Is there still a Tea Party movement?



Back during the first years of Barack Obama’s presidency, there arose among the political booboisie in this country an angry movement calling itself the Tea Party —  a misnomer if there ever was one.

The original Tea Party, the one in Boston a few centuries ago, was not a fitting inspiration for this 21st century namesake. The people who disguised themselves as Native Americans and threw tea into Boston Harbor were not protesting a tax increase. Quite the opposite; they were opposed to a certain tax decrease.

But never mind all that. Historical details of the American Revolution are not important to the points I’m making here. The central issue I’m raising is the question of what happened to the Tea Party movement of just a few years ago.

The short answer, I’m convinced, is that Donald Trump happened — and the Republican Party thereby was profoundly transformed.

It isn’t that the Tea Party movement wasn’t already in decline, for whatever reasons, when The Donald effectively displaced it. Hell, he almost made America forget that the Tea Party ever existed.

I don’t recall that Trump ever said a lot about the Tea Party, especially once he decided to run for president, and I haven’t bothered to Google the matter.  I figure he just wanted his own movement. He didn’t want to hitch his wagon to a cause that pre-existed his candidacy. He wanted to set his own agenda, even if it departed in ways from the stuff championed by the Republican Party or the Tea Party movement. He wanted everything to be about him.

Of course, this raises questions of what happens to the Tea Party movement once Trump’s presidency is cut short, which seems increasingly inevitable. And the answer is simple:  Tea Partiers should consider themselves fortunate that Trump never enthusiastically lauded their cause in its entirety.  They can say that the disgraced president has never really been one of their own.

Besides, insofar as reform of the Republican Party has always been prominent on the Tea Party agenda, the coming fall of Trump gives the tri-cornered-hat crowd an opportunity to increase their push for big changes in the GOP without having the campaign tainted by you-know-who.

One might even say that the disastrous Trump experiment is evidence itself that the Republican Party needs reform.