Fad or Movement? March Tests Sway of Tea Parties

Vocal minority could hurt Republicans, critics say
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 12, 2009 11:15 AM CDT
Fad or Movement? March Tests Sway of Tea Parties
A crowd of people rally at Freedom Plaza in Washington Saturday.   (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

The “Tea Party Express” bus has rolled into Washington today for a “Taxpayer March” to the Capitol, and if you listen to organizers, it’s the start of a real political movement. “You can’t manufacture this kind of thing,” says a conservative radio host. A FreedomWorks Foundation spokesman, meanwhile, says it will be the biggest gathering of fiscal conservatives ever. But some believe the partiers represent a loud minority that could actually hurt Republicans. Today's march may help begin to determine who's right.

Though tea-partiers are united in their disdain for President Obama and government, their complaints are a hodgepodge, ranging from taxation to bailouts to health care. It “can’t sustain itself just as an anti-liberal movement,” says one GOP strategist. “It’s got to evolve. And it will.” But one historian doubts that, likening the tea partiers to the John Birch Society, a '60s-era conservative group as suspicious of Kennedy as the partiers are of Obama. (More tea parties stories.)

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