Will the Tea Party Movement Shape the Coming Decade?

Even skeptics and foes marvel at the movement's clout

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The Tea Party movement has many detractors. Some call it radical, some dispute its size, others say it's dangerous but few deny its growing influence in the GOP and beyond. In a recent bout of commentary, some pundits who dislike, and in some cases loathe, the Tea Party have marveled at its clout. The latest to join the club is David Brooks, the New York Times' moderate conservative. In his Tuesday column Brooks says that while he's "not a fan of this movement" it may very well "shape the coming decade." Here's how Brooks and other Tea Party opponents are depicting the movement:

  • The Most Popular Party in Town, writes Brooks: "A year ago, the Obama supporters were the passionate ones. Now the tea party brigades have all the intensity... It is now more popular than either major party. According to the NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, 41 percent of Americans have a positive view of the tea party movement. Only 35 percent of Americans have a positive view of the Democrats and only 28 percent have a positive view of the Republican Party."
  • Like 60s Radicals, Tea Party Movement Will Hang Around for Years, writes Bobby Cramer at The Reaction: "Mr. Brooks is right; the tea-baggers will dominate the GOP and could make life very difficult for them, but he's whistling past the graveyard if he thinks it's just for the near term... It will take just as long for the GOP to shed the likes of the loons like Michele Bachmann and Dick Armey as it did for the Democrats to go from Abbie Hoffman to Barack Obama."
  • A Genuine Grassroots Vehicle, writes Mark McKinnon at The Daily Beast. McKinnon, a former McCain adviser, once remarked that untamed Tea Party protests were "bad for Republicans" as long as they allowed "freaks" and "right-wing nutballs" to "fill the void" in the absence of leadership. But now he says they could be crucial to GOP success: "Much of the media and most Democrats are dismissive of what is truly a grassroots movement. But the Tea Party has shown remarkable energy in its short life span... Their ability to leverage energy behind candidates and policies could be very similar to what MoveOn.org has accomplished on the left."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.