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Triumph of the Tea Party mindset

[quote]Yes, the movement is dying as an entity. But the fiscal cliff impasse proves its spirit dominates the GOP

THURSDAY, DEC 27, 2012

BY STEVE KORNACKI

Two stories that might seem to contradict each other ran in the New York Times this week. One declared the Tea Party movement “significantly weakened” in the wake of November’s elections and on its way to becoming “just another political faction.” The other noted that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell might be concerned about a potential 2014 primary challenge – enough to filibuster any fiscal cliff plan that President Obama and Democrats draw up, no matter how modest.

The problem, of course, is that the Tea Party’s power resides in Republican primaries, where conservative purists wreaked considerable havoc in the past two election cycles. This included, famously, McConnell’s home state of Kentucky, where the minority leader’s protégé was crushed in a 2010 GOP Senate primary by Rand Paul. Now McConnell has to worry about suffering a similar fate in two years, especially if his handling of the current fiscal impasse evokes cries of treason from the base. How could this square with claims of fading clout for the Tea Party?

Actually, there’s a way. It just depends on how you understand the Tea Party.

Defined as a literal movement, with an active membership pressing a specific set of demands, the Tea Party absolutely is in decline. Tea Party events have become less crowded, less visible, and less relevant to the national political conversation. As the Times story notes, the movement’s die-hards are embracing increasingly niche pet issues. The term “Tea Party” has come to feel very 2010.

But if you think of the Tea Party less as a movement and more as a mindset, it’s as strong and relevant as ever. As I wrote back in ’10, the Tea Party essentially gave a name to a phenomenon we’ve seen before in American politics – fierce, over-the-top resentment of and resistance to Democratic presidents by the right. It happened when Bill Clinton was president, it happened when Lyndon Johnson was president, it happened when John F. Kennedy was president. When a Democrat claims the White House, conservatives invariably convince themselves that he is a dangerous radical intent on destroying the country they know and love and mobilize to thwart him.

The twist in the Obama-era is that a portion was the conservative backlash has been directed inward. This is because the right needed a way to explain how a far-left anti-American ideologue like Obama could have won 53 percent of the popular vote and 365 electoral votes in 2008. What they settled on was an indictment of George W. Bush’s big government conservatism; the idea, basically, was that Bush had given their movement a bad name with his big spending and massive deficits, angering the masses and rendering them vulnerable to Obama’s deceptive charms. And the problem hadn’t just been Bush – it had been every Republican in office who’d abided his expansion of government, his deals with Democrats, his Wall Street bailout and all the rest.

Thus did the Tea Party movement represent a two-front war – one a conventional one against the Democratic president, and the other won a new one against any “impure” Republicans. Besides a far-right ideology, the trait shared by most of the Tea Party candidates who have won high-profile primaries these past few years has been distance from what is perceived as the GOP establishment. Whether they identify with the Tea Party or not, conservative leaders, activists and voters have placed a real premium on ideological rigidity and outsider status; there’s no bigger sin than going to Washington and giving ground, even just an inch, to the Democrats.

It’s hard to look around right now and not conclude that the Republican Party is still largely in the grip of this mindset.

[Rest of article at link]:

by Anonymousreply 412/28/2012

Run a progressive stealth campaign, put 435 names on the ballot in the house and 33 in the Senate, line up 10 million labor or radical left voters for the Republican primary in 2014, keep quiet about it after many of them win (to prevent a conservative third party), just calling it "Republican Renewal" or some such shit and steer away from big progressive causes - but add populist ones for the general - and we take the country in a whole new direction, a left hand bump which is sorely needed.

by Anonymousreply 112/27/2012

So you send out a call to progressives to get a candidate in every district to sign a secret protocol favoring higher taxes on the rich, end to trade exploitation, support for workers and the poor, environmental policies, and a diminishment of American overseas deployments. But they run on corporate reform, fiscal sanity, and rightsizing government - with the more radical agenda strictly hidden. To get the progressive vote, you go to the union leaders and select groups (Sierra Club) and have them put out the word to vote in the primaries for this slate of candidates. It will only take a few million votes to unseat most Republican incumbents, so it doesn't have to be a vast and expensive campaign. After the primary, you give it a name "Republican Renewal" but keep the themes narrow and center-right focused until the general. Then the day after teh General Republican Renewal disappears and the Progressive Republican Caucus appears, and the US politics have suddenly taken a jump to the left.

Of course to prevent being outflanked on the right, you also need a campaign of progressives on the Democratic side, who have made the same pledge, but who campaign more openly.

This isn't a novel strategy. Some people say that's what the DLC was, a Republican stealth operation to undermine liberalism.

It can be done. The Republicans are vulnerable. That's how the Koch brothers' tea party took them over in 2010. They have no numbers.

by Anonymousreply 212/28/2012

Such behavior was first seen when the New York Socialists (real socialists) swarmed the scene in the late 50s/early 60s. They talk the method to their black lieutenants in the Civil Rights Movement, and public discourse pretty much came to a stop when those people arrived.

Then the New York Socialist types had "Second Thoughts" and decided they would get into the country clubs easier not by breaking down the doors, but by serving the interests of those behind the doors. So they abandoned the black lieutenants and entered the upper crust as loyal servants. They taught obstructionism to the GOP (as we know it today -- the old GOP rightly feared these sorts of cloying serfs) and we have the noise and horror and the end of civilized debate.

But it is still 10% off the top for Israel.

by Anonymousreply 312/28/2012

Gerrymandering is the problem. Led to districts with a higher concentration of "crazy."

by Anonymousreply 412/28/2012
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