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Tea party activists: Don't confuse them with independents

Tea partyers are are disgruntled social conservatives aiming to take control of the Republican Party. Independents are the antiparty force, trying to restructure the partisan political system. 

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Sarah Palin, America’s newest conservative movement leader, seems to be aiming for a takeover of the GOP. Don’t walk away from the Republican Party, she counseled the “tea partyers” recently, even if some candidates turn out to be a disappointment (read: moderate). And don’t form a third party, she argued, saying, “The Republican Party would be really smart to start trying to absorb as much of the tea party movement as possible.”

With that, Ms. Palin highlighted something that politicians, if they want to make waves in the upcoming Senate elections this year, or the presidential race in 2012, must understand. 

Contrary to some of the spin, the tea party movement is not part of the independent movement. Anyone playing the political game, from the president, to the politicians, to the pollsters, confuses them at their peril.  

As the country becomes more and more dissatisfied with the two parties and anger and disappointment among Americans grow, it’s important to see the ways these two movements are diametrically opposed and seek to accomplish different things. That’s how Americans will come to understand the difference between a tempest in a teapot and a broad-based movement to dramatically reform the political system.

The tea partyers are disgruntled social conservatives aiming to take control of the Republican Party, while independents, the antiparty force, are seeking to restructure the partisan political system. As the percentage of Americans – it’s now 42 – who consider themselves independent grows, understanding the route the independent movement has traveled will be critical to future elections. 

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