The Tea Party and the Remaking of Republican Conservatism

by Theda Skocpol and Vanessa Williamson
Oxford University Press, 2012

The Tea Party has reshaped American politics by pulling both parties sharply to the right. Skocpol and Williamson’s careful analysis of the Tea Party’s ideas and operations, based in part on interviews with activists, is thus particularly useful. They are not, the authors teach, “your father’s conservatives.” True enough—both parties have tended to serve the interests of the rich and the large corporations. But both in the past were willing to support Medicare and Social Security, whereas Tea Party activists are so committed to a populist, anti-government ideology that they are not willing to accept even those government policies that have broad public support. This ideological purity is often perceived as refreshing by those who have been sickened by the endless unprincipled compromises of many elected officials. And with the backing of the super-rich and Fox News, they have a foundation from which to continue to attack any aspect of government that might threaten the power of America’s economic and political elites. Even when their policies lose their luster, they are likely to be around for many years to come.

(To return to the Spring 2012 Table of Contents, click here.)


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