The future of the Tea Party

If there is one thing we learn from History it is that there is nothing new under the sun.

Lets break with tradition shall we? Lets look back through history and see what we can learn about what is about to happen in the future.

As King Solomon said,

“History merely repeats itself. It has all been done before. Nothing under the sun is truly new. Sometimes people say, “Here is something new!” But actually it is old; nothing is ever truly new. We don’t remember what happened in the past, and in future generations, no one will remember what we are doing now.”

The Whig Party

America has always been a two party country. The system favors two parties so this may persist. However, the two parties we started with are not the two parties we have now. Back in the day the two major parties where the Federalist Party (Whig Party) and the Anti Federalist Party.

The Whig Party failed when it started compromising on fundamental issues. Those issues revolved around slavery specifically Kansas-Nebraska Act and the Missouri Compromise. The Whigs were over confident about their power and alienated their base.

Compromise led to division. Division led to greater compromise.

The Whigs were an anti slavery party or at least they talked like they were. But thier records failed to match their rhetoric. Northern Whigs got more and more disenchanted until finally they broke off and started their own party. They called themselves Republicans.

Within 15 years of supporting the Kansas-Nabraska Act, the Whigs were nothing but a memory. The Republicans completely replaced them. That moment for the Republicans may have been when they passed the Prescription Drug Benefit Program in 2006. History will tell us if that was the beginning of the end for the GOP.

Conclusion: The Republicans started as a Pro-Abolition coalition of Whigs.

Popular & Inexperienced Candidates

One former Whig gained favor with the people despite coming from an empty state on the frontier. He lacked experience and had generally failed at politics. But he had one thing for him: he was uncompromising Pro-Abolition. The people flocked to him and voted him into office.

His name was Abraham Lincoln and though a lifelong Whig he was elected as the first Republican president.

The transition from Whig to Republican was not overnight. It took between 10 and 15 years. All that is needed for history to repeat itself is for a handful of popular elected officials to switch from the old party to the new party.

The Tea Party is not going anywhere.

In just two years Ron Paul’s 4% has turned into Debora Medina‘s 24%. Win or loose in March the Tea Party is not through. If Scott Brown showed us anything, it is that you can’t take anything for granted.

Most of the passionate political activists right now are Tea Baggers. Other movements have passion but not like the Tea Party. Passion tends to spread and if it does it is only a matter of time before something will have to budge.

We will either see a change in GOP leadership or some new party.

Abortion is the kicker

The Republican Party was founded on one issue: Ending slavery. It slowly developed a more complete platform.

The Tea Party has one primary issue right now: less government.

We may see this shift. If pro-lifers like Debora Medina, Sarah Palin and Ron Paul keep leading we may see a big shift towards a more complete life affirming platform.

If the Republican Party keeps putting forth pro-choice candidates like Kay Baily Hutchinson and dead weights like John McCain then the shift may be faster than anyone expects.

The correct GOP response:

If the Republican Party wants to avoid the path of the Whig Party then it must do the following things:

  • Share information and funding with TP activists. Keep them in the tent.
  • Stop protecting compromised incumbents
  • Be patient with folks new to the process
  • Support term limits

Predicted GOP Response

  • Withhold info and funding from TP activists. Exclude them from the tent.
  • Protect compromised incumbents.
  • Be mean to folks new to the system (treat them like they treated the Ron Paul People)
  • Resist term limits

The democratic party has proved itself to be good at absorbing new movements. We will see if the republicans are able to do the same.

What do you think?

  • Am I off my rocker?
  • Do you think Tea Party candidates like Deborah Medina have a chance in the cycle?
  • What do you think about the Tea Party?
  • Is the tea party bad for America?

Thomas Umstattd Jr. is the author of Courtship in Crisis, the former head of, and co-founder of the Austin Rhetoric Club, a homeschool speech and debate club in Austin, Texas. He is a professional speaker and CEO of Author Media. He sits on the board of directors for several nonprofits, including the Texas Alliance for Life.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

4 thoughts on “The future of the Tea Party

  1. First, the Whigs had nothing to do with the federalist, unfortunately. Two different generations. Although revolutionaries were often viewed at "whigs," grouping the pre-civil war whigs with the post-revolution federalists is… an over simplification. BTW, the Democrats were originally the republicans (Jefferson) and then became the "Democratic Republicans" and finally just "Democrats." But that's a bunch of little details…

    Umm… Abe Lincoln fell very short of "uncompromising Pro-Abolition." And I think you know it, Thomas. 😉 Before getting into office, his insistence was that he would do nothing about the slaver issue. When he did pass the emancipation proclamation, it did not effect the states he actually had control over. (or even towns the Union Army currently occupied) Why? His Secretary of State wondered about this… It was pure politics, that's why!

    The Tea Party is good for America. Doesn't seem to be a party of champions right now, but it's good agitation and hopefully will get those pragmatists moving. I don't think Medina is a gubernatorial personality, but I'm glad she's running.

    Only time will tell if the Tea Party ends up being like the Republican Party or the "anti-mason" party.

    ><> Brian

  2. Hey Brian, thanks for the comment.

    I wanted to make it simple but not overly simple. You are right the federalists are not technically the Whigs. The Federalist Party devolved into the Whig. During the reign of Andrew Jackson. The parties were not the same but they were about as similar as the 1950s republicans are to the 1990s republicans.

    Lincoln talked a huge Anti-Abolition game before he was elected. He surround himself with people from all sides and ended up doing less about slavery than his republican comrades hoped. I still think it would be hard to paint Lincoln as a pragmatist.

    Who knows. Perhaps the Tea Party is the Anti Mason party of 2010. And Sarah Palin is John Quincy Adams. I agree about the lack of champions. The real question is which party will the new champions emerge from?

  3. The notion that “nothing is really new” or that “history merely repeats itself” seems more an effort to pigeon-hole the Tea Party movement than an expression of some hard-and-cold fact.

    I guess you could say anything that ever happens is on some level a repeat of something that happened earlier, but I’d like to think that caring and thoughtful people can decide to change the course of their lives both personally, socially and politically and not to have to suffer from those who wish to put them into some historical category so they can better understand who the Tea Party folks are, what they want, etc.

    For the most part, they’re everyday Americans fed up with massive spending, massive government control and they appear to be very passionate about wanting things to go in a different direction. A good number of them voted for the current Prez and are experiencing serious buyer’s remorse. So much so, they’re becoming politically active for the first time in years, or ever.

    I see that as a very healthy sign and I’m not inclined to find the historical precedent so that I can better understand who they are. They seem pretty lucid about that.

  4. Dear Thomas–

    What’s with the happy picture of the American family with guns? Even the sweet little 8 year old daughter? As I recall, Jesus Christ said, “Love your neighbor,” not “Shoot your neighbor.”

    And I don’t buy the idea that history simply repeats itself. Societies are certainly better off now that we have realized that we can, to some extent, take care of our neighbors, help the Samaritans who are ill by the side of the road. We do it through Government, which is the mechanism by which we all try to take care of each other. We build good roads, we take care of our elderly by means of Social Security and Medicare, and when we really get it right, we will take care of our children, parents, and others through universal health care as almost all of the countries of the world have had for the last 40 or 50 years–except here in the U.S.

    We can have progress in the U.S.. We can do better, but only if we work together and don’t fall for silly talk by people like Sarah Palin, who didn’t even have the knowledge and ability to do the one job she was elected to.

    Jesus envisioned the coming of the kingdom of God. I can’t imagine that he saw it as mornings in which blond, white families would go out looking for neighbors (perhaps for neighbors with darker skins) with loaded guns.

    Love and best wishes,


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