The Two Tea Parties And How We Got Trump - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
The Two Tea Parties And How We Got Trump

One supports Trump. The other supported Cruz and are despondent.

How long will the Tea Party be misunderstood? For forever, apparently.

I’ve attended multiple Tea Parties, organizational meetings, national conventions, and national Tea Party gatherings as a reporter. Having interviewed many staunch Tea Partiers, I came to see two main “Types”:

The Disaffected Republicans

These people are fiscally conservative, small government types. They felt betrayed by George W. Bush’s government expansion and lavish spending. They were insulted by the term “compassionate conservative.” Conservatism, in their view, is compassionate by its very nature. They disliked the Department of Homeland Security, No Child Left Behind, the TSA, and unchecked data gathering. The last straw was the big Bank Buyouts. They weren’t fond of McCain or Romney who they viewed as big government types, too. They weren’t Libertarian, exactly, but they distrusted the government, and wanted more fiscal control. They were socially conservative. Many former Christian Coalition types could be found here.

The Awakened

These people had never thought about politics before. They were patriotic Americans who voted for their President but didn’t pay attention beyond that. They were galvanized by the Bank Bailouts and by Barak Obama’s statist rhetoric. They were offended by Obamacare and Obamaphones. They were small business owners who felt worried about the future. They were people who were losing their homes and livelihoods. Many were blue collar types and former moderate Democrats who felt like they didn’t have a home. These folks liked their Social Security. They were socially agnostic or liberal. Many I spoke to supported abortion or hadn’t given it much thought. To them, bailing out the banks was unfair. They were sick of the Big Corporations getting the deals. They were sick of anti-Americanism.

The Disaffected Republicans were loyal conservatives and fed up and looking for decent and trustworthy candidates. Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, Marco Rubio, and too many house members to mention were brought in to slay the big fat GOP cats who’d ignored the will of their voters for too long. These folks vote principles. They supported Ted Cruz.

These voters are not sure where to go now. Some are part of the #NeverTrump crowd. Some refuse to vote for Hillary, but don’t know what to do beyond that.

The Awakened, whose poster child is Trump’s spokeswoman and Dallas, Texas-area Tea Party leader Katrina Pierson, were angry. They were sick of feeling helpless for different reasons.  They lost their homes. They lost their jobs. Big corporation and bank bailouts felt grossly unfair to these people. They saw an American president who didn’t like America.

What united these groups into one big Tea Party: Patriotism. Disaffection with the government. A sense that America was going the wrong direction. Saddling the next generation with debt.

So many Americans resonated with this perspective that the final two Republican candidates were Donald Trump and Ted Cruz. Adding Marco Rubio’s support in there, the vast majority of Republicans and some Democrats, too (many if you consider the Occupy Movement and their candidate Bernie Sanders) loathed their political leadership.

They wanted Change, alright, just not the kind Barak Obama was bringing to America. Their disaffection has not abated. Even with giving Republicans historic victories in two consecutive midterm elections, the GOP leadership had no idea what they were facing.

Hundreds of thousands of marchers could not get their attention.

Historic elections could not get their attention.

So now, there’s Donald Trump. And Ted Cruz. And to a lesser extent Marco Rubio.

Ted Cruz’s supporters are true conservatives. He was their chance to finally, at last, affect some real change. They were Trumped. The Awakened, moderate Republicans and Democrats, blue collar workers, and those who’ve suffered and feel alienated have more numbers. The GOP leadership, caught between two candidates they disliked, did nothing to help Cruz, which helped Trump.

Donald Trump’s flame throwing rhetoric and rage against the machine spoke to more people. If he doesn’t scorch some earth, there will be blood.  There may be blood, anyway.

The media that bottle fed Obama and coddles Hillary Clinton, the Democrats that bailed out Banks, gave America Obamacare, and have wussified America,  the Republican leadership that cares more about appeasing Obama and the Democrats even with an overwhelming majority, the Republicans that adopted the PC language and policy of the left, the profligate GOP who spent, but just spent less, they are the enemy of these voters.

One can argue about whether their anger is justified. One can argue about whether Donald Trump is the best vehicle for their vengeance. (Personally, I think they’ll be bitterly disappointed with their Deal Maker–he’s going to be making deals with the devil.) But this is, in part, how we got here.

The Tea Party is itself divided.  And they divided between Trump and Cruz. Combined, they form the majority of the GOP electorate. It’s not clear that the GOP understands the new reality.

Melissa Mackenzie
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Melissa Mackenzie is Publisher of The American Spectator. Melissa commentates for the BBC and has appeared on Fox. Her work has been featured at The Guardian, PJ Media, and was a front page contributor to RedState. Melissa commutes from Houston, Texas to Alexandria, VA. She lives in Houston with her two sons, one daughter, and two diva rescue cats. You can follow Ms. Mackenzie on Twitter: @MelissaTweets.
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