NPR Asks and Answers: 'Is The Tea Party Finished? Yes'

May 23rd, 2014 10:16 PM

On Friday, NPR political director Ron Elving asked in an online article “Is The Tea Party Finished?” Then he answered: “Yes, if you insist on calling it the Tea Party. Because that phrase implies the phenomenon is some sort of organized unit in the usual sense. And the Tea Party never really was one.” You might be able to read some delight between the lines, since the Tea Party wanted to defund public broadcasting.

Elving wrote like he was assembling an obituary: “the energy never really assumed the form of a conventional political party, and it did not build the machinery that could produce reliable candidates and campaigns.”

"Impotent" was the word Elving assigned after the most recent GOP primary elections:

Yet the handle of "Tea Party" remains irresistible for ad-makers, activists, journalists and a boundless world of commentators in the social media space.

That is why it surprises a lot of people to see this Tea Party suddenly looking so impotent, even as President Obama and his party look increasingly vulnerable. One would think the most anti-Obama elements of the right would be on the march.

Yet Republican incumbents and other candidates backed by the party's business and political elites have won the nominations for November nearly everywhere anyone was noticing. Where insurgents arose with a clear claim to being Tea Party favorites, they have lost. In many cases, they have flat-lined weeks before the primary.

Elving concluded with a thump: “At this point, the phrase Tea Party has nearly lost all meaning. It can still be used as a catchall descriptor for any candidate, commentator or activist who wishes to be further to the right than some real or imagined opponent. And unless a dramatic reversal of fortune comes soon, it will soon have one other connotation: futility.”