The Tea Party is over

According to Rasmussen, only eight percent of likely voters consider themselves Tea Partiers. What on Earth went wrong? Photo: Is the tea party broken?

FLORIDA, January 20, 2013 — Folks still hanging around the Tea Party ought to wake up and smell the coffee.

According to a new poll conducted by Rasmussen Reports, itself an outlet that is often considered right-leaning, the Tea Party has seriously dwindled as of late. Only eight percent of likely voters now consider themselves to be members, and just 30 percent look at the movement in a favorable manner.  

That’s a far cry from a few years ago, when most Americans seemed to agree with the Party on some level.

So, what went wrong? I say a great deal of things did. Chief among these is that many Tea Party groups were taken over by activists from the Religious Right. One also cannot forget how the crusaders against compromise on Capitol Hill tend to be the Partying kind. Needless to say, such a thing does not do wonders for public relations.

The Tea Party should be regarded as proof that big tent coalitions are essential for a successful show on our country’s political stage. When the Party first began, its focus on fiscal responsibility attracted interest from across the political spectrum. By the time that the 2010 midterms rolled around, however, things were beginning to change.

There was still a glimmer of hope, though.

Unfortunately, the 2012 Republican presidential primary season would dim this in perpetuity. When the American mainstream saw Tea Partiers running from crazy to crazier candidate in search of an alternative to Mitt Romney, the deal was sealed. It was that sort of radicalism which secured the Party its current position on the political fringe.

I believe that the conduct of Tea Party congresspersons during the budget debate pushed their movement into the single digits. No group becomes that unpopular without applied effort.

More than a few self-styled conservatives are likely wondering about how the Party can reclaim its glory days. They might as well be dreaming about leprechauns and unicorns. The Tea Party has been its own worst enemy, and done a better job of tainting its brand than almost any leftist could have.

Simply put, the Party is finished. The few stragglers left would be wise to bid each other adieu and drive home safely.

Then, perhaps, a discussion can begin about how a center-right for the twenty-first century can not only be built, but marketed to our nation’s changing demographics. If the GOP ever wants to win a presidential election again, there is no way around this reality. 

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Joseph Cotto

Joseph F. Cotto is a social journalist by trade and student of history by lifestyle choice. He hails from central Florida, writing about political, economic, and social issues of the day. In the past, he was a contributor to Blogcritics Magazine, among other publications. He is currently at work on a book about American society.

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