The Tea Party: A Brief History [NOOK Book]

Overview

The Tea Party burst on the national political scene in 2009–2010, powered by right-wing grassroots passion and Astroturf big money. Its effect on electoral politics and the political process is undeniable, but the message, aims, and staying power of the loosely organized groups seem less clear. In this concise book, American political historian Ronald P. Formisano probes the remarkable rise of the Tea Party movement during a time of economic crisis and cultural change and ...

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The Tea Party: A Brief History

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Overview

The Tea Party burst on the national political scene in 2009–2010, powered by right-wing grassroots passion and Astroturf big money. Its effect on electoral politics and the political process is undeniable, but the message, aims, and staying power of the loosely organized groups seem less clear. In this concise book, American political historian Ronald P. Formisano probes the remarkable rise of the Tea Party movement during a time of economic crisis and cultural change and examines its powerful impact on American politics.

A confederation of intersecting and overlapping organizations, with a strong connection to the Christian fundamentalist Right, the phenomenon could easily be called the Tea Parties. The American media’s fascination with the Tea Party—and the tendency of political leaders who have embraced the movement to say and do outlandish things—not only has fueled the fire driving the movement, but has diverted attention from its roots, agenda, and the enormous influence it holds over the Republican Party and the American political agenda. Looking at the Tea Party's claims to historical precedent and patriotic values, Formisano locates its anti-state and libertarian impulses deep in American political culture as well as in voter frustrations that have boiled over in recent decades. He sorts through the disparate goals the movement’s different factions espouse and shows that, ultimately, the contradictions of Tea Party libertarianism reflect those ingrained in the broad mass of the electorate.

Throughout American history, third parties, pressure groups, and social movements have emerged to demand reforms or radical change, only to eventually fade away, even if parts of their programs often are later adopted. The Tea Party’s impact as a pressure group has been more immediate. Whether the Tea Party endures remains to be seen. Formisano’s brief history certainly gives us clues.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Though perhaps premature, University of Kentucky history professor Formisano merits attention for providing even-handed perspective on and clarifying misconceptions about America’s recent political phenomenon. The group’s roots, as Formisano suggests, can be found in protest movements dating back to the Whiskey Rebellion, and parallels third parties as recent as those of George Wallace and Ross Perot. Formisano (For the People: American Populist Movements from the Revolution to the 1850s) makes valuable clarifications: the Tea Party and the religious right are not synonymous, and there are factional disputes within. While the billionaire Koch brothers are among the group’s wealthy advocates, Formisano convincingly argues that “the enterprises of many global corporations based in the United States clearly are in implicit conflict with Tea Party positions.” He notes that the group’s relations with the mainstream Republican Party are prickly, with about half holding an unfavorable view of the conservative establishment. However, party supporters are not isolated zealots, and may, like other Americans, only want to gain control over their destinies. His most trenchant observation might have emerged from a Pirandello play: “Its partisans and critics alike, as if reading tea leaves, often see in it what they wish to see.” (Apr.)
Lexington Herald-Leader

Formisano is a highly respected authority on the history of populist movements. In an evenhanded way he writes of the origins of the Tea Party or Tea Parties (there are many competing factions), in resentments against so-called 'elites,' and various alliances and rejections at the grass roots.

Midwest Book Review

A fine and easy introduction to a brand new party and its concepts, recommended for any general collection strong in American history and politics.

Choice

A succinct but enlightening history of the Tea Party in the US.

Booklist - Vanessa Bush

Formisano examines the conditions that gave birth to the Tea Party and whether it is genuinely grassroots or directed by corporate interests and billionaires. A helpful primer on a movement that is changing the American political landscape.

Tenured Radical, Chronicle of Higher Education - Claire Potter

One of the most orderly presentations of this recent history I have read... Take a few hours in the waning days of summer to read The Tea Party: A Brief History so that you can explain to your students why the Paul Ryan candidacy is history in the making.

Choice

A succinct but enlightening history of the Tea Party in the US.

Political Studies Review - Claudia Franziska Bruehwiler

Formisano offers more than a mere primer to the Tea Party's history, In addition to looking behind the movement's founding myths, he establishes interesting links between Christian conservatives' biblical fundamentalism and the constitutional originalism espoused by many Tea Partiers.

Booklist
Formisano examines the conditions that gave birth to the Tea Party and whether it is genuinely grassroots or directed by corporate interests and billionaires. A helpful primer on a movement that is changing the American political landscape.

— Vanessa Bush

Library Journal
One of the biggest questions regarding the Tea Party is its authenticity—is it a real, honest-to-goodness grassroots movement or an "Astroturf" one, with conservative elites pulling the strings? This question takes center stage here. In contrast to Foley's philosophical approach (see above), Formisano (William T. Bryan Chair of American History, Univ. of Kentucky; For the People: American Populist Movements from the Revolution to the 1850s) focuses on the Tea Party movement as a historical and sociological phenomenon, discussing its intellectual underpinnings only when they are pertinent to his larger discussion. He compares the Tea Party to related events in recent American history, e.g., Ross Perot's candidacies for president in 1992 and 1996, finding parallels and contradictions that may help predict the Tea Party's ultimate impact. VERDICT Written in a brisk, journalistic fashion, this informative book is an excellent snapshot of the Tea Party as it seeks to make further inroads in the political arena. Despite its decidedly left-wing point of view, it raises questions that informed voters from all parts of the political spectrum ought to consider as the election season ramps up.—Brett Rohlwing, Washington Park Branch, Milwaukee P.L., WI
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781421406107
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
  • Publication date: 2/14/2012
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 152
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author

Ronald P. Formisano is the William T. Bryan Chair of American History at the University of Kentucky. His most recent book is For the People: American Populist Movements from the Revolution to the 1850s.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii

Introduction 1

1 Reading Tea Leaves 5

Astroturf or Grassroots Populism? 5

Parties, Anti-Parties, and Populism 15

2 The Rise of the Tea Party 24

The Search for the Rosa Parks Moment 24

Media and Money 27

3 Political Payoff in the 2010 Midterm Elections 37

Tea Party Ascendant 37

Evangelicals and the Tea Party 47

4 The Tea Party and the Religious Right 51

Constitutional and Biblical Fundamentalism 52

The Christian Right and Machismo 57

5 The Tea Party and Big Business 63

Libertarian Fundamentalism versus Christian Fundamentalism 63

Developing Strains in the Alliance 74

6 Frustration with Politics as Usual 81

Immediate Precursors of Tea Party Rebellion 81

Libertarianism with Benefits 87

7 The Tea Party and American Political Culture 97

Predictions and Assessments 97

The Roots of the Tea Party's Grassroots 102

Postscript The First Tea Party 118

Notes 127

Index 139

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