There’s perhaps no one who wants President Barack Obama gone quite as much as the Tea Party. The American decentralised political movement (not an official party) that calls itself ‘grassroots’ others have called ultra-conservative or libertarian and populist.
When Obama won a second term in the White House it looked like the Party was over. Today’s crisis revived them.
Ted Cruz, the Republican Senator for Texas who launched the bid to defund Obamacare, is said to have presidential ambitions himself.
Cruz’s political appeal is to those who consider themselves self-reliant underdogs. He said: “One of the reasons people are so unhappy with Washington is they get a sense that there are special rules that apply. Wall Street gets special exemptions, the big banks get special exemptions, Dodd-Frank sets up rules that hammer small banks, hammer community banks, hammer the little guys. But what happens to the big guys? They keep getting bigger.”
Dodd-Frank is a financial reform law from 2010. The Tea Party has had blocking power over legislation since the Republicans won control of the House of Representatives in 2010. Democrat Nancy Pelosi then handed the gavel over to John Boehner, who wields it today.
The Republicans hold 232 seats, the Democrats 200. In the red majority, there are some 30-60 Tea Party movement activists or sympathisers. The way the system works means they can prevent the other Republicans – remember, this is a party where ‘moderate’ is a four-letter word – from supporting legislation when they want to.
The government shutdown has suited Tea Party ideology just fine – anti-statist, anti-taxation, anti-women’s choice on abortion… They are self-declared gun-loving righteous American Christians.
Political analyst Greg Valliere underlined that institutions which are rife with mainstream Republicans are enormously frustrated with the radicals, petrified over the damage they could do to these institutions.
Valliere said: “The problem is a lot of these new Tea Party members actually have great antipathy towards Wall Street and the big banks. Wall Street and big banks are the villains for a lot of the Tea Party crowd. So no I think the lobbying is not really being met with open arms among a lot of these radical Republicans.”
Pollster Gallup says the level of favourable public opinion for the Republican Party has slumped to 28 percent and that since Gallup started asking Americans in 1992, that is the lowest.