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Was the Tea Party Movement Effective?

Devon Bowers
English 2010-017
Salt Lake Community College

Protests across the United States and the world have led to change, many have been
successful and other protests may be more effective than others. There are many different things
that need to happen to get a protest or movement organized. Such as organization, structure,
recruiting, and a host of other logistical needs for the protesters. When they do get organized and
running, constant progress can be tough. There are many ways that could lead to a successful
movement. Instead of analyzing multiple protests and movements, this literature review will
analyze one movement, the 2009 Tea Party Movement.
The financial meltdown of the housing market of 2008 essentially spawned the Tea Party
Movement. The economy was in ruin and the president of the United States began to spend large
amounts of money to try to stabilize the economy. People began to worry about the constant
spending of so much money. It wasnt until a CNBC reporter named Rick Santelli made a rant on
live television about the way the federal government was spending its money on bailing
homeowners out of their mortgages (Skocpol & Williamson 2012).
With Rick Santellis rant, it made people get out in public and raise awareness of what the
government was doing. There are some that think the Tea Party did more harm than good. Like
that of Marc Ambinder of the Atlantic Magazine, who said wherever the tea party has been
active, has actually strengthened the democratic candidates instead of the republican candidates
(Ambinder 2010). There have been a lot of competitive elections in the year of 2010, a study
conducted analyzing the Tea Party Movement agrees with Ambinder, to some degree, that the
democratic candidates were strengthened and the republican candidate was weakened. However,
in the study conducted by Skocpol, Williamson, and Coggin, they determined the tea party both
helped and hurt the GOP in 2010 (Skocpol, Williamson, & Coggin).

Alan Abramowitz agrees in part that the Tea Party movement poses serious risks for the
GOP in areas that are not solidly Republican by supporting candidates whose views are far to
the right of the overall electorate. Abramowitz says that because supporters voted for someone
whose views were so far right that not even the Republican base would vote for the tea party
candidates. Raju and Martin reported in Politico that many conservative senators said that party
purists like Sarah Palin and Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) had foolishly pushed nominees too
conservative to win in politically competitive states (Raju & Martin 2010). This has been a
common theme from many sources, apparently the tea partys core values were so far right that
there was a possibility of the movement causing more negative than positive in some competitive
Project Reflection
This topic began with Colin Kaepernick and his protest, I thought about
his protest which consisted of kneeling during the national anthem and
wondered if that was the best way to make a protest? Was there more
disrespect toward the flag than there was for raising awareness about social
injustice? Because it was a current event there was almost no academic
studies done about it. So I expanded my search towards other protests, were
protests in general effective? I explored many other protests and found that
the Tea party seemed to be good topic to narrow down towards. The tea
party movement was interesting to me because they were able to win a lot
but also came with it a lot of studies of their own failures.

Abramowitz, A. I. (October 22, 2010). Emory University. Partisan Polarization and the Rise of
the Tea Party Movement. Retrieved from
Ambinder, M. (May 28, 2010). Has the Tea Party Done Anything for the GOP? The Atlantic.
Retrieved from
Raju, M. & Martin, J. (11/03/2010). GOP Senators fight over failure. Politico. Retrieved from
Skocpol, T., Williamson, V., & Coggin, J., (2012). The Tea Party and the Remaking of
Republican Conservatism. Oxford University Press. Retrieved from
Skocpol, T. & Williamson, V. (2012). The Tea Party and the Remaking of Republican
Conservatism. Oxford University Press. Retrieved from