Will The Tea Party Movement Succeed Or Will Ideological Divisions Doom It To Failure?

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The Tea Party movement has been one of the most exhilarating things to happen to American politics in decades.  Millions of Americans who have become increasingly frustrated with government and who feel that they are not being represented have banded together to take collective action in what is truly one of the greatest grass roots movements in U.S. political history.  Some have even suggested that the Tea Party movement should become a new political party.  Every single day now, the Tea Party movement makes headlines all over the globe and it has had some tremendous success in getting some candidates elected recently.  But are there problems on the horizon?  The truth is that there are only a few things that almost everyone in the Tea Party movement agrees on.  But there are a whole bunch of issues that are creating major ideological divisions among Tea Party activists.  In fact, most of the issues listed below will create huge arguments at any Tea Party gathering.  The reality is that the Tea Party movement has attracted a very diverse group of people, and there are only a few points that they all agree on.  So can such a fractured movement survive in the long-term?


Before we get to the ideological divisions in the Tea Party movement, let’s take a look at the few points that almost all Tea Party activists do agree upon….

1) The don’t like high taxes.

2) They don’t like exploding government spending and exploding government debt.

3) They don’t like Barack Obama.

4) They are very angry at the government.

Beyond those four things, there is not that much that the Tea Party movement as a whole really agrees upon.

And that is unfortunate, because it would take a very united, very cohesive organization to truly turn the direction of the U.S. government around.

So what are some of the ideological divisions in the Tea Party movement?  Well, listed below are 10 issues that threaten to divide the Tea Party movement and doom it to failure….

1) Iran – Tea Party activists are deeply divided over Iran.  Many in the “Republican wing” of the Tea Party would advocate an immediate military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities.  They would argue that we simply cannot allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapon.  On the other end, many in the “Libertarian wing” of the Tea Party are completely and totally opposed to ever striking Iran.  They feel that Iran is not a serious threat and that we should not be using our military might to impose our will around the globe.  As Iran continues to become a larger issue in the months ahead, this division in the Tea Party movement will only grow stronger.

2) Afghanistan and Iraq – On a similar note, there are very strong opinions on both sides when it comes to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.  Many in the “Republican wing” feel that we have to fight the terrorists “over there” so that they will not strike us at home.  Many in the “Libertarian wing” feel like we should not try to police the world and that we cannot afford all of these endless wars.

3) Abortion – This is a major, major point of division in the Tea Party movement.  Up until now, the Tea Party leadership (to the extent that the Tea Party does have leadership) has remained very, very quiet on social issues.  The Tea Party movement has always focused primarily on economic issues, but the truth is that it has attracted a lot of members who care very, very deeply about social issues such as abortion.  Probably a majority of Tea Party activists are against abortion, but there is a very sizable minority that either is pro-abortion or who don’t want the movement to take a stand on social issues.  In the end, however, the Tea Party is going to have to take a side on this very important issue.

4) Gay Marriage – This is another social issue that is highly divisive.  Many Tea Party activists are very much against gay marriage, but many others support the gay agenda and feel that we should let people have the freedom to do whatever they want.  In fact, some of the most prominent Tea Party “heroes” have actually endorsed candidates that have ties to the “Log Cabin Republicans”.  For now, many Tea Party groups have decided to stay mute on the issue of gay marriage, but that cannot last forever.

5) National Security And Civil Liberties – There is a huge, huge ideological divide on these issues in the Tea Party movement.  Many of those who were fans of the Bush administration believe that we should do whatever we can to keep ourselves “safe” from terrorism.  On the other end, many of the more freedom-minded members of the Tea Party movement feel that our liberties and freedoms are being rapidly destroyed and that the United States is very quickly becoming a Big Brother police state.

6) Support For Israel– This is a very, very touchy issue.  There are many in the Tea Party movement that have an unflinching allegiance to the nation of Israel.  They would point out that Israel has always been a great friend to the United States and that we share a great deal in common with them.  On the other end, there is a growing anti-Israel movement in the United States, and some of these groups have unfortunately been attracted to the Tea Party movement.

7) Drugs – Many on the “Libertarian wing” of the Tea Party movement openly advocate the immediate legalization of drugs.  They argue that the criminalization of marijuana and cocaine is similar to what the United States went through with prohibition during the 1930s.  On the other end, many on the “Republican wing” of the Tea Party movement would want nothing to do with the legalization of drugs.  They argue that drugs have already decimated our cities enough, and that if we legalize them it will unleash an absolute nightmare upon our communities.

8 ) Trade – Globalism and free trade are highly divisive issues among Tea Party activists.  The Wall Street crowd would argue that globalism and free trade have brought us increased prosperity and have lifted the entire world economy.  Many others in the Tea Party movement would counter by saying that millions upon millions of jobs have been shipped to the other side of the world and lost permanently and that now we do not have nearly enough jobs for everyone in America.

9) Separation Of Church And State – This issue will set off a firestorm at just about any Tea Party gathering.  The words “separation of church and state” are not anywhere in the U.S. Constitution, but many people quote them as if they are.  Many people feel that “religion” should be completely pushed out of every corner of public life.  But many others believe that this country was founded on Christian principles, and that when we seek to banish these principles we are turning our back on the foundation that this nation was built upon.  In particular, the debate over whether intelligent design should be taught alongside the theory of evolution in public schools is something that almost always draws out explosive emotions – especially among Tea Party activists.

10) The Federal Reserve – To many in the Tea Party movement, this is the most important issue.  Many Tea Party activists believe that the Federal Reserve is the heart of America’s economic problems and that is must be shut down.  However, many others in the Tea Party movement (particularly those sympathetic to Wall Street) believe that it would be crazy to shut down the Federal Reserve and that it could collapse our entire economic system.

So as you can see, there are some very important issues that divide Tea Party activists.  Almost all of them can agree that they don’t like high taxes, that they don’t like reckless government spending and that they don’t like Barack Obama.  Beyond that, it is really going to be hard to get Tea Party activists to agree on much of anything.

And that is truly unfortunate.  The U.S. political system desperately needs to be reformed.  The U.S. government desperately needs to change course.  The nation that so many of us love is slowly dying, and many have hoped that it will be the Tea Party movement that restores things to how they should be.

But can such a deeply divided movement actually truly succeed?

Well, perhaps they will be able to vote out Barack Obama in 2012, but will the person replacing him be much better?

Actually, just about anyone would be significantly better than Obama, but the point is that both parties have been slowly killing America for decades and there just does not seem to be much hope that things can be turned around.

Do you agree?  Do you disagree?  Feel free to tell us your thoughts in the comments section below….

  • National_Populist

    Left-Liberaltarians are just low-tax Democrats, while Right-Liberaltarians are essentially Anarchists who like property but hate duty, loyalty, and the bonds of fellowship. Both ignore the corrosive effect their individual-isolationist policies would have on the social compact, and pretend that they may sleep safe at night without rough men ready to do violence on their behalf. Ask yourself; who would love a green flag with a single golden dollar-sign enough to rally around it for a doomed final stand?

    I’ve known rational (or romantic enough, sometimes the fault is too much reason) Libers who were willing to admit that the State is a necessary evil, that without the minimal God of the Philosophers there can’t be any such thing as unalienable, natural rights, and that Ayn Rand badly needed an editor whose first language was English, but not many.

    Reason alone, without the sacralizing influence of faith, leads inevitably to Plato, Philospher-Kings, Euthanasia, Eugenics, Fabian-Socialism, Racialism, Marxism, ‘Environmentalism’ and the denial of the human-ness of your fellow men, or even the specialness of the human condition. If Marxism places the State upon the alter, Liberaltarianism places the Market there; how much misery must be endured to remind us not place any idols before Him?

    The 20th Century was the great age of Atheism and Anti-Clericalism, and what a dreary and ghastly experience it has been. Turns out Atheists and Materialists are much better mass-murderers and inquisitors than Church-men in terms of total verifiable results and also in efficiency expressed in murders per unit of time.

    ‘But!’ they cry, ‘coercive force is unjust, so we must not use it but in exceedingly direct self defense, and never ever preemptively nor for something as base as national interest!’ By all means, continue throwing stones at the hot-house glass walls of Western Civilization, I just hope that enough wild-flowers remain to stand off the weeds while the exotic orchids whither and die.

    Look to the fall of Rome; once the barbarians got past the border forts and fixed legionary defenses, they found unarmed, un-walled, defenseless and fat country, ripe and ready to fall to the hand. The only surviving pockets of culturally Roman people were where military commanders turned their coats and joined with the invading Kings, who could at least feed their troops, who were largely of foreign blood any way.

    Maybe its not too late to save our Republic (whose fate is entwined with that of our Empire, sorry folks) but I recommend hedging your bets. Start forming tribes, send your children to West Point (Military Aristocracy always ends up near the top), convert to traditional, vigorous religions (Catholicism, Evangelicals, Mormons), get into the country, closer to the food, and marry into Latino families, who at least are reproducing fast enough not to be swamped by the Muslims.

    “A day may come when the courage of Men fails, when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship, but it is not this day. An hour of wolves and shattered shields when the Age of Men comes crashing down…” sooner than one thinks I would wager.

  • xyloman

    I don’t know how you take this so-called Tea Party seriously. The seem to be pretty much universally aligned with the Republicans. With keynote speakers like Sarah ‘drill baby drill gotcha wink-wink’ Palin and our very own DREADED acid-tongued Minnesotan, Michele Bachmann – I mean what NOT republican about them?
    For those who call themselves Libertarian … why the hell did you LEAVE the Libertarian Party?!?! I always had a deep respect for the Libertarian Party and even went as far as voting for Bergland in 1984 – a fine candidate indeed.

    No. The Tea Party will evaporate like a kool-aid pond in the middle of summer.

    They can do nothing more than spit up the GOP vote which the Dems would relish.

    Yep – it’s all a big mess, but dare I say with McCain and Palin in there?? wow. Yes, it would be WORSE.

    Choices. We have them. We should try to let the Libertarians and Greens rise up and at LEAST put them on the ballots!

  • Gary

    This is simply a group of unsophisticated low information voters being financed by the Koch brothers and Pete Peterson and other rich right wing nuts. I absolutely can not believe any one would be so simple minded to fall for this drivel. (of course a lot of people listen/worship Rush Bimbo) It amazes me that so many people vote republican which is against their economic self interest, not to mention the interest of the country.

  • Scott

    The tea party seems to be a double-edged sword. On the one hand I am pretty sure it is majorly funded by republican interests trying to get a foothold into the what is labelled as a grass roots movement. When in reality it was wholely created by special interest groups. Even though that may be how it started it has morphed into the goto bandwagon for anyone with a beef with the way things are. But doesn’t this seem to only be a way to diffuse the outrage of a society that is in the death-throws of its life? Give people the illusion of an outlet in the form of a new party and bam, they longer outrage against the system that is keeping them down?

    I think it is fairly hard to dispute that the “american” way of life is dying and the american dream is more or less a nightmare for the majority of blue collar workers in our country.

    I disagree that creating a third party is the answer. I truly believe that the government needs to collapse, not because I like chaos, but because until an institution is completely failed, it can’t be completely replaced. And I see no path forward where those in power allow a gradual shift from business centric interests to population centric interests.

  • Spencer

    @NP – quit with the academic fluffery and trying to sound smart…you didn’t address the topic at hand at all.

    The tea party is ripe for a candidate identical to obama….someone who will represent them and yell out something slightly different then Change, but equally vague so as to be able to arouse all of their support regardless of all of these issues.

    Populism as a whole is kind of scary, you can’t build a nation built on the support of anger fear and frustration..you can only build a new dictatorship.

    @Gary – I seriously hope that you mean people should have abstained from voting instead of voting GOP? If you are implying they should have voted dem then you might do well to remove the whole ‘economic self interest’.

    Personally I think we should be given the option to vote against all candidates which effectively gives them all a -1. If you don’t get a certain percentage of confidence from the people then you simply shouldn’t be elected. That would be the best way of getting away from the silly 2 party system

  • Jon

    “Populism as a whole is kind of scary, you can’t build a nation built on the support of anger fear and frustration..you can only build a new dictatorship.”

    I disagree. This seems like another smear leveled at the Tea Partiers, that they are angry and fearful and nothing good will come out of it. What else is it going to take to get people motivated though, and besides, that’s exactly how this nation was formed, by the anger and fear of the people who told the British to go to hell. I think you are over generalizing.

  • Heyokha

    I’m struggling to find just what the “Tea Party” actually agrees on. From the above post, it would seem that you’re only “together” as the anti-Obama party, but cannot agree on much else.

    I doubt very much you will be able to find some way of keeping so many opposing viewpoints together in any cohesive fashion. I’d work towards defining your issues before long, because, to be honest with you, any “party” that has such obvious media-hounds as Palin, is not even remotely of interest to me, nor anyone I know.

    But then, I’m not interested in “voting” because I’ve yet to identify anyone who can truly earn the title of “leader” – and this country’s politicians are so corrupt, and useless as “representatives” that it would appear there is no fixing or continuing.

    I also question all this “return to the original founder’s ideas” when, if you bother to read primary sourced materials, this country was not founded on any ideals beyond protection of a few wealthy white male’s interests. Women were not even considered human enough to vote their opinions until last century, and blacks not accorded human rights until the 1960’s. Not to mention the genocide of original inhabitants that accompanied the land grabs.

    If you begin to acknowledge the real history of amrka – you may find you’ll lose some people that like the Disney versions, but you may also acquire some people that know how to draw up a more fair and just way to be in the world.

    End the Fed.

  • Jerimiah Scudder

    Goose stepping true believers are going to come marching out of the bible belt and set this nation right, far right. So far right in fact that Saint Adolf will be humbled. The depression that is coming will make the great depression look like great times indeed.

    If you get enough people shouting the same thing it starts sounding true, being undereducated or fearful makes joining the mob seem a reasonable thing to do. If one is in the habit of true belief in the one true religion then most of his resistance to external control is eroded before hand.

    I am keeping a brown shirt handy, when the rallies commence and the windows start breaking I will don the uniform join the parade and march my ass right into Canada, again.

  • xyloman

    Look at the utter FOOLS on the mouthpiece for the Tea Party. I never heard of this scum-of-the-earth Mark Williams and his Letter to Lincoln which is now front page news. No – it’s not the corporate mass media like CNN that will bring down the Tea Party. They will bring down themselves because they are intellectually bankrupt and as offensive as an ass. Yes, even Lenny Bruce looks pretty tame …
    How anyone can take them seriously is beyond me. You must be a true brain dead idiot in order to drink that kool-aid.

    To affix ANY sort of Ayn Rand to the Tea Party is just an outrage. I have noticed quite of number of Who is John Galt signs in the crowds. I challenge anyone of those who see any correlation to Rand and the Tea Party to show me how it is possible. Rand, if alive, would spit in the face of these wannabes.

    The Tea Party will go away – eventually.

  • Spencer

    @Jon – Whatever my comments seem to be is irrelevant. America did tell the Brits to go to hell, and that caused independence from a foreign occupation. This type of anger harnessed more closely resembles 1920s Germany.

    I couldn’t care less to smear, but just as Obama is hurting the nation on his cult following of ‘change’, so someone else could easily destroy the nation (and possibly a lot more) by arousing all of this angry mob to ‘return to our roots!’.

  • Chris

    We may not like them, but it would be foolish to underestimate them and to write them off as a movement for the ignorant. People are angry and resentful of a system seemingly stacked against them and the principles that made the US great. Obama was given a popular mandate to lead the fightback against the encumbered elite, who own the wealth and increasingly make all of the rules. He has failed to take this fight to them, or has been perceived this way. If the Tea Party was to get a charismatic leader, plus a clear target at which to direct their ire, and an easy set of actions for citizens to take, then this situation could change dramatically.

    I agree, the parallels with the 1920’s are stark and we should learn from them.

  • Elise

    I doubt the Tea Party will ever become relevant. They could’ve had legs if a solid ideology plan as well as economic, political and social had been put in place. Instead, the only thing these guys have in common are those stated in the article. That is not enough to build a party upon. They are made up of extremists from both end of the spectrum, special interest groups and funded by a couple crazy rich guys. They are all over the place and will never find a proper common ground without annihilating a good chunk of their members.

    I don’t think anything good can come out of extremist groups; they tend to leave their brains at home and bring their hearts on hand. This can’t possibly make good politics.