Tea Party's Creating Enemies, Not Allies

Tea Party protest
It's actually been nothing new. It wasn't long after Tea Party Republicans came to Washington in 2010 that they began to wear out their welcome. Shills for a handful of billionaires, the 'baggers were originally seen as just the sort of fresh blood a party in decline needed. They were ideologically extremist, sure, but newly elected people are always like that. Elected office is a form of activism, after all, abd these were just activists taking it to the next level. Washington -- and the Republican Party especially -- was already full of extremists, but that didn't mean that nothing could ever get done. You talk big and settle for what you can get. Besides, complaining brings in the campaign funds. Nothing raises money like a grand battle yet to be won. When you win the war, the soldiers go home.

But the 'baggers weren't interested in baby steps. They wanted the world and they wanted it now. Nothing less than total victory -- without compromise -- was acceptable and the leadership of more experienced lawmakers was spurned. By God, the Tea Party would either "save" the nation or destroy it, because anything less that Tea Party purity is considered communism, nazism, and various and sundry other forms of tyranny. In a world of black and white, with no subtleties of gray, they think they stand for liberty and anything else is tyranny. So why not destroy the nation if you don't get what you want? Anything short of what you demand represents the destruction of the nation anyway. This is what a generation raised on talk radio have become -- lunatic extremists who don't believe their political opponents are merely wrong, they believe the left is representative of every political evil visited on mankind throughout history, from Hitler to Stalin to the KKK. You don't compromise with the devil.

This is all very, very insane, of course. The old guard Republicans know it. But these new 'baggers can't be reasoned with, because as we've already established, they're insane. The insane are beyond reason by definition. The Tea Party wasn't the infusion of new blood that it at first seemed to be, it's a harmful force to be fought. Mention of the GOP Civil War has popped up from time to time, but it has never been anything other than a cold war. That is, until now.

Washington Post: Nearly three years after a band of renegade congressmen brought the tea party insurgency to Washington, there are early rumblings of a political backlash in some of their districts.

Here in the Dutch Reformed country of West Michigan, long a bastion of mainstream, mannerly conservatism, voters in 2010 handed the House seat once held by Gerald R. Ford to Justin Amash, a 33-year-old revolutionary and heir to the libertarian mantle of former congressman Ron Paul (R-Tex.). Amash was part of an attempted coup against House Speaker John A. Boehner (R- Ohio) and is a leader of the House tea party faction that helped force a government shutdown last week.

But within Grand Rapids’ powerful business establishment, patience is running low with Amash’s ideological agenda and tactics. Some business leaders are recruiting a Republican primary challenger who they hope will serve the old-fashioned way — by working the inside game and playing nice to gain influence and solve problems for the district. They are tired of tea party governance, as exemplified by the budget fight that led to the shutdown and threatens a first-ever U.S. credit default.

"Similar efforts are underway in at least three other districts.." The report goes on. "The races mark a notable shift in a party in which most primary challenges in recent years have come from the right."

And that's not the only front opened by old guard Republicans in the GOP Civil War. The US Chamber of Commerce says they will oppose any Republican candidate who votes to continue the shutdown or against raising the debt limit. And they aren't the only ones. According to one report, "Some influential Republican donors are now threatening to withhold their contributions to the National Republican Congressional Committee over the shutdown strategy."

House Republicans current strategy is the Tea Party caucus' strategy -- and it is a fiasco. A new poll shows that they're in danger of losing the House majority. And that's a poll not a lot of people are disputing. Other polls show Republicans taking the blame for he government shutdown. This is not a fight the 'baggers are winning.

But it's a fight where everyone is against them and even their allies are defecting. The question is whether enough will defect in time. Whatever the outcome, we may be looking at the twilight of the Tea Party.

It cannot come too soon.


[photo via Wikimedia Commons]

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