Analyzing the Divisions in the Tea Party Movement. The Varieties of American Political Passion

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Winner of the 2012 Thomas T. Hoopes Prize from Harvard University
In doing field work and observing Tea Party rallies, Eger discovered that the majority of its members were fiscally conservative, but socially liberal. This caused many divisions and splintering amongst its members, because its agenda was divided between social conservatives and progressives. This explains the rapid decline of its prominence since 2010. Even though the mainstream media (especially Fox News) wants to depict it as socially conservative, the biggest factions tend to be more liberal in the ‘culture war’ areas. This also shows just how out of touch the media usually is with grassroots organizers.


“Tea Party protests burst onto the scene starting in 2009, and they have always included an important component of self-organized grassroots activity. By the time Will Eger became interested in its activism in 2011, national surveys and some local observations concluded that the ordinary Tea Party participants encompass both social conservatives and more secularly oriented libertarians. Like evangelical Christians in general, social conservatives in the Tea Party ranks hold strong opinions against abortion and gay rights. The libertarians believe that government should stay out of issues of personal choice and conduct. Eger wondered, how did people divided so strongly on certain key issues manage to work together in the same movement? This book shows how they ‘hung together’ and also how things fell apart.”

-Prof. Theda Skocpol,
Harvard University

Table of Contents

Foreword by Theda Skocpol
Chapter 1: We the People
Describing the Tea Party: Individuals
Describing the Tea Party: National Organizations
Prior Scholarship
Chapter 2: Dynamics of the Tea Party
A True Divide
Herein Lies the Divide
This Division Rarely Causes Problems
Chapter 3: Hanging Together
Not Working, Networking
Echo Chamber
Narrow yet Elaborate
Chapter 4: Moving Forward

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