The Anti-Obama Tea Party movement in America continues to gain ground. Some polls now suggest that the movement has made significant inroads into the heart of the Republican Party, which itself is increasingly right-wing, eschewing any middle ground.
Bill Berkowitz offers a good analysis of the inherent racist dynamic of the Tea Party movement, a topic I've discussed before in historical perspective. In short, Berkowitz notes that although not all Tea Partiers are racist, the movement is the new ideological home of the white supremacist movement.
Will the racist-infused Tea Party movement capture the Republican Party, or perhaps even relegate the Republican Party to second-class status among conservatives? Maybe. While turnout at one recent rally suggests the movement is losing momentum, at least one poll indicates political conservative are more attracted to the Tea Party than to the Republican Party. Meanwhile, some Florida Republicans are horrified at the civil war among conservatives. Speaking to the Tea Party movement: "'If you tried to devise a strategy for destroying the Republican Party in Florida, you couldn't do much better than this,' said retired University of South Florida political scientist Darryl Paulson, a Republican and a former Heritage Foundation fellow."
Speaking to the big picture of Republican woes, Republican and former George W. Bush administration appointee Michael Petrilli, writing for the Wall Street Journal, argues that Republicans need to reach out to non-racist "Whole Foods Republicans"—independent-minded voters who embrace a progressive lifestyle but not progressive politics.
While the final dimensions of the Tea Party movement's impact upon the Republican Party are not yet known, it seems certain that the Tea Party will figure prominently in both the 2010 congressional elections and the 2012 presidential election. Unknown at this time is which conservative political faction the Religious Right (in effect, social conservatives) will throw their weight behind in the coming three years. While many conservative Christians are enthusiastically involved in (or are cheering for) the Tea Party movement, whether or not they largely abandon the Republican Party for the Tea Party has yet to be determined. If there is one person who holds the key to the Religious Right vote, it is likely Tea Party-favorite Sarah Palin, who some are calling the next James Dobson.
Wherever one stands on the political spectrum, next year promises more political fireworks, while the voice of white supremacists grow increasingly prominent in American politics.