The New York Times Book Review
The Tea Party and the Remaking of Republican Conservatismby Theda Skocpol, Vanessa Williamson
On February 19, 2009, CNBC commentator Rick Santelli delivered a dramatic rant against Obama administration programs to shore up the plunging housing market. Invoking the Founding Fathers and ridiculing "losers" who could not pay their mortgages, Santelli called for "Tea Party" protests. Over the next two years, conservative activists took to the streets and airways,… See more details below
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On February 19, 2009, CNBC commentator Rick Santelli delivered a dramatic rant against Obama administration programs to shore up the plunging housing market. Invoking the Founding Fathers and ridiculing "losers" who could not pay their mortgages, Santelli called for "Tea Party" protests. Over the next two years, conservative activists took to the streets and airways, built hundreds of local Tea Party groups, and weighed in with votes and money to help right-wing Republicans win electoral victories in 2010.
In this penetrating new study, Harvard University's Theda Skocpol and Vanessa Williamson go beyond images of protesters in Colonial costumes to provide a nuanced portrait of the Tea Party. What they find is sometimes surprising. Drawing on grassroots interviews and visits to local meetings in several regions, they find that older, middle-class Tea Partiers mostly approve of Social Security, Medicare, and generous benefits for military veterans. Their opposition to "big government" entails reluctance to pay taxes to help people viewed as undeserving "freeloaders" - including immigrants, lower income earners, and the young. At the national level, Tea Party elites and funders leverage grassroots energy to further longstanding goals such as tax cuts for the wealthy, deregulation of business, and privatization of the very same Social Security and Medicare programs on which many grassroots Tea Partiers depend. Elites and grassroots are nevertheless united in hatred of Barack Obama and determination to push the Republican Party sharply to the right.
The Tea Party and the Remaking of Republican Conservatism combines fine-grained portraits of local Tea Party members and chapters with an overarching analysis of the movement's rise, impact, and likely fate.
The New York Times Book Review
The Washington Post
"[E]xceptionally informative." -- Timothy Noah, The New York Times Book Review
"The authors pepper firsthand anecdotes with extensive-and at times weighty-statistical and polling data...A timely study of a contemporary movement and its far-reaching effects on politics and policy." --Kirkus Reviews
"Readers interested in grassroots political organizations, the influence of outside interests on political parties, or the Tea Party itself, as well as those whose leanings fall elsewhere on the political spectrum will find this an eye-opening book." --Library Journal
"This is an indispensable guide to the Tea Party phenomenon, and also an excellent demonstration of the power of first-hand research to add a richness of understanding that survey results can't provide. By spending patient time with Tea Party activists around the country, Skocpol and Williamson have been able to create a far fuller picture of the Tea Party than we have had before." --Nicholas Lemann, Dean, and Henry R. Luce Professor of Journalism, Graduate School of Journalism, Columbia University
"This important book will draw fire from both the political left and right, for contrary to the denunciations of liberal commentators, the Tea Party is not a motley collection of racist crazies. And contrary to the praise of conservative commentators, the Tea Party is not a pure grass-roots citizens' movement. Skocpol and Williamson provide a much-needed dose of analysis that begins to balance out the polemics that dominate discussion of the Tea Party." --Morris P. Fiorina, Wendt Family Professor of Political Science, Stanford University
"Skocpol and Williamson have produced the richest, most nuanced portrait of the Tea Party since it burst onto the political scene in early 2009. Drawing on a wealth of observational, interview, survey, and web-based research, their analysis and presentation is both sympathetic with the participatory ethic of the Tea Partiers and critical of the way they have been used by conservative advocacy groups and press outlets to breed misinformation and shift the Republican agenda sharply to the right. A must-read book for the 2012 election season." --Thomas Mann, Brookings Institution, co-author of The Broken Branch: How Congress is Failing America and How to Get It Back on Track
"An interesting look at an influential political movement." --Booklist
"[A] fine-grained nuance and thoughtfulness that resonates." -- Publishers Weekly
"Until three years ago, we knew the tea party as a long-ago event in Boston Harbor, aimed at a government across the Atlantic. In 2010, a new tea party stretched from the Atlantic to the Pacific and was aimed directly at Washington. That event changed the Republican Party, the United States Congress, and the Obama presidency. This book delves deeply into what happened in 2010, why it happened, and what the Tea Party means for the future of American politics. It's a book every student of American politics should read." -Mickey Edwards, author of The Modern Conservative Movement
"...the best academic work on the Tea Party" - David Frum, The Daily Beast
"Skocpol and Williamson have provided us with an excellent roadmap to trace where it came from, where it has been, and where it might be going." --Contemporary Sociology
- Oxford University Press, USA
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Meet the Author
Theda Skocpol is the Victor S. Thomas Professor of Government and Sociology at Harvard University, a member of the National Academy of Sciences, and past president of the American Political Science Association.
Vanessa Williamson is a PhD candidate in Government and Social Policy at Harvard University. Previously, she served as the Policy Director for Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.
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