Graduation Year

Spring 2014

Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Jon A. Shields

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Rights Information

© 2014 Aidan S. Fahnestock


The 2010 freshman class bears an uncanny resemble to their idealistic counterparts from 1994. Their campaign rhetoric, motivations and beliefs are almost interchangeable. The triumphs and especially frustrations and failures of their first terms also bear stark similarities. Most critically, the freshmen's conservative agenda suffered a disappointing electoral rebuke in their first elections as incumbents. Both the 1996 and 2012 presidential year congressional elections halted the respective momentum of the Republican Revolution and the Tea Party. The lessons of the 104th Congress offer many lessons to the freshmen of the 112th, namely that ideological "revolutions" in America (in this case, those of a conservative nature) struggle to deal with the challenges of governing. This thesis will examine and compare the rhetoric and motivations of the freshmen during their initial campaigns, and the triumphs and tribulations of their first terms in a city that is resistant to sudden and sweeping changes. The title of this work, "Taking Back America," reflects the sense of urgency and gravitas that spiritually united both classes of freshmen. The personal observations recorded in Linda Killian‘s The Freshman (1998) and Robert Draper‘s When the Tea Party Came to Town (2012) form the foundation of this examination, which focuses entirely on the U.S. House of Representatives.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.