To the editor:
Given how critical I have been of the Tea Party movement since it burst on the scene in the wake of President Obama’s election in 2008, I thought it time to explain why.
The Tea Party may have once been a genuinely grassroots movement, but that changed rapidly once GOP politicians, strategists, and their wealthy financial patrons realized the anger and frustration the original “Tea Partiers” felt about the size of government and the deficit could be channeled into a much more broad based political agenda.
It was at that point, in the early fall of 2009, that any “grassroots” aspect of the Tea Party movement evaporated into thin air.
It was at that point the billionaire Koch brothers began contributing millions of dollars to various right wing groups claiming affiliation with the original Tea Party.
It was at that time the Koch brothers began organizing and paying for annual training seminars for Tea Party actvists from around the nation in places like Texas, Arizona, and numerous southern states.
It was at that point the ethically challenged, former GOP congressman from Texas, Dick Armey, and his right wing PAC, “Freedom Works,” began to take over as well.
And it was at that point that a Fox News producer was caught on film by an independent videographer at the Tea Party’s first big rally in the nation’s capital cueing the Tea Party crowd as to when to applause and cheer in response to the comments of the rally’s big-name right-wing speakers.
In short, by the fall of 2009, any genuine grassroots aspects of the Tea Party were gone. The movement had been completely co-opted by some of the wealthiest, most powerful, right-wing, political, corporate. and media interests in the country.
The new, non-grass roots, big monied Tea Party movement morphed into a pathologically angry, living organism that hated and mocked President Obama, immigrants, gays, women who wanted control over their reproductive health, people who believed in climate science, and anyone else who did not adhere to its right wing, overwhelmingly white, pseudo Christian agenda.
The movement and its advocates promulgated bizarre and hateful conspiracy theories about the president. Many leaders of the GOP establishment just looked the other way because they thought doing so served their agenda.
In Arizona, Gov. Jan Brewer, the darling of the anti-immigrant Tea Party and Minutemen coalition in that state, won re-election in 2010 by claiming a wave of brutal decapitation murders sweeping the state was the work of illegal/undocumented immigrants. It was all a lie. No such murder wave was underway in Arizona, and that fact was revealed before the election! But the immigrant bashing Tea Party/Minutemen coalition returned their lying lady governor to power anyway.
The Tea Partiers continue to deny that human activity since the dawn of the Industrial Age plays any role in the severe weather patterns and climate shifts we are seeing with increasingly regularity.
This denial alone leaves me thinking the Tea Party should be renamed the “New Know-Nothing Party.”
Thankfully, the recent election represented a pretty broad based rejection of the kind of Tea Party, right wing extremism that, just two years ago, was thought to be the ascendant force in American politics.
But we who reject such extremism need to be vigilant.
In Texas, a county judge who leads a Tea Party faction there, called in September for armed insurrection if President Obama was reelected, and several news reports in recent days show the number of weapons and amount of ammunition that have been sold in several states since Obama won re-election is similar to what happened in 2008 when his election resulted in the sales of guns and ammunition going through the roof.
Vieques, Puerto Rico