While most of America remains preoccupied with the feuding between Democrats and Republicans, a new party is on the rise, and I would argue that it has the potential to qualify as a new third party. The Tea Party recently made a prominent breakthrough in Congress through its Freedom House Caucus, their loudest and most powerful mouthpiece within the government. In their singlehanded deliverance of a loss to the Republicans in Congress over the new healthcare plan, they demonstrated their underrated voting muscle. In addition to voting power, their money-backing through the Koch brothers provides them with the tools that they’ll need to be able to truly make a difference, but that’s only if their message gets through. Composed of determined, highly goal-oriented members that appeal to fighting the establishment Republicans on their often absent-minded or miscalculated legislature and spending, the Tea Party plays no favorites.
Although the Tea Party’s members are largely anonymous, several big-name politicians adhere to or support their goals, such as Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and Rand Paul. Since the formation of the Freedom House Caucus in 2015, they’ve successfully fought both Republicans and Democrats on issues such as excessive spending and the national debt. As mentioned before, they recently flexed their muscles by successfully shutting down the new healthcare overhaul in the House after refusing to get on board unless the bill called for a full repeal and replacement. By withholding only their own 32 votes, they were able to halt the Republican’s major talking point of the past three years and further postpone the vote until there was compromise. Their lack of leniency for their own national affiliate, the Republican Party, is a large part of what makes them so powerful. Their largest platform point, the national debt and federal spending, has both garnered them support and lost them some support. In contrast to the Republicans, who claim that being anti-spending fits their platform despite their desire to hike up defense spending, and the Democrats, who justify massive spending as an act of social justice, the Tea Party argues that such excessive spending is a crime. It argues that the government’s main robbery occurs through taxes and that it produces intergenerational justice issues, creating unnecessary financial burdens on generations to come. The Republicans, however, have easily hijacked the anti-spending argument because the Tea Party, due to its Libertarian roots, often turns off many Americans, who during this time of terror will generally choose national security over concerns of government overreach.
Since their awakening, the Constitution has also received newfound attention due to their efforts to reinforce its necessity. Recent concerns over excessive government overreach has made the Tea Party an appealing facet of the right for many conservatives frustrated with the current path of the government that’s been promoted by both the left and the right. However, they often lose average citizens by underplaying the importance of government and its role in protecting society, again largely due to their Libertarian roots and isolationist tendencies. In general, Americans would rather give up their cell phone records or internet browser history in order to better restrain terrorism, whereas the Tea Party and its followers would never consider giving up such privacy rights. After generations of Americans have grown up in a militaristic superpower like the United States, it’s difficult for them to turn their back on this superiority for the protection of rights they mostly take for granted anyways, and that’s where the Tea Party loses some people.
Despite fighting the Republicans on most issues, they have also invigorated the conservative movement by adding rough edges rather than becoming wholly Libertarian. Their shameless fight against the Republicans appeals to many who voted to “drain the swamp” under President Trump, and a new generation focused on accountability could easily join the Tea Party without ever leaving the right side of the spectrum. Although some see them as an uncooperative or extremist group, their hard-to-please demeanor has brought them a lot of the support they garner today. Although the Republicans likely thought they would now be able to pass anything they wanted due to their takeover in the House, the Tea Party’s few seats have proven themselves to be just numerous enough to block the establishment when they fail to compromise, earning themselves recognition, at least in my book, as an emerging third party. Not only are they here to stay, but they’re here to fight, regardless of party affiliation.
The Freedom Caucus has also altered the way in which legislation is passed in Congress, forcing the Republicans to consider the merit and constitutionality of what they’re passing more often. Although many Americans complain that Congress is too slow or unproductive, this is partly because there is debate, much of which the Freedom House Caucus incites, coercing Republicans to compromise before simply rubber-stamping the bills that fit their agenda. This is precisely what killed the new healthcare bill that Speaker Paul Ryan and President Donald Trump tried to rush when the Tea Party refused to comply, completely halting the process and postponing the vote. Although Trump tried to brush it off as something he would accept for now, his tweets about “fighting” the Freedom Caucus say otherwise.
Despite the overwhelming amount of negative media attention that the Tea Party often receives, its influence should not be ignored, and its developing Congressional record serves as proof that it has the potential to form an effective third party. While much of the media claims that the Tea Party is dead, I find this very hard to believe, given not only its influence in current American politics, but its clear accomplishments that have established it as a driving force in the government. Pay attention to the Tea Party, research the Tea Party and don’t discount the Tea Party because you very well may be hearing a lot more from them.