Krueger, Brian, Ph.D.
Political Science, Tea Party, Republican Party
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Not Just Another Tea Party
Faculty Sponsor: Brian Krueger , Political Science
At times throughout U.S. history, there have been factions within political parties that do not just fade away or blend into the dominant paradigm, but survive and fundamentally alter the party. However, what qualifies a movement as a faction and not just another political idea that has gained some popularity, and what allows a faction to actually make a significant impact?
I began my research when I became curious and started looking at the Tea Party movement. As part of my study I wanted to learn about the demographics of the Tea Party, what their ideals were, how they differed from the general population and non-Tea Party Republicans, how the movement began, and if the movement would actually sustain and change the Republican Party. The Tea Party can be considered a faction of the Republican Party, but with stronger conservative ideals of a certain type. Their members typically tend to be wealthier and more educated than the majority of the population and other Republicans, indicating that Tea Party members will not be easily co-opted by the mainstream Republican Party. So, the question then becomes, will the Tea Party impact the Republican Party, or will it just continue as a tangential movement.
Upon examination I believe that the Tea Party will cause the Republican Party to change, and in fact has already begun to do so. In recent news the Fiscal Budget for 2012 put forth by Paul Ryan and passed by a Republican House of Representatives, represents a new shift in the Republican Party. This budget will rein in government social spending, change how the government spends money, and shrink the role of the government generally, which are major concerns of the Tea Party movement. If this budget gets approved it will reduce the deficit by eliminating Medicare as we currently know it and it will dramatically reduce Medicaid. The sizes of these cuts are so large that this plan also can lower tax rates for the highest income individuals. This is a substantial conservative shift for the Republicans, who only a few years ago passed one of the largest expansions to traditional Medicare through the Part D (drug) program.
The goal of my project was to examine the Tea Party and determine whether this faction would sustain for a long period of time and if it could make an impact on the Republican Party. I believe that the Tea Party will sustain and will make impacts, shifting the issues of the Republican Party.
Keywords: Political Science, Tea Party, Factions, Republican Party