Why the Tea Party’s Clout Fizzled in Washington

March 31st, 2011 at 11:28 am | 64 Comments |

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A recent headline, “Tea Party Leverage Fading in Spending Talks,” reminds me of the not-always-understood difficulty of transforming electoral success into policy success.

Every time an outsider comes to Washington, you hear the pledge:  ”We’re gonna take the campaign into the halls of Congress.  The election might be over but the permanent campaign is not.  We’re gonna mobilize our millions of voters to remind Congress who really calls the shots around here.”

We heard this on Election Day 1976 when the voters sent Jimmy Carter, the peanut farmer from Plains, Georgia, all the way to the nation’s capital.  We heard it with Obama.  And again with the Tea Party.

And then a bit later comes the criticism–the new team has gone native.  They’ve forgotten the grassroots.  And, a couple years later, the second-guessing:  if only they hadn’t disbanded their campaign organization, they’d have some real leverage in Washington.  We heard this about Obama last year, that he squandered the opportunity represented by his massive email list.

Why does the same script play out over and over?  (Even in the case of a president such as Reagan or Bush 2 who achieves legislative success, I don’t think you can attribute much of this success to direct pressure from the grassroots.)  Possibly because what it takes to mobilize voters in an election is not the same as what it takes to win votes in Congress, or even what it takes to scare members of Congress into thinking they might lose the next election.

To put it another way, the Tea Party voters did their job, just as the Obama voters did their job two years earlier.  They expressed their preferences and changed the government.  Now it’s the politicians turn to do their jobs, which is not to follow the wishes of their more extreme supporters, but to govern in a way such as to earn majority support in two years.  (You might want your politicians to have other jobs, but the way the system is structured, their basic job is to win reelection.  Let’s just hope that the conditions for increasing the chance of reelection generally align with what’s good for the country.)

Mobilizing your mass of supporters in a permanent campaign?  Maybe this is a great idea, but maybe there’s a reason why, even though it can work for the National Rifle Association and the teachers’ unions, it doesn’t seem to work for politicians.  Instead of thinking that Carter, Obama, and now the Tea Party activists have failed to keep up the grassroots pressure, perhaps we should be thinking that such a strategy isn’t going to happen.  And maybe that’s a good thing.


Recent Posts by Andrew Gelman



64 Comments so far ↓

  • PracticalGirl

    Why did their clout fizzle? Perhaps it has something to with the fact that the “Tea Party” refused to become an organization, preferring to be all things to all people. They had zero centralized policy platforms, only broad platitudes to mobilize voters.

    Which brings us to the whole, and I think you answered your own question:

    Possibly because what it takes to mobilize voters in an election is not the same as what it takes to win votes in Congress, or even what it takes to scare members of Congress into thinking they might lose the next election.

    I’d say it a bit stronger. There’s a Grand Canyon between what it takes to successfully mobilize voters and what it takes to successfully run a country. Every politician knows this. Hell, I think every voter knows it as well. But we continue to bite on the things our politicians want us to aspire to and ignore reality.

    Then-Senator Obama said in a 2006 interview that Presidential agendas 10% set by their administrative priorities and 90% by circumstances. I think that holds true with Congressional agendas, as well.

  • sublime33

    While I agree with your overall hypothesis, this line jumped out: “Even in the case of a president such as Reagan or Bush 2 who achieves legislative success . . ”

    Other than signing the reasonably popular “Do Not Call” and “No Child Left Behind” legislation, what legislative success did Bush 2 have?

  • Smargalicious

    Nice try, Andrew, but….FAIL.

    With the Dems still in the WH and Senate, it’s just a waiting game until November 2012.

    Only then can we purge our nation of the 4 years of reparations agenda.

  • jg bennet

    It is all about campaign financing. The politicians are bought by the lobby because they have no choice, that is why it fades. People hope, want, and believe but ultimately, unless the politician is willing to fund his or her own campaign the lobby wins. When the lobby wins we get 14 trillion in debt and 9 trillion bucks in the hole on trade. The Tea Party folks are not all stupid, brainwashed automatons and because of this fade they are going to want to vote for a non politician with a good message and their own money. The Tea Party will be easy pickings for anybody who rails against the GOP status quo. Instead of a leader (Boehner) they got a cryer. Pretty pathetic I would say.

  • sublime33

    “Only then can we purge our nation of the 4 years of reparations agenda.”

    Reparations to the Koch Brothers?

    • Elvis Elvisberg

      Glenn Greenwald:

      “U.S. corporate profits hit an all-time high at the end of 2010, with financial firms showing some of the biggest gains, data from the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis show. … Since Obama was inaugurated, the Dow Jones has increased more than 50% — from 8,000 to more than 12,000; the wealthiest recieved a massive tax cut; the top marginal tax rate was three times less than during the Eisenhower years and substantially lower than during the Reagan years; income and wealth inequality are so vast and rising that it is easily at Third World levels; meanwhile, “the share of U.S. taxes paid by corporations has fallen from 30 percent of federal revenue in the 1950s to 6.6 percent in 2009.” During this same time period, the unemployment rate has increased from 7.7% to 8.9%; millions of Americans have had their homes foreclosed; and the number of Americans living below the poverty line increased by many millions, the largest number since the statistic has been recorded. Can you smell Obama’s radical egalitarianism and Marxist anti-business hatred yet?”

      Business surveys suggest the biggest problem preventing hiring & investment is… low demand. Not taxes, not regulation, not uncertainty, not someone in Washington saying or thinking mean things at them.

      So yeah, the reparations agenda to the Koch brothers and Jamie Dimon.

      But that does speak to the problem here– there’s nothing that congressmen can do to placate the Tea Party, because they have no policy beliefs, just a series of resentments. There’s nothing for them to do, other than passing a resolution that says “MUZLIMS DROOL JESUS RULES!” Which I think was actually the title of their one-page bill to “repeal ObamaCare.”

    • Smargalicious

      No, reparations to the Obama voters.

      • zephae

        Why do I always get the feeling that you are an Obama voter in disguise? Maybe it’s because it seems your presentation of yourself as a Republican/conservative is exaggerated to the point of being disingenuous.

        • LauraNo

          I think this too. No one can possibly be this stupid.

        • Traveler

          Yeah Smarg wrote a thoughtful comment on the rise of unions that was so out of character I was flaggergasted. Ever since then I chuckle.

  • andydp

    Smargalooney: The Marines at the 8th and I Barracks in DC are waiting for you to tell them they “are no longer honorable”… If you think for one minute I’m ever going to forget your slur against our brave Military you’re wrong on that one too.

    You won’t answer it but I’ll ask it anyway (because you don’t have an answer): Do you have specific examples of “Obama voter reparations” ?

  • armstp

    The Tea Party is failing for the same reason that everything fails. It was a “movement” built on a foundation of sand. They had no ideas. They have a bunch of complaints, which often completely contradicted themselves – “keep government away from my medicare”, but they have no idea what they want to do. Just look at their complaints on the deficit. How can they be for reducing the deficit and at the same time they don’t kick up a fuss about extending the tax cuts? Or if you ask them if what you really want is massive spending cuts, then tell us where you want the cuts? A Teabagger will no be able to answer that question. They fail because nobody has a clue about what they are saying and their “movement” is not really built on anything, particulary not built on real ideas. Just a lot of whinners and complainers. That is not a real political movement that people will back for long, as once the shouting has stopped and the point made, what next?

  • NRA Liberal

    The baggers served their purpose. Their complaints and feelings of marginalisation are irrelevant.

  • dante

    How about the fact that the original goals of the tea party have shifted as corporations have taken over the movement? Remember, the original goals of the tea party was pro-middle class. It was anti-Wall St, anti NAFTA, etc. It was driven by a real anger as people were watching their “American Dream” slip away.

    Now it’s been changed to something more similar to a corporatist agenda. People came out and marched in the streets because they were against billions of dollars being handed to Wall Street. It’s a little harder to generate support for gutting the middle class, or at least it is here in WI. That’s why the most support that the tea party has lost has been in the below $50k income range:

    http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0311/52207.html

  • Rob_654

    I don’t know what the Tea Party really wants as they speak in very general terms – when I hear Tea Party “Leaders” interviewed they are never willing to actually tell anyone exactly what and how much they want cut.

    So folks get the bandwagon because sure they love “Cuts” and they all assume that what will be cut is “other people’s stuff” because what they like can’t possibly be cut.

    The Tea Party will collapse if Tea Party politicians ever really started cutting what they promised as it will start hitting Tea Party supporters in the pocketbook directly and they won’t like it and will demand to keep their government goodies – its just the “waste, fraud, abuse, and other people’s goodies” that should be cut but they don’t realize that to cut what is really needed will impact everyone…

  • rbottoms

    What was the Teaparty platform?

    N****r, N****r, N****r.

    • Arms Merchant

      Right, rbottomfeeder, just keep telling yourself that.

      Breitbart’s $100,000 prize still has yet to be claimed.
      http://bigjournalism.com/ninnis/2010/10/20/naacps-attack-on-the-tea-party-movement-is-a-betrayal-of-its-mission-to-uplift-black-america/

      • dante

        Oh yeah, like that was the only example of Tea Bagger racism…

        • TerryF98

          Which picture hosting service are you using?

        • ottovbvs

          If you’re a racist you might at least be able to spell it correctly. One of these right wing think tanks, I can’t remember which one, had one of their interns do a racism count based on the number racist signs at Glenn Beck’s big rally in Washington. Obviously expecting to prove it was all a myth. She reckoned that 7% of the signs indicated racist tendencies (obviously understating it since most people don’t go around boasting they’re (you know what) haters. So depending on whether you believe the Washington police crowd estimates (100,000 people) or Fox News estimates (400,000 people) there were 7000 racists or 28,000 racists present in the crowd. In fact it was probably around 25-30% of the crowd which are the sort of numbers that show up in birther polling.

        • Arms Merchant

          So was it 7% or 25-30%? Or do you just enjoy making stuff up? How about a citation?

          Here’s the Fox News story
          http://politics.blogs.foxnews.com/2010/10/18/new-study-debunks-myth-about-racist-tea-partiers
          “And of the 6 percent that were controversial, Ekins said that didn’t mean racist. “If it was related to outsider politics, an ‘us versus them’ message, anything about Islam, or the mosque in New York, anything that could be construed as controversial then I included it…” When asked, Ekins said she could only remember one specific sign that could be considered racist, but it wasn’t targeted towards President Obama…”I do remember one that said ‘I’m a Smart*ss Cracker and I Vote,’”

          Of course we can’t take the word of a slimy conservative political science major. Everyone knows they’re closet racists. [/snark]

          Here’s another article co-authored by the “intern,” doctoral candidate Ekins, that posits that the Tea Party is half-conservative and half-libertarian.

          “Just under half, or 48 percent, of tea partiers at the recent Virginia Tea Party Convention held views that are more accurately described as libertarian — fiscally conservative, to be sure, but moderate to liberal on social and cultural issues.”
          http://www.cato.org/pub_display.php?pub_id=12515

          Now run along and spout your little liberal shibboleths on HuffPo. Because frankly, you liberals have so devalued the racism charge by overusing it, it means nothing.

        • sparse

          i just noticed that on the poster the part with the racial slur has a sheet of paper over it. does that mean he misspelled it even worse the first time? is this possible?

        • Arms Merchant

          Let’s see: A white guy who identifies himself (“taxpayer”) with a historically oppressed ethnic minority group is nevertheless a racist because he uses (approximately) the N word to grab attention.

          Oh yeah, forgot liberal rule #327: any white guy using n***r in any context is obviously a racist (sorry, Mark Twain and Harper Lee).

          Good example.

        • rbottoms

          Why are conservatives so upset they can’t say n****r anymore?

          It’s like a constant complaint. It bugs them even more that we let some white people use the word, like Quentin Tarantino and Eminem.

          But to paraphrase Quentin, your n****r privileges have been revoked.

  • ottovbvs

    The rubes have served their purpose now reality intervenes. Now according to a story in the NYT this morning they are turning themselves into front groups for foreign corporations as well as US ones.

  • sublime33

    “Do you have specific examples of “Obama voter reparations” ?”

    Maybe he is referring to Obama’s reinstating the income tax rate reductions for those earning over $250,000. Since Obama got half of the $200k per year vote (versus Kerry’s 35%), this must be the reparations Smug is referring to.

  • armstp

    Trading on the Tea Party
    by digby

    This just makes me laugh:

    The Tea Party does not have a presence in Indonesia, where the term evokes cups of orange pekoe and sweet cakes rather than angry citizens in “Don’t Tread on Me” T-shirts.

    But a Tea Party group in the United States, the Institute for Liberty, has vigorously defended the freedom of a giant Indonesian paper company to sell its wares to Americans without paying tariffs. The institute set up Web sites, published reports and organized a petition drive attacking American businesses, unions and environmentalists critical of the company, Asia Pulp & Paper.

    Last fall, the institute’s president, Andrew Langer, had himself videotaped on Long Wharf in Boston holding a copy of the Declaration of Independence as he compared Washington’s proposed tariff on paper from Indonesia and China to Britain’s colonial trade policies in 1776.

    Tariff-free Asian paper may seem an unlikely cause for a nonprofit Tea Party group. But it is in keeping with a succession of pro-business campaigns — promoting commercial space flight, palm oil imports and genetically modified alfalfa — that have occupied the Institute for Liberty’s recent agenda.

    Yes, well, the astro-turfed nature of the Tea Party is well known and nobody should be surprised by this. In fact, this next is just CW nonsense:

    The Tea Party movement is as deeply skeptical of big business as it is of big government. Yet an examination of the Institute for Liberty shows how Washington’s influence industry has adapted itself to the Tea Party era. In a quietly arranged marriage of seemingly disparate interests, the institute and kindred groups are increasingly the bearers of corporate messages wrapped in popular Tea Party themes.

    There is no evidence that the Tea Party is anti-business. Reporters confuse the fact that they are against bailouts with skepticism about business. That’s backwards. It’s the government end of the bailouts they are skeptical of.

    Pam Stout, one of the grassroots poster girls for the national Tea Party movement, said it on David Letterman when he asks her to explain why she thinks things are getting worse in this country:

    I think [it’s] the fact that we demonize business … we have one of the highest tax structures” in the world.

    Right wing populist isn’t particularly “anti-business” in the first place, but this Tea Party movement isn’t even close. They are far right Republicans who have been brainwashed to believe that wealthy people and businesses must be revered because they are the “innovators” who make this country great. They are, in other words, willing serfs.

    It is not in the least bit surprising to me that their astro-turf groups are making tons of money trading on the name. But they’d better be careful. The Tea Party may worship big business and hate taxes like any other far right conservative — but they are very mistrustful of foreigners. A good many of them are undoubtedly particularly mistrustful of Muslim foreigners,which includes a whole lot of Indonesians. It’s a fine line.

  • _will_

    oh i don’t know… i’d say that people who are afraid of science, of women being in control of their bodies, or think that literally insane people should have free and easy access to semi-automatic firearms are being heard loud and clear.

  • TerryF98

    Anyone who has succeeded in uploading a photo here, which hosting service do you use? I have tried Flikr and snapfish both don’t work.

  • hisgirlfriday

    Only 100 showed up to that rally today. Maybe their clout fizzled in Washington because their numbers were so ridiculous overstated?

  • anniemargret

    The Tea Party, majority of whom are middle aged or older, are whining for a lost America. Frightened that a black man won the Presidency, and that (gasp!) liberal thinking took hold in ’08, they are clinging like desperados to what once was.

    They are suspicious of minorities, fearing they will ‘take over’ the U.S. – not recognizing that minorities ARE the U.S. They are suspicious of liberal ideas, even though the majority of them have been living comfortably under them for decades.

    They don’t scream at corporatists, do they? They don’t scream about billions being spent in foreign wars. They do not want their taxes raised, ‘EVER!” (as one sign was seen), even though their own towns and cities have decaying roads, polluted air and water, depleted police and fire depts, corrupted school systems. I guess they are all into home-schooling.

    They have no credence, no core principle. And their entire philosophy is based on fear. Not a winning philosophy.

  • sdspringy

    The Tea Party accomplished something never before seen in American politics.

    They elected a record amount of Republicans to the House and Senate

    They elected a record amount of Republicans to the State legislatures, taking over 23 states.

    They have right now succeeded in getting over 30 Billion in cuts to the Federal budget, a budget which the Democrats failed to create in 2010. That 30 Billion represents the largest reduction in government spending since the 1994 Republicans.

    Compare that to Pelosi’s 100 hour pledge in 2006:
    In the first 100 hours:
    [blockquote]We will start by cleaning up Congress, breaking the link between lobbyists and legislation and commit to pay-as-you-go, no new deficit spending.
    We will make our nation safer and we will begin by implementing the recommendations of the independent, bipartisan 9/11 Commission.[/blockquote]

    None of which were ever accomplished. Which of course Liberals do not see as failure because they expect their politicians to lie to them.

  • greg_barton

    They elected a record amount of Republicans to the House and Senate, who in record time have gone on the record betraying the Tea Party agenda.

    Sad.

  • sdspringy

    I don’t think the Tea Party was betrayed. The Republican House passed 60Billion in cuts. No one believed those cuts would get past Reid/Obama.

    It falls on the inept Dems to come up with a budget plan from the Senate, which should be funny considering they failed to provide anything last year.

  • TerryF98

    Caption Competition.

    Please give us your best funniest caption to this photo of the Speaker and his tea party pal.

    Boehner “I need a drink. can I suck on your Whiskey delivery tube”

    • ktward

      No caption, quick question: is Boehner crying again? Please tell me this is an old pic and not a new one.

      • TerryF98

        Taken today.

        • ktward

          Not that this matters for entertainment purposes, but this pic has been photoshopped. (Boehner’s right shoulder is obvious.) I wonder why.

        • TerryF98

          It was on a national news website so I am not sure that is the case. Most reputable news organizations won’t touch photoshopped images.

  • sdspringy

    TeaBag fail.
    Unable to provide an argument as to why the Dems completely failed to do their jobs and provide a 2011 budget the typical Lib/TeaBag attempts derision and insult. And then fails at that too.

    • TerryF98

      Well it made you pour out your usual spite Birther. You might be unaware that this thread is about the failure of the Teabaggers to get what they wanted and how they have shrunk to a rump.

      100 turned up today, Opinion polls put the Teaparty at 58% disapproval. Way to go teahadists.

  • ktward

    So to recap: for the GOP, the Tea Party proved handy for election, not so handy once elected.

    The problem for TP is that they’ve done such an excellent job of branding their thing, it’s exceptionally problematic for them to correct on the fly for what certainly appears to be a downward trend in popularity. Amusingly, that’s exactly what Dick Armey’s trying to do with his sudden interest in Daniels, but the ranks are having no part of it. Monster of his own creation.

    The looming question now is: what’s TeaP’s role going to look like for 2012? It won’t be a repeat of 2010.

  • ktward

    Most reputable news organizations won’t touch photoshopped images.

    You’re right, Terry, but they’ve been scammed before. I do this for a living, and I see every indication that Boehner was shopped onto that flag. But if I can see it, so can the peeps at the news org. So I’m thinking this pic must serve some purpose other than story support. Do you have a link?

  • rbottoms

    The looming question now is: what’s TeaP’s role going to look like for 2012? It won’t be a repeat of 2010.

    It means they can rent a phone booth to hold their 2012 convention in.

  • sdspringy

    Its an amazing example of tunnel vision that after only 5 months from the biggest political butt whipping in history the Libs are all still in denial.

    Why would anyone have expected a large turnout in the middle of the week during a nonevent in Washington DC is beyond me.

    Popularity for ObamaCare, Obama, are tanking and the Dems as usual look incompetent during this round of budget talks.

    Yea, looks real bad for the Tea Party.

  • rbottoms

    OMG, the Democrats lost a mid-term election, when has that ever happened in history? Oh yeah, like virtually all the time.

    And yes, Wisconsin turns 70,000 union supporters but weeks before a vote that determines whether the teabaggers have any real influence or not, they get an embarrassing turnout of 100 people for a live broadcast on Fox.

    All those angry old white folks have started realizing that stuff they really like was on the chopping block and not just some welfare mother in Queens would be getting hammered.

    Even with gas at $5.00 a gallon the economy is turning around and Health Care Reform has failed to bring about Armageddon.

    The GOP promised a focus on jobs, jobs, jobs instead they’ve been busy with abortion, abortion, and abortion for the last five months, when they weren’t busy union busting.

    The teabaggers still do care will not be pleased when the GOP ultimately gets down to deal making leaving the snarling pack to turn on its own.

    I love it.

  • sdspringy

    If 70,000 WI union members were a factor then Walker and a Republican majority would not reside in the State House.

    The economy has a Fed/Bernake IV which gets removed end of May. Interest will rise because of inflation and you can then mimic Slim Pickens and ride the bomb into the ground.

    The GOP took office in January, its now March and since the Dems you love FAILED to create a 2011 budget for cowardly reasons the job falls to the Republicans.

    Get up to speed or go home.

  • jg bennet

    Look out guys…

    Evangelical voters are ‘intrigued’ by Donald Trump
    By Holly Bailey

    Are social conservatives so unhappy with the current flock of 2012 GOP contenders that they might turn to Donald Trump?

    That’s what some top evangelical leaders, including former Christian Coalition head Ralph Reed, tell the Christian Broadcasting Network’s David Brody.

    Trump, who has made headlines in recent days for his sudden embrace of birther conspiracies about President Obama, has been almost equally vocal about his surprisingly conservative views. Among other things, Trump has come out against same sex marriage and said he’s against abortion—two stances that have evangelicals “intrigued,” according to Brody.

    “There is a nascent and growing curiosity in the faith community about Trump,” Reed told CBN. “Evangelicals will like his pro-life and pro-marriage stances, combined with his business record and high-wattage celebrity all but guarantee he will get a close look from social conservatives as well as other Republican primary voters.”

    Meanwhile, the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins said voters might give pause because of Trump’s failed marriages, his role in the gambling industry and his general “flamboyancy.” But he, too, said evangelicals might give Trump a pass. “Given the wide open field of candidates, strong statements that Trump has recently made on core social issues combined with an overarching desire to see a new occupant in the White House, he may find support among social conservatives,” Perkins said.

    That’s sure to irritate Newt Gingrich, who has been working for years to overcome the personal baggage of his own failed marriages and infidelity that many social conservatives say they just can’t forgive.

  • sdspringy

    I have no problem with Newt’s marriage issues but when he sat on couch with Nancy Pelosi and promoted Global warming. Well then its get out of town.

    How he expects to be received as a conservative and sit on a couch beside Pelosi is beyond me.

  • jg bennet

    sdspringy

    Would you vote for Trump? If yes why if not why. Just curious….

  • talkradiosucks.com

    “I do this for a living, and I see every indication that Boehner was shopped onto that flag.”

    So do I, in part, and I agree. You can see bleed from the background onto Boehner’s jacket, and the lighting on him and the other guy is completely different.

  • talkradiosucks.com

    As for the Tea Party itself… I followed the rise of the movement from the start. In the very early days I believe it was a legitimate movement. However, it was very quickly coopted, and then corrupted, by the same-old same-old Republican forces. By the time we had Sean Hannity promoting Tea Party rallies on his radio show every day, the gig was up.

  • ottovbvs

    Tea party reality.

    1)There is a constituency of angry, paranoid people in American society who are receptacles for a mish mash of racism, hatred of govt, envy, nativism etc etc

    2)Some extreme right wing business people like the Koch’s recognised that if they hired some retired politicians and political operatives (who want to make a fast buck) to set up front organisations and bankrolled the whole thing they could channel all this anger and rancor to attract attention and assist Republican electoral prospects. There’s nothing new about this maneuver it’s been going on since Carnegie and Rockefeller were setting up phony unions or when Ford was subsidizing Coughlin. But as ever the useful idiots fell for it.

    3) So it worked and in an off year with a low turnout relative to that in presidential years the Republicans were able to win back the house and a lot of state legislatures. Now the Republicans have become part of the govt so they are invested in making the system work and since the largely incoherent belief systems of the tea party are inimical to making the system work conflict is certain to ensue.

  • Deep South Populist

    Andrew Gelman wrote:

    “Now it’s the politicians turn to do their jobs, which is not to follow the wishes of their more extreme supporters, but to govern in a way such as to earn majority support in two years. ”

    Err, this statement makes no sense. We just had an election, and the Republicans earned a huge majority that resulted in the electorate repudiating Barack Obama and eviscerating the Democrats at all levels of government. The Republicans earned this huge majority because of Tea Party support and because many GOP candidates ran on a grassroots Tea Party platform, or a platform influenced by grassroots Tea Party ideas.

    So what we are seeing now is yet another example of a core of entrenched establishment elites co-opting a grassroots movement to seize power, and then promptly turning their backs on the people who brought them to power, knowing full well the useful idiots will likely return to the fold in the next election cycle.

    The net effect of all the Tea Party energy has been not to put Tea Party candidates into key positions with influence over the agenda but to save the skins of the same GOP fools who continue to peddle the same shopworn ideas that the electorate rejected in 2008.

    Obama’s betrayal of his base on various issue shows that this phenomenon does not happen exclusively on the Right, although elite betrayals do happen far more often on the Right than they do on the Left because there are more useful idiots on the Right. The GOP elites have been accepting a huge number of votes from social conservatives who oppose abortion for decades, yet have done nothing of any significance to make strides toward restricting abortion. My point is not to argue the particulars of abortion but to cite the best example of GOP elites betraying their base after accepting their votes.

    But why shouldn’t the GOP elites betray their base when the fools keep returning to the fold? This behavior seems to vindicate every Left-wing stereotype of the Right-wing base as stupid.

    I have only read the last few comments, but I agree with TRS and to a lesser extent Ottovbvs.

    Although Otto unfairly maligns a large swath of Americans who have very real and legitimate grievances, TRS and Otto are essentially correct that the Tea Party was co-opted by elite interests in the corporate and political class.

    The Tea Party constituency has shown itself to be laughably easy to manipulate.

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  • sublime33

    “I have no problem with Newt’s marriage issues but when he sat on couch with Nancy Pelosi and promoted Global warming. Well then its get out of town. How he expects to be received as a conservative and sit on a couch beside Pelosi is beyond me.”

    Right. If Donald Rumsfeld shakes hands with Saddam Hussein, no problem. If George W. Bush holds hands while president with an Arab oil sheik, no problem. If John McCain visits Gadhafi within the last year, no problem. But God forbid a Republican should be seen with Nancy Pelosi!

    Do you realize how absolutely absurd this sounds?????

  • valkayec

    Granted that much of the last election was fueled by anger in which voters chose to throw out incumbents with anybody else. I suspect that many Tea party Republicans were voted into office simply because of that desire to vote out the incumbents. Now, especially in State Houses, people are beginning to see the results of their votes in policies that are antithetical to modern American values. As a consequence, voters are having buyers remorse and see the Tea Party as sponsors of those politicos who are most disliked.

    By 2012, the Tea Party may be overwhelmed at the polls as people vote against any Tea Party sponsored candidate, fearing the radical agenda of those candidates. Moreover, as the economy continues to improve, many supporters will drop away as they turn their attention to their lives and activities.

  • Arms Merchant

    Let’s see. FrumForum trumpets the “fizzling” of the Tea Party, yet ignores Obama’s approval rating dropping to 42%, his lowest ever.
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ac/20110331/pl_ac/8188903_obama_approval_rating_hits_new_low

    • ktward

      FF did not ignore the news- it was up just recently on The Feed. Watusie posted a graph that tracked Obama’s/Clinton’s/Reagan’s approval ratings by number of days in office. They were all in the same ballpark at this point, but guess who edged out the other two? Hint: it wasn’t Reagan or Clinton.

  • dan.lavatan

    While politicians like to win elections, they probably won’t recieve a majority vote. Rather, they will win with a plurality of the electorate in a jerrymandered district after winning their primary.

    Cantidates making commitments for tea party support and then betraying those commitments risk losing that support in favor of other primary cantidates. They may lose votes to 3rd pary cantidates in the general election or having voters stay home.

    As to the effect, the country will be much further on the path to insolvency. When govenment checks start bouncing, they won’t be able to bribe people with their own money any more. However, this may not happen in the next congressional cycle, so why worry?