The Awkward Moment When the Tea Party Realizes They’ve Been Pawns

women-tea-partyRemember when the Tea Party first came out? Remember the signs? Remember how easy it was to accuse them of reactionary racism? And remember what Tea Party folks were saying in their defense? I’m sure many of them were genuine, and may not have wanted to associate with some of their own racist founders (like Dale Robertson ), but I’m not so sure about the TP culture as a whole. No, they argue, we’re about fiscal responsibility and better government, not racism. You’re about big business, we pointed out, noting their ties to the Koch Bros and others. Noting that they’re given seed money and marching orders from big money lobbyists. No, we’re grassroots, Tea Partiers protested. We are of and by and for the people and not for the elites and Washington scum! And only now are they starting to realize how wrong they were.

According to the Tea Party Patriot’s Facebook page:

The Tea Party Patriots’ mission is to restore America’s founding principles of Fiscal Responsibility, Constitutionally Limited Government and Free Markets…
Tea Party Patriots is a coalition of ordinary American citizens from all political affiliations that believe in free-market values who are concerned about the direction of this country’s fiscal policy.

That’s it. Fiscal responsibility. It has nothing to do with targeting programs for social uplift. Nothing to do with derailing access to medical help for the working poor. No, because that would be fiscally irresponsible for the long-range health of the country. That would be suicidal for an economic system that needs healthy workers and an operating infrastructure, right? Nothing worse for the US than to be locked down to a failing medical system and forcing chronically sick people into bankruptcy. That would be reckless and could lead to failing debt. And the Tea Party keeps repeating that it’s against reckless debt.

It’s this patently false commitment to “fiscal responsibility” that allows the Tea Party to claim to be pro-family, pro-freedom, pro-mother, even. Though if they were pro-mother, you’d think they’d be working for better rather than worse treatment of moms and poor families. But no, their job is to unrelentingly shackle us to horrible policies that advantage the very rich and exploit the majority of us.

If they were pro-fiscal responsibility, wouldn’t their politicians be focusing on dismantling the bloated US military? Wouldn’t they focus on ending corporate welfare?

And so what happens when grassroots activists are reliant on not just clam bakes and member dues, but on puppet organizations and SuperPACs like FreedomWorks, Club for Growth, the Senate Conservatives Fund? These groups themselves were founded by a merging of big business, out-of-touch billionaires, and Beltway insiders – not the kind of grassroots, Jane Everywoman-led movements the Tea Party likes to act like.  Jim DeMint founded the SCF; Dick Armey founded FreedomWorks. And while The Club for Growth precedes the Tea Party by about ten years, its entrenched pro-big business and anti-union policies line up nicely with TP philosophies. Even as TCFG is funded and led by billionaires and political insiders.

When your own political candidates say unforgivable stuff about rape and pregnancies, are unredemptive deadbeats, or like showing off x-ray pictures of their gunshot-victim patients on their Facebook page; when you realize that they’re just as corrupt as the pols you’re planning on dumping, if less effective; when you realize that the SuperPACs keep focusing on infighting with “impure” Republicans, you tend to lose faith in the righteousness of the movement. This in addition to the horribly inept, baffling, distracted, self-promotional, and frankly embarrassing Louie Gohmert, Michele Bachmann, Sarah Palin, Ted Cruz, et al. who already represent the Tea Party in the public imagination.

Even Tea Partiers have to be sick of their politicians. Gridlock, innumerable Obamacare repeal attempts, and repeated Benghazi hearings  aren’t stopping the debt clock and aren’t jump-starting the economy. Weren’t we told that’s what the Tea Party aimed to do?

No, that’s what some Tea Partiers wanted. But they were mere pawns. Sorry, guys. But I have faith enough of you will figure this out by the end of the year to call it quits.


When he’s not riding both his city’s public transit system and evil mayor, Jasdye teaches at a community college and writes about the intersection of equality and faith - with an occasional focus on Chicago - at the Left Cheek blog and on the Left Cheek: the Blog Facebook page. Check out more from Jasdye in his archives as well!


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