What Is The Tea Party?
The Tea Party made its presence known during the recent primaries winning in seven out of nine senate endorsements, seven out of thirteen house endorsements and six out of nine gubernatorial endorsements. Two questions must be asked regarding the popularity of the Tea Party in some states: Exactly what is the Tea Party? What are its politics? And what makes it so attractive to voters at this time in our country’s history?
The history of the Tea Party is interesting. It is being financed by the billionaire Texas oil baron Koch brothers, David and Carl whose father, from whom they inherited the company, was on the board of directors of the John Birch Society. Tea Party candidates, if elected, wish to abolish Social Security, Federal Regulatory Agencies, Welfare, the FBI, the CIA and public schools. Upper most on the Koch brothers list is making sure there are no restrictions on carbon emissions as it would hinder their company’s bottom line. In mixing cultural philanthropy with politics, David Koch founded “Humanitarians for Prosperity,” to further push his political agenda. Added to the core of the Tea Party is Dick Army’s “Freedom Works” formerly titled “Citizens for a Sound Economy,” appealing to those who would not squander our capital on that part of our population who needs assistance.
According to multiple sites on the internet, the Tea Party (TP) more stands against things that are ongoing in Washington than it proffers a position in favor of things. Surely telling an audience what you know they would like to hear will always bear fruit as in the listing of negatives on their web site. Some of their positions are against the following: forced bail out of mortgages, massive spending on social programs, increasing taxes on small businesses, deficit spending, bank bailouts, wealth transfer, cap and tax, universal health care, abortion even in the case of rape and anything Obama.
As in many fringe parties, Tea partiers find it difficult to run on values as they too are not free of sin. Suffice it to say they are a values group when it suits them. They want a hands-off government except when it comes to abortion even as a consequence of rape and, as in the case of Terry Schiavo, intervention in intensely personal family decisions including life and death. Their values plank includes respect which is reserved for those they anoint, the antithesis of which is reserved for the President of the United States.
To say they are anti-democrat, anti-Obama, anti-people whose relatives do not look like they came over on the Mayflower, is to be kind. When people were anti George Bush they merely picked on his smirk, his lack of acuity or his apparent disconnect with reality. Despite displeasure with his wars, patronization of the oil industry and over-the-top spending nobody called him a white fascist. No one likened him to Hitler. No one questioned the origin of his birth. They merely questioned his dedication to the service of his country as a pilot (the documentation that would prove he did not do his job miraculously and quickly disappeared), his lying us into war, his ineffectiveness in dealing with catastrophes and his foibles with regard to the English language. But, as we know, questioning Obama’s background only serves to incite people against him for the wrong reasons when issues, not personal attacks are reason enough.
Unwilling to work with the existing Republican power base in that they are not far enough to the right, the Tea Party is offering voters a radically conservative alternative. However, by so doing, the TP is diluting the Republican voting base, running against the party in primaries and, to an eyeopening extent, winning. Does this upset the Republican establishment? It does. Are Republicans fighting back? They are. They were.
A case in point was Carl Rove (mastermind of the Bush administration) watching as his power was diminishing by the minute, railing against Delaware Tea Party winner Christine O’Donnell’s character on conservative television. Rove, relentless, called O’Donnell out on such personal values issues as her college degree, having no discernable income, not filing income taxes since 2005 and letting her house go into foreclosure, then having her boyfriend buy it back at an attractively reduced price. But, wait! What was that 180 degree switch Rove pulled? All too conveniently he reversed his stance two days later welcoming O’Donnell into the Republican Party fold giving credence to the saying, “If you can’t beat them, join them.” Nobody’s fool, Rove was encouraged to see Republicans will stand a better chance to tip the balance of power in Washington come mid-term elections when merged with the Tea Party. The question is: Then what? Which side will concede how drastically and on what issues remains to be seen.
Voters, many of whom are turned off to politics as usual, see the Tea Party as a viable alternative to the norm. What might be short-sighted is the electorates’ knowledge of how Washington works, the structure set in stone by those elected as the forerunners of today. One can only imagine the freshly elected senator or representative as fresh meat “ in the sea of piranha lobbyists regardless of party affiliation. All swearing to be champions of the people, Washington newbies are quickly engulfed into the politics that puts corporations between politicians and people, even Tea Partiers.
Current political processes have led voters to seek alternative candidates to fill our elective offices. However, as the ways of Washington stand, regrettably, no new electees will be able to effect change. If voters were disenchanted with the wars of the Rove- Bush Administration and the direction of the Emanuel-Obama Administration, when lining up at the ballot box, one only has to look to the Koch- Gingrich Administration to see the writing on the wall of the future.