Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Tea Party and Its Role in Destroying the GOP

Other than the Christofascists in the GOP there are few elements of the GOP base I despise more than the so-called Tea Party crowd.   It's open embrace of ignorance, greed, bigotry and self-centered policies, not to mention it's less than subtle racism mark it as a toxic threat to constitutional government.  Although because of the Tea Party's significant overlap with the Christofascists, none of this should be a surprise.  What is perhaps more of a surprise is how over a little more than a two year period the Tea Party and its Christofacist allies are on the verge of destroying the Republican Party - or at least the GOP as it existed for many decades when logic, reason, intellect, responsible governing and true conservatism mattered.  All of these former attributes of the GOP have been swept away and replaced by madness and an almost anarchist mentality where destruction of the country and its economy do not matter a whit if a shift from extremist ideology is required.  A somewhat lengthy article in the Washington Post looks at the Tea Party's foul influence on the GOP.  Here are some excerpts:

The Gadsden flag, which flew proudly over the 2010 midterm elections, now lies in tatters — rent by internal disagreements, losses among its most visible standard-bearers and a growing sense that the tea party movement, which once looked like it could transform American politics, will soon be nothing more than a blip in the country’s collective memory.

The movement’s journey from boom to bust is the story of American politics writ large. The tea party’s ups and downs (in 2012, mostly downs) highlight some of the key forces shaping today’s battles — from the fissures that threaten to destroy the Republican Party to the perils of a leaderless or multi-leader effort to the difference between proving a point and winning.

No one person more embodies the fruitful-turned-fractious relationship that the tea party has enjoyed with the political world (and itself) than the man whom the movement made speaker of the House after the 2010 elections: John Boehner.

The debt-ceiling fight of 2011 was a sign of things to come for Boehner. The speaker engaged in long and serious talks with President Obama aimed at not simply raising the country’s debt limit but also addressing our long-term budget problems. But as it became clear that Boehner was going to have to give to get, the tea party crowd in the House, who saw the debt ceiling vote as a chance to tie the government’s purse strings, made clear that they wouldn’t be going along to get along. 

Then came the 2012 elections, a rebuke of the tea party’s ideas and leaders. Sensing an opportunity to wrest control of his party, or at least the House GOP, back from the fringe, Boehner went on offense.

[Boehner's] Plan B never made it to the House floor. The speaker and Majority Leader Eric Cantor couldn’t come close to securing the votes required.  The defeat was spurred by the tea party, which saw Boehner’s plan not as a way to put political pressure on the president but as an unnecessary sacrifice of a core principle. That principle? It’s never okay to raise taxes on anyone. As Boehner’s strategy sunk, and with it, his power as speaker, it was the lawmakers he had punished who celebrated most heartily.

Huelskamp’s victory, of course, was Pyrrhic. With Boehner marginalized, Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid have been left to sort out a fiscal cliff deal — one that almost certainly will be worse for Republicans than what Boehner proposed.

It wasn’t just in legislative battles where the tea party proved a point but lost the fight in 2012.  Indiana’s Senate race showed the promise and peril of the movement. Sen. Dick Lugar, who was first elected in 1976 and had been easily reelected since then, faced a primary challenge from his ideological right from state Treasurer Richard Mourdock, a little-known but decidedly more tea-party-friendly candidate.

Mourdock’s win-then-loss epitomized the tea party’s steep decline, but he was far from the only GOP candidate who sacrificed victory at the altar of ideology. Rep. Allen West, running in a swing district in Florida, spent time speculating about how many communists there might be in Congress. (Eighty-one, in case you were wondering.) When asked about his feelings on abortion, Rep. Joe Walsh, running in a Democratic-leaning, suburban Chicago district, insisted that “there is no such exception as life of the mother.” (He lost by nine points.)

The tea party didn’t catch a single break in Election 2012. Take Missouri, where the defeat of Todd “legitimate rape” Akin in the Senate race was laid at the feet of the tea party. The problem with that theory? The major tea party groups had backed Akin’s primary opponents; he won on the strength of his support among social conservatives.

[T]he tea party needed a second act but had no director. And no one could even agree on what the script should be. The result? Chaos.  .   .   .   .  A movement can become something bigger only if it understands the difference between winning a battle and winning a war — or between a moral victory and an actual one. The tea party won a few of the former in 2012 but almost none of the latter.

Candidly, until the Republican Party finds a way to jettison the Tea Party crowd and the Christofascist, the extremism and insanity - and the threat to constitutional government - will only increase.  These people belong in an insane asylum, not in control of a major political party. 

No comments: