American history is filled with the fossil record of failed political movements. Dixiecrats, Know Nothings, Citizens Party, Constitution Party, Independence Party, National Party, Nullifier Party, People’s Party and the Toleration Party, to name but a few. How much have you heard about any of them lately?
All the now-defunct parties flourished for a time and then they were gone. Most were better organized than the Tea Party conglomeration. It would take several volumes to explain exactly how they came about and how each expired, but there are things in common we can cite.
Either the area of interest upon which these groups focused was too narrow or they veered into the political fringe. It’s true that the American people are easily distracted by fireworks and sound and light shows, but they have consistently distrusted and rejected extreme movements, whether they be on the left or the right.
In the recent confrontation over the debt ceiling, that intractable, my-way-or-the -highway group opened a lot of eyes by showing a willingness to crash the economy rather than bend at all. How much damage a crash would have caused is open to debate, but the kamikaze attitude was unmistakable.
Tea Partiers have already forgotten that the voters give and the voters take away, sometimes very rapidly.
Even those who flunked out of Civics class in high school know that compromise means give and take, yet the concept seemed beyond the understanding of the freshman politicians who rode in on the initial wave of anger generated by outside Tea Party supporters who pumped huge amounts of money into local congressional elections.
The flash-in the-pan movements never last very long. Thank God.