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Saturday, September 24, 2011

Murky Tea

The post-election update of our book discusses the tea party movement. Despite its name, it is not a political party: it has no place on the ballot, no hierarchy, no single platform. Instead, it is a loose social movement, a set of often-warring organizations as well as rank-and-file supporters with varying degrees of attachment. They agree broadly on what they are against, but naturally have trouble agreeing on what they are for. At Roll Call, Janie Lorber and Ambreen Ali write:

Every interest group in town is vying for the attention of the super committee members except the very movement that drove the federal deficit to the top of Congress' agenda.

Tea party leaders can be found this fall hawking a Constitution-themed coloring book, riding a tour bus across the country and endorsing 2012 candidates — but not issuing policy proposals for cutting the deficit.

"It's generally not what we do," said Mark Meckler, co-founder of Tea Party Patriots, which is leading a campaign to encourage schools to teach lessons drawn from the Constitution. "We are an organization that's designed to push the debate toward fiscal responsibility. Our job is not to come up with policies."