The tea party is essentially a loosely organized band of anti-tax, libertarian-leaning political newcomers who are fed up with Washington and take some of their cues from Beck. While the movement drew early skepticism from establishment Republicans, these same GOP powerbrokers now watch it with a wary eye as activists have mounted successful primary campaigns against incumbents.
The Beck rally further demonstrated the tea party activists’ growing political clout.
If the GOP is able to contain and cooperate with the tea party, and recharge its evangelical wing with Beck-style talk of faith, it spells the kind of change Ratliff and others like him are searching for.
The promise of change helped President Barack Obama win the White House in 2008, but could turn against his fellow Democrats this year. Americans’ dim view of the economy has grown even more pessimistic this summer as the nation’s unemployment rate stubbornly hovered near 10 percent and other troubling economic statistics have emerged on everything from housing to the economy’s growth.