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ISBN 978-0-8126-9831-2


viii + 206 pages

September 2013

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The Tea Party Explained

From Crisis to Crusade

Yuri Maltsev and Roman Skaskiw
Volume 12 in the Ideas Explained™ series

The Tea Party showed its strength in the 2010 mid-terms. Despite the opposition of leading Republicans like Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, and Lindsey Graham, 140 Tea Party candidates ran for Congress. Of the sixty House seats that moved from Democratic to Republican control, twenty-eight were won by Tea Party candidates. At the movement’s height, 29 percent of Americans had “some ties” to the Tea Party, while 2 percent identified themselves as active members.

The Tea Party first attracted the media spotlight with Rick Santelli’s televised rant against the government’s bailout of mortgage borrowers on February 19, 2009, which instantly went viral as a video. As the authors document, however, “tea parties” associated with the Ron Paul movement had already been gathering momentum for more than a year.

Beginning as a protest against government spending sprees and ballooning deficits, the Tea Party’s sudden fame forced it to define itself on many issues where the membership was seriously divided. The Tea Party is a coalition of different outlooks, united only by belief in small, debt-free government and low taxes. Fiscal conservatives, who were usually liberal on social issues and against American military interventions, battled social conservatives, in an uneasy series of maneuvers which continues unresolved and is described in the book.
The Tea Party Explained, written by two Tea Party activists who know the movement inside and out, is aimed at the intrigued and curious reader who wants to find out more about this unique phenomenon. The book gives a well-documented account of the Tea Party, its origins, its evolution, the bitter squabbles over its direction, its amazing successes in 2010, and its electoral rebuff in 2012. Maltsev and Skaskiw analyze the demographics of the Tea Party, the many organizations which have tried to represent, appropriate, or infiltrate the movement, and the ideological divisions in its ranks.

The authors evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the Tea Party and its likely future impact. A movement with strong local roots in many cities, firmly supported by a quarter of the US population, will not evaporate after one big defeat, and can be counted on to influence events for decades to come.

Praise for The Tea Party Explained

“Finally! The Tea Party explained! Professor Yuri Maltsev documents the history and significance of what may turn out to be the most powerful new political movement in America since World War II. Professor Maltsev is a pioneer of the movement and one of its most influential advocates. He is joined by Roman Skaskiw, one of the most literate stylists writing in defense of the libertarian cause today. This book is a must read for those who hope to understand the Tea Party’s past and its likely role in America’s future.”

—Patrick Barron, Graduate School of Banking, University of Wisconsin, Madison

“The Tea Party is to government what The Disruptors are to the business world. Maltsev and Skaskiw provide the indispensable guide to America’s return to its libertarian roots.

—Douglas French, author of Walk Away: The Rise and Fall of the Homeownership Myth

“America urgently needs an opposition party to the bipartisan establishment that is driving us to ruin. This book helps us understand the potential role of the Tea Party.”

—Jane Orient, M.D., author of Sapira’s Art and Science of Bedside Diagnosis

“Yuri Maltsev is among a select few so well-positioned to explain the genesis of the Tea Party. In the 1980s, he was a part of the grassroots movement that liberated the territories of the Soviet Union. Since then, Maltsev has been tied in with the intellectual nerve center of the Ron Paul revolution that gave birth to the Tea Party. As Maltsev and Skaskiw explain, the Tea Party is a non-partisan rejection of crony capitalism, central banking, reckless militarism, and Washington’s usurpation of power from the states and the people.”

—Mike Finger, veteran Tea Party activist and Principal, Centinel Consulting

“Although the Tea Party is so very American, it transcends all borders and inspires freedom-loving people on every continent.”

—Paata Shesshelidze, President, New Economic School of Georgia

Yuri Maltsev is Professor of Economics at Carthage College, Wisconsin, and a Senior Fellow at the Mises Institute. Before moving to the U.S. in 1989, he was a member of the team of Soviet economists who worked on President Gorbachev’s perestroika reforms. He is now a frequent speaker at Tea Party events.

Roman Skaskiw is a writer, entrepreneur, and former infantry officer in the U.S. Army. His stories and essays have appeared in collections and in the New York Times Homefires blog, Atlantic, Stanford Magazine, and Front Porch Journal. 

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