Civil Wars

The Tea-Party Schism

The honeymoon is over for conservative tea-party activists, with increasing divisions within the group, leaving many members with a fuzzy sense of political purpose after a summer packed with protests and town-hall shouting matches. "These groups don't play together as well as they should," said one frequent speaker at tea-party events, citing "a lot of people who have not had managerial experience who all of a sudden are thrust into the limelight and become intoxicated with it." After coming together over their rage at government spending, the tea partiers are running up against ideological differences with some members of the group seen as too "extreme" and conflicts over whether their protest should focus on national or local issues, and how closely to identify with the Republican Party. The initial group was comprised of members from a huge swath of different conservative organizations, and the next few months are thought to be key to whether it will maintain its political influence. "Are they going to be a bunch of fingers, or are they going to come together to be a fist?" asked Ned Ryun, president of American Majority.