How is The New Tea Party and Sarah Palin?
Regardless of which party is in power at any given time in history, there is always opposition. That is the nature of our democracy. Our two party system, democrat and republican, has held on to power for generations, however, fringe groups have also come into play and have drawn quite a following. One fringe political group that has sprung to the forefront and shows no sign of slowing down is the Tea Party Movement. Named after the original fore fathers protest against tea taxes and the defiant act of throwing the tea into Boston Harbor, the Tea Party Movement prides itself on being seen as patriotic. They have adopted the belief that dissent is the most patriotic act an American can do.
The Tea Party Movement is spear-headed by the Tea Party express which travels across America spreading the message of Tea Party members and recruiting others to the cause. Movements have grown in popularity recently as more and more Americans become disgruntled by the present state and direction of the country. However, just because the group is making headlines does not mean they are soon to outnumber the two parties that still define American politics.
The Tea Party movement is not as diverse as the republican and democratic parties. The members, or those who consider themselves behind the movement, are 89% white. 75% of them are middle-aged and consider themselves to be traditional conservatives. Most are in higher income brackets than average, highly educated and have insurance. Under the current administration, this particular demographic is seeing their taxes rise slightly as others see their taxes fall. This is partly why the Tea party movement has taken off. Anger and dissent is flowing over in this demographic and the movement has become its outlet.
There are some core beliefs that bind members of the Tea Party. They primarily want government out of their business and out of their wallets. They believe the government is headed in the wrong direction and they want current political leadership to quit interfering and regulating anything and everything, from health care to financial stimulus packages. They feel the rights of the constitution are being ignored. They consider themselves mostly republican; but believe the modern republican is moving too far to the moderate side, leaving their fundamental values and beliefs behind. Tea Party members also feel they are being expected to pay the way for other Americans, such as immigrants and minorities.
The Tea Party movement has recently gained one very well known supporter and speaker who has inspired Tea Partiers and enraged those who view the Tea Party movement as a fringe extremist movement. Sarah Palin, former Vice Presidential candidate and former Governor of Alaska, has taken the microphone at many Tea Party Express stops, drawing in crowds that are almost too large to count. Whether or not people agree with her seems irrelevant to the fact that she attracts a crowd and a lot of attention whenever she takes the stage. Her spirited rhetoric, snappy catch phrases, and “folksy” tone touch a nerve and make her the perfect spokeswoman for the Tea Party movement. The average person who aligns themselves with the Tea Party movement sees her as inspirational and not afraid to ruffle the feathers of the establishment. However, for those critics of the Tea Party movement, she is the perfect target of ridicule and easy to brush off as inexperienced and without substance.
As the adopted darling of the very conservative movement, Sarah Palin has gotten the Tea Party a lot of press and attention. However, not all press and attention has helped the movement recently. While the majority consider themselves average Americans, some have come to rallies clearly expressing extremist views, capturing the spotlight and taking away from the message the Tea Party wishes moderate and conservative Americans to see. Extremist, and even political figures currently in office, have used the Tea Party platform to express anti-latino, anti-immigrant and racist laden rhetoric. The Tea Party has tried very hard lately to distance themselves from extremists; yet the anger that has led to the Tea Party movement’s existence has drawn in extremists nonetheless.
As the Tea Party Express picks up speed, there seems to be no limit to how far the movement may reach or how many people may join. With a national figure as polarizing and controversial as Sarah Palin on stage, the movement will continue to make headlines and gain national attention. Whether or not that attention and the cluster of anger that has bound members translates to the change they are seeking remains to be seen.