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SteepThe Precipitous Rise of the Tea Party$
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Lawrence Rosenthal and Christine Trost

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780520274228

Published to California Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520274228.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CALIFORNIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.california.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of California Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CALSO for personal use.date: 17 May 2022

The Tea Party in Historical Perspective

The Tea Party in Historical Perspective

A Conservative Response to a Crisis of Political Economy

(p.25) Chapter 1 The Tea Party in Historical Perspective

Charles Postel

University of California Press

This chapter argues against the populist nature of the Tea Party by closely comparing it to the history of American populism. Instead, it turns to America's conservative tradition as the appropriate historical backdrop of the Tea Party. It explains how the Tea Party tapped into fear and anger over potential shifts in political economy to form a grassroots movement following in the historical traditions of the anti-New Deal American Liberty League, Joseph McCarthy and the witch hunts, Robert Welch and the John Birch Society, and Barry Goldwater and the right-wing Republicans of the early Cold War. The speed with which the Tea Party organized, and its rapid capture of much of one of the nation's two main political parties, shows the volatility of the political environment in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis.

Keywords:   Tea Party, populist movements, American populism, American conservatives, conservatism, political economy

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