The Tea Party is Losing Steam - Happy New Year!

Paulie Brading

Remember Sara Palin's prediction in 2010 that a Tea Party "revolution" would sweep America? Now we are observing their overreach in Iowa. Republican candidates for President have to be ultra conservative to win the nomination but when the general election rolls around these candidates will be seen as too polarizing for Independents and many establishment Republicans. Isn't it obvious to Republican candidates who bear hug the Tea Party too tightly in order to win the primary that it will cause those candidates serious issues in the general election.

A couple of small favorite moments for me were watching Brian Schwetzer, the Democratic Governor of Montana on Fox News (yes I watch Fox from time to time even though it is personally painful) declaring that some of his Republican lawmakers proposed legislation to create an armed paramilitary force and a birther bill. Both measures failed. Schwetzer said he was tired of nutjob bills coming from the Tea Party elected legislators in his state. And watching a local example in the Southern Oregon region was the recall of Josephine County Commissioner Sandi Cassanelli. She and her Tea Party and Agenda 21 followers managed to get her elected. On December 6th Cassanelli was recalled by a 71-29 percent margin. The LTE's in The Daily Courier demonstrated that the Tea Party believers had clearly overreached - even in deeply red Josephine County. Thirty-nine citizens have lined up to be considered to finish Cassanelli's term. The remaining commissioners have learned through the recall that most citizens don't want to be associated with extreme positions on the Left or the Right.

As we enter another new year the Tea Party image is declining most sharply in GOP controlled districts than across the country at large. In November the Pew Research Center conducted a poll which demonstrates that the Tea Party is losing support nationwide.

Now if you think Democrats can just go on cruise control in the 2012 elections we should remember Senator Ron Wyden's words. He said nobody likes a president 100% of the time. If we like Obama 80% or 70% or whatever your personal percentage may be, then work to keep Obama in office for four more years.

It is fair to say the Tea Party impact on the Republican Party is waning. We cannot sit on our hands in 2012. We have a great deal of damage to undo! We Democrats and Independents can do it! Happy New Year!

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    In combination with the overreach and silliness, I think the Occupy movement managed to also give voice to much of the frustration and anger that the Tea Party spoke to, but with a progressive and communitarian critique rather than the individualistic and Ayn-Randian argument of the Tea Party.

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    The Tea Party left the Washington Mall cleaner than it was before their gathering.... 'When the lion is still roaring, it has not yet begun its hunt; when you no longer hear it, is the time to watch your behind' (slightly modified old African saying). If your guy really wants to be "cleaner" than Wallstreet he should return the $15,798,904 that they have donated to his campaign and at least denounce the OWS guy that pooped on the police car. ELK (USNA '68)

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    Oh pleeze. Find a red thread Ed.

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    Ed does us a favor, actually. He embodies the strident vitriol of the right, complete with allusions to violence("the hunt"). Their language is no accident, it is meant to move and inspire their small masses. But those masses look huge with their divine combination of AFP/Koch money backing, an ineffective or corrupted media, and with venemous verbage that redirects attention upon themselves.

    The "take-no-prisoners" attitude esp. works when used in combination with more subtle ploys. That AFP money is not just spent on the loudmouths, but also on respectable-looking fishwraps such as "Northwest Connection," an innocuous enough sounding name for the 4-color ragsheet that has distribution around tri-county area around Mt. Hood (& perhaps points beyond).

    The teapartians are new incarnation of the religious right, but while the religoright and neo-cons were often at lagerheads, the new coalition, funded by huge corportate money unleashed by Citizens United will be relentless. They will not slink quietly into the night. There is no limit to what they will do at any level.

    They engage and they vote.

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        I don't have the source information so I could be wrong, but I believe that your claims about the big 3 banks financing Obama are from the last election, not today. In 2008, the bankers were concerned about McCain, but they have turned against the Dems and Obama because of the new banking regulations. I doubt that they are among Obama's biggest contributors in this cycle, but prove me wrong.

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          In addition, it also nicely sidesteps that it is common practice to give money to both candidates in an election...

          ...just give more to one (typically Republican) then the other.

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    It will be a good day when OWS and the rank-and-file membership of the tea party come to connect with each other as members of the 99% with valid grievances in common. And OWS and the tea party rank and file will undoubtedly have much to teach each other.

    All of us in the 99% need to better understand our own true self-interests and find ways to pursue them together, which will require bypassing the two corporate parties in power at present. It will require a long-term political self-education program for working people as well as the cultivation of trustworthy leaders/candidates, likely at the local level first.

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    Sal and Patrick, while I understand your sentiment, I'm not convinced that rank and file of the Tea Party will acknowledge, let alone connect w/ OWS. Putting aside the fact that Tea Party factions became convoluted & corrupted as Dick Army and Freedomworks money poured in, many of the local activists that make up the rank and file are the same crusaders that were with the OCA in the 90's, disrupted Town halls in 2009, intimidated & harrassed a group of progressives in a public park this summer, and coordinated the defeat of the huge gigantic over-the-top $5 charge for Clackmas Co. vehicle registrations in order that the County make a fair contribution to the repair of the Sellwood Bridge. (sarcasm YES)

    And there is crossover; the above mentioned AFP puts up money for propaganda & programs and there is definitive connection between AFP, local activists and state and county GOP officers and candidates at all levels. Who we see in the media as Tea Party & the folks that are active locally are not going engage in dialogue, other than to debate, and even that is rare.

    I honestly don't believe there is less enthusiasm among the TP die-hards, I just think their over-exposure has worn thin among the public generally, the media is less interested, and their newbie recruitment has slowed. But that doesn't mean the commited are not still fanning the right wing fire.

    Never underestimate the forces of the right; as easily as the GOP keeps regurgitating new names for Supply Side economics, the rightwing will plug along, whether with the dramatics of Tea Party rallies or quitely getting their folks into elected positions... whether in the State House or on the School Board.

    We push back by paying attention, being active, and freakin' voting.

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      I used to think that the whole fight fire with fire was a good idea. But all it does is further entrench divisions and makes it more difficult to move actual policy forward. The best thing to do, IMHO, is to focus on things you agree on and look for common ground. It's less satisfying in the near term, but far more productive over time.

      Watching the two parties interact reminds me of watching a couple going through a divorce or other dysfunctional relationship. They don't trust each other. They don't talk to each other. They speak ill of each other, and neither side can really acknowledge their own role in destroying the relationship.

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        Sal, your metaphor is neat, but not all divorces involve spouses who are both at fault. Sometimes it IS the fault of one side.

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          I think we need to get past who is to blame and start figuring out how to get our country moving in the same direction.

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            Part of solving problems is figuring out how they were caused. Equating the two parties is a joke. Look at who voted against Iraq, who voted against financial deregulation, who has advocated for getting the money out of politics, who voted against "free trade" policies that shipped jobs overseas, who has fought for universal healthcare, equal's not conservatives.

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