Glenn Reynolds: More impact is what’s next for the Tea Party movement

By: Glenn Reynolds
Sunday Reflections Contributor
Washington Examiner
January 31, 2010

A year ago, the Tea Party movement didn’t exist. Today, it is arguably the most popular political entity in America. The movement is already more popular than the Republican or Democratic parties, according to a recent NBC / WSJ poll .
Even in blue-state California, three in 10 voters identify with the Tea Party movement.

And, of course, Scott Brown’s come-from-behind blowout in Massachusetts occurred in no small part because of money and volunteers from the Tea Party movement around the nation.

This is heady stuff — and, for people in the political establishment, both Republicans and Democrats, it’s worrying stuff. If political movements can bubble up from below, and self-organize via the Internet, what will happen to the political class?

It’s one thing when record stores or video rental places get dis-intermediated. It’s a whole different ball game when people who rely on politics not only for their livelihood, but for maintaining their considerable sense of self-importance discover that they may not be quite as necessary as it once seemed.

But that hard lesson is becoming apparent. In fact, the Tea Party movement seems to be showing better political judgment than either of the two major political parties.

Last week, Joe Scarborough wrote that the Tea Party movement might “tear itself apart.” His evidence of this: Some squabbling over a Tea Party convention in Nashville, Tenn. Well, squabbling is normal in movement politics, particularly when people think they’re being shortchanged on money and credit. But what’s really striking about the Tea Party movement isn’t that there’s squabbling — it’s how little squabbling, overall, there has been.

Scarborough’s column, remember, was occasioned by the Brown victory in Massachusetts. A few Tea Party purists didn’t want to support Brown, seeing him as insufficiently pure. But the vast majority made the entirely pragmatic determination that Brown, whatever his flaws, was vastly better than his Democratic opponent Martha Coakley, and just the guy to stop Obamacare in its tracks if elected.

The article continues at the Examiner.

Examiner Contributor Glenn Harlan Reynolds hosts “InstaVision” on, and blogs at He is a professor of law at the University of Tennessee.

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