Tea Party News and Analysis

Oct 30, 2014, 5:12
clockwise from top left: Tea Party Patriots co-founder Jenny Beth Martin at CPAC 13, Tea Party Senator Ted Cruz speaking at a Government Shutdown rally in Washington DC, Seattle Tea Partiers protest against immigration reform, Tea Party "Day of Resistance" in Salt Lake City, Tea Partiers against the IRS, and Confederate flag flown at Tea Party rally outside White House.
clockwise from top left: Tea Party Patriots co-founder Jenny Beth Martin at CPAC 13, Tea Party Senator Ted Cruz speaking at a Government Shutdown rally in Washington DC, Seattle Tea Partiers protest against immigration reform, Tea Party "Day of Resistance" in Salt Lake City, Tea Partiers against the IRS, and Confederate flag flown at Tea Party rally outside White House.
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Special Report: The Status of the Tea Party Movement - Part One

01.09.2014

Special Report: The Status of the Tea Party Movement
Part One: The Tea Party in 2013

During the month of January 2014, IREHR will publish a multi-segment special report on the current status of the Tea Party movement.  We will track the membership of the principal organizations in the movement—a task undertaken by no organization or agency other than IREHR. We will look at geographic regions where this membership is concentrated.  And we will look at some of the money that keeps this movement in the public eye. In the piece below, we follow the Tea Parties over the course of 2013.

It was a year of countervailing winds and storms. A drive against the great gap in income equality was mounted by fast-food and retail organizing, and it reached into the top policy centers of the country.  At the same time, the Supreme Court cut into the enforcement provisions of the Voting Rights Act, and the state-by-state drive against voting rights by anti-democratic forces gained ground.  The Tea Party movement rose and fell across the year. Though battered and bruised, the core membership of the Tea Party’s national factions continued to expand in 2013, even as public opinion waxed and waned.  The Tea Party cemented its status as an institutional force driving a significant sector of the far right. Moreover, 2013 made it crystal clear that this movement is not about debt and taxes, or even healthcare. It is filled with racists and racism, xenophobes and bigots, and it has had a deleterious effect on political and social questions.  And the portfolio of issues, particularly guns and nativism, expressed a (false) sense of white dispossession.

1. After the 2012 Election

Back in November 2012 the stage was set for difficulties to come in 2013. Despite significant success on Election Day, Tea Partiers were not celebrating as they had in 2010.[1] Of the thirteen U.S. Senate candidates endorsed by national Tea Party groups, eleven had lost. Most glaringly, the Tea Party was unable to defeat its arch-foe, President Obama. Further, Tea Party gains in the House of Representatives did not translate into statewide victories at the ballot box.[2]

A significant sector of Tea Partiers, disillusioned with campaigning and the entire electoral process, loudly called for revolt or secession. In the days after the election, hundreds of thousands of people signed secession petitions at whitehouse.gov. For all their talk about their love of country and “American exceptionalism,”fully half of the national Tea Party factions used their websites to entertain the idea of breaking apart the country to suit their political aims.

During the first days of 2013, their strength was tested again. Tea Party organizations, despite a churlish propaganda effort, were unable to prevent a last minute Congressional deal that walked the country back from the “fiscal cliff.” The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 passed the Senate in the early hours of January 1, and passed the House of Representatives later in the day. Both the Tea Party Patriots and FreedomWorks vehemently opposed the compromise legislation.

As they had done with the debt ceiling fight in 2011, Tea Partiers dug in their heels. In the post-election climate, however, such obstinacy did not hold back the forces willing to compromise.  Undeterred, the Tea Party Patriots began calling for a secret vote amongst members of the Republican caucus in the House to remove Rep. John Boehner as Speaker of the House.[3]

It should be noted that the Tea Party was able to influence public opinion, even as it lost the specific battle. Indeed, virtually the entire budget discussion was framed by the movement’s draconian fiscal agenda. The public discussion was not whether austerity was the right path for the country, but how dramatically deep the cuts should be.

In February 2013, national Tea Party groups faced a conflict within conservative ranks. Former Senior Advisor to President George W. Bush, Karl Rove, announced new fundraising efforts to oppose Tea Party candidates. Jenny Beth Martin, co-founder of Tea Party Patriots lashed back at Rove’s efforts, “Instead of returning to conservative principles, Rove and the consultant class are pouring millions into picking off conservative leaders. Watering down conservative ideas is not a winning strategy.”[4] [Emphasis in Original]

As a result of this series of defeats and obstacles, the movement struggled with its agenda, chased the news cycle, and foundered in its efforts to remain relevant within the national conversation.[5] The Tea Party movement was, once again, written off by liberal opinion-makers as either dead or dying.

Noted columnist E.J. Dionne, writing in the October 25, 2012 edition of Real Clear Politics, declared, “tea party thinking is dead.” A January 28, 2013 story on Daily Kos by “ProgressiveLiberal” began and ended with the simple declarative statement, “The Tea Party movement is dead.”  By July 13, David Graham, writing at Reuters under the title of “Reports of the Tea Party’s Death Have Been Endlessly Exaggerated,” rendered a list of 18 times the Tea Party had been declared dead since 2011. IREHR can add to the Reuters list. 

It should be noted that the inability of liberals and progressives to figure out whether the Tea Party movement is alive or dead is the major reason that no non-partisan, non-electoral effort to counter this movement’s racism has been funded or mounted. Promoting health care reform or comprehensive immigration reform or organizing fast food workers is good and necessary in IREHR’s analysis, but it will not by itself pull the Tea Party movement into the abyss.  That must be done consciously and intentionally.  Indeed, it must be done if human rights advocates are going to win their fights across this country.

It should be noted that the inability of liberals and progressives to figure out whether the Tea Party movement is alive or dead is the major reason that no non-partisan, non-electoral effort to counter this movement’s racism has been funded or mounted. Promoting health care reform or comprehensive immigration reform or organizing fast food workers is good and necessary in IREHR’s analysis, but it will not by itself pull the Tea Party movement into the abyss.  That must be done consciously and intentionally.  Indeed, it must be done if human rights advocates are going to win their fights across this country.

2. The Year of the Gun

In February 2013 the Tea Party movement rebounded again.  First, President Obama’s State of the Union Address, which had featured a vision for expanding the economy to reinvigorate the middle class, and pleas for Congressional votes on comprehensive immigration reform and gun safety proposals had given the movement an initial point around which to pivot. Tea Party Express called upon Senator Rand Paul to give the Tea Party Response to the State of the Union. 

As IREHR first exposed, a “Day of Resistance” gunapalooza was organized nationally on February 23 in opposition to the gun regulation measures Pres. Obama had proposed.  Initiated by a relatively new national Tea Party group--TheTeaParty.net—rallies ranged in size from the eight people standing in the snows of Fairbanks, Alaska; to 260 in Atlanta, Georgia; to 600 in Dallas, Texas; to 800 at the state capitol in Boise, Idaho; to nearly 2000 in Bakersfield, California. IREHR tracked rallies in 118 locations in 38 states.

The zeal with which a sector of Tea Partiers approached these street rallies in defense of “gun rights” was, in part, a rejection of the Republican Party-centric focus of other Tea Parties. After the limited wins and the loss at the presidential level the previous year, some felt that electioneering took them as far as it could.  These Tea Party driven gun rallies succeeded in mobilizing dormant parts of the Tea Party base and attracting some new faces. IREHR’s analysis was that the dynamics inside the Tea Party movement drove it forward.  Simply put: the action faction tired of playing inside Republican Party baseball and wanted to get back in the streets.  The effect, however, was double-edged, entailing an effect on the broader legislative debate while also feeding the fantasies of those further out at the edge.

Tea Party groups and their allies in the NRA and the broader gun lobby stalled any effort to pass widely-supported gun safety legislation, they succeeded in re-shaping public opinion on the issue. Further, a December 4, 2013 CNN / ORC International poll released on the eve of the one-year anniversary of the Newtown shooting, found that support for stricter gun control was down six percent from a year ago. According to the poll, 49% of Americans say they support stricter gun control laws, with 50% opposed.[6]

At the same time, the anger expressed at these Tea Party-backed events went well beyond a public policy dispute over Obama's gun safety recommendations. At the heart of the Tea Party gun obsession is insurrection - including violent fantasies of armed revolt.

These fantasies have become shockingly mainstream. A Public Mind poll by Fairleigh Dickinson University conducted in April 2013 found that twenty-nine percent of registered voters think that an armed revolution might be necessary in the next few years in order to protect liberties.[7] A volatile mix of insurrectionism, secessionist talk, weapons stockpiling, and dreams of armed revolt continued to bubble in Tea Party circles in 2013. And that toxic brew became very real when the FBI foiled a plot by a New York Tea Partier (and Klansman) who was building an x-ray weapon to kills Muslims and possibly the president.

The sudden spread of the pro-gun events overtook many local preparations for commemorations of the anniversary of the Tea Party movement. There were fewer local groups holding fewer rallies marking the anniversary in 2013.  Those which took place were smaller affairs. But that didn’t stop the Tea Party Patriots from raising a million dollars in a ten-day fundraising drive, the “4 years 4 liberty ‘money bomb.’”[8]

3. Inside Baseball: The Tea Party at CPAC

The Tea Party movement’s preeminence inside conservative circles was manifest at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in March. For decades, this event had been a barometer of the weight of different political tendencies within the broader right-wing. At CPAC 13, there were few signs of any so-called “civil war” between the Tea Party and other conservatives. Indeed, Tea Party leaders and Tea Party-supported politicians held sway over the proceedings.

This, the 40th annual conference began with a well-choreographed effort to present a softer, more diverse, conservative movement. Beyond the main hall, however, the façade melted away. In the many conference rooms that the Tea Party dominated, events featured blatant racism, homophobia, sexism, Islamophobia and the militia impulse.

Despite concerted efforts to sweep it all under the rug, this year’s CPAC showed a Tea Party-lead movement expressed a heightened sense of white dispossession.

Tea Party and Tea Party-aligned groups made up a sizable number of the partners, sponsors, and exhibitors at the event. Four different Tea Party national networks had a presence. Tea Party Patriots had the biggest footprint at CPAC 13. The group was one of nine official CPAC 13 top-level “partners” (a $50,000 + contribution level). Despite the group’s well-documented problems with racism, Tea Party Nation, was also allowed to be an official exhibitor. During the conference Tea Party Nation also partnered with the Tea Party Express to hold a reception for conference attendees.  Not to be left out, Tea Party News Network (TPNN) was also an official partner. This is the web outfit run by Todd Cefaratti, the man behind the TheTeaParty.net. They provided free Wi-Fi for all the CPAC attendees. Conspicuously absent, however, was FreedomWorks. The group was still reeling from a leadership struggle which lead to the ouster of its founder, Dick Armey.

Throughout the conference the Tea Party factions re-introduced ideas and personalities that had been long cast out back into “respectable” conservative circles. For instance, one Tea Party Patriots sponsored workshop featured far-right former sheriff, Richard Mack, the former Graham County, Arizona sheriff popular in white supremacist and militia circles in the 1990s.
CPAC offered a stunning confirmation that the Tea Party movement—if not all its constituent organizations—was alive and dangerous. This movement had become an institutional force driving a significant sector of the far right.

4. The Tea Party’s Slavery Problem Inside and Outside CPAC

Racism exploded in the Tea Party Patriots workshop at CPAC, “Trump the Race Card: Are You Sick and Tired of Being Called a Racist and You Know You’re Not One?” The panel was intended to teach conservatives how to defend themselves from charges that they are racist.  It quickly devolved into mayhem when the room shouted down a liberal black woman, and an audience member stood to demand justice for white voters and to argue that the slaves should have been grateful to slave owners for food and shelter.[9]  It might be easier to dismiss this pro-slavery blow-up as an aberration if it hadn’t become a systemic problem for the Tea Party—inside and outside the halls of CPAC 13.

The problem of racism simmered at another Tea Party Patriots workshop at CPAC, “The Making of America: The Substance and Meaning of the Constitution.” This workshop was led by Tea Party Patriots National Support Team Constitutional Coordinator, Bill Norton. He also serves as a “Master Instructor” for the National Center for Constitutional Studies (NCCS). Founded by long-time John Birch Society supporter W. Cleon Skousen, NCCS had foundered on the fringes of the far-right for decades, but was given new life and new-found respectability inside the halls of CPAC thanks to the Tea Party, and cheerleaders like Glenn Beck.

The cornerstone of the Tea Party Patriots workshop was Skousen’s book, The Making of America. The book includes an essay on slavery that argued that, “abolitionist delay[ed-ed] the emancipation process,” and that the standard of treatment was “humane.” Further, a graphic in the 1986 edition of the book claims, “The economic system of slavery chained the slave owners almost as much as the slaves.”

These ideas are not off-the-cuff ramblings or out-of-context remarks. It’s very much at the core of the Constitution trainings that Tea Party Patriots provided at CPAC, and at events around the country. 

These ideas are not off-the-cuff ramblings or out-of-context remarks. It’s very much at the core of the Constitution trainings that Tea Party Patriots provided at CPAC, and at events around the country. 

Tea Party Patriots and NCCS have worked closely together. And the two groups share a staff member. In 2011, the two groups collaborated on a project to push their distorted and inaccurate interpretation of the Constitution on young people through the “Adopt-a-School Constitution Week Education Program.” In October 2013, they again teamed up again for “Operation Gratitude” to provide 50,000 pocket Constitutions to troops. Tea Party Patriots relies on NCCS staff and materials for their “Making of America” seminars, which have been held across the country for many different Tea Party Patriots locally affiliated groups. TPP’s Norton himself claims to have given the NCCS “Making of America” training “over 100 times in more than 40 states.”[10]

Norton wasn’t the only NCCS leader on the Tea Party speaking circuit. Alabama NCCS leader John Eidsmoe appeared at local Tea Party events. In 2010, Eidsmoe’s presence at meetings of the white nationalist Council of Conservative Citizens, and his belief that slavery is ordained by God came to light.[11] In 2010, those things got Eidsmoe disinvited from a Wisconsin Tea Party event. By 2013, he was back in the mix.

One of the Tea Party movement’s most significant accomplishments has been pushing NCCS and their ideas moved out of the margins to impact real life. In Texas, for instance, Tea Party activists helped push through a radical revision of the social studies curriculum which mirrored materials created by NCCS.[12]

These issues did not stay confined within the walls of the CPAC conference. The pro-slavery comments at CPAC were just the tip of the racist iceberg.

It’s not just the waving of the Confederate battle flag at rallies or the incessant chatter about secession and nullification. It’s not just the minimizing of horrors of slavery (like when Ben Carson declared that Obamacare was “the worst thing that has happened since slavery”). It’s not just the repeated references to the Civil War as the “War of Northern Aggression” or “the War to Enslave the States.”  In 2013, the Tea Party movement had an honest-to-goodness problem understanding slavery.

It came to light in late 2012 that Arkansas Tea Party state representative Jon Hubbard had written a book which argued that “… the institution of slavery that the black race has long believed to be an abomination upon its people may actually have been a blessing in disguise. The blacks who could endure those conditions and circumstances would someday be rewarded with citizenship in the greatest nation ever established upon the face of the Earth.”[13]

In another instance, Tea Party-backed Arkansas State Representative Loy Mauch claimed, “If slavery were so God-awful, why didn’t Jesus or Paul condemn it, why was it in the Constitution and why wasn’t there a war before 1861? The South has always stood by the Constitution and limited government. When one attacks the Confederate Battle Flag, he is certainly denouncing these principles of government as well as Christianity.”[14]

In October, a Tea Party candidate for Nevada state assembly told a local GOP event that “yeah, I would” vote to bring back slavery if that’s what his constituents wanted.[15]

Then there’s Art Robinson, a Tea Party-backed candidate in Oregon, whose company, Robinson Books, sells books that claim slavery wasn’t so bad and that Africans are like retarded children.  For instance, one book currently printed, sold and promoted by Robinson is With Lee In Virginia by George Alfred Henty, which argues "the negroes on a well-ordered estate, under kind masters, were probably a happier class of people than the laborers upon any estate in Europe.”[16]  (The book is also sold on Amazon.)

In December, a New Mexico county tea party leader tweeted a meme suggesting the African Americans use slavery for "bitching and moaning about how the world owes them a living."[17]

In May, the governor of South Carolina was forced to remove a co-chair of her statewide grassroots re-election steering committee, Roan Garcia Quintana, after it came to light that this particular Tea Party leader also sat on the board of the largest white nationalist organization in the country.[18] Roan Garcia-Quintana sits on the National Board of Directors of the Council of Conservative Citizens (CofCC). This white nationalist group is the direct lineal descendant of the white Citizens Councils that fought to defend Jim Crow segregation during the 1950s and 1960s.[19]

The sheer magnitude of this reoccurring problem with race confirms IREHR’s analysis that the Tea Party movement acts to reinforce and legitimize racism in our society.  As IREHR has pointed out previously, as this movement has grown, racism among white people directed against black people and other people of color has risen more than five percentage points, according to poll results.The Tea Party movement has to be held to account for this growing problem.

The sheer magnitude of this reoccurring problem with race confirms IREHR’s analysis that the Tea Party movement acts to reinforce and legitimize racism in our society. As IREHR has pointed out previously, as this movement has grown, racism among white people directed against black people and other people of color has risen more than five percentage points, according to poll results.[20] The Tea Party movement has to be held to account for this growing problem.

5. IRS “Scandal” and Tea Party Victimhood

By May, it was apparent that movement momentum had slowed.  Then along came the so-called IRS Scandal that reignited Tea Party passions. A government report, mixed with Tea Party distortions, created this so-called scandal, which re-ignited the anger of Tea Partiers, encouraged their (false) sense of victimhood, and increase their ranks.

A May 14 draft report by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration found that none of 296 questionable applicants had been denied.[21] Moreover, the Inspector General’s report found that in the “majority of cases, we agreed that the applications submitted included indications of significant political campaign intervention.”[22] In fact, only 91 of the 296, roughly 31%, of the applications reviewed for the report did not have “indications of significant political campaign intervention.” In other words, more than two thirds of those flagged for processing by a team of specialists had those indications. As IREHR noted at the time, many of the Tea Party groups crying foul had engaged in questionable political activity that may have disqualified those groups from obtaining non-profit status.[23]

Despite the fact that two of the national factions are for-profit corporations (Tea Party Nation, Patriot Action Network), and a third claims to be a non-profit but is not listed with the IRS (1776 Tea Party), all of them got into the act with the IRS scandal. FreedomWorks likened the IRS to “Third World Juntas” and turned the issue into an attack on Obamacare.[24] Having the closest relationship to the locally affiliated Tea Party groups at the heart of the controversy, Tea Party Patriots led way with a May 16 press conference.

Four days later, national Tea Party groups called for hastily organized “Rein in the IRS” protests. The Tea Party Patriots sounded the horn for “anyone and everyone to protest the IRS’ complete abuse of power.”[25]

The effort was also used to fuse anger over several different political issues, from the Affordable Care Act to immigrants. For instance, in sample Letters to the Editor they distributed, the Tea Party Patriots linked the IRS controversy with their attack on comprehensive immigration reform.  “The IRS's abuse of power highlights why the Senate needs to slow down with its amnesty bill.  We simply cannot trust bureaucrats to make the right decisions.  Immigration policy is too complex and too important for us to delegate to a group of bureaucrats who may be pursuing an agenda that doesn't match Americans' best interest.”[26]

Attention lavished on the protests painted the Tea Party as victims’ and reshaped public opinion of the movement. A Rasmussen poll taken the day of the protests found that 44% of likely voters had a favorable opinion of the Tea Party movement, a jump up of 14% points since January.  A second poll by CNN/ORC International on May 17 found that 37% of the public—a broader sample than just voters—supported the Tea Party, a jump up of eleven percentage points—to the highest level CNN had measured since 2010. CNN’s Political Ticker quoted several sources, including Tea Party leaders, who claimed that the IRS “scandal” had given the Tea Partiers a lift up. The CNN data also showed that the highest level of support was in the South and West (the locations of the highest concentration of Tea Party members).[27]

On June 19, the Tea Party Patriots rallied on Capitol Hill to press its case against the IRS and to stem the push towards comprehensive immigration reform. Despite the relatively poor turnout at the Tea Party Patriots “Audit the IRS” rally, the Tea Party gained a significant victory in their battle against the IRS. Political pressure placed on the IRS by Tea Party groups already succeeded in allowing Tea Party groups to get away with significant amounts of questionable political activity. As the controversy reached a fever pitch, the IRS caved again. Instead of clarifying the limits of "political intervention" for 501(c)(4) non-profit groups or allocating new resources to put an end to the practice,  the IRS decided that the same Tea Party groups were allowed to “self-certify” that they’re not engaged in political activity.[28]

In October, the IRS gave in again and awarded 501(c)4 non-profit status to Stop the Insanity, Inc., the parent of TheTeaParty.net, even though the organization was originally a political action committee.[29]

6. Tea Party Nativism Ramps Up

By late June, most of the national Tea Party factions were pivoting away from the IRS to immigration. As IREHR has warned repeatedly, most thoroughly in Beyond FAIR: The Decline of the Established a Anti-Immigrant Organizations and the Rise of Tea Party Nativism, the Tea Party movement became the largest obstacle to the passage of comprehensive immigration reform.

After the Senate overwhelmingly passed a compromise bill on June 27, Tea Party groups mobilized to prevent a vote in the House of Representatives. Once again, the Tea Party triumphed over conservative voices who recognized the need to appeal to Latino voters and support immigration reform.

7. Orchestrating the Shutdown

On July 25, the Tea Party Patriots announced to members that “The final battle for Obamacare has begun.” In reality, Tea Party groups had been digging in since May for another epic fight over using the threat of not raising the debt ceiling to defund the Affordable Care Act.

In August, FreedomWorks outlined the master plan, and wrote that the continuing resolution due to expire September 30 "must be renewed in order for the doors to stay open in Washington. The CR is the best chance we will get to withdraw funds from Obamacare. This can be done by attaching bills by Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) or Congressman Tom Graves (R-GA) to the CR, which will totally defund Obamacare." He added, "Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) and Congressman Mark Meadows (R-NC) are leading the charge to get their colleagues to commit to this approach, by putting their signatures to a letter affirming that they will refuse to vote for a CR that contains Obamacare funding...."[30]

Nearly a month before Tea Party Senator Ted Cruz held his 21-hour fake filibuster, he held tele-town hall meetings with Tea Party groups, further laying out the strategy of resistance that dominated the last months of 2013, and led to the shutdown of the government.[31]

Tea Party-backed obstinance shut down the federal government on October 1, and kept it closed for seventeen days.

As the fight over the government shutdown and raising the debt ceiling entered the final critical weekend the Tea Party went into overdrive.

On October 12, leaders of Tea Party Patriots and FreedomWorks joined talk-show host Glenn Beck, and the core of the Tea Party bloc in Congress, Senator Mike Lee, and Representatives Steve King, Michele Bachmann, and Louie Gohmert, for a “Fix Up D.C.” photo-op picking up trash on the National Mall. Both events latched onto apolitical demonstrations of concern about the impact of the shutdown and turned them into Tea Party street theatre.

Fresh off a campaign stop in New Jersey, the Tea Party Express bus rolled into Washington DC the next day for an event billed as the “Million Vet March on the Memorials.” Angry Tea Partiers threw aside barricades erected at the World War II Memorial, which had been shuttered due to the Tea Party-inspired government shutdown, to hold their gathering. After the World War II Memorial, protestors were off to the Lincoln Memorial, then off to Lafayette Square across from the White House where they dumped barricades into a heap.

The Tea Party Express-supported rally drew only a few hundred Tea Party diehards. In the crowd, the Confederate Battle Flag and the flag of the far-right group Oath Keepers flew alongside the yellow Gadsden “Don’t Tread on Me” flags and a multitude of signs calling for the impeachment of president Obama. The vitriolic atmosphere did not deter Tea Party backed politicians including former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin and Senators Ted Cruz and Mike Lee from attending the event.

Speaking at the rally, Larry Klayman of FreedomWatch, told the crowd that president Obama “bows down to Allah.” He went on to urge the crowd to revolt, “I call upon all of you to wage a second American nonviolent revolution, to use civil disobedience, and to demand that this president leave town, to get up, to put the Quran down, to get up off his knees, and to figuratively come out with his hands up.” The Tea Party crowd applauded Klayman’s remarks.

The bombast from national Tea Party organizations and their allies on Capitol Hill convinced 69% of self-identified Tea Party Republicans that the US "can go past the [debt default] deadline ... without major economic problems."[32]

8. Culture Wars Continue

Lest the continued cultural influence of the Tea Party be forgotten, as the year wound down another example leapt onto the headlines. When the A&E cable network suspended the patriarch of the popular reality TV program "Duck Dynasty" for homophobic and racist remarks, the Tea Party rallied to his defense.[33]

Within a week of the suspension, A&E announced on December 27 that they had reversed their decision and that Phil Robertson would return to the show.

In defending Robertson, Judson Phillips, the founder of Tea Party Nation, attacked the LGBT group, GLAAD, calling them "fascists," "Nazis," and "the Gaystapo."[34] Summing up the latest skirmish in the culture war, Phillips added, "The empty morals of New York and LA had met real Americans on the battlefield of the culture wars and they lost badly because the Robertsons and millions of real Americans would not surrender."[35]

These events, in a nutshell, captured the ideological strains running through the Tea Party movement, and the outsized influence the movement has on politicians and public policy. The government shutdown debacle cut back public support for the Tea Party movement to the level it had maintained prior to the IRS “scandal” the previous May.  But it did not kill this movement, and in IREHR’s next installment, we will provide data and hard numbers to back our analysis of this persistent problem.

Notes

[1]. In 2012, 80% of Tea Party endorsed candidates in the House of Representatives were victorious. Devin Burghart, “Tea Party Endorsed Candidates and Election 2012,” Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights website, November 14, 2012, http://www.irehr.org/issue-areas/tea-party-nationalism/tea-party-news-and-analysis/item/442-tea-party-endorsed-candidates-and-election-2012.

[2]. For full results see, Devin Burghart, “Tea Party Endorsed Candidates and Election 2012,” Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights website, November 14, 2012, http://www.irehr.org/issue-areas/tea-party-nationalism/tea-party-news-and-analysis/item/442-tea-party-endorsed-candidates-and-election-2012.

[3]. Tea Party Patriots, “Tea Party Patriots Call for Secret Ballot so Members Can Vote Conscience on Next Speaker,” Tea Party Patriots website, January 3, 2013, http://www.teapartypatriots.org/2013/01/tea-party-patriots-call-for-secret-ballot-so-members-can-vote-conscience-on-next-speaker/.

[4]. Tea Party Patriots, “Tea Party Patriots News Release: Rove’s Republicanism a Failure; Waste of Donors’ Money,” Tea Party Patriots website, February 4, 2013, http://www.teapartypatriots.org/2013/02/tea-party-patriots-news-release-roves-republicanism-a-failure-waste-of-donors-money/.

[5]. Tea Party Express, “Senator Rand Paul to Deliver Tea Party SOTU,” Tea Party Express website, February 5, 2013, http://www.teapartyexpress.org/6369/senator-rand-paul-to-deliver-tea-party-response-to-sotu.

[6]. “CNN | ORC Poll, conducted November 18-20, 2013,” CNN website, December 4, 2013, http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2013/images/12/04/cnn.poll.gun.control.pdf.

[7]. Farleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind Poll, “BELIEFS ABOUT SANDY HOOK COVER-UP, COMING REVOLUTION UNDERLIE DIVIDE ON GUN CONTROL,” Farleigh Dickinson University website, May 1, 2013, http://www.fdu.edu/newspubs/publicmind/2013/guncontrol/final.pdf.

[8]. Tea Party Patriots, “Tea Party Patriots Hit $1 Million in Fundraiser Celebrating Four-Year Anniversary,” Tea Party Patriots website, February 27, 2013, http://www.teapartypatriots.org/2013/02/tea-party-patriots-hit-1-million-in-fundraiser-celebrating-four-year-anniversary/.

[9]. Devin Burghart, “Inside CPAC 2013: Bigotry Gone Wild,” Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights website, March 22, 2013, http://www.irehr.org/issue-areas/race-racism-and-white-nationalism/item/472-inside-cpac-2013.

[10]. Tea Party Patriots, “Speakers Bureau: Bill Norton,” Tea Party Patriots website, undated, last accessed December 1, 2013, http://www.teapartypatriots.org/speakers-bureau/bill-norton/.

[11]. Associated Press, “Author won’t attend tea party rally,” Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal Sentinel, April 8, 2010, http://www.jsonline.com/news/wisconsin/90270172.html#ixzz2kU8KnZOx.

[12]. James C. McKinley Jr., “Texas Conservatives Win Curriculum Change,” New York Times, March 12, 2012, http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/13/education/13texas.html.

[13].Carrie Healey, “Arkansas Republican Jon Hubbard: Slavery was ‘a blessing in disguise’ for African-Americans,” The Grio website, October 8, 2012, http://thegrio.com/2012/10/08/arkansas-republican-jon-hubbard-slavery-was-a-blessing-in-disguise-for-africa-americans/.

[14]. Max Brantley, “Loy Mauch update: The Republican rep is on record on slavery, too,” Arkansas Times, October 6, 2012, http://www.arktimes.com/ArkansasBlog/archives/2012/10/06/loy-mauch-update-the-republican-rep-is-on-record-on-slavery-too.

[15].David Ferguson, “Nevada tea party Republican: ‘Yeah, I would’ vote to bring back slavery,” The Raw Story website, October 29, 2013,  http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/10/29/nevada-tea-party-republican-yeah-i-would-vote-to-bring-back-slavery/.

[16]. Bruce Wilson, “Slavery wasn't so bad, says book published by OR Republican Party Chair,” Talk to Action website, August 20, 2013, http://www.talk2action.org/story/2012/9/18/115343/926.

[17]. Robin Wilkey, “Tea Party Leader's Tweet Suggests Blacks Stop 'Bitching And Moaning' About Slavery,” The Huffington Post website, December 18, 2013,  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/18/tea-party-racist-tweet_n_4467221.html.

[18]. Garcia-Quintana, a Cuba-born activist, is involved in several local Tea Party groups. He is registered as member on the Patriot Action Network (ResistNet) Tea Party faction website. Devin Burghart, “Roan Garcia-Quintana,” Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights website, September 26, 2010, http://www.irehr.org/issue-areas/tea-party-nationalism/tea-party-news-and-analysis/item/342-roan-garcia-quintana.

[19]. Devin Burghart, “White Nationalist Tea Partier Co-Chairing South Carolina Governor Re-Election Committee,” Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights website, May 24, 2013, http://www.irehr.org/issue-areas/tea-party-nationalism/tea-party-news-and-analysis/item/484-haley-appoints-garcia-quintana.

[20]. See, for instance, Sonya Ross and Jennifer Agiesta, “AP POLL: MAJORITY HARBOR PREJUDICE AGAINST BLACKS,” Associated Press website, October 27, 2012, http://bigstory.ap.org/article/ap-poll-majority-harbor-prejudice-against-blacks; and Thomas B. Edsall, “The Persistence of Racial Resentment,” The New York Times website, February 6, 2013, http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/02/06/the-persistence-of-racial-resentment/?smid=fb-share.

[21]. Devin Burghart, “The Tea Party and the IRS ‘Scandal’ The Actual Facts of the Case,” Institute for Research and education on Human Rights website,” May 17, 2013, http://www.irehr.org/issue-areas/tea-party-nationalism/tea-party-news-and-analysis/item/482-tea-party-irs-scandal.

[22]. Ibid.

[23]. See, for instance, Devin Burghart, “The Tea Party and the IRS ‘Scandal’ The Actual Facts of the Case,” Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights website,“ May 17, 2013, http://www.irehr.org/issue-areas/tea-party-nationalism/tea-party-news-and-analysis/item/482-tea-party-irs-scandal; Devin Burghart, “Tea Party Group Protesting IRS Has History of Questionable Political Involvement,” Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights website, May 21, 2013, http://www.irehr.org/issue-areas/tea-party-nationalism/tea-party-news-and-analysis/item/483-tea-party-group-protesting-irs-has-history-of-questionable-political-involvement; Devin Burghart, “The Real Cincinnati IRS Scandal,” Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights website, June 18, 2013, http://www.irehr.org/issue-areas/tea-party-nationalism/tea-party-news-and-analysis/item/496-the-real-cincinnati-irs-scandal.

[24].David Yonkman, “FreedomWorks Likens IRS Scandal to 'Third World Juntas',” Newsmax website, May 13, 2013, http://www.newsmax.com/newsfront/freedomworks-irs-scandal-kibbe/2013/05/13/id/504191#ixzz2nie166YC.

[25]. Tea Party Patriots, “IRS Protests,” Tea Party Patriots website, May 2013, http://www.teapartypatriots.org/irs-protests/.

[26].Tea Party Patriots, “Letter to the Editor – IRS Abuse of Power” Tea Party Patriots website, May 2013, http://www.teapartypatriots.org/letter-to-the-editor-irs-abuse-of-power/.

[27]. Paul Steinhauser,” CNN Poll: Tea party gets boost from IRS controversy,” CNN Political Ticker website, May 20, 2013, http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2013/05/20/cnn-poll-tea-party-gets-boost-from-irs-controversy/.

[28]. Devin Burghart, “Tea Party Victory in Battle Against IRS,” Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights website, June 24, 2013, http://www.irehr.org/issue-areas/tea-party-nationalism/tea-party-news-and-analysis/item/498-tea-party-victory-in-battle-against-irs.

[29].Paul Berard, “Three years later, TheTeaParty.net finally gets IRS tax-exempt OK,” Washington Examiner website, October 2, 2013, http://washingtonexaminer.com/three-years-later-theteaparty.net-finally-gets-irs-tax-exempt-ok/article/2536672.

[30].Joshua Withrow, “Have Your Members of Congress Signed the ‘Defund ObamaCare’ Letter? Find Out Here!” FreedomWorks website, August 14, 2013, http://www.freedomworks.org/blog/jwithrow/does-your-senator-stand-with-mike-lee-against-obam.

[31]. Tea Party Patriots, “Delaying Obamacare: A tele-town hall with Senator Cruz and Representative Bridenstine,” Tea Part Patriots website, August 2, 2013, http://www.teapartypatriots.org/2013/08/delaying-obamacare-a-tele-town-hall-with-senator-cruz-and-representative-bridenstine/.

[32]. Pew Research Center, “As Debt Limit Deadline Nears, Concern Ticks Up but Skepticism Persists Despite Image Problems, GOP Holds Ground on Key Issues,” Pew Research Center website, October 15, 2013, http://www.people-press.org/files/legacy-pdf/10-15-13%20Debt%20Ceiling%20Political%20Release.pdf.

[33]. See for instance, Lloyd Marcus, “Danger, Danger Phil Robertson! Do Not Kiss Jackson’s Ring,” Tea Party Express website, December 27, 2013, http://www.teapartyexpress.org/7323/danger-danger-phil-robertson-do-not-kiss-jacksons-ring.

[34]. Judson Phillips, “From Almost Complete Victory to Total Defeat!,” Tea Party Nation website, December 28, 2013, http://www.teapartynation.com/forum/topics/from-almost-complete-victory-to-total-defeat.

[35]. Ibid.
Last modified on 01.10.2014
Devin Burghart

is vice president of IREHR. He coordinates our Seattle office, directs our research efforts, and manages our online communications. He has researched, written, and organized on virtually all facets of contemporary white nationalism since 1992, and is internationally recognized for this effort. Devin is frequently quoted as an expert by print, broadcast, and online media outlets. In 2007, he was awarded a Petra Foundation fellowship. more...

Follow him on twitter: @dburghart

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