Conservatives once again made their presence felt in Congress yesterday, April 1, 2011.
It was a small gathering of only about 100 demonstrators from the Tea Party Patriots who appeared on Capitol Hill to voice their displeasure with deficit spending run amok. But, despite the lack of numbers, members of Congress are acutely aware of the gigantic iceberg just below the surface of those 100 demonstrators.
The conservative demonstrators showed up at the halls of Congress despite fierce criticism from Democrats. But the Tea Party members were not swayed into submission by liberal critics. “A lot of these people have found their expression in the Tea Party movement. I think that’s a positive development in American politics, and I think our leaders should not be criticizing everyday Americans who decide to express themselves through the political process,” said Marco Rubio (R-Florida).
Having made a mockery of the Democrats’ plans to retain control of the House of Representatives in the mid-term elections, the Tea Party is determined to keep the momentum going their way. Besides the obvious goal of defeating President Barack H. Obama come November of 2012, the Tea Party Express has announced four more targets, two Democrats and two Republicans. Those election targets include Senator Ben Nelson (D – Nebraska), Senator Debbie Stabenow (D – Michigan), Senator Richard Lugar (R – Indiana) and Senator Olympia Snowe (R – Maine). Both Lugar and Snowe are moderates.
The decentralized organization of the Tea Party makes it difficult for Democrats to attack them in the press. There is no titular head of the Tea Party. There are numerous independent organizations all claiming Tea Party membership including, among others, the Tea Party Express, the Tea Party Patriots, and Tea Party Nation. And members of the Tea Party aren’t necessarily Republicans, either – compounding the negative branding problem for Democratic strategists.
As the presidential election season nears, expect the Tea Parties to become ever more active and vocal. It is expected that the Tea Party will have a major influence in determining the Republicans’ slate of candidates for the 2012 elections. The Tea Parties will also undoubtedly exert a great deal of influence on the GOP 2012 platform, as well.
Democrats are pursuing a strategy of labeling Tea Partiers as extremists. But that propaganda strategy has a potential pitfall for Democrats. They can deride the members of the Tea Party as extremist, but come election day, they very well may discover that the Tea Party brand of “extremism” has gone main stream.