Has the Tea Party Remade Republican Conservatism?

Theda Skocpol and Vanessa Williamson, authors of “The Tea Party and the Remaking of Republican Conservatism,” will discuss the impact and future of the movement at Duke’s Sanford School of Public Policy on March 15, at 4:30 p.m.

The event is free and open to the public, and parking is available at the Bryan Center parking garage. The authors will sign books at a reception following their talk in the Fleishman Commons at Sanford.

Skocpol, a professor of government and sociology at Harvard University, and Williamson, a Harvard Ph.D. candidate, conducted interviews with Tea Party members and attended local meetings across the country to create a detailed and nuanced portrait of the movement.

They found that the Tea Party is not uniformly opposed to “big government,” but instead, is opposed to government spending on the “undeserving” -- undocumented immigrants, lower income people and youth. The majority of the members, who are white, older than the average American, and have higher incomes, view Social Security and Medicare as programs for “the deserving,” people who worked to earn the benefits.

 “Members of the Tea Party peer out at a fast-changing society and worry. The public image of the Tea Party is one of anger. But in our experience, the more typical emotion is fear,” the authors wrote.

The Tea Party movement had a significant impact on the 2010 elections, and could have an influence on the 2012 elections.

“Pushing the Republican Party to the hard right and denying Obama a second term have always been top Tea Party goals. In Romney, the movement has just the man it needs,” Skocpol wrote in a February op-ed published in The Washington Post.

The event is co-sponsored by the Duke Department of Political Science and will be videotaped by C-SPAN. For more information, contact Mary Lindsley, 919-613-7312, mary.lindsley@duke.edu.