Major crises in recent years have been fostered by an unregulated private sector. Wall Street’s recklessness unraveled the economy and put millions out of work. BP oil company cut corners on safety and ravaged the environment in pursuit of profits. And yet, the major new political movement that has arisen in this period has directed its furor not at Wall Street or Big Business but at the federal government, which has tried to mitigate these disasters.
The radical antigovernment Tea Party movement may represent less than a fifth of the electorate, but it is one of the most energized political forces of the day, and it is shaping debate across the nation, especially in the Republican Party. The Tea Party movement was sparked in 2008–2009 in reaction to the government bailout of mortgage holders, big banks and auto companies and by the government stimulus package that sought to ease the impact of the worst financial recession in 80 years.