Opinion: Romance between the Tea Party and Republicans not looking good


Jennifer Hutchinson is a freshman political science major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected]

Jennifer Hutchinson

When the Tea Party made its first introduction to the political scene, it was a jolt of energy for the Republican Party. Tea Partiers believed in spending cuts, free enterprise and limited government. With its newfound sense of patriotism and revolutionary appeal, it lent a lot of support to Republicans.

However, this could slowly be changing. After the 2010 midterm elections, the Republican Party was holding strong due to Tea Party energy. Parties usually have small minority groups, which often get swept up in the majority; however, the Tea Party doesn’t want to get brushed off so easily.

It seems the tables have turned and the Tea Party is not as supportive of Republicans as it once was. While refusing to go along with the mainstream Republican platform, the Tea Party has started disengaging itself with Republican goals and taking its own route.

In a March Washington Post-ABC News national poll, it stated that while Tea Party supporters are still more Republican than Democrat, the majority of supporters actually define themselves as Independent.

The numbers break down exactly to 38 percent Republicans, 14 percent Democrats and 39 percent Independents. What was once a positive movement for the Republican Party could now turn out to be a detrimental one. We’ve seen this play out with Speaker of the House John Boehner and the members of his conference.

According to the Washington Post, “time after time over the last three-plus years, Boehner has seen his priorities thwarted by his own conference — roughly four dozen of whom clumped in the tea party wing simply will not support anything he backs.”

For the 2014 Congressional elections, a nonpartisan field poll, conducted last year for The Press-Enterprise and other California media subscribers, found that almost half of California voters think the Tea Party has a negative effect on American politics and two-thirds believe the populist conservative movement will hurt the GOP in the 2014 congressional elections.

Looking ahead to the 2016 election, there are already lines being drawn. Ted Cruz and Rand Paul are still running for the Republican nomination but under a strong Tea Party backing. While Governors Jeb Bush, Scott Walker and Chris Christie, as well as Sen. Marco Rubio R-Fla., will run under the establishment, Republican side.

This divide between minority Tea Partiers and majority, mainstream Republicans could cause problems for the Republican Party in the future.

Assuming that no Tea Party member will win the nomination, the bigger question is, will the Tea Party decide to go along with the Republican Party or march on in its own direction? If the latter happens, it could prove to be detrimental in future elections for Republicans. We could look at split-ticket voting between Republicans and Independents as we did with Perot and Clinton.

Overall, the Tea Party is doing more harm than good according to its own goals and the Republicans Party’s goals. Tea Partiers base much of their opinions on passion rather than rationality. They are focused on an ideology, and when that ideology is not supported 100 percent by Republicans, they look to Democrats, which is never good for anybody.

The Republican Party was once honored to work alongside the Tea Party, but with its often times unbending demands, who is it really helping?