In 2010, we saw one of the most significant shifts in American politics. During the first midterm of President Barack Obama’s first term, the GOP seemed to have found a new identity for their candidates running throughout the country. What was that identity? It had a simple layout. This new breed of Republicans consisted of anti-establishment, small government, libertarian-Esque conservatives that prioritized lowering the national deficit, cutting governmental regulation and spending, and fighting against socialistic policies such as the proposed ‘Obamacare’ that the then administration was trying to get passed. This movement was named the Tea Party Movement, and it worked. Because of this new identity, the Democratic Party suffered some of the most significant losses in decades. The GOP stifled most of Obama’s proposed policies both in the United States Senate and House of Representatives. The movement, as well, birthed some of the most influential politicians in the modern conservative era, such as Senators Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, and Ron Johnson.
So in 2022, what is the answer? Do we need a new Tea Party movement? Many conservatives think so. Austin Petersen, former Libertarian Party presidential and GOP U.S. Senate candidate, advocates for ‘Tea Party 2.0,’ prioritizing what makes fiscal conservatism so essential both politically and philosophically. Anti-establishment seems to be the name of the game during the past four years and the next two. So how does this mesh with the MAGA base coming off of President Trump’s tenure? Well, notice the names above. Like it or not, many of the most influential names in the 2010 Tea Party movement were some of Trump’s biggest allies during his presidency.
However, as anti-establishment as the Tea Party movement was, there may still be some Republicans in need of distancing in future elections. Conceding and being weak is not something that the GOP needs in its base right now. The Democratic Party seems as united as they ever have been. They kept the House, increased their seats in the Senate, and took the presidency in one fell swoop. United with President-elect Joe Biden, they now have free range to do as they please. Democrats are not like Republicans. Their Senate and House votes are not going to come down to questioning if a few GOP defectors are going to ruin a proposed conservative policy because of a conceived perception of morality. They will unify and pass whatever they want to because they are not weak, which is precisely why the old guard of the GOP needs to be dispelled. We cave far, far too much. I am glad that Republicans want to be the good guys all the time, but in the general public and mainstream media, I fail to see the point. The GOP continues to be demonized and will continue not to win anyone over except for getting the occasional op-ed on some news site like CNN when we do something that caves into the Democrats if we keep on this same path.
The modern conservative movement needs a revamp. Nearly every opposition midterm election has some movement identified with winning races. In 2018, it was the progressive movement for the Democratic Party. In 2010, it was the Tea Party movement. Moving forward into 2022, the Republican Party needs to find a core identity that advocates for traditional conservative principles, is anti-establishment enough to fight, and can win elections.