Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Tea Party's Image Problem

Democratic and progressive leaders have worked hard to paint the Tea Party as the dangerous radical right-wing conservative contingency of the Republican Party -- despite the fact that many Tea Party activists are disgusted with the GOP as well. In 2010, controversial incidents (such as the alleged spitting incident during the large Tea Party protest this spring in Washington, D.C.) and obvious blunders from noteworthy Tea Party leaders (like the Rand Paul statement about the Civil Rights Act, and Mark Williams' blog post about slavery) hit the Tea Party brand hard. Now the negatives are outweighing the positives. In a recent North Carolina Civitas poll, 33 percent of respondents currently have an unfavorable opinion of the Tea Party movement; 31 percent have a favorable view. That prompts some questions: Between the select gaffes and bouts of inappropriateness -- coupled with efforts from the left -- has the image of the Tea Party movement been permanently marred? Has the best conservative grass-roots movement in decades been derailed because of a growing image problem over charges of racism and extremism? The only question for conservatives, however, is whether they have learned from the past or are doomed to repeat it...more

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