The Tea Party movement shouldn’t need a boost. But it’s received one – from a most unlikely source:
Its foes at the IRS.
Thanks to the IRS’s blatant targeting of Tea Party and other conservative groups, the movement’s popularity has risen nine points since March in a CNN/ORC International survey, and 14 points since January in a Rasmussen Reports poll.
The country is still sharply divided over the movement – but that’s to be expected, after the media assault against it in the past few years. This nation has never seen a mass slander the extent of the one against the good people of the Tea Party, which seeks only to rein in government spending and leave a better country to our children.
Frothy opponents, aided by the news media, leveled unsubstantiated accusations at the movement, while holding its many autonomous groups and individuals to standards of perfection never remotely applied to the far-left “Occupy” forces, which often displayed criminal and thuggish behaviors.
In part due to those massive headwinds, and for a variety of other reasons, the Tea Party lost steam after its big win in the 2010 midterm elections, which even Barack Obama conceded delivered a “shellacking” to him.
To begin with, it’s difficult to sustain grassroots movements and the fervor that fuels them. And the Tea Party was fed to a great extent by citizens who’d rarely if ever protested in their lives.
Many Tea Party supporters also are up there in age – retirees and near-retirees with full and rewarding lives who nonetheless chose to take time to mobilize because they’re desperately worried about our nation’s fiscal recklessness, which threatens the currency, national security and the future living standards of their children and grandchildren.
Then the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of Obamacare – and the Republican Party nominated the one presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, who couldn’t really run against it (since he’d supported a similar policy as governor of Massachusetts).
The 2012 election left conservatives demoralized and disorganized, and the Republican Party doing a public vivisection of itself to find out what went wrong.
Now, though, the three fresh Obama scandals – the IRS targeting by the IRS, the spying on the news media by the Department of Justice and the continued cover-up in the fatal Benghazi attacks – have given the Tea Party new life. Protesters demonstrated outside IRS offices last week in a polite but profound show of anger.
Ironically, the IRS’s attempt to discourage and debilitate the Tea Party movement has actually vindicated it and proved that its concerns about big government were valid. “We were right and the government was wrong,” one Tea Party organizer said.
The question is, what now? Can the various disjointed, self-driven Tea Party groups around the country sustain their efforts this time, particularly heading into the crucial 2014 midterm elections? Or will they sink back into their normal lives, leaving politics to the more motivated?
The Obama administration strategy on these scandals – as it was on its Fast and Furious gun-running scandal – seems to be to wait us all out, hoping we’ll go back to our lives and move on to other things. Will the Tea Party quietly comply?
One thing is for certain: their adversaries on the left will not. They never left swing state Ohio after 2008, for instance. They are relentless. More power to them – literally.
The ultimate question is, who wants it more?