What does it mean for a candidate to be a "tea-party" candidate?

There are multiple US political personalities who are considered to be "tea party" personalities, such as Jim DeMint, Sarah Palin, etc.

I have also heard multiple sources quantify the number of "tea party" candidates who have taken office.

What does it mean for a politician to be a "tea-party" politician? as opposed to not a tea-party politician.

  • Does it mean they are merely fiscally conservative?
  • Does it mean that they're young?
  • Does it mean that they're outsiders?
  • Does anyone who identifies themselves with the tea party get to be considered tea-party?

As far as I know, the Tea Party is mainly about Low tax and low spending, which also seems to be a pillar of the Republican and libertarian platform, so what else is it?

  • 1
    As a note: You are quite wrong in stating "which describes the majority of republicans". There are PLENTY of Republicans who are not mainly about low tax and low spending, especially the latter (case in point: G.W.Bush who happily ran up spending, including his signature things like Medicare reform, education reform, and the TARP, which is what sparked the Tea Parties in the first place). Then you have the "values" voters, who mainly care about "morality" issues (remember that a President/party has only so much political capital to spend, the more spent on morality stuff, the less on fiscal)
    – user4012
    Dec 18, 2012 at 21:58
  • As further evidence, witness that the most "Tea Party" 2012 Prez candidates lost the primaries, for a variety of reasons (Cain, Ron Paul, Bachmann). Romney, who was as un-TeaParty as possible, won it.
    – user4012
    Dec 18, 2012 at 22:01
  • @DVK Now I'll admit that not all republicans actually legislate that way, but It most certainly is part of their talking points and part of their platform. Dec 18, 2012 at 22:12
  • It means they want to privatize the government.
    – leeand00
    Jul 12, 2014 at 18:37

2 Answers 2


The Wikipedia article for the Tea Party has a pretty apt description along the lines of your original assumptions:

The Tea Party movement is an American political movement that advocates strict adherence to the United States Constitution, reducing U.S. government spending and taxes, and reduction of the U.S. national debt and federal budget deficit.

However, when it comes to identifying specific candidates as "Tea Party Candidates", people typically refer to those candidates that were supported by one of the major Tea Party organizations (Tea Party Express and Tea Party Patriots are two such examples). This is because the organization does not have an official leadership and prides itself on being a "grassroots" organization that sprung up organically from concerned citizens. In the House of Representatives there is an official Tea Party Caucus that members can join voluntarily that was founded by Michele Bachmann, however, no such organization exists in the Senate.

  • 1
    +1. Interestingly enough, there is a fairly large chunk of Tea Partiers (of the more libertarian stripe) who strongly disassociate themselves from Michele Bachmann due to her too-strong emphasis on "values" issues over fiscal ones.
    – user4012
    Dec 18, 2012 at 22:02
  • I'm guessing that Wikipedia description was written by a TEA Party advocate. Most people who claim to be about adherence to the US Constitution are oddly situational about when that applies, and often don't show any actual knowledge of what's in the Constitution and it's meaning at the time of writing or passage. theonion.com/article/… Nov 18, 2016 at 13:16
  • 1
    @PoloHoleSet The Onion is a very well-known satirical website. Using it to support any argument only discredits your argument.
    – J Doe
    Jan 31, 2017 at 0:38
  • @JDoe - Often what makes satire so biting is how real to life it is. The Onion is known for being mistaken for actual news because their humor hits so close to home. Siting a satirical take, for humorous take, that actually mirrors reality doesn't undercut anything. I'm not citing it as proof. My comment stands on its own. Jan 31, 2017 at 14:33
  • "...and reduction of the U.S. national debt and federal budget deficit." With hindsight, this must have been actually not so important because it never happened even with lots of Tea Party candidates in office. Also this answer does not really explain the differences of a Tea Party candidate to a non-Tea Party candidate of the GOP. Feb 16, 2018 at 9:39

Pretend to be republican, without actually calling yourself republican, so that people who hate republicans will vote for you. Then, make sure your views are the most extreme, and you are tea party! Originally-it was about people being upset over the bank bailouts. As the movement gained steam, those in office discovered that they were being found out as corrupt dirtbags. So they took over the tea party leadership-went crazy right wing-and renamed it tea party patriots. The original tea party is now the occupy movement.

  • 1
    I assure you were are not the occupy movement... Nov 17, 2016 at 22:25
  • Actually, it was "originally" directed and funded by conservative lobbyists, so claiming they came in and co-opted a grassroots movement isn't all that accurate. Nov 18, 2016 at 13:18
  • 1
    It used to be the poor guy vs the rich guy. It became this nonsense after 2 years. Or do you not remember 2004? Nov 18, 2016 at 13:51

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .