For a two-and- a-half-year-old movement, the tea party has already left a massive imprint on American politics. No Republican contender for the presidency
can afford to betray its positions against taxation, against liberalizing immigration policies, against a loose interpretation of the Constitution. Tea party backers in 2010 helped vault a number of Republican candidates into the House of Representatives, which now boasts a thriving Tea Party Caucus
. Need more evidence of its mainstream emergence? Just weeks ago, CNN teamed up with Tea Party Express to sponsor a GOP presidential debate
These milestones notwithstanding, the movement remains a pipsqueak on the copy desks of newspapers in the land of the free and the home of the brave. The challenge is one of elementary-school grammar: The tea party movement can’t get itself a pair of capital letters.
How does the AP’s copy brain trust justify this “O”? Minthorn advances a few arguments on that point:
1. “This is what these protesters call themselves.” (Just the way the tea party always has.)
2. “It seems to be a movement that has a lot of local manifestations.” (Like the tea party.)
3. “They sort of seem to share a philosophy of some sort; they have shared ideas.” (Like the tea party!)
Leave it to the New York Times, that target of right-wing ideologues, to give us a “T” and a “P.” Associate Managing Editor for Standards Philip B. Corbett articulates just why the paper treats the Tea Party properly. “Granted, it’s not a formal organization like the Republican Party. But I would think of ‘Tea Party’ as more akin to, say, a nickname than to a generic common noun. Or you could compare it to an artistic movement — we uppercase ‘Impressionism,’ though it’s not a formal organization.”
Not only does the New York Times give the tea party its due, but its solution also eliminates potential confusion. Let’s not forget that before Sarah Palin and constitutional originalism, a tea party was a gathering of people with hot drinks and finger food. “It’s not a political judgment, just a question of clarity and appearance. It seems a bit odd or distracting to refer to a lowercase ‘tea party’ — as a common noun, a ‘tea party’ is a gathering where tea is served,” writes Corbett via e-mail.
Why do news media capitalize ‘Occupy Wall Street’ but not ‘tea party’? - The Washington Post