The Tea Party Cage Match

The Tea Party Cage Match

By Don Hall

From the Wikipedia entry:

The Tea Party movement is an American fiscally conservative political movement within the Republican Party. Members of the movement have called for lower taxes, and for a reduction of the national debt of the United States and federal budget deficit through decreased government spending. The movement supports small-government principles and opposes government-sponsored universal healthcare.

The Tea Party movement has been described as a popular constitutional movement composed of a mixture of libertarian, right-wing populist and conservative activism. It has sponsored multiple protests and supported various political candidates since 2009. According to the American Enterprise Institute, various polls in 2013 estimate that slightly over 10 percent of Americans identify as part of the movement.

The movement began following Barack Obama's first presidential inauguration (in January 2009) when his administration announced plans to give financial aid to bankrupt homeowners. A major force behind it was Americans for Prosperity (AFP), a conservative political advocacy group founded by businessmen and political activist David H. Koch. It is unclear exactly how much money is donated to AFP by David and his brother Charles Koch. Following a February 19, 2009 call by CNBC reporter Rick Santelli on the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange for a "tea party," over 50 conservative activists agreed by conference call to coalesce against Obama's agenda and scheduled series of protests, including the 2009 Taxpayer March on Washington. Supporters of the movement subsequently have had a major impact on the internal politics of the Republican Party. Although the Tea Party is not a party in the classic sense of the word, some research suggests that members of the Tea Party Caucus vote like a significantly farther right third party in Congress.

Once the Tea Party began getting their candidates elected — Rand Paul, Michelle Bachman, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Louie Gohmert, Steve King, Pete Sessions, among around 60 others — I remember writing sometime around 2011 that I craved a Leftist version of the Tea Party. Intractable, unified ideologues uninterested in finding compromise. Politician activists so hellbent on forcing through their specific agenda that they would risk making the Federal government completely dysfunctional rather than bend an inch in the direction of any bill not in lockstep with their agenda.

Before then, I wanted our own Left version of George W. “I Don’t Give a Shit If You Don’t Want a War, I Do” Bush and hoped it would be Obama. Instead, I got an adult who believed firmly in compromise and functionality rather than a broken machine unable to move past the religion of moral crisis.

What I got, that was almost as good as having my own version of Buford Pusser walking tall through D.C. with a baseball bat, was a completely fractured Republican Party. Poor Crying Boehner couldn’t wrangle his ordinarily compliant GOP to do what he wanted. Bitch McConnell didn’t have as much a problem but he was among them so it was easier. Boehner, however, became so ineffective he was replaced by Paul Ryan who also threw up his hands as trying to push through that juicy conservative legislation down our throats was nigh impossible with the Far Right Idiot Crowd standing in the way with their hands on their hips reading Green Eggs and Ham instead of doing their elected duty.

 The infamous “claw” used in pro-wrestling circus everywhere.

The infamous “claw” used in pro-wrestling circus everywhere.

This past week, we have what could be what I finally asked for — a coalition of new faces on the left side of the aisle in the House who may be as intractable and unwilling to find common ground as the Tea Party.

Will Nancy Pelosi become our Beohner?

The signs are there.

Seventy-one percent of voting Democrats want Trump impeached. They voted for Democrats to give them the power and mandate to do so.

Seventy percent want Medicare for all. 

Many of the new congressional freshmen campaigned on immigration amnesty, free college and serious climate change reform.

It is not in the interest of these new kids to back down because they feel the majority of the country is behind them.

The first test resides in the resistance to Pelosi as Speaker. There is a contingency of members who either ran on or have boosted their profile by declaring they would not back her, but they have nobody to take her place. This sort of division is fueled more by the tactics of the Right, who have spent a lot of money and energy smearing Pelosi in the same manner as they have Hillary Clinton. The whole thing smacks of the Left being duped into action by the Right. Again. Cutting off our nose to spite our face because we refuse to ignore the Trumpian bait.

I’d love nothing more than to have two Tea Parties in place because the fierceness of the fight would be electric but it all plays into the WWE Wrestling Reality TV government that favors the Trumps of DC rather than the calm, reflective and sober rationality of folks who can truly govern.

The long game is something the Left is not terribly adept at and I wonder if we can gain the discipline and focus to put aside some of our most ardent desires for immediate change and run a marathon rather than a series of sprints. If not, I’m imagining a bizarre dysfunctional cage match between the two Tea Parties on either side. At least if that becomes reality, Congress will then truly reflect America.

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