The Tea Party isn’t just influential in Washington, DC. Tea Party political passions, first seen in demonstrations and town meetings, echo through the United States. In many states, 2009 and 2010 voters re-elected or elected new Republican governors with Tea Party backing.
As one political scientist noted, the Tea Party “remains a very potent force within the Republican party.” Just recently it was announced that four Tea Party-linked governors — Nikki Haley, Susana Martinez, John Kasich, and Rick Scott — have the honor of speaking to the Republican National Convention. And it’s been suggested that Tea Party politics affected the decision of Charlie Summers, the Maine Republican nominee for election to the U.S. Senate, not to endorse Senator Olympia Snowe for re-election.
About a year ago, I started a project with Professor Jim Melcher, a political scientist at the University of Maine at Farmington. We began collecting quotations from numerous governors who were associated with the Tea Party. In April, we presented a scholarly paper at a conference on the rhetoric of Tea Party governors.
And now we have published a book with quotations from fourteen Tea Party governors and an introduction that places these governors in the context of the larger movement. (Unlike our conference paper, this is not an academic study per se. For a very clear and incisive scholarly work on the Tea Party, we recommend The Tea Party and the Remaking of Republican Conservatism by Theda Skocpol and Vanessa Williamson.) We are also very pleased to have a book cover designed by George Danby, the editorial page cartoonist for the Bangor Daily News.
When we mentioned this project to people, many asked if the Tea Party governors had a particular style. Tea Party activists were blunt in expressing their views and we saw that some Tea Party governors, like Chris Christie and Paul LePage, echoed that style. However, others, like Rick Snyder, had a mellower tone.
But we believe these Tea Party governors should not be reduced to style. These men and women have policy goals and their jobs as governors is to, well, govern. Thus, while some quotations were notable for their intensity, many were professional in tone and reveal these governors’ priorities and plans, which they pursued with vigor.
As we say in the book’s introduction, “We want, in short, to let the Tea Party governors speak for themselves. We come neither to exalt nor to tear them down, but to show their perspectives in their words. (And, hopefully, we’ve done a good enough job of it that you’ll enjoy the book no matter what your stand is on the Tea Party.)”
American politics fans will be entertained by these quotations, but they’ll also better understand these 14 governors – Jan Brewer, Sam Brownback, Chris Christie, Tom Corbett, Nikki Haley, John Kasich, Paul LePage, Susana Martinez, “Butch” Otter, Sean Parnell, Rick Perry, Rick Scott, Rick Snyder, and Scott Walker – and the Tea Party itself.
If you’re interested, visit Amazon to download Tea Party Talk – The Governors for $3.49. Published on Kindle, it’s available for others without this device if you download the free Kindle app. A print on demand version will be available soon.
We will also be posting from time to time on our Facebook page, Tea Party Talk – The Governors and tweeting from @TeaPartyTalkers.
Thanks for reading — and I’ll be back soon to my usual blogging!