Column by Amanda Wallace. E-mail [email protected]
Thomas Jefferson wrote “Every generation needs a revolution.” The Tea Party movement claim to be the embodiment of that idea.
Originally, a meshing of libertarian and constitutionalist values, the Tea Party emerged in the past six months as a talking point among both liberal and conservative figures. After all, Tea Party advocate Dick Armey says members are part of a violent takeover of the Republican Party. But does the Tea Party constitute true change in the way American politics work or is it a “mock rebellion?”
Glenn Beck and other Tea Party supporters say the movement matters a great deal and is already enacting change. Radical right-wing candidates are popping up all over the country — from Rand Paul in Kentucky to Sharron Angle in Nevada.
But I fail to see how the Republican party’s “radical takeover” is really that different from the pre-existing GOP, especially since these candidates became more moderate after they won their primaries.
While many mainstream liberal candidates knock them for their past statements, other candidates have been more moderate since the mid-term elections. Angle is cited as supporting the dissolution of the Department of Education and the US’ withdrawal from the U.N. Rand Paul was careful to remain within Republican talking points at the Fancy Farm picnic, pointing to the flaws in the current presidency and other incumbents. But these politics aren’t against the Republican status-quo.
After all, former mainstream vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin has become a figurehead of the Tea Party movement. Dick Armey, of the hostile takeover, was once the House majority leader. A good deal of Angle’s beliefs are based around GOP values — she is pro-life, opposes same-sex marriage and believes in the dissolution of Social Security. How much of a revolution can Sharron Angle and other Tea Partiers hope to begin if their policies are effectively Republican?
Does the Tea Party even matter? Angle won the Republican primary in Nevada, but she is currently behind her opponent Sen. Harry Reid in the polls. True, Rand Paul does have a good chance of winning the Kentucky election. But once in office, will he be anything more than a Republican in a radical overcoat? I doubt it, as he caved very quickly to mainstream pressures after the midterms.
From some of the Tea Party supporters I know, I’ve heard they feel their movement has been hijacked by the Republican Party, not the other way around. In the beginning, the movement appeared to be a large libertarian push, but now it just reeks of the GOP. Where is the revolution? I don’t pretend to know that much about politics, as one political science class does not make me an expert, but I’ve been keeping a close eye on the Tea Party movement.
I’ve been watching the two major opposing news networks, both Fox and MSNBC, Beck and Olbermann. Fox’s parent company has made a $1 million donation to the Republican Governors Association. Their commentators, like Glenn Beck, have been supporting this supposedly radical movement. Glenn Beck’s recent “Restoring Honor” rally was touted by DCist.com as an event for “thousands of Tea Party activists.”
So who exactly are the Tea Partiers revolting against? Certainly not the status-quo. The established Republicans don’t seem to mind them much, as Tea Party candidates are elected in Republican primaries.
If all they’re doing is fighting health care reform and dissolving forms of social welfare, then doesn’t that just make them plain old Republicans?