• Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Subscribe
  • RSS

The Congressional Tea Party Caucus Is Dead

Shortly after Republicans took control of Congress in the wake of the 2010 elections, a number of the newly elected members, joined by such incumbents as Michele Bachmann, formed a Tea Party Caucus in Congress. Dave Weigel notes that the caucus appears to be dead in all but name:

Today, the membership page for the caucus is defunct. The caucus hasn’t met since July 2012; it has posted no news since July 2012. In the press, “Tea Party caucus” has become an offhand way to refer to conservatives. In her speech to CPAC, which included a typically Bachmann-ian error about how much TANF money is wasted on administration, Bachmann didn’t mention “the Tea Party.”

As Weigel notes, this coincides with a general decline in the national pre-dominance of the Tea Party itself:

Nationally, the Tea Party flag is so tattered that it’s not in a Republican’s interest to maintain it. (This isn’t true in some states; the Texas Tea Party caucus is alive and well in Austin.) At the same time, the fade of the “Tea Party Caucus” itself is a positive development for Republicans. Ideological conservatives always had their qualms about the group. It allowed members who didn’t have movement bona fides — Denny Rehberg, Todd Akin, Dan Burton — to “Tea-wash”* themselves.

As I’ve noted before, the Tea Party is presently held in lower esteem than the GOP itself so, outside of concerns about pandering to the base, it simply isn’t in the interests of the GOP to emphasize their ties to the movement anymore.

Related Posts:

About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. deathcar2000 says:

    I’ll miss the TriCornerCosplay, (((((sad face)))))

    Maybe this time they can all make belive they’re grown adults and get back to solving some of the problems they’ve caused.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 1

  2. Tsar Nicholas says:

    Ross Perot’s Reform Party sends its regards.

    Speaking of which, one of the more surreal aspects of that whole “Tea Party” nonsense was that the demographics of those who actually bought into it were so cocooned, inexperienced and loopy (and still are, for that matter) quite literally they cannot see political reality even if it jumped up and bit them in the arses.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  3. Rob in CT says:

    It was just a GOP base re-branding excercise. Now that it’s obvious to all that a “tea partier” is just a typical GOP “base” voter, there’s little point keeping up the brand.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 25 Thumb down 1

  4. Dazedandconfused says:

    A Jacksonian Democrat-ish movement terribly hamstrung by the abject idiocy of their leadership, Glenn and Sarah. Deserves a mulligan. Yet, they represent something real, inchoate concern about the decline of the middle class.

    Ian Anderson:

    “Now there’s revolution
    But they don’t know
    What they’re fighting.”

    A period of bungling in this jungle is to be expected from a people who know next to nothing about their government, but I suspect they will be back in some form or another. Unless, of course, things improve…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  5. Dan says:

    Sometimes, I get confused. What is the difference between Tea Partiers, Libertarians and fiscal conservatives?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 2

  6. ernieyeball says:

    I said it before and I’ll say it again.
    The only Tea Party that was ever worth a toot was the Tea Party that ran candidates for Student Government when I was in college 45 years ago advocating for the legalization of pot.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

  7. OzarkHillbilly says:

    The Tea Party isn’t dead, they just stopped pretending they weren’t the GOP base.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 20 Thumb down 0

  8. CSK says:

    If the Tea Party ever intended to be a political force, it should have coalesced behind a single set of defined goals. As things stand, it fragmented into a bunch of different groups–Tea Party Nation, Tea Party Communities, Tea Party Express, Tea Party Patriots, and who knows what else–all squabbling about which is the true Tea Party. Plus their de facto leader, Sarah Palin, spurned them in favor of a career as a reality show starlet and “author.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  9. David M says:

    It served it’s purpose as a way for the GOP rebrand when they were unpopular, now that the Tea Party is no longer more popular than the GOP, it’s over. There never was a difference between the two.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  10. Reminds me of a movie I saw a long time ago:

    “Not lying around dead, my friend. Walking around in my @#%^&*$ cell dead.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  11. legion says:

    @Dazedandconfused:

    Yet, they represent something real, inchoate concern about the decline of the middle class.

    You’re correct about their leadership, but I disagree on what they represented. I think they represented a sizable chunk of the populace that was/is blindingly angry about where they saw themselves in life. But rather than a coherent solution, all they wanted was to be told who to be angry at, and the Tea Part gave them that in spades. It would be sadly amusing except for the fact that it’s the exact same craving that got so many otherwise sane Germans to support the Brownshirts long long ago…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  12. Kylopod says:

    >Ross Perot’s Reform Party sends its regards.

    It’s even worse than that. For all Perot’s vagueness about details, he had a fairly coherent political philosophy with a concrete set of policy objectives. That’s not something I can say about the Tea Party. They didn’t know what they stood for other than hating President Obama. They gave all their bromides against taxes and the national debt (along with the supply-side fairy tale that cutting the former is the key to reducing the latter). But then 70% of them opposed cuts to Medicare. (And why not? A lot of them are its beneficiaries.) The whole “death panels” nonsense was based on fear-mongering over Obamacare’s Medicare cuts.

    Of course almost the entire Tea Party Caucus voted for Ryan’s Medicare-slashing bill anyway–and probably ate up all the baloney about how it was saving Medicare. Indeed, who knows how many Tea Partiers believe Medicare to be a private program while Obamacare is a public one? “Keep your government hands off my Medicare” may have been just a sign in a crowd, but it was Michelle Bachmann who claimed Obama wants to turn Medicare into Obamacare–which would actually mean privatizing it along similar lines to Ryan’s plan, but never mind.

    What’s really happening is that the right has raged against socialism for so long, and so many decades after the collapse of the world’s last real socialist threat have elapsed, that “socialism” has become for them an empty label for whatever they oppose at the moment. They don’t even have to be discussing an economic issue. All the TP leaders accepted the right’s positions on social issues like abortion and gay rights, and some even prioritized them over fiscal issues. The TP isn’t just delusional about what sets of policies Medicare and Obamacare actually entail, they don’t even understand their own beliefs.

    Despite the TP’s self-depiction as a conservative insurgency against the GOP establishment, the difference between the two had far more to do with strategy than ideology, whether it concerned the debt ceiling or Bush-era policies like TARP–which were actually supported at the time by figures like Glenn Beck and Herman Cain whom the Tea Party made into their heroes.

    The TP was basically the mainstream right having a tantrum, and presenting it as a revolution.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 0

  13. C. Clavin says:

    The Tea Party died when Dick Armey quit.
    He invented it…he was it…now he’s gone.
    It was never anything more than an astroturf con.
    Unfortunately we are still stuck with Tea Baggers like R. Paul.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  14. Dazedandconfused says:

    @legion:

    You’re correct about their leadership, but I disagree on what they represented. I think they represented a sizable chunk of the populace that was/is blindingly angry about where they saw themselves in life. But rather than a coherent solution, all they wanted was to be told who to be angry at, and the Tea Part gave them that in spades. It would be sadly amusing except for the fact that it’s the exact same craving that got so many otherwise sane Germans to support the Brownshirts long long ago…

    I don’t disagree with that, I feel what they represent now is very much as you describe. I feel what gave it its initial momentum was something very different though. Since they didn’t know who to blame, it was all too easy to misdirect. That misdirection sowed the seeds of its destruction too.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  15. swbarnes2 says:

    It might be that conservative politicians are no longer claiming that label, but it’s not like noxious racism and horrifyingly stupid policy preferences have taken up residence anywhere but the GOP.

    I think we might see a comeback, if the party elites decide that they can’t win elections without softpedeling the issues that the base loves, because I don’t think the base will ever agree to that. Won’t they see the losses of McCain and Romney as evidence against more moderation?

    The base has votes, and they even have some money and there are plenty of conservatives who will want them. People will make money, and win elections with the base, even national elections are a bridge too far.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  16. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Tsar Nicholas: Why is it that everytime that I read one of your posts, I am amazed at how little self-awareness you possess?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 3

  17. al-Ameda says:

    Now that they’ve disbanded their Caucus they are free to leave the country. I’m guessing that they’ll repatriate back to Pyongyang.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  18. superdestoryer says:

    I wonder when Politico will be reporting that the Republican Party is dead. What will all of those political reports do in the future when there are virtually no competitive elections and the Democratic Party is so dominant that they can do whatever they want.

    Anyone who is studying and volunteering in political campaigns to become a future campaign consultant should probably starting looking for a new career field. If one wants to see the future, look at the special election for U.S. Senate in Mass., Ed Markey is going to win in a rout and no other candidate is actually relevant.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 6

  19. gVOR08 says:

    @Dazedandconfused: IIRC the precipitating event for the formation of the Tea Party was Rick Santelli’s rant about the cause of the financial crisis, including a call for a Chicago Tea Party. Santelli’s explanation was emotionally satisfying to conservatives but completely wrong about what happened. It’s unsurprising that the movement that flowed from it would be angry, confused, and ineffective. If I knew how to focus all that rage against the people actually responsible for the crisis and continuing recession, I could create a genuine populist movement and ensure an anti-Rovian Permanent Democratic Majority

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  20. HarvardLaw92 says:

    I wouldn’t say that it is dead. It has been subsumed back into the larger Republican Party, with the caveat that GOP leadership has essentially capitulated to the radical right for fear of facing primary challenges from the same.

    They aren’t dead. They’re de facto running the party now because the moderate Republicans have thrown in the towel and allowed the lunatics to run the asylum.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0