Political movements have greatly shaped American policy throughout the decades. The civil rights movement of the ‘60s, the feminist movement of the ‘70s and the Christian conservative movement of the ‘80s have all had lasting effects on policy.
On the other hand, an equally large number of movements, like the Free Silver movement of the late 19th century, have faded away without any long-lasting impact in Washington.
Today’s movement du jour is the Tea Party, and they are doing quite well. According to a recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, more Americans have a positive view of the Tea Party movement than of either the Democratic or Republican parties.
The movement has attracted the attention and support of notable conservative leaders like Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin. It even managed to get Republican Scott Brown elected to Ted Kennedy’s old Senate seat. The future looks bright for the Tea Party, but one thing stands in the way of affecting long-lasting change.
The Tea Party has served as an outlet for Americans’ growing disillusionment with government and institutions in general. Tea Party protestors are united in their anger towards government, but lack a consistent message.
They blame Washington for rising deficits, but they refuse to support cuts in government programs and tax increases. Many failed political movements have aptly pointed out flaws in the government, but only the successful ones provide ideas on how to fix these problems.
The tea party movement may play an important role in shaping America’s immediate future, particularly the upcoming mid-term elections, but it must propose real solutions if it intends to be more than a passing fad.
Thomas Prieto is a senior majoring in political science. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.