The Tea Party, the Heartland and the Christian Right

By Nancy L. Cohen, May 7, 2012

While the media was drafting the Tea Party’s obituary and the GOP establishment was crowing that it had subdued the three-year-old insurgency, the Tea Party was getting into formation to take down six-term Indiana senator Richard Lugar.

How did this happen? Yes, FreedomWorks, Grover Norquist, and Club for Growth are backing Lugar’s opponent Richard Mourdock. But so are a host of far-right antigay and antiabortion groups, and I think therein lies the key.

In the horse-race coverage of the Lugar-Mourdock race, the role of the old Christian Right is being widely overlooked. I’ve recently been surprised at how many very informed people have defaulted back to the Tea Party’s original claim to be concerned mostly about big government and budget deficits, not the old social issues. This overlooks a large body of evidence that, from the beginning, the Tea Party has done double-duty as a vehicle for the Christian Right’s stealth return to power.

Let’s hope the Indiana exit polls ask some questions about religious beliefs and affiliation. If they do and if Mourdock wins, I’ll have more to say about the Tea Party™ in the coming days.

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Nancy L. Cohen