Emmett Tyrrell

WASHINGTON -- All is bleak. All is woe! I speak of the tea party movement, the movement of 2009 and 2010 that was the hot news story of those years and led to the Republican rout of the Democrats in 2010. Now the tea party movement is, according to reports in the media, in decline.

Was it extremist? Was it racist? Distinguished Americans such as Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton said it was. Yet their evidence when it came under objective scrutiny kept falling apart, as so many of their hoaxes over the years have fallen apart -- Ms. Tawana Brawley, the 1979-80 Atlanta killings supposedly by local cops who spent their leisure hours in the Ku Klux Klan. I cannot think of another couple of hucksters who have adduced so much evidence of heinous behavior by the American majority only to have the evidence go poof! The tea party movement was neither extremist nor racist. In fact, it was what Americans look like when they suddenly become alive to politics: somewhat amateurish, terrifically enthusiastic and eventually quite serious about practicing the political arts at the local level, in Madison, Wis., in Waco, Texas, in Tucson, Ariz. -- all locales far, far away from Washington, D.C. Though I have reason to suspect that the tea partyers may return to Washington after the November elections. Read on.

The Washington Post related an interesting finding in another dolorous story with hints of an obituary about the tea partyers. According to a Washington Post/ABC News poll, 44 percent of the American people supported the tea partyers, and 43 percent opposed them. I saw polls like that going back to 2009. The intensity of feeling against them augurs ill for the tea partyers, but that does not tell us much. The newness and controversial nature of the tea party movement has passed. Its members are not much in the news today. There are other stories making headlines. The 44-43 percent divide among Americans remains, though the tea partyers get few headlines. Why?

Ned Ryun -- the founder and president of American Majority, a nuts-and-bolts training operation with its roots deep in the tea party movement -- says the movement is pretty much beyond the mass demonstration stage in development and has gone local. Its members are learning the art of politics and running for school board, city council and state office. They are trying to replace what they perceive as tired old hands, such as 80-year-old Sen. Richard Lugar in Indiana, with younger, more vigorous candidates for office. They are learning to play politics seriously, and their goal is reform. Balance budgets; eliminate debt; return to the Constitution.

Emmett Tyrrell

R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. is founder and editor in chief of The American Spectator and co-author of Madame Hillary: The Dark Road to the White House.
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