Special Report: The Status of the Tea Party Movement - Part One

Special Report: The Status of the Tea Party Movement
Part One: The Tea Party in 2013

During the month of January 2014, IREHR will publish a multi-segment special report on the current status of the Tea Party movement.  We will track the membership of the principal organizations in the movement—a task undertaken by no organization or agency other than IREHR. We will look at geographic regions where this membership is concentrated.  And we will look at some of the money that keeps this movement in the public eye. In the piece below, we follow the Tea Parties over the course of 2013.

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What to Expect from the Tea Parties in 2013 - And How to Stop it

The congressional vote at the turn of the New Year should tell us something about what to expect in 2013. Although a boiled down half-measure aimed at avoiding the fiscal cliff passed, a strong "no" vote from the far right bucked Speaker Boehner's leadership. The fact that a new session in January will bring in new faces, will not likely change the shape of this obstructive bloc. Remember, Tea Party-endorsed candidates won nearly 80% of their House races last house November, a higher rate than in 2010. They will likely oppose every moderate or slightly progressive proposal over the year to come.

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The Tea Parties Are Still Strong: Prepare for the Battles Ahead

In Michigan, so-called right to work legislation has been signed. As everyone knows, such legislation has nothing to do with finding and keeping a job, and everything to do with driving down the political power and membership density of unions. Just four short years ago, this measure would have been considered inconceivable in Michigan. Earlier this year, many union officials scoffed at its prospect. Now it has become law.

What has so sharply changed the balance of forces? Simply put: the Tea Party movement has radicalized a large swath of white people and made them immune to any calls for the common good.

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Who is an American? Tea Parties, Nativism, and the Birthers

The Revolutionary War-era costumes, the yellow “Don’t tread on me” Gadsden flags from the same era, the earnest recitals of the pledge of allegiance, the over-stated veneration of the Constitution, and the defense of “American exceptionalism” in a world turned towards transnational economies and global institutions: all are signs of the over-arching nationalism that helps define the Tea Party movement.

It is a form of American nationalism, however, that does not include all Americans, and separates itself from those it regards as insufficiently “real Americans.” Consider in this regard, a recent Tea Party Nation Newsletter article entitled, “Real Americans Did Not Sue Arizona.” Or the hand-drawn sign at a Tea Party rally that was obviously earnestly felt. “I am a arrogant American, unlike our President, I am proud of my country, our freedom, our generosity, no apology from me.”

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About IREHR

The Institute for Research & Education on Human Rights (IREHR) is a national organization with an international outlook examining racist, anti-Semitic, white nationalist, and far-right social movements, analyzing their intersection with civil society and social policy, educating the public, and assisting in the protection and extension of human rights through organization and informed mobilization.

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