The Tea Party Movement is neither a political party nor a political movement. It is essentially a political tool of the Republican Party to run a series of anti-Administration trial balloons to judge each balloon’s political viability.
To-date, the Tea Party has existed to promote events that have been exclusively, or some combination of:
3) Anti Health Care Reform
or, flag-waving, quasi-patriotic celebrations, such as:
4) July 4th events
5) Tax Day events
6) 9/11 commemorative events
Protesting and waving flags seem to be the common denominator. Screaming and outrageous signage is popular, too.
What is quite interesting is that prominent Republican, Sarah Palin, has jumped on the Tea Party Express. One cannot help but wonder why. I suspect that it is for one of two reasons.
The first reason is that she continues to be shunted aside by the formal Republican establishment powers-that-be and is getting a little commupance. I am quite certain that she is bitter about her treatment. She has, of course, loudly complained of her rough handling by the Republican Presidential team during the 2008 election. Quite to the chagrin of the Republican establishment, she continues to maintain considerable popularity among people of similar sentiment in spite of her bumbling, missteps, and lack of perceived political gravitas. She, like most of the Tea Party people, feels that she has a score to settle with the establishment – Democrats, Republicans, and the corporate media alike. This battle will probably not fare well.
The second reason, slightly at-odds with the first, is that Palin wants to rehabilitate herself with the Republican Party by demonstrating that she can be out there in the midst of large groups of unhappy people and convert them to her cause and, thereby, the Republican Party. In this way, by assisting the Republicans, she can be in-line for some sort of influential position somewhere down road.
I suspect that the Democrats are hoping that the Tea Party matures somewhat and develops its own identity. If it does develop some sort of mature structure, one of two things will inevitably happen: either the Party will disintegrate or be absorbed in some fashion by the Republicans. The history of third parties and third-party movements in the United States has not been a good one. The two-party system is so deeply politically and financially entrenched in American culture that it would take an unforeseen, almost cataclysmic, event to enable a third-party to take permanent hold. And if that highly unlikely event or series of events would happen to occur, a more likely result would be the replacement of one party for another – a sort of dramatic substitution, rather than an addition. A very nice history along with a wonderful little chart showing the disposition of third parties in the United States elaborates on this quite well at:
At this point, the best case scenario for Democrats is that by the time of the 2012 elections the Tea Party will have matured; and, that it and Sarah Palin do for the Republican Presidential candidate what Ralph Nader and the Reform party did to Al Gore in 2000.