The Blog

Jul 2, 2015, 3:36
Inside the South Carolina Tea Party Coalition Convention

Inside the South Carolina Tea Party Coalition Convention


The fourth annual South Carolina Tea Party Coalition Convention warred on the Constitution, and resurrected the patently false notions that President Obama is not a natural born American. Held at the Springmaid Beach Resort in Myrtle Beach on January 17-19, the event also displayed an abundant supply of Christian nationalism, racism, anti-immigrant bigotry and Islamophobia. It also drew more than its fair share of Republican politicians. More than a gateway to the 2016 presidential primaries, however, the convention served as a preview of Tea Party activism of the future—warts and all.

The nativist political committee Protect Oregon Driver Licenses was among the reasons Measure 88 went down to defeat in Oregon

Dissecting the Nativist Victory in Oregon


Despite the valiant efforts of unions, immigrant rights and progressive groups, nativists successfully led an effort to repeal hard-fought legislation to provide driver cards to undocumented immigrants in Oregon.

IREHR examines the behind-the-scenes political committees, uncovers the network of anti-immigrant and Tea Party groups in the state, and follows the money to find out how nativists were victorious in Oregon. We also look at what the nativist victory portends for national immigration reform in 2015 and beyond.

Tea Party Patriots Co-Founder Jenny Beth Martin Wants to Amend Constitution

Con Job: Tea Party Mobilizing to Rewrite Constitution


With the fight over Obamacare slowly receding, the Tea Party Patriots are mobilizing for a new effort to dramatically re-write the Constitution, beginning with a serious call to repeal the constitutional amendment that led to the creation of the Internal Revenue Service and the income tax, the 16th Amendment. As implausible as it seems, the effort is already picking up steam in the states. Along the way, they’ve picked up some strange bedfellows and turned some allies into enemies.

Field reports, event recordings, and new documents obtained by the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights show a growing national effort by Tea Party groups and allies to significantly rewrite the Constitution. This new report outlines the significant organizational players, the various strategies, and the rifts exposed in this latest Tea Party offensive.

At CPAC 2014, Ann Coulter (left) called for nativist death squads, while white nationalist Robert Vandervoort (right) was allowed to bring his nativist English-only outfit back to the conference.

The Unbearable Whiteness of CPAC


For years, white nationalists found themselves on the outside looking in, faces pressed against the glass to get a glimpse at the movement happenings at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). But the times they are a changing. Not since Pat Buchanan’s racially-tinged insurgent campaign at the 1992 conference have white nationalists found a more hospitable environment in the halls of CPAC.

With the rise of the Tea Party, the doors to CPAC flew open wide in 2010. The same year that CPAC gave the “Ronald Reagan Award” to the Tea Party movement, the far-right John Birch Society, a group kept outside for decades, was allowed to co-sponsor the event for the first time. Others on the far-right were welcomed into the fold, and racist rhetoric about president Obama was allowed center stage. Just like that, CPAC became a white nationalist friendly zone.

Despite a more tightly controlled platform this year, the annual conservative confab did little to disabuse white nationalists of the notion that they were at home, particularly when leaders expressed racially-charged rhetoric and calls for nativist “death squads” were met with raucous cheers from the floor.

New Data Finds Tennessee Ranks Fourth Overall in Tea Party Membership


(Kansas City) - A new report by the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights (IREHR) finds that Tennessee ranks fourth overall in Tea Party membership.

The special report, entitled The Status of the Tea Party: Membership, Support and Sympathy by the Numbers is an exhaustive, year-long, non-partisan, data-driven look at the state of the Tea Party as it nears the movement's fifth anniversary next month.

The overall ranking of fourth for Tennessee is based on a combination of metrics: the number of Tea Party members in the state, membership as a percentage of the state population, and the number of active local affiliated Tea Party groups. Tennessee was tenth in the total number of Tea Party members in the state, with 13,775 members.  As a percentage of the state's population, Tea Party membership in the state came in sixth. The 26 active local affiliated Tea Party groups in Tennessee was fifteenth in the country. The state is also the home base of one of the national factions, Tea Party Nation.

Data in the report proves that despite recent defeats, the Tea Party movement is far from dead. "At its core, this report is a wakeup call for everyone who cares about human rights. The Tea Party threat to human rights remains persistent on a multitude of fronts," said IREHR president Leonard Zeskind.

Among the other significant findings in the report:

  • Despite sagging public sympathy post-shutdown, core membership in the national Tea Party factions remains high, at over half a million people. Last year, membership growth slowed to roughly four percent. Membership is geographically concentrated in the South, with than 42% of overall membership in the region.
  • The level of Tea Party supporters also rose, particularly on social media. The combined total for national Tea Party Facebook likes was 7,683,327, and Twitter followers totaled 382,240.
  • Recalcitrance regarding the shutdown of the federal government and other issues caused general sympathy for the Tea Party to decline at the end of 2013, to 18% to 30% of the American public.
  • Even has membership has grown, the ratio of men to women in the Tea Party movement remains remarkably consistent, with roughly two-thirds of the membership identified as men.

The rush to pronounce the Tea Party dead has caused nearly as many problems as the myth that the movement is "AstroTurf"--fake grassroots. “Tea Partiers are more than minions for millionaires, or the sum of ballots cast on Election Day,” according to the report’s author, Devin Burghart. “They are not illusions created by public relations magicians. Over the last five years, real people have been involved in real activities aimed at impacting politics, culture, and civil society in negative ways,” he added.

The report pinpoints national trends in sympathy and support for the Tea Party, analyzes the Tea Party organizations’ core membership numbers, and maps the geography of the movement.

“It is a complex and contradictory situation,” said Burghart. “But we now know that two different trends have emerged: the core of the movement has hardened and grown, even as sympathy for the movement has leveled off and opposition has increased. The middle ground is shrinking further every day.”

The full report, The Status of the Tea Party: Membership, Support and Sympathy by the Numbers, is available online here.

See how many Tea Party members are in your community. A full-screen interactive map of Tea Party membership is available here.