The Tea Party, the GOP and Going Forward

Now we get to see how the Tea Party effects the GOP ove the medium to long term.

There is little doubt that all that is currently going on in within some Republican primaries over the last several months is quite interesting.  And, further, there is no doubt that the real question is what does it all mean for party behavior and development going forward.  Is the Tea Party a serious reformist faction within the Republican Party that will have long-term implications for the composition and behavior of the party, or is it a temporary movement related to the emotions and difficulties of the moment?   My inclination is to assume mostly the latter while recognizing that there may be longer-term implications for party behavior in 2012 because of 2010, but not necessarily of the type that the Tea Partiers may wish.

On that last point let me note that one very real response will be for more mainline GOP candidates to take the Tea Party insurgent types far more seriously in 2012, should they still be around.   This will mean, potentially, uglier primary battles in 2012.  In other words, what amounts to a handful of victories now may not translate into the elevation of the Tea Party faction, it may lead to pushback.

Much will depend on what happens in November.  If the Tea Party factions is seen as a lynchpin in a series of Republican victories in November, then there will be attempts to take it more seriously.  After all:  everybody loves a winner, yes?  But, if the Tea Party faction is seen to be have been a weigh that dragged down the GOP, or is seen to have been an obstacle in terms of winning the Senate, then I think you are in pushback territory.

This brings me to the point that not all Tea Party faction victories (or candidates) are created equal.  For example, the fact that Rick Lazio lost the GOP nomination in NY for Governor strikes me as largely insignificant insofar as I don’t think it changes the nature of the electoral contest in question.

The real places to watch are fairly obvious:  Delaware, Nevada, and New Hampshire, where the nature of the candidate nominated by the Republicans will have/have already had an effect on the competitions in question.

Another factor of importance:  the prevalence of Tea Party candidates on the ballot may have an effect on who turns out in November.  Yes, there will be enthusiasm from the Tea Partiers themselves, but it may also give many Democratic voters a reason to go to the polls that they might otherwise have eschewed given the current levels of enthusiasm in those partisan quarters.

More on this as time progressed, I suspect.

See also, the NYTG.O.P. Insurgents Win in Del. and N.Y.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2010, US Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. Patrick T. McGuire says:

    Anyone who believes that the Tea Party is going to go away just doesn’t get it. The Tea Party is the American people joining together to reclaim their country. Where the hell are they supposed to go?

  2. Jay says:

    The solution for the GOP is a simple one. Stop lining up behind establishment career politicians and work to find good conservative candidates that don’t carry the baggage of a Christine O’Donnell.
    Unfortunately it doesn’t seem like they have learned anything from their defeats in 2006 and 2008.

  3. The Tea Party is the American people joining together to reclaim their country.

    Well, yes, that’s the conceit of the movement, of course.  The problem with the formulation is manifold, not the least of which being that the Tea Party is just one group of Americans, not the entirety of the American people.  And, further, the people currently in office are, last time I checked, also Americans.

  4. Dave Schuler says:

    “Interesting” is a good description, Steven.  To my mind the question is whether Republican incumbents will attempt to coopt the Tea Party or proscribe it.  I’m guessing both and to those ends after November I suspect we’re going to see some fractious party in-fighting, possibly including restrictions on which candidates get on the ballot.  Remember, it’s still democracy as long there’s a general election even if the process by which the candidates on the general election ballot were arrived at by anything but democratic means.

  5. JKB says:

    Well, a year ago, the Republicans were DOA without a cogent thought.  They might have a chance now but still the national party can’t gather their thoughts.  But it is all the Tea Party’s fault for filling the void between Dems seeking to destroy America and Reps trying to figure out how to get their cut.  It’s the Tea Party’s fault for making 2010 an actual contentious election.  A year ago, if you’d mentioned a Republican victory in Delaware or Nevada, you’d been laughed off the internet.  Now all we here is how the Tea Party ruined it for the brain dead Republicans.
     
    November will be interesting as we see how many Dems are willing to vote to continue the destruction of the country, emulate Obama and vote present or decide to vote for a Tea Partier to shake things up.  2012 could be very interesting if some Dems adopt a Tea Party fiscal policy and offer voters a choice on social issue while cohesion on cleaning up the economy.

  6. Steve Plunk says:

    Patrick,  Rooting for traditional American values has become something looked down upon around here.  Make a statement like reclaiming America the intellectuals with start to dissect what America is and who has a right to reclaim it.  Soon you’ll be asked to give specific definitions of what used to commonly held views.  I think it’s either the Academics wanting to put down the Tea Party movement or maybe just some being uncomfortable with traditional values.
     
    I agree the Tea Party movement isn’t going away.  The fiscal irresponsibility has always been something of an issue but with spending at all time highs and little return for that spending a good number of people are juiced up.  If the Republican party wants to make peace they have to ditch candidates like Castle (global warming?) and get behind fiscally conservative, business friendly candidates.  After all, business is the engine that drives the economy and provides the wealth to support government, not the other way around.
     
    This is politics and we should root for our side without concern for the other side and whether or not they are true Americans.  They may very well be American citizens but many of them have pushed away the traditional American values that made us great and prosperous.

  7. john personna says:

    The funny thing Steve is that people like Kevin Philips described the changes to the Republican party which drove intellectuals away.  Philips kind of goes beyond my views in some ways, but I thought this book called the changes, vintage 2006:
     
    American Theocracy: The Peril and Politics of Radical ReligionOil, and Borrowed Money in the 21st Century (2006) ISBN 0-670-03486-X
     
    So with people like me as “lapsed Republicans” how should we look back at the fight for the remaining party?
     
    It’s tempting, frankly, to look at it as a Stupid Party ruckus.  A battle between those with no ideas and those with half-formed ideas.

  8. mantis says:

    A year ago, if you’d mentioned a Republican victory in Delaware or Nevada, you’d been laughed off the internet.
    You’re not very familiar with either state, are you?  Mike Castle, a Republican incumbent, was set to coast to victory in the general before he lost the primary.  Nevada elects Republicans all the time.  The state currently has one Republican Senator and one Democratic Senator, and there has been a Republican in the governor’s mansion for 11 years.

    Tea partiers.  Is there anything they know that resembles reality?

  9. Mr. Prosser says:

    The most interesting events now will be the 2012 state party conventions, especially if there are rules changes proposed for nominations. This is going to be a control issue which will play out IMO in much the same way the Colorado Republican convention played out this year.

  10. @Steve:

    Patrick,  Rooting for traditional American values has become something looked down upon around here.

    The thing is, Steve (and I know you think I am being pedantic or coy, but I am not):  what does that mean?    Moreover, what does it mean in a concrete political sense.

    And in regards to fiscal sanity, I will take the Tea Party seriously on that topic when I hear real, feasible (even if difficult to achieve) plans.  Simply decrying out of control spending and the like doesn’t count.

  11. john personna says:

    The thing is, Steve (and I know you think I am being pedantic or coy, but I am not):  what does that mean?

    If you ask what it means, the terrorists win.

  12. Steve Plunk says:

    Dr. Taylor,
     
    A Supreme Court justice once said he couldn’t define what was indecent but he knew it when he saw it.  In the same way it would take a book to describe traditional American values, the American experience, the average American, and so on.  Yet people understand what is being said when they hear it.  I know that doesn’t fly in the world of academia but in the layman’s world it does.
     
    As for fiscal sanity and the calling for change is that no different than ‘draining the swamp’ or other political statements that point in a particular direction without having a policy paper yet laid out?  How can anyone not recognize the trillions of dollars of new spending and debt and no see it as fiscal insanity?  Calling for change does count when compared to those who don’t call for change.

  13. A Supreme Court justice once said he couldn’t define what was indecent but he knew it when he saw it.  In the same way it would take a book to describe traditional American values, the American experience, the average American, and so on.  Yet people understand what is being said when they hear it.  I know that doesn’t fly in the world of academia but in the layman’s world it does.

    This is not a layman v. academic issue, it is an issue of profound practicality.  The fundamental problem is that what you are really saying both about the “American Experience” and “American Values” are “things that I, Steve Plunk, value”–now that’s fine and good, but it is problematic for you to pretend like you are talking about some obvious, universal Truths.  I understand that you don’t like Democratic/liberal/progressive/whatever you want to call them ideas, but that doesn’t make them un-American anymore than Obama living outside the country for a few years means he has missed out on, and cannot understand, the “American Experience.”

    As for fiscal sanity and the calling for change is that no different than ‘draining the swamp’ or other political statements that point in a particular direction without having a policy paper yet laid out?  How can anyone not recognize the trillions of dollars of new spending and debt and no see it as fiscal insanity?  Calling for change does count when compared to those who don’t call for change.

    I am not asking for a policy paper.  I am asking for some concrete policy proposals–something which people who claim to have the answers for America’s problems ought to be able to produce.  Just saying “spending is out of control” is not enough.

  14. Gerry W. says:

    Bill Maher on the Larry King show last night.
     
    Maher: Newt Gingrich calling Obama an anti colonial loud tribesman, that’s the new Kenyan, and of course, Kenyan is code for black. But that is where they (republicans) are-they can’t say it out loud. It is all about racism. They cannot accept a black president.
    Maher: Sarah Palin is a true religious nut. Palin was given books to read up on and she was asked if she read any, no, I haven’t looked at the books, I’m just reading the e mails from my prayer warriors. She believes in demons in the world. Everything in her world is about demons or angels. People who are with us or people who are against us. People like Palin want a war with Islam.
    KIng: How do you fight that (spin) if you are on the other side.
    Maher: You don’t, because you can’t get through to them. And that’s the problem with the Drudge, Rush, Fox, news bubble. They only want to listen to what they want to hear, they listen to what they want to believe. When Glenn Beck had his rally at the Mall, he said “Today I was holding George Washingtons inaugural in my hand.” No, you can’t do that as it is in pexiglass. But it does not matter, because anything they say is never fact checked. Sarah Palin never talks to the press, because she may never have an answer if a question is asked. They know that they don’t have to deal with reality, because they don’t have to go to what used to be the mainstream press
    Maher: We’re not number one. We are one in military, in money, fat toddlers, meth labs, and people we send to prision. We are not number one in literacy, education, social mobility-the American dream-the ability for one generation to do better than the next. We’re 10th. Down in life expectancy also. Like, we are 49th behind Bosnia.

  15. <blockquote>The Tea Party is the American people joining together to reclaim their country.</blockquote>
    The tea party is just a Republican cats paw.  The second they’re back in control of the government, the whole thing will disappear just as suddenly it appeared after November 2, 2008.

    At least we get the occasional amusement of watching the GOP’s frankenstein monster turn on it from time to time.

  16. Steve Plunk says:

    Dr. Taylor,
     
    So values that I speak are in a subset entirely my own?  No.  They are values shared by millions of people across the country.  Now my set may be slightly different from those others but when most of the country share a value set closely related we can be comfortable calling them ‘universal’.
     
    My statement regarding fiscal sanity as a campaign claim needs no further explanation.  There are millions of ways and thousands of earmarks that can save us money.

  17. So values that I speak are in a subset entirely my own?

    Since you have done nothing say give vague name to them, it is unclear what said values are–especially when you accuse others of not having them whilst simultaneously speak of them an “American” and therefore universal to America (except for those you are excluding and hence, “things that I, Steve Plunk, value” which doesn’t just mean your own, personal values, but the values you prefer).

    Part of my point is that if you want to argue about specifics, that’s fine, but this appeal to universal “American” values while at the same time excluding large swaths of your fellow citizens is a problem.

    My statement regarding fiscal sanity as a campaign claim needs no further explanation.  There are millions of ways and thousands of earmarks that can save us money.

    But, of course, at the end of the day such statements very much need explanation.  And this is my point about the Tea Party in general:  it is easy to say that we need to do something about spending (a position with which, by the way, I concur), but the hard part is actually figuring out what needs to be done (and just saying “getting rid of waste” and whatnot doesn’t qualify).

  18. john personna says:

    Steve, the stimulus bills were (1) one-time, and (2) smaller than the war costs.  We can stop both, but neither will balance the budget.  For that to work you need to name recurring costs you are willing to cut.
     
    We need to make a net-surplus budget in some near term years if we are going to pay down the debt.  Have any “fiscal sanity” folk made that work, in dollars and cents?
     
    Or does the argument rely on people not really understanding how to balance a budget (household or national).

  19. john personna says:

    Oops, the first time I said “balance the budget” I meant “eliminate the debt.”
     
    but yeah, debt vs deficit and how it relates to baseline spending ….

  20. An Interested Party says:

    “The Tea Party is the American people joining together to reclaim their country.”

    Such a tiresome trope…tell me, who, exactly, are they reclaiming their country from?

    “But it is all the Tea Party’s fault for filling the void between Dems seeking to destroy America…”

    Hyperbole much?  Really, this sounds as spittle-flecked as when liberals where saying the most ridiculous things about Bush…

  21. anjin-san says:

    > The fundamental problem is that what you are really saying both about the “American Experience” and “American Values” are “things that I, Steve Plunk, value”–now that’s fine and good, but it is problematic for you to pretend like you are talking about some obvious, universal Truths.

    Bingo.