At the Democratic National Convention, disability activist Anastasia Somoza told enthusiastic audience members that “in a country where 56 million people so often feel invisible, Hillary Clinton sees me. She sees me as a strong woman, a young professional, a hard worker, and the proud daughter of immigrants.”
Media personalities, political insiders, and the candidates themselves have talked about the 2016 presidential primaries as a departure from what we normally expect from presidential primaries. The difference is often attributed to how Donald Trump “doesn’t play by the rules” – something we are frequently reminded of by pundits on both the left and right. Continue reading
Social movement scholars have often struggled with operationalizing movement success and/or failure, and rightfully so. What may be considered a failure to scholars may be perceived as success to activists. In addition, movements are not monoliths and therefore success for some activists or for some groups, may not be relevant to other aspects of a movement. Finally, talking about success and failure also rests on the assumption that we know about the intentions of movement actors – that there are clearly stated and known objectives and that the decisions actors make are in reference to achieving those goals and objectives. Often, we can only speculate about motivations and intent; presumably success can also come about unintentionally. I have written about how the Occupy movement has shifted the spotlight to scholars’ understanding of movement outcomes, but I suggest that the Tea Party also requires us to think about how we define movement success and failure. Continue reading
Kathleen C. Oberlin
Journalists and pundits alike clamored to interpret the recall election that took place in Wisconsin last week on June 5th. As Republicans beam with pride over Governor Scott Walker’s steadfast hold onto his seat, the Democrats are left to reevaluate among many issues whether or not the recall election is a tactic to continue to use in the current political climate. For those unfamiliar with what exactly a recall entails or where and when it can be done (presumably many of us), check out the national center for state legislators’ overview. Until recently state level (e.g., assembly members, governors) recall efforts were quite rare. It remains to be seen if this will continue in the future as a viable means to channel grievances. Continue reading
Has the LGBT movement made great strides in recent years? Without a doubt, yes! Has the “tide turned” for the LGBT Movement? A resounding no!
Clearly the LGBT movement has been experiencing a wave of considerable legal and cultural gains. Lately, there have been many states passing or on the verge of passing marriage for same-sex partners. According to Freedom to Marry, six states and DC afford marriage equality to same sex couples. The states of Washington and Maryland will potentially be added to this growing list (assuming victory against the anti-gay forces who are currently working to stop the enactments on the upcoming November ballot). Further, New Jersey finally passed legislation in favor of marriage equality. While it was quickly vetoed by its governor, mobilizing efforts to overturn this action have already begun. Several other states afford some lesser version of marriage equality (Freedom to Marry 2012).
Pundits have shifted their assessments of Tea Party clout with each swing of the pendulum in the GOP primary season — starting with debates even before the voting in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and beyond. Either the Tea Party is said to be flexing its muscles, beating the “GOP establishment.” Or it is declared to be falling apart and failing to register much impact. The fortunes of Mitt Romney seem to determine which assessment is the favor of the day: if he does poorly, the Tea Party is strong; if he wins, the Tea Party is proving to be a paper tiger.
The trouble with all such assessments is twofold. First, they focus too much on the horse-race, attempting to label some candidates “Tea Partiers” and others “establishment” — while missing the big picture of the race to the right by all candidates in the GOP race. And secondly, such assessments mistakenly hold the Tea Party to a standard it cannot meet. Let me begin with the latter point, and come back to the former. Continue reading
In order to think about the influence of the Tea Party it is first important to understand the “essence” of the movement. What is the nature of its supporters’ discontent? How coherent are their political and policy goals? Is it something new on the political landscape that is forcing a realignment within the Republican Party?
Research conducted with Andy Perrin, Neal Caren, Steven Tepper and Sally Morris, concludes that the Tea Party phenomena – from the perspective of public support – is a case of “old wine” in a “new bottle.” Continue reading
Most people are familiar with the Tea Party by now, a movement that burst onto the political scene in the early days of the Obama presidency. There is little doubt that they’ve energized the Republican Party. Consider the 2010 midterm election cycle. A report issued by Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights indicates that 10 sitting Republican senators were backed by one of the six major Tea Party factions, as were 85 members of the House. Still, if the ongoing Republican primaries are in any way indicative, a rift has developed between the Republican “establishment” and Republican insurgents: “grassroots” conservatives associated with Tea Party. In both South Carolina and Florida, establishment types appear to favor Mitt Romney, while strong Tea Party types, by and large, favor Newt Gingrich. What is the source of the rift? If there is a division between the two wings of the Republican Party, how big is it? Continue reading
After making a strong push to in the 2010 Congressional midterm elections, the Tea Party was perceived by some to be unstoppable, by others to be falling apart at the seams. However, the political power held by this movement (or at least, their perceived power) made a major impact on the candidate selection process for the Republican presidential nomination. The primary battle currently underway, in which Republican grassroot supporters, party insiders and political pundits embrace and then discard candidate after candidate suggests that the Tea Party has, at least temporarily, loosened the Republican Party leadership’s grip on the political process. Continue reading
In order to understand the potential influence of the Tea Party Movement on the Republican Party, it is useful to locate its supporters within the Republican Party and the overall spectrum of American politics. One useful and underutilized tool for doing this is the data from a weekly poll conducted by Public Policy Polling for DailyKos/SEIU. They have been collecting data since the beginning of 2011, and place the raw data on the web when they report their results, which is usually every Wednesday. In addition to the normal questions found on campaign polls, the survey has asked whether the respondent was a member of the Tea Party (from January to October) or whether the respondent was a supporter of the Tea Party (from October to the present). From this polling data, we can make a couple of inferences on the type of impact that the Tea Party is likely to have on the Republican primaries this year. Continue reading