I like my terms tidy and in order and I like taxonomies that allow me to see subgroups inside larger groups. Sometimes that is easy and sometimes not.
The term "Tea Party" has been bandied about recently, including connected to the term terrorist, which drew the response that the connection wasn't there or President Obama would have them as his friends (alluding to that couple in Chicago).
I am often confused by who is meant when the term "Tea Party" is flung around.
Is it the 87 Freshmen Congresspersons, elected last year? They represent some 20% of the US Congress and thus some 20% of the Congressional voting districts across the fruited plain? If we were, as someone this weekend suggested we should be, a Parliamentary Democracy, that would be a block big enough to be considered in a coalition government that was right of center. If it is those 87 Freshmen members of the House of Representatives, it is not a "fringe group".
On the other hand, is it the 60 members of the "Tea Party" Caucus in the US House of Representatives. A much smaller group. Only about 13% of the US Congress and thus 13% of the US population. But, still if we were a Parliamentary Democracy like Italy or Greece, that would be a block to be reckoned with. On the other hand, that small group could be easily dismissed by any coalition of more Centrist Republicans and Democrats. How could this small group amount to much?
Then, it might mean those unconnected, but like minded small groups of voters across the nation who gather in libraries and other meeting places to get together and talk about the US Economy and where the nation is headed. Some, like commenter Jack, gives us a hint that he thinks of the Tea Party as the modern day "Brown Shirts". "He should work to quickly kill it off before it comes after him." As I recall, the "Brown Shirts" were young men, just back from the war, and many believing the fable about the Dolchstoßlegende.
The Tea Party folks I run across tend to be older, often in their 60s, and not lean and fit. They are not complaining so much about past problems as future problems.
There is talk that the "Team Parties" across the fruited plain are all being run by the Republicans (or as someone suggested to me this afternoon, by Karl Rove himself). Frankly, I haven't see such coordination. As Kad Barma likes to point out, correlation does not equal causation. Then there is the assertion that the "Team Parties" are being financed by the Koch Brothers. If so, why is the local "Great Lowell Tea Party" only locally funded? Maybe Massachusetts has been "written off" by the Koch Brothers.
So what do we really mean by this term "Tea Party"?
Regards — Cliff