Back when I used to read the news magazines more regularly, I would devour their end-of-the-year issues to read about the issues which and individuals who had shaped the past twelve months. I would both read to test my own attentiveness to the year’s trends and stories–to see how many were familiar to me–and to review the year about to conclude.
I’ve neglected those retrospectives this years (as I have for some time), but suspect that many will refer only to one of the (if not the) most important political phenomenon of 2009, the rebirth of American conservatism, in passing.
And the movement cam back alive despite pundits proclaiming its death and despite uneven the performance of the GOP leadership in our nation’s capital. Michael Steele impressed us more before he took the helm of the RNC. John Boehner and Mitch McConnell have proven able managers of our party’s greatly reduced cauci in their respective houses of Congress, but both suffer from an absence of what President George H.W. Bush dismissed as the “vision thing.”
Leaders of a revolution, they ain’t.
What our leaders may like in vision, however, our grassroots has shown in energy. At the outset of the year following the election of a charismatic, community organizer to the White House, a man who motivated millins, who’d have thunk that rallies for smaller government and more freedom would have drawn larger crowds than rallies for the causes which motivate a base with a penchant for protest?
How quickly things change. While the power in Washington may be on the left, the energy at the grassroots in on the right. Obama’s Democrats may be trying to undermine the accomplishments of Ronald Reagan, but Republicans and independents are turning to his ideas and example for inspiration.
So, I’m wondering, given that the Tea Parties were one of the big stories of 2009, perhaps the biggest political story outside our nation’s capital, did any mainstream news outlet list this as one of the singular phenomena of the year? And, if they did, did they accord this movement the respect it was due, not dismissing it with sexual innuendo or condescension?
The 2010 elections will show whether this movement has the potential to transform the political landscape in the United States. If it does, will the mainstream media again be caught off guard (as some outlets were in 1994) by a grassroots phenomenon on the right?