Deutchman “Fascinated” by Tea Party – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
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Deutchman “Fascinated” by Tea Party

Iva Deutchman, professor of political science, recently commented on the Tea Party for an article in the Messenger Post about local Tea Party groups.

“I would love to spend some time talking to some of these people, because I’m fascinated by what they might represent,” she said. “I don’t know to what extent this is a spontaneous outpouring or something organized by Fox News.”

Deutchman holds a Ph.D. and a master’s degree in political science from the University of Pennsylvania, and a bachelor’s degree from Hofstra University in political science and economics. View Deutchman’s expert page.

The full article follows.


Messenger Post
The Tea Party: Homegrown and hoping for change

Philip Anselmo • staff writer • April 12, 2010

Victor, N.Y. –
They say they represent everyday Americans. They say they’re on a mission to fix a broken government. They say we’re overtaxed and under-represented.

They’re the Tea Party, and according to a recent Rasmussen Reports national poll, they’re more in touch with most Americans than the nation’s president, Barack Obama.

Ontario County Republican Committee Chairman Jay Dutcher calls the Tea Party the “core” of the county.

“They’re homegrown,” he said. “They’re our neighbors … and they believe in three main issues: less government, less taxes and less spending.”

Local Tea Party groups and protests draw their energy from the national movement, which started to gain momentum in early 2009 in response to what organizers called overspending by the federal government – particularly in the form of federal bailouts and stimulus spending. Tea Party members unite in their call for more fiscal conservatism. One of the movement’s formal wings, the Tea Party Patriots, now claims to have more than 1,000 local affiliates around the country.

With tax day looming – this Thursday – it’s no surprise that many Tea Party groups are mobilizing. The Finger Lakes Tea Party will hold a rally Thursday in Penn Yan, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. The group plans to march through the village.

“We’re the type of people who go to work every day,” said Steve Poyzer, education coordinator for the Victor 912 Tea Party. “We raise families. We’ve worked all of our lives. And we want to make sure we’re not creating a slavery of debt for future generations to come.”

A growing movement

Whether you agree with their political agenda or not, there’s no denying the Tea Party is on the ascent.

When the Finger Lakes Tea Party held its first meeting in February, there were 27 people in attendance. “At our last meeting in the Yates County auditorium, it was overflowing,” said Sandy King, the group’s organizer. “It looked like there were around 160 people. That’s on a Monday night, and it wasn’t even all the members.”

At every event the group hosts, more new people show up, she said.

“Americans across the country are fed up,” King said. “They don’t feel the government is listening to them.”

Dutcher has received many phone calls over the past couple of months from people who either identify with the Tea Party or are “loosely associated with them,” and are interested in becoming politically active. That can mean anything from learning how to support a candidate on the ballot to wanting to be a candidate themselves, he said.

Many members of the county’s Republican committee are either members of the Tea Party or they at least sympathize with their cause, Dutcher said.

“These are people who lead very active lives outside of politics,” he said. “They have become so disgusted with government that they now feel they need to step forward and at least make their voice heard.”

Despite clear affinities with the Republican party and frequent assaults on the Democratic majority, the group claims non-partisan status.

“There’s a tendency to lump us in with a political party,” said Poyzer. “We are non-partisan, but at the same time, you can understand why there’s maybe a little more outward frustration toward the Democratic majority right now.”

Party members also want to make clear that they are not “anti-government,” said King.

“That’s a huge misconception out there,” she said. “It’s not the case whatsoever. We support our government, and we love our country, but we want representation.”

What do they represent?
Iva Deutchman, a professor of political science at Hobart & William Smith Colleges in Geneva, said she is “fascinated” by the Tea Party.

“I would love to spend some time talking to some of these people, because I’m fascinated by what they might represent,” she said. “I don’t know to what extent this is a spontaneous outpouring or something organized by Fox News.”

Whatever the Tea Party folks might say about being non-partisan, much of what they are seeking is “what the Republican party is supposed to stand for,” said Deutchman. Maybe many of these people look at the Republican Party, but “they don’t recognize it as their party,” she said. Deutchman even wonders how long it will be before the group is “absorbed by the Republican party.” Or maybe they will go their own way.

Either way, she said, even if the Tea Party is insistent on its own identity outside the Republican party, the Republicans might do well to see in these people “an energized base” to fuel the party in the future.

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