The tea party has gotten a boost from reports that it was targeted for special scrutiny by the Internal Revenue Service. Support has increased from 28 percent in March to 37 percent in a poll released May 20.
But Christopher S. Parker, the Stuart A. Scheingold Professor of Social Justice and Political Science at the University of Washington, doubts the bump will be long-term. In a new article written for CNN, he says that to remain viable in coming years, the tea party likely will have to play up two issues that resonate with its core: immigration and same-sex marriage.
But there’s a danger to doing that. Parker writes:
The problem is that if the tea party returns to issues proven to fire up the base it will violate at least two of its major tenets: fiscal prudence and smaller government. For instance, the tea party’s position on immigration reform would increase government spending to the tune of $28 billion per year to secure the border. In the case of same-sex rights, the state is called upon to regulate marriage. This would seem to contradict the tea party’s claim that it’s all about fiscal prudence and small government.
Parker, co-author with Matt Barreto of “Change They Can’t Believe In: The Tea Party and Reactionary Politics in America,” says that the main impetus behind much tea party support is resistance to change.
They see America changing too rapidly, both demographically and culturally. American identity is generally identified as white and heterosexual, among other things. Thus, it shouldn’t come as a shock that despite their declared preference for small government, many in the tea party embrace big government when necessary. It’s perhaps the most effective way to police what they perceive as encroachments upon the “American” way of life in which white racial identity and heterosexuality remain the norm. Like American reactionary movements of the past, the tea party resists change of any kind.
Read his entire article here.