Sumner's comparisons at the time are interesting because as the year moved on, the Tea Party evolved into more then just some third-party happening, developing into a supplementary Republican party. The two parties developed a symbiotic relationship - the Tea Party consists of the GOP base but lacks no national organization and the Republicans, fearing the loss of a major voting bloc, cater to the Tea Party for votes and money. The problem is that the Tea Party is constantly being redefined by it's ringleaders such as Glenn Beck, with each conservative adding to the party platform, but it seems the Tea Party has no desire to become a third party, instead, they seem to want to rewrite the GOP platform into what they believe it once was and should be.
Sumner quoted a statement Ross Perot made about the constitution, and I can't help but imagine what would happen if these words were uttered today, particularly at a Tea Party rally:
Keep in mind our Constitution predates the Industrial Revolution. Our founders did not know about electricity, the train, telephones, radio, television, automobiles, airplanes, rockets, nuclear weapons, satellites, or space exploration. There's a lot they didn't know about. It would be interesting to see what kind of document they'd draft today. Just keeping it frozen in time won't hack it.I am certain people like Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh will cry that this is nothing more then progressive revisionism, and then go on to how they can utilize their special decoder rings to decipher the true meanings of the founding fathers and how it applies to today, but Perot was correct - the founding fathers had no clue as to what the future would bring, and to ignore the thought that the constitution is a living and breathing document would be irresponsible.
The Tea Parties are definitely not like Ross Perot's campaign. For instance, the percentage of adherents to the far-right philosophy of the Tea Party has not gatheredhas not topped those of the establishment, and for good reason too - it does not represent the majority. The Tea Party is only getting the amount of coverage from the media because of the "Spiral of Silence" that surrounds their existence. The majority, either out of fear of upsetting the small group or out of respect for minority rights, has decided to hold back criticisms of the fringe - this may also be due to the fact that conservative media organizations like Fox News and Andrew Breitbart's bevy of Big sites devote entirely way too much time to the groups and attack all those who don't. The Tea Parties in turn have exploited this vacuum of criticism by claiming to represent the majority.
Lather... rinse... repeat...