When President Obama was reelected, eulogies were being written for not only the vanquished Republican Party, but a tea party movement that had lost its efficacy, too.
Even as the results were still coming in, and it became apparent that President Obama was going to win a decisive victory, particularly in the Electoral College, the tea party was declared DOA as a result of the traumatic loss. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee issued a statement that the tea party movement, which had morphed into a political powerhouse in 2010, was "over."
In fact, it really didn't look like the tea party had much of a future, with a number of favorites, like Florida Rep. Allen West, having been beaten.
Then there was also the ongoing destructive infighting within the decentralized movement, culminating in late December with Dick Armey parting ways with FreedomWorks, the Washington-based political group that led the movement.
But such prophetic views have proven short-lived. Weeks after it was pronounced lifeless, the tea party has gained a critical, second wind.
It's drawing new strength from the momentous outrage arising from major gun control initiatives being proposed by President Obama and Democrats in the wake of the Sandy Hook massacre, as well as new gun control initiatives in many state capitals.
Everett Wilkinson, a major leader of the tea party in South Florida, says President Obama's tough stance on gun control has indeed reinvigorated the tea party movement:
"Obama's gun grab has thrown gasoline on the fire for liberty. He has awakened the American people to his socialist agenda. Obama is the greatest recruiter for the tea party," says Wilkerson.
A tougher President Obama indeed has taken the offensive to bring significant changes in gun control, and has shown an apparent willingness to push it as part of a perceived liberal mandate given to him by American voters.
In nuanced language in his second Inaugural Address, the president made it clear he was taking no prisoners in a new fight to expand federal restrictions on the individual ownership of automatic and semi-automatic weapons.
In response, Americans are buying guns like crazy and gun owners are coming out of the woodwork to join the tea party and to embrace the movement's stance against what is now being termed "Obamaism," -- a 21st century threat of despotism framed by these proposed gun restrictions.
The tea party movement captured the frustrations of millions of Americans that arose from the government's Wall Street bailout, the rising national debt, the passage of Obamacare, and other perceived infringements of constitutional rights and liberty -- including gun control.
Up until Obama's election, it succeeded in refashioning the GOP and its message by supporting, and helping to elect, a number of upstart conservative tea party extremists both in primaries and general elections.
As much as President Obama's campaign pounded the GOP and the tea party by exploiting the demographic changes in the electorate to frame the election's debate away from the economy toward a war on women, immigration reforms, and entitlement preservation, the president's subsequent leap toward a gun control crusade -- and the substantial, building resistance to it -- is now shifting the political focus back again toward the original tea party agenda against Obama's vision of big government.
This time, a more matured, further united, and better positioned tea party fixated on this Second Amendment issue is poised again to show that its place in the American journey is neither defunct nor completed.
Published in the Sun Sentinel on January 24, 2012
Steven Kurlander is an attorney and communications strategist. He writes weekly columns in the Sun Sentinel and Florida Voices and blogs in Kurly's Kommentary. He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org