A New, Different ‘Tea Party’ is Forming
Signs point to a November grassroots backlash in reaction to national Democrats’ policy catastrophes.
President(ish) Joe Biden’s approval rating recently hit an all-time low of 29 percent. Fifty-eight percent of those surveyed disapprove of his performance, and, a recent Rasmussen Reports survey revealed that only 65 percent of Democrats(!) approve of the president.
Conditions are far worse than national Democrats dare admit during a midterm election year, so they and their in-the-tank media allies are gas-lighting Americans. But voters know that a recessionary economy, record inflation, high energy prices, supply chain disruptions, plus illegal immigration and violent crime disasters are Joe Biden’s and congressional, state and municipal Democrats’ responsibility.
However, an anticipated November red wave may not have the effects the Republican Party hopes for, because 1) it will be more bipartisan, and 2) grassroots enthusiasts like those who participated in the 2010 tea party movement remember that attracting attention and gaining power are not the same things. They have engaged.
In 2010, grassroots groups were the most energized segment of the American electorate. They formed spontaneously, gathered momentum, gained cohesion, and influenced the outcomes of many national campaigns in favor of Republicans.
Was the party grateful? Yes – and no.
On one hand, thanks largely to the grassroots movement, the GOP made huge gains in Congress
But, when tea party patriots turned their backs on conventional, establishment Republicans and won primary victories for grassroots candidates, the party hierarchy either refused to support those nominees in the general election or supported them only reluctantly. Indeed, some establishment Republican primary losers mounted write-in campaigns.
Grassroots voters and institutional Republicans still regard one another warily, because they lack pure synergy. Their goals aren’t identical.
Grassroots voters want responsible governance, while GOP regulars merely want to regain congressional majorities and the White House in 2024.
The party wants to use the energy of grassroots voters, while, facing a national emergency, the latter have no refuge other than the Republican Party in a two-party system.
Indeed, grassroots enthusiasts view both parties skeptically. Many remember the profligacy of the Bush II years and fear that Republicans’ newfound respect for fiscal discipline may only be a proxy for opposing Democrats during the Biden regime, that it will disappear should Republicans regain congressional majorities.
However, 2010 taught grassroots enthusiasts that, if they wished to have an impact, they had to turn from rallying to practical politics. So they targeted the Republican Party. As an attainable initial goal, many ran for and were elected to GOP county and state committees where, in some, grassroots members now represent significant percentages. To be fair, certain longtime members of local Republican committees were involved in tea party activities from the beginning, so new members joined like-minded colleagues.
It took several cycles, in some cases more, for grassroots’ efforts to make headway, win committee memberships, do the work necessary to nominate their candidates and win elections.
They worked locally, then began thinking beyond their own precincts, something both parties have been doing for years.
Grassroots enthusiasts learned that opposing what they criticized as the “party machine” without embracing its resources could deny them the things a party can bring to the campaigns of their favored candidates.
But, long-time party regulars resent the newcomers, partly because new members feel no obligation to support flawed party nominees.
2022 will be no different, but with some twists.
The nation is in crisis. The Biden administration’s incompetence and Democrats’ political, fiscal, cultural and social malfeasance are gifts to the GOP.
Conservative and centrist Democrats, independent and Hispanic voters are moving right. Many will vote Republican in backlash to a failed presidency, but will not join the GOP unless Republican Party regulars actively accommodate them, work to eliminate Democrat-fueled chaos, and restore governmental discipline.
This time, there is no going back.
Their new 2022 voters will carefully scrutinize what GOP officeholders do – and don’t do. Accordingly, the party cannot expect to automatically absorb large segments of the people who vote Republican this November.
So, if the Republican Party wants to remain credible, it must clearly state and work effectively to achieve goals that satisfy its new 2022 voters.
Institutional Republicans have never been very good at that. But, if they do it this year, the party could stay in power for a generation – or more.