To the editor:
Another nail has been driven into the political coffin of the Tea Party, a movement that, just two years ago, was viewed as the ascendant force in American politics.
Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina, the Tea Party champion who once said health care reform would be President Obama’s “Waterloo,” sex education should be “abstinence only” in nature, undocumented immigrants were little more than stray dogs, and climate change was a hoax, to name just a few rightwing bizarro messages, has resigned from the Senate to become executive director of the increasingly far right and irrelevant Heritage Foundation.
It was further evidence the Tea Party is disintegrating, and the Republican Party is involved in its greatest internal battle since the days when Barry Goldwater and Nelson Rockefeller fought for control of the party.
On Dec. 6, the day DeMint announced his departure from the Senate, he went on Rush Limbaugh’s radio show. On the air, he issued what was a thinly veiled threat to Speaker John Boehner, who DeMint believes is not living up to the rightwing Tea Party’s ideological litmus tests. Limbaugh, of course, agreed with DeMint and heaped effusive praise upon him.
But Boehner is still the Speaker of the House and DeMint is a Tea Partier who, like Sarah Palin before him, is abandoning his political responsibilities and pledges he made to his constituents half way through his term to pursue a big pay check in the hyped up world of Washington media and so called “think tanks.”
But here’s the truth. DeMint is leaving because he is a loser, and he knows it.
DeMint, since 2010, has backed numerous Tea Party flops; including the anti-masturbation champion, Bible thumping, and one time dabbler in witchcraft, Christine O’Donnell in the Delaware Senate race.
In 2010, when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was considered extremely vulnerable in Nevada, DeMint and his fellow Tea Party crackpots secured the GOP Senate nomination for Sharon Angle. Angle’s campaign ran ads of scary looking Latino men and women that claimed those ominous looking Latinos were cheating young, white, Nevadans out of their rightful college educations.
Angle was also easily defeated.
This year, DeMint supported Tea Party loons like Todd “Justifiable Rape” Aiken in Missouri, Richard “Pregnancy Caused By Rape Is Part Of God’s Plan” Mourdock in Indiana, and Allen “If Ballots Don’t Work, Bullets Will” West in Florida, to name just a few.
All three went down to well publicized defeat, as did numerous other, but less well known, DeMint-backed Tea Party candidates.
As the “fiscal cliff” negotiations grind on, it’s estimated that 44 Republicans in the House are quietly accepting the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest 2 percent need to expire and those rates returned to where they were in the Clinton era.
Speaker Boehner recently purged several Tea Party extremists and obstructionists from key committee positions. He has also done the hard work of getting the adult members of his caucus on board to do the right thing by all the American people, not just the increasingly marginalized Tea Party types, and their wealthy, right wing, tax and government hating patrons.
He should be commended for doing both.
Public opinion, no doubt, is the driving force behind these shifts, but the Tea Party extremists, whose views a majority of voters rejected at the polls on Election Day, see such actions as not just disloyal to their cause, but patently un-American.
That’s what makes the movement so disturbing — even frightening.
We will have to wait to see how the “fiscal cliff” negotiations ultimately pan out, but two things are certain.
The Tea Party is imploding and the adults of the Republican party, including Karl Rove, are realizing that, whatever short term gains colluding with the Tea Party extremists may have provided in 2010, continuing to collude with the movement, as evidenced by this year’s election results, has become a big time, long term loser.
Those realizations are not just good news for the Republican party. They are good news for the nation as well.
Gloucester and Vieques, Puerto Rico