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Can the Tea Party survive 2010?
With infighting reportedly on the rise, many Tea Party candidates are going down in flames. Growing pains or the beginning of the end for the protest movement?
A tea party rally
A tea party rally
Harrison Mcclary/Reuters/Corbis
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nfighting is threatening to bring down the leaderless Tea Party before it can transform activist anger into ballot box gains, The Washington Post reports. No sooner had party favorite Sharron Angle won Nevada's Republican Senate primary than Tea Partiers began arguing about whether some other candidate would be better equipped to unseat Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. In Virginia, establishment GOPers took the nomination for two House races as Tea Partiers failed to unite around their own candidates. "No one owns the Tea Party brand," says Brendan Steinhauser, grassroots director for FreedomWorks, "and that's kind of the problem." But is it a fatal problem? (Watch a Fox News report about the Tea Party's value and viability)

Yes. The Tea Party is over: "The Tea Party was never a strong or widespread movement," says Cynthia Tucker in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. It got attention because it was "loud," but there's a difference between the "appearance of clout" and actual influence, and a new ABC-Washington Post poll has found that half of the country views the anti-government protesters unfavorably. Given the mess in Virginia, to take one example, "anger... is no substitute for organization."
"Is the Tea Party over?"

Sorry, haters. The Tea Party is here to stay: Tea Partiers aren't "a bunch of weirdos with uniformly far-out views," says Kevin R. Kosar in The Philadelphia Inquirer. They're married, middle- or working-class churchgoers with diverse political sympathies, which can hardly be defined simplistically as "anti-government." They do collectively want to downsize government and share the belief that Washington "has gone off track" — but that's a longstanding protest tradition that's "American through and through."
"The anger is real; the media picture isn't"

The Tea Party has no place in "real-life politics": Maybe there will always be "cranky" protesters out there, says Kevin Drum in Mother Jones, but the Tea Party, as a movement, has always been fated to "crack up" under "the strain of actual real-life politics." It's a "leaderless movement with no real goals and driven mostly by an inchoate sense of persecution, aggrievement, and Sarah Palin hero worship" — some day, all that will be left is "a thousand embittered little pieces."
"Beginning of the end for the Tea Party movement?"

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