GOP Still On Life Support, But Tea Parties Show Pulse

The teabag protests that marked tax day on April 15 represent an opportunity and a risk for the Republican Party. Opportunity because they offer a jolt of energy for a battered party after two dismal elections. Risk because they supply at best only a partial answer to what ails the Republicans.

By Dan Batz
The Washington Post

There is certainly a sense of déjà vu to the demonstrations. Was this a faint echo of 1978 and the Proposition 13, anti-tax movement in California that eventually helped bring Ronald Reagan to the presidency two years later? Was it the first sign of revival of the leave-us-alone, anti-government coalition that sprang up in the early 1990s and helped bring Republicans to power in the House and Senate in 1994?

In both cases, those movements helped propel Republicans to new heights. Reagan cemented what turned out to be a long period of conservative ascendance in American politics, one whose roots were in Barry Goldwater’s loss and Richard Nixon’s victories but that did not begin to reach political maturity until the Gipper was elected.

The 1994 landslide took the party further in that it reshaped the Republican coalition and altered the balance of power. Though the South had been trending Republican in presidential elections, it took Newt Gingrich and his brash leadership to drive those voting habits down to House races. The 1994 election consolidated the South in Republican hands. Over time the South became the party’s geographical and ideological heart.

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