Wednesday, September 22, 2010 at 5:11 AM
[Author's Note: I published the following on Monday as a special note to my commentary entitled, The Obamas Go to Church?. For a variety of reasons, I've been persuaded to republish it today (slightly revised).]
A surprising number of people have asked why I’m so utterly dismissive of the Tea Party, especially given how well its candidates did in Republican primaries this year.
Well, for starters, it strikes me as more of a political cult than a political party. But it’s really because I’m convinced that it will have no greater (lasting) impact on politics in America than the Reform Party. Remember when the media had the world convinced that that party was poised to “take America back” too? Frankly, I’d be shocked if any more than one-third of Tea Party candidates actually win their midterm elections in November.
Besides, I see no point in wasting commentaries on a bunch of idiots who think they can change Washington by refusing to deal with anyone, including moderate Republicans, who does not follow their Christian-jihadist ideology. Their political passion is fueled by little more than dogmatic ignorance; which is why their political agenda is highlighted by the foolhardy notion that the only role of the federal government is to lower taxes on rich people and wage latter-day crusades (at home and abroad).
Among the causes that will surely contribute to the fall of America is the rise of rabid political forces like these Tea Partiers who believe that political compromise is akin to treason. Remarkably, this belief has injected such paralyzing insanity into American politics that erstwhile principled Republicans (like Senator John McCain) are now disavowing support for policies (like the debt and deficit commission), which they were calling for when Bush was president, just because President Obama has expressed support for them.
Never mind that the Founding Fathers they hail like demigods relied on the art of compromise to draft the very Constitution to which they pledge unqualified allegiance. But again, they are too stupid to understand or appreciate any of this.
Meanwhile, they clearly have not given a moment’s thought about what it takes to get anything done in this pluralistic democracy they profess to love so much. For even if they (i.e., the Republican Party since the Tea Party is just its wingnut subsidiary) were to win control of both houses of Congress by the margins the Democrats now enjoy, they still will not have the votes to execute any of the items on their “revolutionary” agenda. But talk about a perfect storm for gridlock. (For what it’s worth, I’m on record predicting that Democrats will retain control.)
Of course, like all religious zealots, Tea Partiers probably think that salvation comes in just preaching about what they perceive as political sins without doing anything about them. And for them these sins include government-run social security for the elderly, government-run health care for the poor (which they refer to with Pharisaic contempt as “Obamacare”), and government-run education for children. But the only way they can cleanse the country of these sins is by winning veto-proof majorities in both houses (i.e., two-thirds majority). And any sane person knows that this will happen only when pigs fly.
On the other hand, it’s arguable that what they really covet is a Christian theocracy, in which everything is divined by God – as Pastor Terry Jones, that lunatic who said that God told him to burn Qurans in effigy, demonstrated so dramatically….
Then there’s the folly of the Tea Party holding out a person like Delaware senatorial candidate Christine O’Donnell, a Sarah Palin wannabe whose credentials are distinguished by her failure to pay off her student loans, failure to pay her taxes, and use of campaign funds to pay her rent, as a champion of national fiscal responsibility. Now reports that this self-professed devout Christian once dabbled in witchcraft has O’Donnell avoiding the media like the plague, adopting the campaign strategy of other Tea Party mascots like Rand Paul of Kentucky and Sharron Angle of Las Vegas.
You might think it just reflects their ignorance that these folks have named themselves after the Boston Tea Partiers who triggered a violent revolt against an oppressive foreign king. But when you realize that many of them believe that Obama is a foreign president – who is taking away their freedom with his big government agenda, then this symmetry (in name and casus belli) is imbued with far more ominous implications….
By the way, am I the only one who finds it inherently hypocritical for these folks to be damning everything about Washington while doing all they can to get to Washington to become the very political insiders they find so morally reprehensible?