The recent Tea Party victory in Kentucky and their support of Rand Paul is an excellent example of the kind of grass roots political movement that has often occurred in America when voters have felt the consequences of a downturn in the economy and have become more sensitive to the actions of politicians in power. For astute students of American history however, the latest grass roots movement is not unusual in America following an economic crisis and the perception that the political establishment in Washington DC is not representing their interests. However, unlike other grass root movements in American history following a major economic downturn such as the Greenback and Populist parties in the late 1880s, supporters of the anti-establishment Tea Party are acting against their own interests by supporting candidates belonging to either one of the establishment parties.
Although the Tea Party is a relative bright spot in the political mobilization of the American electorate, the Tea Party grass roots political movement represents a familiar trend in American history when voters become more sensitive to hard times and corruption in government. In several instances in recent American history, grass roots and third party political movements have started after a period of enormous wealth creation for politically connected upper class segments of the national economy, followed by an economic crisis when the inflated prices and phantom values were discovered by the market. Some examples in the last 150 years in American history include the Railroad Bubble of 1873 which helped spur the creation of the Greenback Party, the Independent Presidential run by Ross Perot in 1992 following the recession of 1989-1991 and the real estate bubble of the 1980s, and now the Tea Party political movement following the collapse of the real estate bubble in 2007 and then the stock market bubble in 2008.
Unlike other third party grass roots movements in American history which have followed an economic recession, such as independent Presidential candidate Ross Perot in 1992, and the agrarian third-party presidential candidacies in 1876, 1880, and 1884 of the Greenback Party and the 1892 Populist Party political party, the Tea Party movement of 2010 is merely a small sect within the Republican Party. For a political scientist analyzing the Tea Party, the movement does not hold any substance as a true grass roots political movement due to the support and collusion the Tea Party is having with members of the Republican Party such as Sarah Palin, the former vice-Presidential candidate who ran as the political establishment patriarch and status quo favorite, John S McCain in 2008.
The support of Tea Party activists in Kentucky and their support of a sibling of a long time Republican Party member will only further undermine the Tea Party movement becoming a viable political party.
The track of the Tea Party now appears to be headed down the same path that Moveon.org took into obscurity.
The American people missed a historic opportunity in 2008 to take back their country from the vested interests controlling both political parties such as John McCain and his past involvement in the Keating’s Savings and Loan Scandal, and Barack Obama’s relationship with billionaire Kenneth C. Griffin of Citadel Investment Group and other big name financial investors contributing to his campaign for change.