Posted on December 3, 2012 at 9:22am by Meredith Jessup
Editor’s Note: This is the first in a series of articles examining what went wrong for the Republican Party in the 2012 presidential election and where the GOP goes from here. Please visit our special section GOP: What Next? to follow the series stories and find related content.
Since Nov. 6, there has been no shortage of opinions as to why challenger Mitt Romney and the Republican Party failed to ouster President Barack Obama. Pre-election divisions in the Republican Party between moderates and conservatives have only widened since Romney’s defeat and the party’s strategy for the future remains unclear, a source of contention and heated internal & external debate.
Specifically, many now wonder what the sobering 2012 election results means for the right-leaning Tea Party, the champions of personal freedom and smaller government who exploded on the political scene in the 2010 midterm elections. The re-election of a progressive like Barack Obama would seem to signal the end of the conservative Tea Party, but the movement’s conservative leaders insist that last month’s election results only vindicate the group’s message.
“The Tea Party is not a political party; it’s an informal community of Americans who support a set of fiscally conservative issues,” says FreedomWorks’ Matt Kibbe. “And when you take a look at the roster of new fiscal conservatives being sent to Congress next year, it’s clear our issues are winning.”
Indeed, although the Tea Party may be focusing the vast majority of its ongoing efforts on local issues, the conservative movement has left an undeniable mark on the national GOP establishment. The group’s mantra of uncompromising fiscal conservatism and limited government has remained a driving force in shaping Republican platform.
For proof of this, one need look no further than Rep. Paul Ryan’s ascendancy to the No. 2 spot on the GOP ticket. Once considered a fringe of the congressional conservative coalition, Tea Party-backed fiscal hawks like Ryan are now considered key players at the core of today’s Republican Party.
Critics, of course, will argue that Romney’s defeat in November signals a rebuff of these ideals. “The 2012 elections have been the undoing of the 2010 Tea Party tsunami that crashed upon Washington,” the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) proclaimed in November. “The Tea Party is over.” READ MORE