The shutdown is over. What next for the Tea Party?


Never far from controversy, The Tea Party appear to have surpassed all previous efforts after their firebrand politics nearly forced the US government to default on its debts.

Edward Luce, of the Financial Times, summarises general opinion of the Tea Party when he says, “Forrest Gump immortalised the phrase “stupid is, as stupid does”.

“In the wake of the latest federal shutdown, most Americans would readily apply it to the Tea Party movement. Can there be anything more idiotic than flirting with voluntary sovereign default.”

Reuters’ Bill Schneider continues to lay into them:

“Don’t they understand how politics works? Here’s the answer: No. Or rather, they do understand how politics works — and they reject it.”

Schneider points to the consequence of the government shutdown as a split in the Republican Party:

“The Republican establishment is thoroughly exasperated with the Tea Party. Republican leaders in Congress and party supporters in the business community are outraged over the fact that their party is being taken over by ‘wackos.’”

However Luce maintains that mocking them only makes them stronger, “Yet if the goal is to defeat the Tea Party, calling it stupid is not the smartest thing to do … It reinforces their worldview of a town run by Ivy League snobs.”

Holman W. Jenkins, Jr, of the Wall Street Journal, argues “Scorekeepers judge the Tea Party caucus and Republicans to be net losers from the ordeal. But don’t be so sure. Tea-party activists have good reason to suspect their stand will pay electoral dividends in the months and years ahead.”