Lindsey Graham, in an interview with New York Times Magazine to be published on Sunday, claims that the Tea Party movement will die out because it lacks vision. In the profile, he says that eventually most Republicans will move more toward the center along with him and that now the party has shifted too much to the right. Graham argues that the tea party movement is not sustainable because it doesn’t have a single unifying vision for governance. Without this vision, he contends, the movement cannot survive over time.
Perhaps Graham is right. Let’s look at one of the ideas he discusses in the excerpt published in Politico, the idea that, for a political party to remain viable over the long term, it must have a unifying vision. Exactly what is the vision that unites all Republicans? Is it limited federal government? Was Graham paying attention over the last decade?
On the other hand, Graham misses what does unify the tea party members, I think. They share a belief that many of the nation’s institutions are out of their control, and perhaps out of control altogether. They thus seek some avenue to make this nation which they cherish representative of their values again. This vision clearly separates them from most Washington officeholders, and of the media elites who protect their positions. So what he fails to understand is that they are not fighting him because of his issue stances; instead, they seek to move the argument over who actually controls our government. Therefore, it may not be fair to use the same left-right alignment that politicians have become acclimated to judge this movement.