What the Tea Party Movement Means for Contemporary Race Relations: A Historical and Contextual Analysis
UVA Law Faculty Affiliations
The re-election of President Barack Obama in 2012 signifies many things. First and foremost, it means that Barack Obama will continue as the Forty-Fourth President of the United States for another four years and join Presidents Bush (II), Clinton, Reagan, and Eisenhower as a two-term President in the post-World War II era. On a political level, President Obama's re-election may signify a near permanent shift of the national electorate to the middle, which portends poorly for the Grand Old Party (GOP) and other Conservatives. However, the re-election of President Obama means something quite different and ominous for the future of race relations in the United States: I contend the re-election resulted in the solidification of the Tea Party Movement (TPM) and established the Tea Party as a permanent fixture on the American political landscape.
The TPM, which arose simultaneously with the development of Barack Obama's political career and his ascendancy to the Presidency in 2008," was initially regarded as a temporary political phenomenon and viewed by some as primarily an antidote to the initial election of President Obama. Indeed, if the initial election of Obama is viewed as the primary causative agent or irritant for the maintenance and growth of the TPM since its birth at the end of the Bush (II) administration, it is plausible to believe that some hoped that President Obama's ultimate removal from the political scene and political power would cause the dissipation of the Tea Party as a powerful political movement.5 But, I predict that will not be the case.