My presidential campaign was sort of like a tea party too

A number of readers of my new book have noted parallels between today’s frustrated and even angry mood and a similar mood in the mid-1970s. Indeed, in some ways my successful campaign for the presidency in 1976 resembled the Tea Party movement of today. We capitalized on deep dissatisfaction with the policies and practices of government officials, especially those who served in Washington.

Thirty-five years ago, the American people were eager for fundamental changes after the embarrassment and lies of Watergate and the Vietnam War, the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and the Kennedy brothers, and revelations that the CIA and top leaders had been involved in criminal acts, including murder. As a Georgia farmer, I was considered by many to have no association with these stains on our national character, while most of my opponents were stigmatized, although unjustly, because they were incumbent politicians…

Other factors are very different now. Much of the financial support for the “grassroots” Tea Party movement has come from extremely wealthy owners of petroleum and energy companies whose profits depend on preventing strict environmental standards and regulations that promote safety and competition. Another is that a powerful news organization has provided the requisite publicity and promotion for the Tea Party movement.

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