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The Tea Party, Donald Trump, and the Transformation of Conservative Political Thought in the USA.

In 2009, the Tea Party movement emerged, aiming to advance conservative principles, including limited government, low taxes, and individual freedoms. According to William (2010), this movement transformed conservative political ideology by emphasizing the federal government’s adverse impact on personal liberties and economic autonomy. The Tea Party’s philosophy posits that an overbearing government unduly constrains individuals’ lives, obstructing progress and inhibiting economic growth. Consequently, conservatives have renewed attention to principles like limited government, individual responsibility, and free-market enterprise.

In addition, The election of Donald Trump as President in 2016 marked a notable development in conservative political ideology. According to Williamson et al. ( 2011) analysis, Trump’s brand of conservatism diverged from traditional views by placing cultural and identity concerns at the forefront rather than economic matters. Trump’s emphasis on immigration, nationalism, and law and order particularly appealed to working-class Americans who believed they were adversely affected by globalization and societal transformation. This dynamic contributed to a widening rift between the established conservative faction and the populist movement that Trump spearheaded.

According to Williamson et al. (2011), Trump’s presidency has not only inspired a fiercely devoted following, but it has also propelled conservative political ideology into uncharted terrain by undermining democratic norms and undermining faith in institutions. Trump’s flagrant assaults on the media, the judiciary, and the intelligence community have unquestionably instilled a bias of mistrust in his supporters towards these essential institutions of American democracy. Conspiracy theories, a profound resentment, and a feeling of being a victimized patriot on the part of some conservatives exacerbated their preexisting paranoia that the establishment was out to get them. In essence, Trump’s polarizing presidency has placed conservatives and the nation on the verge of a fundamental collapse of trust and faith in once-sacrosanct democratic institutions (Bond & Neville-Shepard, 2021).

The January 6 insurrection at the Capitol was a culmination of these trends. The assault was carried out by a combination of far-right entities, conspiracy theorists, and loyalists of ex-President Donald Trump, who maintained that the election was unlawful (Bond & Neville-Shepard, 2021). The occurrences of that day showcased the escalation of extremist groups within the conservative movement and the deterioration of democratic values. It also highlighted how Trump had transformed conservative political thought by elevating populist and identity issues over traditional conservative principles.

One area in which a transformation in conservative political thought has surfaced is within the domain of trade policy. Through the lenses of political history, the ideological foundation of conservatism was built on the principle of free trade. However, as the Tea Party and Trump administration seize the arena, they seem to diverge from the tradition and take a protective approach towards trade (Blum & Parker, 2019). Opponents of free trade agreements uphold that these treaties have led to unemployment and decay in American manufacturing. These groups call for protective tariffs and comparable actions. Consequently, discord concerning trade policy has become more conspicuous among conservative party members, causing friction between the United States and its trading partners.

Although conventional conservatives have historically endorsed a free and unbiased press, the emergence of the Tea Party and Trump have severely articulated criticism of mainstream media outlets, citing partiality and deceit. They have advanced alternative information dissemination channels, namely conservative talk radio and social media, as more credible and genuine sources (Bennett & Livingston, 2018). Such actions have palpably intensified the division of the media realm, sparking widespread skepticism toward traditional outlets of information.

Another area in which the transformation of conservative political ideology has resulted in significant changes to the role of religion in American politics. Historically, religious organizations and conservative politicians shared social values and beliefs (Bond & Neville-Shepard, 2021). in recent years, the conservative movement has boldly evolved with the infusion of new perspectives from the Tea Party and Trump. A more inclusive, secular approach focusing on economic empowerment has expanded outreach to voters of all backgrounds. Despite this change, polarization over social issues remains prevalent. As globalization and economic concerns remain at the forefront, a shift towards a pragmatic conservative approach is evident and is poised to influence the political landscape. The conservative movement is currently navigating these changes and adjusting accordingly, leading to an exciting period of transformation (Westermeyer, 2019).

In conclusion, The Tea Party’s rise and Donald Trump’s presidency have sparked a significant and remarkable shift in conservative ideology across the United States. A departure from conventional conservative values marks this reshaping. As cultural and identity matters take center stage, established institutions are rejected, and a clear distinction emerges between those prioritizing economic interests and those prioritizing societal values. The alterations have notable consequences for immigration, climate change, healthcare, foreign policy, trade policy, media, and religion. There is uncertainty regarding how these changes will govern American politics.


Barber, M., & Pope, J. C. (2019). Conservatism in the Era of Trump. Perspectives on Politics17(3), 719–736.

Blum, R. M., & Parker, C. S. (2019). Trump-ing Foreign Affairs: Status Threat and Foreign Policy Preferences on the Right. Perspectives on Politics17(3), 737–755.

Bond, B. E., & Neville-Shepard, R. (2021). The Rise of Presidential Eschatology: Conspiracy Theories, Religion, and the January 6 Insurrection. American Behavioral Scientist, 1–16.

Rouse, S. M., Hunt, C., & Essel, K. (2021). Growing Tea With Subnational Roots: Tea Party Affiliation, Factionalism, and GOP Politics in State Legislatures. American Politics Research, 1532673X2110411.×211041150

Westermeyer, W. H. (2019). Back to America: Identity, Political Culture, and the Tea Party Movement. In Google Books. U of Nebraska Press.

Williamson, V., Skocpol, T., & Coggin, J. (2011). The Tea Party and the Remaking of Republican Conservatism. Perspectives on Politics9(1), 25–43.


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