The Twin Towers of tea partydom, Michelle Bachmann and Ron Paul, have
won the Iowa straw poll. If only it actually meant something.
To be fair, tea party supporters and their feckless leaders in Congress
are on a nice roll. Their presidential aspirants keep percolating
toward the top of various polls and they control the U.S. House by
their unwillingness to agree on anything even one degree outside of
their narrow demands. Even better, their official White Knight, Texas
Governor Rick Perry, has nearly completed his I-Am-Not-A-Mormon tour
and will now start campaigning in earnest.
Its all pretty heady stuff. Folks who make up about a third of one
party have become the dominant actors in our political melodrama.
The tea party has a pair of immutable laws: less government and lower
taxes. They support those laws by claiming they are the champions of
Average Joes and Janes, standing up for the downtrodden, disaffected,
disenfranchised and, in general, those on the outside looking in.
Their umbrella of protection should cover the poor, children, seniors,
unemployed folks, middle class folks, small business owners
The arch-enemies of tea partiers are the government, Wall Street and
the lamestream media.
One might reasonably ask how they intend to protect those for whom they
now claim to advocate.
Apparently, they intend to protect our children by stripping money away
from public education and ending most government programs that have
been shown to help kids.
They intend to help the unemployed by reducing the amount of
unemployment compensation they can receive and shortening the time
during which they can receive it. And by making sure there are no new
government jobs rearing their ugly heads or government contracts for
infrastructure repair and maintenance. After all, they say,
construction jobs are just temporary.
They plan to help seniors by eliminating Medicare as we know it,
requiring our parents and grandparents to find their own health
insurance and then reimbursing them with a government voucher that may
or may not cover the cost of the premiums.
They will help the middle class by taking away their rights to organize
and collectively bargain for decent wages and benefits.
They can then wrap up their undying support by claiming everyone else
who receives government help at any level for any reason is a deadbeat
who should pick himself or herself up their bootstraps and get off the
In other words, the tea party proposals will place the entire burden of
cutting deficits and debt on middle and lower income earners. The
people and corporations at the top of the income scale will get a free
What is especially ironic here is that much of their financial support
comes from the very wealthy hiding behind benign sounding groups like
the Koch brothers‘ Americans for Prosperity or Dick Armeys
These super-rich individuals and super-powerful corporations want to
protect their low taxes and continue outsourcing jobs, maintaining
tax-sheltered offshore offices, paying lower and lower wages and
stripping away employee benefits. As a bonus, the no new taxes pledge
taken by tea party politicians means corporations and the very wealthy
can keep their extravagant tax loopholes.
In fact, the tea party acolytes have become little more than the
messenger boys and girls for a corporate take-over of the political
process that has little in common with most of the rest of us. That
they have done so behind a cloak of anonymity or benign sounding
groups is especially onerous.
The tea party is, unfortunately, not a spontaneous grassroots movement
formed and driven by people who are mad as hell and arent going to
take it anymore. It is a wholly owned subsidiary of tycoons and
corporate bullies who have found someone to do the heavy lifting for
That doesnt mean presidential candidates receiving tea party support
are all illegitimate. They are not.
Michelle Bachmann has added energy and zeal and an ability to every now
and then say amusingly preposterous things. Ron Paul is one of the few
genuinely libertarian elected officials in the country. Rick Perry is
attractive and articulate even if what he says is almost always
platitudinous nonsense. Mitt Romney has both political and business
experience and has succeeded at both; he is still the clear favorite
among non-tea party Republicans.
There is plenty of real tea party firepower. They are, however,
diminished by their obedience to a set of ideals not shared by those
pulling their strings and paying for them.
The corporatocracy that gave financial and strategic birth to the tea
party and the Republican victories in 2010 has pulled off a nifty
political trick. The message theyve helped create, and that has
generated public support, is nearly the opposite of their actual goals.
And theyve done it all from almost complete obscurity.
The platforms of the current tea party supported presidential
candidates will help least those who seem to support it the most.
Those needing the least will benefit the most. The tea party
Republicans may well win the next battles but they are definitely going
to lose the war.
They are unwittingly, or not, being manipulated into consolidating the
wealth and power of a tiny cadre of financial and corporate elites.
There will be no rebirth of the middle class or protection of the most
vulnerable among us because it is not to the advantage of those now
controlling the process.
We could end up with a tea party president but that wont be especially
good news for most tea party supporters. It will, however, be great
news for the big money interests now lighting the fires under the
successful than was Congress since it will be the same people engaged in
the same debate.
There is much work to be done and little time in which to do it.
So, of course, Congress has now adjourned for a five week vacation...
Im sorry... Congress has recessed for five weeks of district work
sessions. Uh-huh. You really cant make this stuff up.