Skip to main content

The Tea Party Movement in Pennsylvania: A New Brand of Populism?

  • Chapter
  • First Online:
The Faces of Contemporary Populism in Western Europe and the US
  • 891 Accesses

Abstract

Based on the nine-month fieldwork I did in Pennsylvania in 2014–2015, this article argues that the rhetoric Tea Party activists use, the very nature of the movement, and the tactics they put in place aim at changing the GOP from within and taking power away from politicians and giving it back to the people. In this sense, populist rhetoric is the glue that binds an otherwise very diverse conservative movement together by giving it a common language, a common frame but also common aims.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this chapter

Subscribe and save

Springer+ Basic
EUR 32.99 /Month
  • Get 10 units per month
  • Download Article/Chapter or eBook
  • 1 Unit = 1 Article or 1 Chapter
  • Cancel anytime
Subscribe now

Buy Now

Chapter
USD 29.95
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
eBook
USD 99.00
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as EPUB and PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
Softcover Book
USD 129.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Compact, lightweight edition
  • Dispatched in 3 to 5 business days
  • Free shipping worldwide - see info
Hardcover Book
USD 129.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Durable hardcover edition
  • Dispatched in 3 to 5 business days
  • Free shipping worldwide - see info

Tax calculation will be finalised at checkout

Purchases are for personal use only

Institutional subscriptions

Similar content being viewed by others

Notes

  1. 1.

    Anthony DiMaggio, The Rise of the Tea Party: Political Discontent and Corporate Media in the Age of Obama, Monthly Review Press, 2011, 287 pp.

  2. 2.

    Theda Skocpol and Vanessa Williamson, The Tea Party And The Remaking of American Conservatism, Oxford University Press, 2012, 272 pp.

  3. 3.

    Charles Postel, “The Tea Party in Historical Perspective: A Conservative Response to a Crisis of Political Economy”,  in Lawrence Rosenthal, Christine Trost (eds.), Steep: The Precipituous Rise of the Tea Party, University of California Press, 2012, p. 29.

  4. 4.

    Ronald Formisano, The Tea Party: A Brief History, John Hopkins University Press, 2012, 152 pp.

  5. 5.

    In 2010, Mike Kelly and Pat Toomey who both received support from Tea Party groups in the state were elected. The first became the representative for Pennsylvania’s 16th district and the latter started his term as Pennsylvania’s junior senator.

  6. 6.

    In 2008, there were 104 Democrats and 99 Republicans in the State assembly. In 2010, the number of Democrats dropped to 91 and that of Republicans rose to 112. In 2016, the trend continued with 82 Democrats and 121 Republicans.

  7. 7.

    Donald Trump won 48.2% of the vote and Hilary Clinton 47.2%: https://www.nytimes.com/elections/results/pennsylvania. Accessed on June 21, 2019.

  8. 8.

    This fieldwork was made possible thanks to a scholarship from the Georges Lurcy Foundation.

  9. 9.

    Each grassroots group held monthly meetings. At these events, they discussed bills that were about to be voted on and the tactics they could put in place. A speaker was also invited to address a topic like immigration, Obama’s healthcare law, gun rights, etc.

  10. 10.

    Cas Mudde, Cristobal Rovira Kaltwasser, Populism: A Very Short Introduction, Oxford University Press, 2017, p. 6.

  11. 11.

    Chip Berlet, Matthew Lyons, Right-Wing Populism in America: Too Close for Comfort, The Guilford Press, 2000, 499 pp.

  12. 12.

    Chip Berlet and Matthew Lyon, op. cit., p. 348.

  13. 13.

    Petty Precious, “Protest Over Immigrant Children at KidsPeace Got Loud, Remained Peaceful, Police Say”, LehighValleylive.com, July 25, 2014: https://www.lehighvalleylive.com/lehigh-county/2014/07/protest_over_immigrant_childre.html. Accessed on June 21, 2019.

  14. 14.

    The Valley Forge Revolutionaries and Citizens for Liberty were two of the groups that were organized around libertarian principles.

  15. 15.

    The term “Dreamers” refers to immigrants who came to the U.S. illegally as children but were granted legal status by the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act, which was passed in 2001.

  16. 16.

    “Senate Primaries to Test Clout of Party Leaders”, CBS News, May 18, 2010: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/senate-primaries-to-test-clout-of-party-leaders/. Accessed on July 5, 2019.

  17. 17.

    Dick Armey, Matt Kibbe, Give Us Liberty: A Tea Party Manifesto, William Morrow, 2010, 272 pp., p. 125.

  18. 18.

    Event created by citizens For Liberty on their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/events/472819246217780/. Accessed on June 21, 2019.

  19. 19.

    Ron Paul ran and lost in 2008 in the Republican Party primary. Ross Perot ran as a third-party candidate and got 19% of the votes in 1992. Barry Goldwater won the Republican primary in 1964 but went on to lose the presidency.

  20. 20.

    To understand the conservative arguments against George W. Bush, see: Bruce Bartlett, Impostor, Doubleday, 2006, 320 pp.

  21. 21.

    Michael Kazin, The Populist Persuasion: An American History, Basic Books, 1995, 286 pp., p. 1.

  22. 22.

    Michael Kazin, op.cit., p. 3.

  23. 23.

    Osita Nwanevu, “Indivisible, an Early Anti-Trump Group, Plans for a Democratic Future”, The New Yorker, November 9, 2018: https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/indivisible-an-early-anti-trump-group-plans-for-a-democratic-future. Accessed on July 5, 2019.

  24. 24.

    Paul Street and Anthony Dimaggio, Crashing the Tea Party: Mass Media and the Campaign to Remake American Politics, Paradigm Publishers, 2011, 288 pp.

  25. 25.

    Michael Graham, That’s No Angry Mob, That’s My Mom: Team Obama’s Assault on Tea-Party, Talk-Radio Americans, Regnery Publishing, 2010, 259 pp.

  26. 26.

    Theda Skocpol, Vanessa Williamson, op. cit.

  27. 27.

    Tina Fetner, Brayden King, “Three-Layer Movements, Resources and the Tea Party”, in Nella Van Dyke, David Meyer (eds.), Understanding the Tea Party Movement, Ashgate, 2014, 190 pp., pp. 35–54.

  28. 28.

    The Indiana Armstrong Patriots were run by Tom Smith, a multimillionaire who came from the coal mining industry.

  29. 29.

    Heritage Action’s mission statement: https://heritageaction.com/about. Accessed on June 21, 2019.

  30. 30.

    At the national level, think tanks such as The Heritage Foundation, The CATO Institute, The Mises Institute provide activists with studies and figures to finetune their arguments. At the state level, in Pennsylvania, The Commonwealth Foundation provides the same service.

  31. 31.

    Talk-show hosts are crucial to Tea Party mobilization both at the national and at the state level. Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Mark Levine are just three examples of people who have a national audience and who have played a decisive role in educating and mobilizing activists. In Pennsylvania, this role was held by Dom Giordano in Philadelphia and Rose Tennent and Jim Quinn in Pittsburgh.

  32. 32.

    Charles Bullock (dir.), Key States, High Stakes: Sarah Palin, the Tea Party and the 2010 Elections, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2011, 254 pp.

  33. 33.

    Melissa Deckman, School Board Battles: The Christian Right and Local Politics, Georgetown University Press, 2004, 244 pp.; Clyde Wilcox, Onwards Christian Soldiers?: The Religious Right in American Politics, Westview Press, 2010, 264 pp.

  34. 34.

    Keegan Gibson, “PAGOP to County Chairs: Non-Endorsed Candidates Need Not Apply”, politicspa.com, February 7, 2012: http://www.politicspa.com/pagop-to-county-chairs-non-endorsed-candidates-need-not-apply/31676/. Last accessed on June 19, 2019.

  35. 35.

    http://www.precinctproject.us/. Last accessed on June 21, 2019.

  36. 36.

    Dick Gould, “Chester Purge Orchestrated by Big Money”, billlawrenceonline.com, January 4, 2016, http://billlawrenceonline.com/chesco-purge-orchestrated-by-big-money/. Accessed on June 21, 2019.

  37. 37.

    Andrew Stiles, “Heritage Action Scores Congress”, The National Review, August 25, 2011, http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/275576/heritage-action-scores-congress-andrew-stiles. Accessed on June 21, 2019.

  38. 38.

    This idea was popularized by the talk-show host Mark Levin who wrote a book outlining what the amendments to the Constitution should be. See Mark Levin, The Liberty Amendments: Restoring the American Republic, Threshold Editions, 2013, 273 pp. This idea has led to many debates within conservative ranks.

  39. 39.

    Karen Zraick, “Justin Amash, a Trump Critic on the Right, Leaves the G.O.P.”, The New York Times, July 4, 2019: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/04/us/politics/justin-amash-trump.html. Accessed on July 5, 2019.

  40. 40.

    Brian Schwartz, “Billionaire Koch Brothers’ Political Network Will Spend Millions to Oppose Trump’s Tariffs—The Group’s Biggest Split with the President so Far”, CNBC, June 4, 2018. https://www.cnbc.com/2018/06/04/koch-network-plans-to-spend-millions-to-fight-trumps-tariffs.html. Accessed on June 21, 2019.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Editor information

Editors and Affiliations

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

Copyright information

© 2021 The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG

About this chapter

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this chapter

Douzou, M. (2021). The Tea Party Movement in Pennsylvania: A New Brand of Populism?. In: Tournier-Sol, K., Gayte, M. (eds) The Faces of Contemporary Populism in Western Europe and the US. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-53889-7_10

Download citation

Publish with us

Policies and ethics