Last week, the House approved the creation of Rep. Michele Bachmann’s (R-MN) Tea Party Caucus, which aims to promote the movement’s “call for fiscal responsibility, adherence to the Constitution, and limited government” within Congress. A number of high-profile Republicans quickly signed on, such as Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN). But some conservative pundits have been leery, warning that the institutionalization of the tea party could corrupt the grassroots movement. Indeed, House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA) told the Richmond Times-Dispatch today that he would not be joining the caucus, because the tea party is “better left with the people,” and not Washington politicians:
Cantor explained in an e-mail interview that the tea-party movement is “certainly not of Washington and in that respect it’s better left with the people.” […]
“Part of what is so inspiring about the tea-party movement is that it is not structured like a political party and, instead, is a truly organic, grass-roots effort,” Cantor said. “The movement was born outside of Washington and includes people of all political stripes — Republicans, independents and Democrats — who have come together out of frustration with their government in an effort to force it to change.”
Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) — who is also strong tea party supporter — refused to join as well, explaining that the tea party movement “should be kept outside Congress.” “The more you try to put structure around the tea party, the more compromised it will be,” Chaffetz wrote on Twitter. “If any one person[s] tries to co-opt it, the tea party will lose its identity and effectiveness.” So far, out of the 178 Republicans in the House, only 46 have joined Bachmann’s caucus.
A coalition of Missouri tea party groups called Bachamnn “grossly
misled” for endorsing Rep. Roy
Blunt (R-MO) over tea party favorite Chuck Purgason in the
state’s Republican Senate primary. “For Michele Bachmann to come to Missouri and give the
impression that all the Missouri Tea Parties support Roy Blunt is an
abomination of everything we
have been standing up for,” they said in a statement. “Joe the Plumber” even personally “bankrolled
an ad that
will run in nearly every Missouri TV market” on Purgason’s behalf.