“Tea Party” movement gains influence among students
by Eli Kratt, senior staff writer
The newest ‘fad’ of right-wing America – the “Tea Party” movement – has, to the surprise of many, blossomed, despite controversy and rampant animosity. Much of the basis for this movement stems from growing anger among Republicans and independent voters: of the 23% of voters that describe themselves as ‘angry,’ 42% are Tea Party supporters (Newsweek 10/11). Some of this populist sentiment is showing up in the Leesville population’s diverse collection of political viewpoints.
Self-described conservative Georgia Lee made clear her support for the movement. “I think it’s great that conservatives are speaking up against higher taxes,” she said. “[The Tea Party] is not just against one political party; it’s to get America back to the ideals of the founding fathers.”
“I feel it is a movement back to core principles that those in government have forgotten – which is a good thing,” said Nathan Sanders, a “right-leaning” sophomore. “The Tea Party believes in overall small government… more freedoms, less government regulations… raising the retirement age and reducing Social Security pay out, which I support. I support lower taxes as well. I believe in returning to the Constitution and making that the center of government.”
“The Tea Party believes in a lot of things that are viewed as controversial,” Sanders stated. This, of course, is the heart of the reason many frown upon the movement.
These opinions mirror those of most attendees at any given Tea Party rally – but why is this movement seeing so much success, especially at the high-school level?
“I think [they’re] a bunch of people who don’t bother to research anything and just go with the mob mentality,” Elena Mulligan, sophomore, commented.
It is important to note, though, that many right-wing voters are not Tea Party supporters.
“They don’t know what they’re talking about when it comes to the Constitution,” said Robby Selden, who labeled himself as a conservative libertarian. “[Tea Party figurehead] Christine O’Donnell doesn’t even know what the First Amendment states. The main problem I have with the Tea Party is their view on church and state – they focus on moral problems more than government problems.”
With the midterm elections seemingly guaranteed to turn many seats over to the Republican Party, Tea Party candidates are stating their cases stronger than ever. Many nominations for Republican candidates are from the Tea Party wing of the GOP.
“They’re so fiercely conservative… [I think] that’s the reason so many dislike the Republican Party,” Selden emphasized.
The effects of the movement will be revealed on Election Day (November 2), when the Tea Party movement’s supporters and opposition head to the voting booths to be tested against the public will.