As the Tea Party continues to attract attention and gain political legitimacy in the US, the party itself remains something of an ambiguous entity. One one hand, its strongest supporters view the party as a bastion for American values and limited government with a romantic view of the American constitution and a belief that the party will protect the nation from descending into a socialist, non-capitalistic state. On the other, its harshest critics label it as a racist, reactionary group of conservative nationalists who use increasingly divisive rhetoric to encourage xenophobic sentiment throughout its base.
Take, for instance, the following article found on teapartynationalism.com:
This website clearly views the party as a dangerous group with questionable motives. Consider the following passages:
– “The oft-repeated Tea Party call to “Take it Back, Take Your Country Back” is an explicitly nationalist refrain. It is sometimes coupled with the assertion that there are “real Americans,” as opposed to others who they believe are driving the country into a socialist ditch”
– “Despite the fact that Tea Partiers sometimes dress in the costumes of 18th century Americans, wave the Gadsden flag and claim that the United States Constitution should be the divining rod of all legislative policies, theirs is an American nationalism that does not always include all Americans. It is a nationalism that excludes those deemed not to be ‘real Americans;’ including the native-born children of undocumented immigrants (often despised as ‘anchor babies’), socialists, Moslems, and those not deemed to fit within a ‘Christian nation.'”
– “As the Confederate battle flags, witch doctor caricatures and demeaning discourse suggest, a bright white line of racism threads through this nationalism.Yet, it is not a full-fledged variety of white nationalism. It is as inchoate as it is super-patriotic. It is possibly an embryo of what it might yet become.”
While pointing out the party’s allegedly damning characteristics, this point of view also recognizes that the Tea Party remains in the early stages of its evolution, which can either scare or excite you, depending on how you view the party.
Importantly, those who defend the party would claim that the racist rhetoric often associated with the party is by-and-large a minority opinion magnified disproportionally in the media. Instead, members and many leaders will argue, Tea Party members simply stand for the constitution of the United States and policies of limited government.
So, with this said, how do you view the tea party? Do you have any political parties in your country that are comparable in rhetoric or reputation? And finally, do you view the Tea Party as a legitimate political party with respectable claims and demands, or an extremely right-wing party that could lead to a new form of American nationalism?
Or is it possible that the Tea Party is misrepresented both by its leaders and by its biggest critics? Could it be, rather than one extreme or the other, simply a new political party to add to the ongoing debates regarding issues such as immigration and economic policy in the US?
The development of the party could depend largely on which party members are elected into congressional positions. I’m interested to hear your thoughts.