The Tea Party movement held a national convention this week with Sarah Palin delivering the keynote address. Palin, who ran as John McCain's vice presidential candidate in the 2008 presidentional election, has become the darling of the movement, as was evidenced by the rousing applause and howls coming from the audience throughout her almost hour-long speech.
When asked if the Tea Party movement should become an independant third party or be absorbed by the Republicans, Sarah Palin replied, "The Republican Party would be really smart to start trying to absorb as much of the tea party movement as possible because this is the furture of our country. The Tea Party movement is the future of politics and, as I said before, this is a beautiful movement because it is shaping the way politics are conducted. You got really both party machines are running scared because they're not knowing what are we gonna do if we don't have tea party support. They know that they won't succeed."
According to Judson Phillips, founder of Tea Party Nation and the driving force and organizer of the convention, the endgame for the Tea Party movement is to have a conservative house and conservative senate. During the Q & A session after her speech, Palin suggested that the top three things the movement should focus on is reining in spending, jump starting energy projects, and allowing America's spirit to rise again.
Although leaders of the movement claim they were dissatisfied with many of Bush's policies, the movement did not actually emerge until after President Obama was sworn in. According to reports in several main stream media outlets including USA Today, most protesters want to pressure the governement to reduce spending. But the organization has also had ties to the "birther" movement to remove Obama from the White House because they claim he is not a U.S. citizen.
Some have written off the Tea Party'ers or Tea Baggers as the far right-wing fringe, too radical to garner the respect of the mainstream. Still, the movement continues to get air play on Fox and, according to Palin and others on the right, is a reflection of the sentiments of a large contingent of Americans. They frequently refer to the movement as the "voice of the people".
When asked if the movement was broad enough to attract conservative democrats, Palin replied, "they're already peeking in -- it's pretty cool to see some of the Blue Dog Democrats peeking under the tent and finding out what is this movement all about and, holy geez, I'm scared if I'm not a part of this."
It has been reported that the Tea Party Nation plans to take advantage of the opportunities to gain more political power because of the opportunities afforded it as a result of the recent United Citizens v. FEC Supreme Court Decision. In light of this, how should progressives respond? Please give us your comments below and fill out the poll