I think it’s time we stop allowing conservatives to differentiate between the Tea Party and the GOP because the Tea Party is the GOP and GOP is the Tea Party– and it’s time you conservatives get a spine and own up to it. Whether you wear a stupid-looking three-cornered hat or a $1,000 suit and tie makes no difference . If you support the insane political/religious/economic policies of the Tea Party—or are just too cowardly to oppose them for fear of being “primaried”–then embrace it because you asked for it.
There have been a whole slew of people predicting the demise of the Tea Party for a long time now, but it hasn’t happened; and it’s not going to happen. Face it, even though they are forcing out some long-time, albeit crappy in their own right, Republicans, the Tea Party nutjobs are still the tail wagging the Republican dog even to the point of shutting down the government, then taking the country to within a few hours of default.
And if you have been paying the least bit of attention to this latest, contrived, “crisis”, you would have heard the words “Tea Party” coming only from the mouths of Democrats and the torn, tattered remains of what was once an independent and truth-seeking media.
I haven’t heard ANY Republicans holding out to destroy the Affordable Care Act beginning their sentences with “We in the Tea Party…” It has become a familiar name —or a label—in the political lexicon more than a movement. Its points of view, ideologies, methods, and its style have inter-woven themselves deeply into the bowels of the GOP. You can now safely retire from your active political glossary the term “neo-cons” or conservative hawks. It’s been successfully and totally supplanted by this new xenophobic, Aryan insanity.
Just to be crystal clear, the new Tea Party/GOP still believes in a philosophy that includes the destruction of people, places and things to get them back to a place they see as an idyllic, pristine, white-male dominated time.
The Tea Party/GOP STILL wants war like neocons, but the war they want is within our own borders, not the empire-building of the neocons’ kind of war, but war here amongst other people they don’t consider “real” Americans.
What I’m talking about is:
Civil War. Kill Your Brother War. Screw the Poor People War. The Hell With Old People War. Women Should be Subservient Baby Makers War. Break The Back of This Government War. Reset this Entire Cream-Colored, Gay, Inclusive, Population Back to the Beginning War. What’s Mine is Mine and What’s Yours is Mine War.
Most Republicans worry more about being “primaried” (yes, it’s a verb now) than running against Democrats. Not that there aren’t still Tea Party organizations in existence, but how many Republican politicians in the coming months, or years are going to be eager to show up at a rally where everyone’s wearing stupid hats with Lipton Tea bags hanging in their faces?
What this moment in time marks is the not so much the death of the Tea Party, but about the final stages of a transformation. Tadpole-to-frog transformation. Chrysalis to butterfly transformation. Tea Party to new GOP transformation.
The stupid-looking costumes will get put away, and the angry rallies may draw no more than a handful of fist-shaking, confederate-flag-carrying, pistol-packing lunatics. But what we all should clearly understand—not to mention plan for—is the fact that the Tea Party has metastasized itself within its host; it has completed a metamorphosis into a new life-form–even if fewer people utter its name.
Perhaps it would be useful to come up with a new name for it, since the word “party” misleads the clueless into thinking that if it isn’t doing practical things like endorsing candidates or putting forward a policy agenda, then it’s fading away. Well it isn’t, and defeats like this last one over defunding Obamacare will not make it weaker.
This Ain’t No Gap-Toothed, Knuckle-dragging, Grass-roots Movement No More Hot-Dammit
The time has come to stop thinking that the Tea Party is a grassroot movement and understand it’s a psychological, sociological, and religious abomination. It’s got big money backers, and they don’t give a rat’s ass about who they hurt, who they lie to, or who they have to count as “necessary collateral damage” to bring down this “coffee-colored, abomination” of a president and the political party and “like-minded libtards” he represents.
I’ve compared these RWNJs to insurgents. They fit the definition. But when somebody as nutty as John McCain—you remember him yes?…the guy that wanted to position Sarah Palin (the politically savvy(?) mayor of bumfucksville, Alaska and half-term Governor of the same state) a heartbeat away from controlling the largest nuclear arsenal in the world? When he thinks that these Tea Party folks are “whacko birds”, then they must be clearly certifiably nuts. But that DOES NOT make them unelectable or a force to be underestimated.
Nor is that to say it’s irreversible. And, yes, I do think holding the entire government and its worldwide credit hostage because they don’t like a law–which was essentially ratified by a national election, enacted into law by both houses of Congress, and declared constitutional by an extremely conservative Supreme Court–is going to politically wound the GOP in 2014.
But I also think that once that’s done, there’s likely to be a geographical winnowing, with Tea Party/GOP politicians losing where they were weak anyway. For instance, in 2010, many Tea Partiers got elected even in places where they weren’t particularly well-organized, nor had a huge number of boots on the ground—which is the way “wave” elections usually manifest themselves. But in the next election we’ll probably see the defeat of people like, say, the loose cannon, looney-tunes Governor of Maine, Paul LePage. In other words, Tea Partiers that are indigenous to places other than the South, certain corners of the Midwest (umm, can you say Kansas?) and the interior West will probably have had their fifteen minutes and fade into the woodwork like Joe Walsh and Allen West. Tea Partiers will still win in Alabama, Mississippi, South Carolina, but not in New England for Pete’s sake.
And you can be sure that the ones who remain will not be censured, nor toned down by what just happened–nor when their numbers decrease. As there is after every Republican defeat, there’s talk even now amongst the base about the need for more “true conservatives.” But if you look at the people who decided to end the crisis, they are not that different in their policy values from the Tea Partiers.
Mitch McConnell, (click on the following lyrics to see why I always start humming “Imagine me and you, I do / I think about you day and night, it’s only right / To think about the girl you love / And hold her tight, so happy together “, when I see him) would genuinely like to repeal the ACA, and outlaw abortion, and slash food stamps; and every bit as badly as the Tea Party wants to end them.
And the kerfuffle between Tea Party/GOP factions isn’t even a dispute about tactics, because that would mean the Tea Partiers have some kind of coherent set of tactics in mind; beyond wistfully desiring the return to 1860s, pre-Civil War ideologies. It’s about the apocalyptic worldview that is the “flux capacitor” for the Tea Party/GOP DeLorean. Establishment Republicans like McConnell have the same policy agenda as the Tea Partiers–you betcha they do. But they have also always known that if they lose this round, there will be another round, and another after that. Live goes on. Incumbents are hard to beat; yada, yada, yada.
Fanatics Bring Their Schisms With Them
What the “old order” doesn’t believe,however, that the Tea Partiers do, is that America could literally come to an end if they don’t prevail in the whenever the next political dispute or election takes place.
In one recent poll, 20 percent of Republicans said they believe Barack Obama is the Antichrist. The Antichrist for Pete’s sake!! Yes, it’s easy to laugh at this kind of idiotic fanaticism, but try for a moment to imagine that you believed that. What kind of tactics would you support? Would you be willing to compromise? How would you view even a small political defeat?
Even for zealots who are a step back from imagining a literal apocalypse could be around the next corner, the source of the problem is modernity itself, and the stakes for this ilk are impossibly all-consuming.
What the beleaguered fanatics of this new modern order want is a perfect variety of America that feels like the one they grew up in—at least in their scrambled-egg minds. They want truths that are absolute…unquestioned….and favoring “their kind”. They long for days of the American Revolution and the Articles of Confederation (the “first and real” Constitution), Robert E. Lee….Jim Crow…..John Birch…..Joseph McCarthy….David Duke.
And they want all of this as a pre-packaged, anachronistic ideology, preferably in sync with re-written American history. They want their presidents white and their budget balanced now hot-dammit. They cannot understand concepts such as fiat currency vs the Gold Standard, or that macroeconomics is as different as microeconomics as a dog vs a cat. They don’t understand how balancing the budget right now would tip the whole world into a second depression, just as Herbert Hoover did in 1929 —it’s just more elitist bullshit to them. And given the apocalyptic nature of their view of what is happening in America, it is only natural that they would seek a radical, revolutionary halt to all of it, even if it creates worldwide economic bedlam, even if it destroys millions of jobs, even if it means an unprecedented default on the U.S. debt, even it means that millions of cream-colored, or elderly, or slutty women “fellow Americans “die.
It isn’t merely that they genuinely believe that the most rigid tactics are the path to victory; it’s that they believe that adopting anything, however minor, that is short of the most rigid, unretractable stance, is itself a surrender; a capitulation; a total and dishonorable defeat. To them, you simply can not let the devil sit in the kitchen for a while and hope you’ll somehow be able to convince him to leave. You have to bar the door. Bring your holy water. Maybe even a few dozen AK-47s for good measure.
Politics Is Religion
It’s not that these culturally threatened folk merely embrace their politics like it’s a religion. The actual religious point of view that many of them advocate has been imported and is now interlaced with secular political viewpoints into their faith. They’ve succeeded in identifying obedience to God with the restoration of the proper culture and economics. As a result, they tend to look at themselves as the modern-day equivalents of the Old Testament prophets calling a wicked society to testify and repent before all hell literally breaks loose.
So their politics reinforces their religion and their religion reinforces their politics. Whew, what could go wrong with that?
And it’s not as if we haven’t seen this pattern before. Whether it was the Birchers during the LBJ years or the militia movement under Clinton. There’s always one faction or another of American conservatives that believes that the country has been infected with the most heinous of viruses, and that normal democratic means are no longer sufficient to confront the evil. But I am personally forced to conclude that it’s been worse this time. The threat of modernity for these people, is simply all too real.
The world is leaving them behind. And that urban, multiracial, coffee-colored, man in the White House became literally the embodiment of everything they fear. Every one of his policies, even the one that originated at the Heritage Foundation(Obamacare), they see clearly as an insult to them and a danger to their way of life. There is no convincing them to wait for a more opportune moment to strike, or that the battle of the moment is one they cannot win. For these fanatics, to lose at adll is to lose everything.
So when does the Tea Party end? It ends when the next Republican president takes office. Because when that happens, there will be no more government shutdowns, no more cries of Washington tyranny, no more debt ceiling standoffs, no more obsession with deficits. The stupid-looking hats will be put in storage. But the fears and resentments that created and supported the Tea Party/GOP will smolder, waiting until the next Democrat becomes President—and the smoldering embers of hatred, racism and misogyny will still be waiting to spring back into flames,
And then? It will all start again.
Harvey A. Gold