Tea Party Redux?

Ron Lipsman
Nine months after the election of Barack Obama, the country erupted in angry defiance to the radical left agenda that the new president was pursuing. The Tea Party movement was born. Spontaneous gatherings, raucous town meetings and unexpected political candidacies emerged. The signature success of the movement was the recapture of the House of Representatives by Republicans in the fall of 2010. It is true that Obama managed to move the needle substantially to port in his first two years (e.g., Obamacare and Dodd-Frank). But one can only imagine the ultra-hard left agenda that he would have enacted had the emergence of the Tea Party not thwarted his goals of cultural Marxism and economic socialism that he had in mind for the country, which he feels is so deeply flawed.

Well, to the surprise of many, he was re-elected last fall. Today, Obama is an unrepentant leftist radical whose sole motivation is to turn the House again - thereby enabling him to complete the radical transformation, which he envisioned in 2008, in his last two years. Will the Tea Party re-emerge to again thwart those designs?

There are certainly signs of a re-emergence. Many people are more incredulous - than they were last time - that the nation would install, and then re-install, an unprecedented radical leftist in the White House. Tea Party types did, and still do, see him as an existential threat to the continuation of the American Republic as a federal, representative, limited government, free nation. And once again, they are organizing, gathering and plotting countermeasures to check Obama's radical designs for the country. Will they succeed?

First, success might be too generous a word to describe the results of the 2009-2010 Tea Party movement. Yes it led to the capture of the House. But it didn't stop Obamacare. It didn't stop the ongoing retrenchment of the US military and of US foreign policy. It didn't stop the administration's juggernaut of regulatory strangulation of the US economy. And it didn't stop Obama's attempted destruction of "dirty" energy industries in the US.

Next, political lightning never strikes twice in the same way. The current movement does not come close to matching the enormous outburst of spontaneous energy and righteous indignation that occurred last time. The problem of "the beast you know" has reared its ugly head. And the percentage of liberty-loving Americans who believe that the US has passed the tipping point - in its slide into a big government, Euro-style social welfare state - has increased substantially. Those people are demoralized and disinclined to join the Party.

So I hope that I am wrong. But I expect that the Tea Party renaissance that many are predicting for this fall will be a pale imitation of the original. We are stuck with our statist commander-in-chief for another three and a half years. The best that we can hope for is that the House remains in Republican hands and what limited thwarting of the Obama agenda that occurred in the last three years will continue. Even so, the more interesting question is whether it matters. Have we indeed passed the tipping point or is there yet hope for America to recover its heritage of liberty and opportunity, and to reassert its role as a beacon of freedom to the world?


Nine months after the election of Barack Obama, the country erupted in angry defiance to the radical left agenda that the new president was pursuing. The Tea Party movement was born. Spontaneous gatherings, raucous town meetings and unexpected political candidacies emerged. The signature success of the movement was the recapture of the House of Representatives by Republicans in the fall of 2010. It is true that Obama managed to move the needle substantially to port in his first two years (e.g., Obamacare and Dodd-Frank). But one can only imagine the ultra-hard left agenda that he would have enacted had the emergence of the Tea Party not thwarted his goals of cultural Marxism and economic socialism that he had in mind for the country, which he feels is so deeply flawed.

Well, to the surprise of many, he was re-elected last fall. Today, Obama is an unrepentant leftist radical whose sole motivation is to turn the House again - thereby enabling him to complete the radical transformation, which he envisioned in 2008, in his last two years. Will the Tea Party re-emerge to again thwart those designs?

There are certainly signs of a re-emergence. Many people are more incredulous - than they were last time - that the nation would install, and then re-install, an unprecedented radical leftist in the White House. Tea Party types did, and still do, see him as an existential threat to the continuation of the American Republic as a federal, representative, limited government, free nation. And once again, they are organizing, gathering and plotting countermeasures to check Obama's radical designs for the country. Will they succeed?

First, success might be too generous a word to describe the results of the 2009-2010 Tea Party movement. Yes it led to the capture of the House. But it didn't stop Obamacare. It didn't stop the ongoing retrenchment of the US military and of US foreign policy. It didn't stop the administration's juggernaut of regulatory strangulation of the US economy. And it didn't stop Obama's attempted destruction of "dirty" energy industries in the US.

Next, political lightning never strikes twice in the same way. The current movement does not come close to matching the enormous outburst of spontaneous energy and righteous indignation that occurred last time. The problem of "the beast you know" has reared its ugly head. And the percentage of liberty-loving Americans who believe that the US has passed the tipping point - in its slide into a big government, Euro-style social welfare state - has increased substantially. Those people are demoralized and disinclined to join the Party.

So I hope that I am wrong. But I expect that the Tea Party renaissance that many are predicting for this fall will be a pale imitation of the original. We are stuck with our statist commander-in-chief for another three and a half years. The best that we can hope for is that the House remains in Republican hands and what limited thwarting of the Obama agenda that occurred in the last three years will continue. Even so, the more interesting question is whether it matters. Have we indeed passed the tipping point or is there yet hope for America to recover its heritage of liberty and opportunity, and to reassert its role as a beacon of freedom to the world?