News / USA

Republicans Credit Tea Party for Gains in Midterm Election

Rand Paul, a favorite of the Tea Party movement, waves to supporters after winning election as a Republican to the Senate from Kentucky
Rand Paul, a favorite of the Tea Party movement, waves to supporters after winning election as a Republican to the Senate from Kentucky

The U.S. Republican Party enjoyed a major victory in last Tuesday's congressional midterm elections, winning back control of the House of Representatives and gaining seats in the Senate.  Republicans are giving the conservative Tea Party movement a lot of credit for their success, but political analysts say the Tea Party could turn into a mixed blessing in the months ahead.  

The Tea Party is not a political party but more of a grassroots conservative and libertarian movement dedicated to reducing the power and size of the central government in the lives of ordinary Americans.

The Tea Party movement does not have one leader and is made up of hundreds of small activist groups around the country, which in turn helped dozens of Republicans win congressional races on November 2nd.

Among those who benefitted from the Tea Party is the new Senator-elect from Kentucky, Rand Paul. "We've come to take our government back," Paul said.

Paul and other Tea Party favorites like to cite the grassroots nature of the movement, and they in turn have vowed to carry out the Tea Party's aim of smaller government in Washington.

In addition to Rand Paul, Tea Party activists rallied around winning Republican Senate candidates in Pennsylvania, Utah and Florida, where Republican Marco Rubio emerged victorious in a three-way race.

Republican Florida Senator-elect Marco Rubio and his wife Jeanette smile as national TV stations call the race in his favor while watching results in Coral Gables, Florida, 2 Nov. 2010
Republican Florida Senator-elect Marco Rubio and his wife Jeanette smile as national TV stations call the race in his favor while watching results in Coral Gables, Florida, 2 Nov. 2010

But in the wake of his victory, Rubio had a message for fellow Republicans in Washington. "This election is not an embrace of the Republican Party," he said. "It is a second chance to be about principle and values."

Former Republican Congressman Dick Armey of Texas is one of several national organizers of the Tea Party movement.  Armey says Republicans will be held to their campaign promises to cut government spending and taxes and confront President Obama in the months ahead.

"The voters have said to Washington, no, we don't take instructions from you, we don't follow your lead.  You are not in charge.  You are hired hands.  We are in charge and yes, we want action, but we want action on our agenda, on America's agenda," he said.

Not all Tea Party endorsed candidates succeeded.  Republican Senate candidates lost in Nevada and Delaware and experts say that better candidates in those two races might have helped Republicans retake control of the Senate.

Republican leaders have acknowledged the role Tea Party support played in this year's midterm elections, and at least for now they say they welcome the scrutiny of the Tea Party to make sure they deliver on their campaign promises.

"And Tea Party activists will continue to energize our party and challenge us to follow through on our commitments," said Senate Republican leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.

The influx of new senators with allegiances to the Tea Party movement could complicate McConnell's job to unite Republican senators on various issues that come before the Senate.

"It is an activist group and they are going to demand that the party pay heed to their agenda," said Bob Benenson, a senior political analyst for Congressional Quarterly and the Roll Call newspaper. "This is why we voted for you, this is why we worked so hard for you, we want what is coming to us."

Tea Party activists overwhelmingly supported Republican candidates this year and gave the party new life after big congressional losses in 2006 and 2008.

But pollster John Zogby says the increasing influence of the Tea Party could lead to some congressional splits between Tea Party loyalists and moderate Republicans.

"Their first battle is to define the heart and soul of their party," he said. "For Republicans, is it the establishment, inside-the-beltway [Washington] Republican Party, or is it the Tea Party?  And they have got to decide that."

Looking ahead, many analysts expect the Tea Party movement to have a big influence on the battle for the Republican Party's presidential nomination in 2012, with several candidates eager to appeal to a group that has already proven it can mobilize voters.

But University of Virginia expert Larry Sabato says there is a down side to excessive Tea Party influence within the Republican Party. "They are going to try to have a tremendous impact on the Republican side," he said. "They are going to try to pick the nominee.  The problem of course is that the Tea Party is well to the right.  It is further to the right than the country, there is simply no question about that."

Tea Party activists already have in mind several potential presidential contenders for 2012, and at the top of the list are former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and conservative TV talk show host Glenn Beck.

You May Like

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor warns of obesity’s worldwide health impact More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam Wari
X
Katherine Gypson
May 25, 2015 1:32 AM
For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.

VOA Blogs