We now have an idea of what and who the Tea Party is, but what does it all mean?
Despite the obvious racism of the thread photo, the Tea Party is not, in my not so humble opinion, inherently racist.* As with any large group of people, there will always be that element that has “darker” motivations.
(In the interest of fairness, the man holding the sign in the thread photo was booted out of his local Tea Party chapter.)
It is clear, however, that much of the anger-fueled rhetoric from the Tea Party is focused on President Barack Obama and his “liberal” agenda. That is curious in light of the fact that most progressives feel that Obama has not been liberal enough.
The “Tea” in Tea Party is an acronym for “Taxed Enough Already” and much of the focus of the Party is on taxes and spending. Another focus is on the Constitution and the constitutionality of recently passed laws.
Tea Party wrath is aimed at incumbent politicians, yet those same office-holders and former office-holders regularly speak at Tea Party events, so it would seem apparently that the majority of the wrath is directed at incumbent Democrats.
A few incumbent Republicans have been deemed insufficiently conservative for the Tea Party and some have even been turned out of office for that reason.
So, is the Tea Party movement a grassroots semi-organization that is non-aligned, or is it merely the hard-right arm of the Republican Party?
The political landscape of America is largely a two party system. While third parties periodically pop up, most are short lived and fail to actually win state and Federal offices.
Tea Party goals and the rhetoric that backs them up is exclusively that of the far right champions such as Glen Beck, Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin. You can dress up the pitbull and slap on the make up, but it’s still a far right, Republican pitbull. There isn’t enough lipstick in the country to make that dog into anything else.
Is the Tea Party a viable political force for the future? A negative focus rarely makes for longevity, and the Party focus is largely negative.
The Great Recession will end, deficits will be reduced, benefits of TARP, the Stimulus and HCR will be recognized and, perhaps more important to the Tea Party, Barack Obama will leave office (after two terms) and the Tea Party will fade into a historical footnote.
*(Since I wrote this, the Tea Party Federation has kicked the Tea Party Express out of the Federation for a racist parody written and published by their spokesperson, Mark Williams. While I agree with little of the Tea Party philosophy, I do have to applaud their quick and decisive manner in dealing with a racist element within the Federation.)
William Stephenson Clark