On Fox News this morning, commentor Tucker Carlson said, “The Tea Party is a leaderless movement and leaderless movements don’t endure, don’t last.”
Joe Wierzbicki, executive director of the Campaign to Defeat Obama, responded to Carlson’s statement:
I think that there is *some* truth to this, but Tucker is missing out on the bigger point.
ALL movements eventually fade, no movement is forever lasting.
What typically ends up happening is that either the principle ideals and ideas of the movement get implemented (and thus largely negates the need for the movement to exist in a meaningful way), or the ideas get picked up and advanced by a candidate or prominent figure (which can then lead the figure to become emblematic with the cause). Ronald Reagan came out of the New Right which began building in the late 1960’s into the early 1970’s, with conservative movements that included Right to Work, the social conservatism of the Moral Majority, and the national defense hawks, all finding in Reagan a champion for their cause.
The supporters of these movements got behind Reagan and helped propel him into the White House in 1980 (after coming surprisingly close to helping him get the GOP nomination in 1976) and again in 1984.
Once Reagan left office in 1988, George H.W. Bush wasn’t as authentically conservative or adept to keep these supporters engaged.
The Christian Coalition in the early-to-mid 1990s and the radical middle (‘angry white male’ voters primarily – folks who were Perot supporters in 1992 for example) in 1994 looked for new leadership in the wake of the first Bush’s failings (and subsequent election of Clinton) to help fuel the historic Republican victories in congressional, legislative and gubernatorial elections all across the country.
The Tea Party could evolve in ways similar to this or it could remain relevant as a movement in its current structure past 2012. Time will tell, and it all will be influenced based on what our leaders and candidates do on the issues the next year. Will they help squelch some of the need for the movement, or will their actions induce people to be more supportive of the tea party movement if they see a a vacuum in leadership on the issues that drive the tea party.
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