Tea Party for the Left: How Progressives Can Use the Tea Party's Strategy to Promote Their Own Goals
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With the sudden rise and popularity of the Tea Party, many on the Left of the American political spectrum have looked on with scorn and some degree of envy. Originally dismissed as conspiracy theorists and radicals, Tea Party supporters, who represent many different demographics and organizations, have exerted substantial influence on national political discourse and decision making. This thesis employs scholarly arguments, primary sources and public opinion survey data to study the extent to which the Tea Party’s approach can be copied by activists on the Left in order to promote their own political agenda. Only by taking the Tea Party seriously, can the Left hope to transfer some of its successful strategies to their own causes. This thesis examines the overall question: What would a Left version of the Tea Party look like? The answer lies in a series of sub-questions, which include: How did a group of tax day protesters turn into a household name and a feared faction of the Republican Party? How have historical American populist movements garnered influence in the past? What cautionary advice can the 1970’s decline of the New Left and Organized Labor provide? The answers to these questions offer advice for a Left Party in four areas: 1) Ideas and National Discourse, 2) Electoral Strategy, 3) Coalition Building, and 4) Money & Media. Finally, while many suggest that the Occupy Wall Street protests could be to President Obama’s Democrats what the Tea Party has been to the Republican Party, this movement has pursued a distinctly non-electoral methodology. Beginning with a quick history of Occupy Wall Street and its spin-off groups, this thesis assesses the Occupy Movement based on the framework constructed to describe a Left Party. Particular emphasis is devoted to the argument that the Occupy Movement could be more effective if it adopted an electoral strategy.