From the moment CNBC's Rick Santelli launched his "new Tea Party" rant in February, 2009, this blogger has followed the anti-Obama movement. Tea Party leaders and loyalists of the oddly-named group came together only 30 days after Mr. Obama's inauguration, we're told, because of "policy differences" with the nation's first black president.
T.E.A represented "Taxed Enough Already", we were told, even though federal tax rates at the beginning of 2009 were at 60 year lows. Furthermore, the Obama stimulus legislation, passed on February 17, 2009, included additional tax relief for all working Americans with his payroll tax cut.
Teas didn't allow that dissonance to deter them.
Those parading around wearing tri-corner hats, carrying "don't tread on me" flags and Taxed Enough Already signs, protested at rallies throughout the country repeatedly telling reporters that they were going to "take their country back." It had been less than 6 months after the nation, decidedly (by a 7% popular vote margin), picked the Democrat, Barack Obama, to be president, when these Tea Party protests began in earnest.
From the start, The Reverend thought the Tea Party group was an incoherent, reactionary movement, primed by Sarah Palin's often-divisive, "palling around with terrorists", 08 campaign rallies. I labeled the new far-right group, sore losers,.....and thought at the time that these very upset McCain voters should have just taken the advice their fellow Republicans had freely offered to Democrats in 2000...."just get over it."
But they couldn't.....just get over an Obama presidency.
Dick's Armey, FreedomWorks, a corporate money funnel for the GOP, immediately co-opted the fledgling incoherents, with much frivolity ensuing.
My personal favorites were the townhall bust-up gatherings of 2009. Angry, angry TP conservatives were schooled by corporate sponsors on how best to turn a Democratic representative's townhall meeting into total chaos......all because of a plan to include 30 million more Americans on health insurance rolls.....all over national health care reform which Barack Obama had campaigned on before being elected to the presidency.
Then there was the media. Corporate "news" media loved themselves some Tea Party, giving untold free airtime to the incoherent "new" group, helping the anti-Obamaites by creating a perception of the group as "grassrooted", "new", "serious" and "rising."
And yes, with blanket corporate media help and a ton of corporate money.....combined with a less-than-enthusiastic Democratic turnout in 2010, the Tea Party claimed their first prize....they took over the House. Finally, Obama could be stopped cold.
Slowly, the "take our country back" slogan....became more comprehensible, but not in a flattering way. Tea Party adherents wanted to take our country back to what it was like before Franklin Roosevelt.
Before our national safety net to guard against the effects of unbridled "destructive capitalism" were put in place. Before women and minorities were given full and equal status as part of 'we the people'. Before working Americans had any protections from employers or Wall Street casino game skimmers. Take us back to how things were before the United States became the most powerful and wealthy country in all of world history. This taking our country back was curiously labeled.....freedom and liberty.
However, last August, the Teas newly elected to the House decided to push their "take our country back" rhetoric to the limit in the national credit-limit standoff. "Cut it or shut it" they sang and shouted. Chants of "shut it down" blared from late summer Tea Party rallies. Even the solidly conservative Speaker could not corral these new reactionaries.....eventually leading to a downward spike in the markets and our first credit downgrade. The Teas would wreck the entire nation's economy, if need be, in their quest to "take their country back."
In reality, the Tea Party isn't, and wasn't, something new at all. Tea Party members are but the far-right fringers of the Republican Party. The proof being the Tea Party's dismal failure in the 2010 senate races. It is because of the Tea Party that cartoonish figures like Sharron Angle, Joe Wilson and Christine O'Donnell were the losing senatorial candidates in 2010....nixing an odds-on chance for the GOP to also recapture the Senate that year.
Again, in 2012, the Teas have helped to primary-out any remaining GOP moderates in the Senate. Radical embarrassments like Richard Mourdock in Indiana and Todd Akin in Missouri, combined with the retirement of another under-TP-siege senator, Olympia Snowe in Maine.....will result in Republicans not winning the Senate again this cycle.
The anti-Obama, Tea Party movement will vote tomorrow in the hopes of electing a former blue-state, moderate to the presidency, one who passed universal healthcare in his state. These malcontents do not like Mitt Romney and will only vote for him out of contempt and hatred for the Democratic Obama, which will prove, yet again, that the Teas are but an anti-Obama reflection in a far-right Republican mirror.
Following Tuesday's re-election of Barack Obama, the Teas will have new choices. They can jettison their more extreme elements, sending them to the political outskirts of town, so to speak....and work to actually reform the Republican Party, embracing new pro-science, climate change policies, dropping their anti-women's choice, voter suppression tactics...as well as agreeing on comprehensive immigration reform that includes, yes, a pathway to citizenship. As well as abandoning their 3 in1 oil fetish that tax cuts solve all economic problems.
But I'm guessing that none of that will happen. A Romney loss, a failure of the GOP to retake the Senate, will most likely be interpreted by the Teas as evidence that their failed candidates lost because those candidates were not sufficiently conservative.
Same song, different dance steps.
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