Fleshing it Out

Snapshots of Our Political Pathology

Fruit of the Same Tree: How to Understand the Tea Party


The Tea Party is not some alien thing grafted onto today’s Republican Party. True, there’s a civil war of sorts going on within that Party. So the Party isn’t all of a piece.

But, more fundamentally, the nihilism and the craziness and the destructiveness that we see going on with the “extremists” within the Party represents a fuller flowering of what the Republican Party establishment sowed and cultivated.

The Tea Party didn’t even exist before Barack Obama became president. But by then we’d already had, thanks to this Republican Party, eight years of the most lawless and (with the possible exception of Buchanan’s) the most destructive presidency in history.

The Tea Party was not part of Congress until 2011. But by then, we’d already had two years of Republicans in opposition taking the unprecedented step of making it their top priority to make the new president fail, to prevent anything good from being accomplished even if that meant voting against their own ideas.

The Tea Party should be understood, I believe, in two main ways:

1) In its top-down (astro-turf) dimension, it represents the deliberate effort of the most cynical components of the right-wing force (like the Koch Brothers, who put forward the money to launch it, and like Rupert Murdock’s news empire, which publicized it into prominence) to enable the Spirit of Destructiveness to take further possession of the Republican Party.

2) In its bottom-up (grassroots) dimension, it represents the harvest of all the hatred and fear and delusional beliefs that the Republican establishment (e.g. Newt Gingrich, Rush Limbaugh, Karl Rove) deliberately cultivated for years. They themselves may not be crazy, but their stirred up the pot, unleashing into the center of the Republican Party the kind of John Birch radical right energy that, in earlier eras, was kept in the background by the Republican Party and the conservative movement.

The disease is systemic. The uprising of the nihilists is a natural result of the choice of the Republican Party, increasingly over the past generation, to make deals with the devil.

deal with the devil

4 thoughts on “Fruit of the Same Tree: How to Understand the Tea Party


  1. David R

    Andy, without reference to financial supporters, why can’t you tell your readers
    a number of ‘Tea Party’ plat form positions that you find so awful. I would be interested in reading your views on why they are so awful and UN American.

    I have looked it up on wiki and read a few observations by normally competent observers and have yet to be shocked at anything to be heard.

    I think it was the incredibly unconstitutional administration of GWB and the continuation of Bush Policies by Barack Obama that has led many Americans to feel SOMWETHING must be done.

    Something more can be said about the Affordable Care Act and how it came to be enacted but I can wait.

    What I really want to hear is from whence Andy is getting his whiffs of sulfurous fumes.

    ………………………………………………………………………

    Reply

    1. Andrew Bard Schmookler

      What does the Tea Party stand for –or the Republican Party as a whole– that isn’t destructive? That would be a shorter list.

      In the present situation, people who regard compromise as a dirty word are hostile to the whole concept and framework of government our Founders gave us.

      In the immediate crisis, people who, while holding power over half of one third of our government (and that third by virtue of gerrymandering– the Democrats won more total votes in 2012 in congressional races than the Republicans) and who hold a gun to the head of the American economy and declare “Meet our demands or we’ll hurt America” are acting contrary to the whole American spirit of democratic governance, as well as trampling on American tradition.

      That’s for starters. Once one sees that spirit so nakedly displayed in these ways, one should be able to pick up on how it pervades virtually the entire posture, across the board.

      Reply

  2. David R

    Well, as for the view from here, ever increasing Federal Debt is the most potentially crippling -and possibly subversive- thing going on . . and on . .

    The Bush Tax Cuts were undoubtedly wrong and that combined with expanding military adventuring to me defied common sense.

    But common sense does not seem to be very highly esteemed by either Party right now

    So naturally we have resistance where it seems possible. I was taught ‘moderation’ and am still disgusted with extremes of every kind (which we are seeing on all sides today). But sometimes moderate voices are drowned out amidst the clamor and/or insistent ‘lying’ and maybe we have to let fire fight fire and see what is left to work with

    for the course America is on
    under the current administration as with the previous cannot be sustained with integrity.

    Only if financial failure is the intention – treason hidden in plain sight-

    and maybe the moral/traditional/values/stirring of conflict is the screen, ie, facilitating confusion, I say, if so

    and our military and money(borrowed) is being used to topple and support governments to put resources and regions into other hands (not ours)

    then, and only then does the current course make any sense at all in my view.

    Since I do not believe the world is out of control, I think the current craziness makes perfect sense once you see where the power is flowing.

    So here back at the ranch, I will watch the fighting of ‘fire’ with ‘fire’ with great interest . . to see how it plays out . . as we average productive folks are scheduled to lose regardless if the fire burns on unimpeded.

    Reply

    1. Andrew Bard Schmookler

      David R., I know that there are plenty of people who think the national debt problem is a big deal. I feel pretty certain not only has it been a huge blunder to have made that -rather than getting the economy back on its feet and Americans back to work– the center of our discussion, but beyond that we really don’t have much of a national debt problem. (Debt in the private sector has been the bigger problem, and the deleveraging during this crisis, while perhaps necessary, is part of the reason we actually should have had a much bigger increase in government spending since the Crash to make up the gap in which we’ve been squandering some $2 trillion a year or so in idle resources, especially unemployment.

      But I don’t expect you’ll think I know what I’m talking about. Sigh.

      If you’re really interested in how macro-economics works, the best recommendation I can offer is that you read Paul Krugman’s blog on a regular basis. He is outstanding.http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/

      Reply

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