It’s easy to think that the Tea Party is on the wane. Its obituary has been written countless times in the past twelve months. And, in a couple of big, visible ways, it’s true....
But this is the wrong way to look at the Tea Party. After 2010, the movement evolved. Activists got jobs with newly elected Republicans. Political organizations like Americans for Prosperity and FreedomWorks grew their staffs and budgets....
This new, professionalized Tea Party may not have the numbers to pack the National Mall with tricorne hats, but it has proved itself spectacularly adept at two other tasks: exacting promises and submission from presidential candidates; and setting the Republican policy agenda. And in a representative government, at a time when a languishing economy and anemic voter turnout may turn the odds against Democrats, truly—what else matters?
If, as is quite possible, the Republicans gain control of both the White House and Congress, the Tea Party will have gained a hugely disproportionate amount of control over the government through the use of these two mechanisms. One of them is playing out right now in the garish arena of the primary campaign. The other has been in rehearsals for the past year in the halls of Congress. Here’s a brief description of both.Read it at The Washington Monthly
The Tea Party — Picking the candidates and writing the agenda.
By David Weigel
One agenda item is privatizing the commons.
We see a map of the United States with public lands marked in red.
“Dead capital is property that has no possibility of securing property rights on it,” says Edwards. “Folks, I submit to you that everything in red has no possibility of securing property rights on it.”Of course, there is much more to the agenda of cutting government.
Oh, there are limits. In polls, the Tea Party’s membership reveals itself as naive about what costs what. There’s boundless enthusiasm for foreign aid cuts, but the same people who cheer for those budgets to be slashed will then boo in agreement whenever Romney denounces the Medicare cost reductions in “Obamacare.”
That’s where the full-time Tea Party agitators come in. That’s how the industry-funded groups find their opening to tell the base what it cares about. The Tea Party’s grassroots apparatus peaked in 2010. The think tanks funded by the energy industry or the banking sector are thriving, and they know what they want the base to work toward. Deregulation, scaled-back appropriations, sold-off public goods—if the Tea Party wins, it’ll be expected to provide the public pressure for all of it.A GOP win in November is certain to have broad economic repercussions.
UPDATE: see also
The Huffington Post
The Fantastical Crackpot Cult of Ron Paul
by Bob Cesca
Since a GOP wins is not possible without the support of Ron Paul and his supporters, the Libertarian-Tea Party wing of the GOP will inevitably have a significant seat at the bargaining table when it comes to setting policy.