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Two Words Missing From The Republican Convention: Tea Party

Rosie Gray at Buzzfeed makes note of the fact that the speakers at the Republican National Convention has so far neglected mentioning by name the movement that, by most accounts, helped reinvigorate the party after the 2008 election and helped it gain control of the House in 2010:

TAMPA, Fla. — The “Tea Party” band — which energized and even seemed to overtake the Republican Party in 2010 — has been virtually invisible at this Republican National Convention.

Not a single one of the 38 speakers during the convention’s key prime time hours has even mentioned the phrase, according to an examination of their transcripts — a sign both of Romney’s own distance from the movement and that polls have suggested that voters view the movement negatively.

Senator Rand Paul, another Tea Party favorite, didn’t mention it at all.

David Weigel takes note of the fact that even one of the movement’s most recent success stories, Texas Republican Senate candidate Ted Cruz, has avoided saying the magic words:

Since 2010, something extraordinary has been happening, something that has dumbfounded the chattering class.

“It began here in Florida in 2010. In Utah, Kentucky, Pennsylvania. “Was repeated this summer in Indiana. Nebraska. Wisconsin. “And this past month, in the Lone Star State, Texas.

“What is happening all across America is a Great Awakening.

“A response to career politicians in both parties who’ve gotten us into this mess.

“This national movement is fueled by what unites us: a love of liberty, a belief in the unlimited potential of free men and women.”

It is, I guess, kind of odd that Cruz would essentially describe the Tea Party Movement precisely and yet fail to actually mention it. It’s also kind of odd that Rand Paul didn’t mention the Tea Party considering that he opened the speech he gave the night he won the Republican Primary for Kentucky’s Senate seat like this:

“I have a message. A message from the tea party. A message that is loud and clear and does not mince words. We’ve come to take our government back,” Rand Paul told a group of supporters after he was declared winner of the Republican Senate primary in Kentucky. Rand Paul’s message: “Washington is horribly broken.” “We are encountering a day of reckoning and this movement, this tea party movement is a message to Washington that we’re unhappy and we want things done differently,” Paul said. “The mandate of our victory tonight is huge,” he declared.

I would suggest that the main reason that you’re not hearing the phrase “Tea Party” from the podium this week is because of the fact that, over the years, the reputation of the movement among members of the general public has declined significantly. In an April 2012 CNN/ORC poll [PDF], the Tea Party movement’s favorable/unfavorable numbers were at 34%/43%, and other recent polls have shown similar results. Interestingly enough, the Tea Party’s numbers in that April poll were very close to those of the Republican Party, which was at 41%/51% (the Democratic Party was at 46%/46%.  Based on this, there’s likely a conscious decision from party organizers to avoid explicit references to the Tea Party at the convention in order not to be associated with those negative numbers.

In reality, of course, the Republican Party of 2012 is pretty much the Tea Party at this point. One need only look at the Party Platform and listen to what the speakers are actually saying to recognize that fact. That they don’t use the words “Tea Party” in their speeches doesn’t really mean much of anything if  the policies that they are advocating are, essentially, Tea Party candidates. Indeed, one could say that the movement has been just as influential in 2012 as it was in 2010. They managed to score significant wins in primaries in Indiana, where they unseated Richard Lugar, Texas, where they gave the nomination to Cruz instead of Rick Perry’s hand-picked candidate, and Florida, where they unseated an incumbent Congressman in a primary. One might also say that Mitt Romney’s selection of Paul Ryan as his running mate was a Tea Party victory because, while Ryan’s record prior to 2009 is anything but Tea Party friendly, he has since become a hero of the movement thanks largely to his advocacy of a far-reaching plan to cut spending and entitlement growth. Whether or not it’s being mentioned by name, then, the Tea Party is still alive and well inside the Republican Party and likely to see its influence increase after the November elections regardless of what happens to the Romney/Ryan ticket.

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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. C. Clavin says:

    Wouldn’t that be like me giving a speech and speaking about Cliff in the third person???
    The Tea Party IS the Republican Party. And the Republican Party IS the Tea Party.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 4

  2. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    I think the Tea Party is following Harry Truman’s sage advice:

    “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.”

    They aren’t in it for the glory, and don’t care if they get mentioned or not. Actions speak louder than words, and the Tea Party has been incredibly successful. They don’t need the words; they have the deeds.

    Compare with the Democrats running like hell from the Occupy movement…

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 18

  3. Related:

    Will Republicans Drive Voters Away With Too Much Tax Talk?

    Money quote:

    Promises of more tax cuts go over big with the Republican faithful. But a new poll from the Pew Research Center suggests that Americans, by and large, aren’t quite as tax-averse as the Republicans (and most political observers) seem to assume they are. And that the Republican love of tax-cut rhetoric could end up driving away potential voters.

    Maybe this is wishful thinking at Time Magazine, but it would be nice if “tax cut magic” finally jumped the shark.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 1

  4. C. Clavin says:

    “…Compare with the Democrats running like hell from the Occupy movement…”

    What are you talking about Willis?
    The Democrats entire economic campaign is about the 1% versus the 99%.
    Now, Indiana Jones, go outside with your cute fedora and toy bull-whip and stop bothering the adults.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 3

  5. al-Ameda says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: Are purposely reality-averse? The “Occupy Movement” never been an adjunct of the Democratic Party – can you name one member of congress who was elected on the basis of “Occupy” support and fund raising?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 2

  6. An Interested Party says:

    I think the Tea Party is following Harry Truman’s sage advice:

    “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.”

    They aren’t in it for the glory, and don’t care if they get mentioned or not. Actions speak louder than words, and the Tea Party has been incredibly successful. They don’t need the words; they have the deeds.

    Nice try, but rather, Republicans aren’t mentioning the Tea Party because they are at least smart enough to know how toxic that brand is…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 1

  7. rudderpedals says:

    Pretending the tea party doesn’t exist makes them go away. It’s like that with other issues too. Pretend the gimungous IRA doesn’t exist and it goes away. Pretend opportunity and income inequality aren’t factors and then those issues also go away.

    You’ll just have to trust him.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2

  8. CSK says:

    Is there actually a Tea Party? Or are there a bunch of small groups calling themselves “Tea Parties,” but with a different set of goals in each case? My understanding was that the original Tea Party movement had a single goal: lower taxes. But it seems now that there are anti-abortion Tea Parties, anti-gay marriage Tea Parties…whatever floats the boat of whatever group of people gets together and decides to call itself a Tea Party.

    I remember reading about a congressional race in Nevada (I could be mistaken about the state) this year in which there were four different groups claiming to be Tea Parties, each with a different candidate for whatever seat it was. I don’t know who won, but it seems to me that a movement that splintered inevitably fails unless it coalesces around a specific set of goals.

    Why did Todd Akin become the Tea Party candidate in Missouri? As far as I can tell, Brunner and Steelman were just as fiscally conservative, if not more so. Was the Missouri Tea Party enchanted by Akin’s unique stance on the female reproductive system and its magical ability to repel the sperm of rapists? (Yes, yes, I know Akin only made his views explicit after he won the primary, but surely he hinted at them beforehand.) If so, that makes the Missouri Tea Party one whose goals are not so much fiscal restraint as sexual restraint (for women).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  9. Tsar Nicholas says:

    I voted in ’10. Twice. In the primary and then again in the general. There were lots of party designations on the ballots. Democrat. Republican. Libertarian. Green. Constitution. Peace & Freedom. Some others. Some I’d never heard of, actually. But, alas, I didn’t see the words “Tea Party” anywhere on those ballots.

    Then only a couple of months ago I voted in CA’s primary election cycle. Again, there were lots of different designations on the ballot. All sort of political parties, some of which are fielding candidates that won’t even receive 0.50% of the vote. But again, nobody with a “Tea Party” next to their name.

    Overall I’ve been voting for quite a long time. I even vote on the local stuff that nobody really cares about. I’ve never seen “Tea Party” on a ballot.

    Does anyone have a different experience? Anyone? Anywhere? Bueller?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  10. mantis says:

    @Jay Tea/Jenos Idanian #13:

    Actions speak louder than words, and the Tea Party has been incredibly successful.

    Successful at pushing moderate Republicans out of office and replacing them with ignorant mooks who get nothing done (or who lose easy seats to Democrats). Victory!

    So proud you must be.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  11. bill says:

    why would they, it’s a small fringe group?! i doubt if the dems will be praising the occupy wall st. crowd, but you never know.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 3

  12. CSK says:

    @bill:

    Elizabeth Warren claimed to be the driving intellectual/philosophical force behind the Occupy movement. Whether she’ll be praising them, disavowing them, or ignoring them next week…who knows?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

  13. @C. Clavin:
    Wrong. Tea Party movement began without Republican establishment. They got themselves involved when it became successful. Originally it was a non-partisan entity that promoted constitutionalism. Even conservatives and constitutionalists are unhappy that the GOP elite has stuck their noses into what is what. Research and you will see what I mean.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 4

  14. @C. Clavin: @C. Clavin:
    Wrong. Tea Party movement began without Republican establishment. They got themselves involved when it became successful. Originally it was a non-partisan entity that promoted constitutionalism. Even conservatives and constitutionalists are unhappy that the GOP elite has stuck their noses into what is what. Research and you will see what I mean.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  15. @Tsar Nicholas:
    it is because the Tea Party is an organization of concerned Americans, originally non-affiliated with political party. However, the GOP elite decided to get in on the popular movement in order to push their candidates. Unfortunately, some Republicans who were sincere about true reformation and constitutional law have been used by the political establishment as well as the name of the Tea Party movement.
    PS: The Tea Party is not a political party/entity – it’s name is derived from the Boston Tea Party, also not a political entity.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  16. grumpy realist says:

    Sort of like Al Qaeda, hmmmm? Read an article somewhere which analyzed all the groups claiming to be “Al Qaeda” and showed most of them were already-existing malcontents who decided claiming a link to Al Qaeda would make them sound more powerful. Franchised revolution.

    Tea Party: we’ll accept any group of nuts who will shout far-right slogans and will claim they’re part of us.

    I think the integrity of the Tea Party crashed and burned when they didn’t take every single “Get your Government out of my Medicare!” mook out back behind the woodshed and convince them never, ever, ever again claim to be a Tea Partier.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  17. Tillman says:

    Y’know what? Tsar’s right. The Tea Party has always been organized crazy Republicans.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  18. @grumpy realist:
    Like Tillman, you haven’t truly followed or researched the Tea Party movement because you’re rhetoric copies that of the media – painting them as crazies and radicals. Since when do constitutionalists constitute radicalism. I guess the Founders were radicals? Once again, the Tea Party was not organized or founded by the GOP establishment (which is good).
    And, to Mr. “Grumpy Realist”: You are just grumpy and not for real … comparing Al Qaeda with Tea Party. My gooodness!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 4

  19. mantis says:

    @Keith A. Lehman:

    PS: The Tea Party is not a political party/entity – it’s name is derived from the Boston Tea Party, also not a political entity.

    Hilarious. Both are nothing but political entities. The Boston Tea Party was objecting to particular policy, the Tea Act, that the crown had imposed on the colonies, and generally the injustice of taxation without representation. The modern tea party was founded out of the idea that “losers” might get help with their mortgages through the Homeowners Affordability and Stability Plan, spurred by a speech by asshat Rick Santelli, and morphed into a nonsensical political movement which amounted to little more than old people screaming “F*ck you, I got mine” and racist weirdos. In other words, the Republican base.

    Anyway, it’s beyond question they are both political entities. The difference is the Boston Tea Party was a revolutionary group, and the modern tea party is a devolutionary group.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 2

  20. rudderpedals says:

    Like Tillman, you haven’t truly followed or researched the Tea Party movement because you’re rhetoric copies that of the media – painting them as crazies and radicals. Since when do constitutionalists constitute radicalism. I guess the Founders were radicals?

    As I recall it one of the talking heads on CNBC whined about what would happen if (not that it happened) mortgages were forgiven, and called for a tea party, and the rest of the gang piled on.

    Oh and yes the founders were radicals. Insurrectionists.

    Once again, the Tea Party was not organized or founded by the GOP establishment (which is good).

    Why do you believe that would be good?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  21. rudderpedals says:

    Mantis said it better

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  22. @rudderpedals:
    Pretending that something doesn’t exist DOES NOT MAKE anything go away.
    Why would you want constitutionalism go away?
    I just don’t understand this line of thought.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  23. @rudderpedals:
    What do you believe would be bad?
    The political establishment wants status quo – making the same mistakes over and over. Changing things would change their positions. In this, both parties secretly agree.
    I really think you need to actually go to the organization’s site and read – not parrot pundits, who are obviously bias.
    Once again, why would anyone be against a constitutionalist movement?
    Our leaning away from the Constitution and its amendments has brought us to this point. Not being the role model any longer, but instead copying other nations’ mistakes, et cetera.
    I cannot convince you, you must read and research to have a more open and broad look at the subject material.
    I just ask to not just think it is Democrat or Republican – political parties, but individualism versus collectivism, constitutional republic versus democratic socialism. One can find fault in both political entities. I am just tired of choosing a candidate that is the lesser evil and the media choosing who can campaign in primaries and who cannot (get the coverage). Et cetera.
    Opinions are fine, it can lead to intellectual discussion; but with truth/fact, they are just that – opinions.
    Reflect.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 3

  24. An Interested Party says:

    Originally it was a non-partisan entity that promoted constitutionalism.

    Oh absolutely! I mean, nothing says “non-partisan” like Dick Armey and the Koch brothers…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  25. Herb says:

    In reality, of course, the Republican Party of 2012 is pretty much the Tea Party at this point.

    Like there was ever any difference……

    You know the “Tea Party” doesn’t really exist, right?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  26. rudderpedals says:

    @Keith A. Lehman:

    Why would you want constitutionalism go away?
    I just don’t understand this line of thought.

    “Constitutionalism” appears to be a fetish, or at best veneration of a sacred object. From your description the doctrine is a straightjacket unconcerned with the actual implementation of the republic despite the mostly anything-but-clear and precise specifications in the document and amendments.

    If the system lacked the flexibility you decry it’d be as dead as the founders in their graves.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  27. @CSK:

    Elizabeth Warren tried to hop on the Occupy train as it left the station. And arguably her positions were similar beforehand. See her books.

    There was a “oral history” from one of the real founders though. I don’t think I could find it now. He had a story that surprised me in a number of ways. First was that there were a group of people who kind of made their (meager) living as professional anarchists. Second, that the anarchists had a built in limit to their game plan … they couldn’t stand too much organization. So they did an Occupy that was pretty much performance art.

    Occupy was a happening, and never a political party. I do think it shaped future commentary and political strategy, and that is probably enough to qualify as a significant event.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  28. The Tea Party was more than “happening.” It actually got people elected. So that they could blow the Grand Bargain, lose a AAA credit rating, create a sequestration plan that they could later shirk.

    So much “win.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  29. @mantis:
    The word is organization – not political party.
    Where do you people come from? Where were you educated?
    This is just too much to even keep – no matter what I say is wrong, and worse, downgrade the very Constitution that affords you the opportunity to bleat out this opinionated rhetoric that has no substance of truth or fact. I am NOT sticking up for Republicans, I am sticking up for the return of the Republic.
    Have a nice life. Hope you are a minority group banning together because you have the same pessimism that promotes so much negativity. To bad mouth the Constitution that has provided so much liberty for everyone is unacceptable.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 3

  30. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @al-Ameda: The “Occupy Movement” never been an adjunct of the Democratic Party – can you name one member of congress who was elected on the basis of “Occupy” support and fund raising?

    I said the Democrats are running from the Occupy movement — but in the past, they embraced them. As noted, Elizabeth “Fauxcahontas” Warren claimed to have intellectually inspired them. Obama supported them. And Pelosi blessed them.

    As far as the Occupy movement shaping any elections… they were too busy committing rapes, assaults, murders, and crapping on cop cars to actually achieve anything productive. That’s an incredibly stupid standard to apply — it changes from a question of “are they really out there and dangerous” to “have they figured out to actually achieve something?”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 7

  31. matt says:

    @Keith A. Lehman: The problem is that there are a lot of radical people in the Tea party. I went to a local tea party rally during the peak of the frenzy and boy what a group of nuts. There were racists galore with obamabucks (welfare/fried chicken/watermelon/minstrel/monkies etc) and even a horrible Obama is an evil black man comic books were being handed out. Now I am sure that doesn’t represent all of the tea party but unfortunately that was the extent of my exposure to tea party rallies…

    Being a blatant white dude and having a sympathetic ear I heard all kinds of crazy stuff from the people there. A lot of the people there were very open about hating blacks and a bit less open about hating Mexicans. It was just a complete and utter mess of a rally in my view.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  32. Herb says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    “Obama supported them.”

    And yet, I look at your link and see that he didn’t really….

    “If you’re concerned about Wall Street and our financial system, the president is standing on the side of consumers and the middle class.”

    Hmmmmm……Are you saying Occupy was on the side of the consumers and the middle class?

    Not sure you should then accuse them of a list of vile crimes, then…..

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  33. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Herb: You skipped the entire first paragraph of the article, chum.

    The White House wants to make it clear that President Barack Obama is on the same side as the Occupy Wall Street protesters – and that Republicans are not.

    Yeah, I can see how you might misunderstand that.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  34. superdestroyer says:

    The Republican Party’s inability to present consistent policy proposals and their refusal to discuss the Tea Party shows that the establishment Republicans do not actually care about any conservative issue. Too many of the Establishment Republicans believe, like GW Bush and Karl Rove, that their politics do not have to be consistent and that being in control is about rewarding yourself.

    Too many Establishment Republicans believe that politics is about making the government as big as possible and then pushing most of the spending to themselves. What the idiot Establishment Republicans fail to understand is that a big government just makes the Democrats stronger, their taxes higher, and the CFR bigger.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  35. Herb says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    “Yeah, I can see how you might misunderstand that.”

    I can’t figure out if you’re unwilling…or just unable….to use the brain you apparently have.

    What you quoted is a reporter’s summary. What I quoted is what was actually said. Guess which one is the more authoritative?

    But again…what’s the point? Unwilling or unable. Is there another option?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  36. Barry says:

    Doug: “It is, I guess, kind of odd that Cruz would essentially describe the Tea Party Movement precisely and yet fail to actually mention it.”

    Precisely. Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiight.

    The Tea Party is a bunch of Republicans who k*ssed Bush/Cheney’s *sses until *after* everything had crashed and burned, and then pretended that they were not responsible.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  37. bill says:

    @CSK: the squaw? LOL!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  38. al-Ameda says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:
    You’re really good at false equivalence. The Occupy Movement contributed just one thing to the campaign season that has probably been to the benefit of Democratic politicians – the 99%-1% ‘discussion’ Other than that the Occupy Movement has no political standing whatsoever, and has not been a force with respect to fundraising or candidate support.

    This is completely unlike the Tea Party Movement which a significant number of Republican politicians identify with and seek support from. And yet, Republicans were afraid to mention the Tea Party Movement. Why? We know why – despite wide support of the Tea Party in the GOP, many in the general public have come to view them negatively.

    You need not be ashamed of this. Really.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0