With the 2010 mid-term elections now a pleasant memory for the Republicans and a terrible nightmare for the Democrats, it is important not to forget about another party that had a major stake in the elections – the Tea Party.
Although the Tea Party is a grass roots movement and not a traditional political party, it certainly has had its victories but also its defeats during this election cycle. For all the excitement and anger generated by the Tea Partiers, many of their high profile candidates they supported supported did not win.
Yes, there were many successes in the House of Representatives where Tea Party candidates did help Republicans win seats, but most of the attention was on the Senate seatsd where candidates like Sharon Angle in Nevada, Christine O’Donnell in Delaware and Joe Miller in Alaske all went down to defeat.
Only Rand Paul in Kentucky, a die-hard Tea Partier, won and won convincingly, along with some half-hearted Tea Partiers like Marco Rubio in Florida, Ron Johnson in Wisconsin and Pat Toomey in Pennsylvania. Each of these guys may very well jump ship and return to the traditional Republican wing of the party.
So what to say about this new force in American politics? With Sarah Palin coyly saying that she is willing to run for president, the Tea Party still has its media star and its fund-raising phenom. And the issues that brought out the Tea Party anger and grass roots mobilization are not going to go away anytime soon. We will still be a country in debt upt to our eyeballs, people will continue to face unemployment and foreclosures and Barack Obama, a closet socialist to many of the Tea Party diehards, will still be president.
There will likely be a period of quiet from the Tea Party people as they regroup and recharge. But they will be back, and they will continue to capture the support of a good portion of the American electorate.
Although movements that bring together disaffected voters lose their anger and their motivation once the economy begins to right itself and thorny issues are addressed, the Tea Party cannot be dismissed. But in our system of government it is one thing to win office and another to govern, especially in a political climate that is so highly charged and divisive.
If you are a Tea Partier, however, I would recommend that you not get too confident that your movement now has a permanent place in American politics. More than likely, the fame for the Tea Party movement will die a slow death once the hard job of governing is faced. But for political pundits, the media and the American electorate it has been a wild ride.