitution?

dentarthurdent on February 27, 2014 at 3:57 PM

As far as grading TEA party performance, I have to ask:
Do they get any credit toward their grade now that we know the IRS kept grabbing their pencils away from them while they were trying to take the test?
Do they get any credit for having people who are theoretically on their own team (Boeener, McLame, et al) stabbing them in the back when they tried to make the Dems stay within the confines of the Constitution?

dentarthurdent on February 27, 2014 at 3:57 PM

Nope, they shouldn’t get very much credit for those toward their grade. This is real life, not a liberal public school. A for effort and excuses don’t mean much to the bottom line. To address your two points, though, it’d be great idea to tie the IRS scandal to Obama legally and bring him down, and make deals with RINOs to support a small government agenda.

The Tea Party performance should be judged solely on how much (or if) you think Obama’s agenda has been thwarted in the real world.

sauldalinsky on February 27, 2014 at 4:14 PM

I’m at a loss to suggest what the Tea Party (which is a rather diffuse entity)could do to improve communications.
Is it possible to compete with he large majority of broadcasters, writers, bloggers, etc. who will continue to portray the Tea Party as frightening and loathsome? Since they disagree with the Tea Party in matters of policy, they quite willingly and cheerfully lie, and lie, and lie. It’s classic “the ends justify the means” mentality.

Fafhrd on February 27, 2014 at 4:31 PM

ftfy

Cluebat to RINO: TEA candidates wrested control of the House from Nancy Pelosi, maintained control and are now poised to retake the Senate. Meanwhile, RINOs McCain and Romney were humiliated.

If that record of success humiliates RINOs, then so be it.

Try harder to avoid projecting the pain and shame of RINO losers onto your conservative betters.

Terp Mole on February 27, 2014 at 3:26 PM

Amen Terp.

The House is not called “the People’s House” for nothing. In national terms it’s the closest thing to direct representation that the American people have. It was the Tea party that organized opposition to the last five years of craziness and put it in the Republican hands. And the day the Tea party leaves, it will be the day that it goes to the Democrats for good.

Have they made a dent? Yes. Is it as much as we would hope, no.

But like another said here, progressivism was a long path too.

Peggy Noonan said the failure with progressivism is that it goes too far (Little Sisters of the Poor forced to have abortion coverage).

They have the press. We have the truth.

Sometimes I don’t think it’s enough. I’d rather live in a world where I think it is.

itsspideyman on February 27, 2014 at 4:49 PM

The Tea Party performance should be judged solely on how much (or if) you think Obama’s agenda has been thwarted in the real world.

sauldalinsky on February 27, 2014 at 4:14 PM

I don’t accept your premise that grading cannot reflect the system being illegally rigged against them. That’s not just an “effort” situation – everyone else in the room – the Dems, the eGOP, the media (he11 – look at BrianJ’s misrepresentations about them here in HA) – are ALL against them and doing everything they can to eliminate them.
So consider this an appeal to the Department Head or School Board. Regardless of all that, the TEA Party people who got elected (primarily Cruz) have done a pretty good job of shining the light on what’s really going on in DC – despite the best efforts of the eGOP and the media to shut them down completely.
So overall, I’d give them a solid C, maybe even a B.

If you really want to stick to the school analogy, I’d say we’re only 1 quarter into a full year course – so this is nothing more than an early mid-term grade at the most.
The real exam, for maybe the first semester, will be the elections this fall.

dentarthurdent on February 27, 2014 at 4:52 PM

I just love this. TEA!!!

Bmore on February 27, 2014 at 11:50 PM

They have the press. We have the truth.

Sometimes I don’t think it’s enough. I’d rather live in a world where I think it is.

itsspideyman on February 27, 2014 at 4:49 PM

Indeed.

AesopFan on February 28, 2014 at 7:26 PM

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