Mike Hassinger is a political consultant with Landmark Communications in Atlanta, Georgia. These views are his own.
The Tea Party movement has been ignored, mocked, dismissed, and cast as a collection of conspiracy kooks and racists. To become a genuine political force, this fledgling movement must face internal challenges of direction and leadership while under full assault from the statists on the left and their enabling lapdogs in the mainstream media. In one sense the Tea Party’s journey has been a compressed version of libertarianism -it took libertarians decades to become misunderstood and marginalized, whereas the Tea Partiers have done so in less than a year.
The Tea Party, as force in American electoral politics, stands at a crossroads –several crossroads, actually. Do they form their own political party, or back candidates from existing parties who support their views? Will they start small, with state and local races, or swing for the fences and jump into contested races in the house and Senate? The biggest question is going unasked: Will they co-opt, or be co-opted, and if they’re co-opted, who’s going to get them?