My impression of the people participating in the Tea Party protests is that they represent a group of people who are broadly disgruntled for a large variety of reasons. Some are concerned about abortion, others about health care or bailouts, and still others about the budget or national security. While some may be very knowledgeable, many seem to know very little about the issues they are fixated on, suggesting to me that they are just generally unhappy and scared.
The 9/12 focus of the Tea Parties is very interesting to me. I have been told that the idea is that the protesters would like to return to a time when the country was largely united, patriotism was celebrated, and we had a popular Republican President. While I understand why they would appreciate those values, I find it more than slightly morbid. It seems to suggest it would be better to live in a world where 3,000 people died yesterday and things are black and white than live in a world where problems are complex, there are shades of gray, and we must find ways to compromise when we disagree.
Will a general sentiment of unhappiness among this faction be a problem for the Democrats in mid-term elections? It could be; midterm elections are often rough on the President's party anyways. Democrats will need to get healthcare reform passed and get implementation started without disaster if they want to do well. However, I doubt this contigent will put Obama in much danger in 2012, unless the Republicans can find a compelling candidate who doesn't scare moderates. There was similar strong dislike of President Bush before 2004, but without a great Democratic candidate, there wasn't enough force to push President Bush out of office. At this point, it looks like the Republicans could be in a very similar situation in 3 years.
I have worked in economic policy and research in Washington, D.C. and Ghana. My husband and I recently moved to Guyana, where I am working for the Ministry of Finance. I like riding motorcycle, outdoor sports, foreign currencies, capybaras, and having opinions.