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The Tea Party:
A Brief History,
by Ronald Formisano
(Click for Amazon book review)
BOOK REVIEW by OnTheIssues.org:
This book is another in OnTheIssues.org's continuing series attempting to define the Tea Party (see list of Tea Party books at bottom of page). This book does a great job outlining the Tea Party's issue stances, in particular on social issues. Most analysts point out that the Tea Party really has no stances on social issues, since the movement is primarily devoted to economic issues. The author here instead cites polling data to describe where large majorities of Tea Partiers stand on one side or the other of social issues, or where they are mostly split.
The author's personal take on the Tea Party is not a purely positive analysis. He repeatedly describes the Tea Party as "astroturf," which means they receive funding from large organizations to pay for signature gatherers and event attendance. The term "astroturf" is a negative contrast to "grassroots," which means that Tea Partiers are self-motivated enthusiastic volunteers. The author does acknowledge the Tea Party's mix of astroturf funding and grassroots volunteerism.
The book outlines the history of the Tea Party including its historical reference to the 1700s Boston Tea Party (which evidently was not called that until decades later). The book also differentiates the Tea Party movement from its conservative cousins, the religious right and libertarians. The author notes for many candidates and members of Congress which received Tea Party support in addition to Christian conservative support, and which received Tea Party support without the religious right. The author differentiates libertarianism too, labeling most conservatives as preferring "Libertarianism With Benefits" (a charming term we believe this book coined).
The author's personal opinion on the Tea Party is exemplified by this excerpt: "The contemporary antitax climate is not hospitable to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis's observation that taxes are the price we pay for civilization." (p. 105) Citing Brandeis usually indicates a progressive viewpoint; but in this context we'll assume the author is a mainstream observer of the Tea Party--this book is a solid outline from that perspective.
-- Jesse Gordon, jesse@OnTheIssues.org, May 2012
A Brief History,
by Ronald Formisano.
Page last edited: Sep 20, 2012