Tuesday, October 22, 2013

"I Got Overrun"



The Heritage Foundation and its benefactors, the Koch Bros, have made it adamantly clear the fight over "Obamacare" isn't over.   It was nice seeing the Wall Street Cheat Sheet offering a relatively unbiased assessment of the Affordable Care Act and health insurances exchanges thus far, piecing out the high blown rhetoric we have heard the last few weeks.  It seems that the Republicans' worst fear has come to life with an estimated 600,000 persons already signed up for "Obamacare."  But, I well imagine we can expect another showdown in January, despite Mitch McConnell's assurances to the contrary.

Once again, it doesn't seem the Republicans learned anything from this debacle.  At worst, they deem it a tactical mistake.  Some are even declaring victory and expecting the issue to propel them to midterm gains in Congress. It is this type of wishful thinking that seems to have buoyed the GOP since last November, ignoring the electoral thumping they took at the polls.

All early indicators point to Democratic victories in 2014.  There was no "Scott Brown" this time around.  Cory Booker soundly beat Steve Lonegan in a New Jersey Senate special election.  Earlier this summer, Edward Markey similarly thumped Gabriel Gomez in a Massachusetts Senate special election, leaving the Republicans 0-2 in their attempt to regain the Senate.

This midterm election will be a lot tougher for the GOP as there are fewer Democratic seats up for grabs, and in fact many Republican Senators find themselves on the hot seat, including Mitch himself, who is being "teabagged" in the primaries, which should prove to be a particularly divisive campaign.

It doesn't look good for the GOP in the House either, with early polls indicating Dems ahead in many Republican Congressional districts, far more than the magic number of 19 they need to retake the house.  It appears the Tea Party has become the albatross around the GOP neck, weighing heavier with each political stunt TP caucus members pull.


It seems that Americans are looking for moderate voices in the wake of all this upheaval the Tea Party created.  Even the GOP appears to be running away from the Tea Party, trying to recast itself as a moderate voice after the debacle over the spending bill in the House.  However, Boehner, in trying to be that voice, said "I got overrun."  He sure did.  Only one-third of House Republicans finally voted for the clean resolution put forward by the Senate, meaning he no longer controls his party.  It seems most House Republicans identify themselves with the Tea Party, further exacerbating the GOP in 2014.

This leads one to ponder what are the long term chances of the Grand Old Party if it can't stamp down this insurgence within its own ranks?  Most Republican Senate members see the folly in embracing the Tea Party, but the much more volatile House is an easy target for Tea Party insurgents, especially in gerrymandered districts that favor Republicans, which now stretch across the country.   However, the kind of demagoguery that has become the norm for the Tea Party doesn't wash with the electorate in general.

I've long felt that the Tea Party is no more than a political arm of the Heritage Foundation, currently steered by former US Senator Jim Demint.  Former Republican Congressmen, who were part of Newt Gingrich's original "Contract with America," (Dick Armey being another significant figure) are desperately trying to keep the GOP "honest" to what they believe are its core values.  The fact that these so-called values have a dark corporate tinge no longer sits well with the public, but these old cronies persist just the same, as they seem to know no other way.

Their attacks have become so bald-faced as to no longer invite any second guessing.  What they are aiming for is nothing less than a hostile corporate takeover. They've achieved this in many states, notably Wisconsin and Ohio, former blue collar states with a long union history that now find themselves reeling from the anti-collective bargaining laws passed by Republican legislatures and signed by Republican governors.  This is the prime battle ground of the Koch Bros. who have invested heavily in state elections to get their desired results.

The Tea Party is no longer localized, but rather a worldwide net of contributors lending heavily to insurgent campaigns throughout the country.  Over 60% of Scott Walker's campaign contributions during his hotly contested gubernatorial recall election came from out of state.

So, it would seem the GOP finds itself allied with the Tea Party for better and for worse.


10 comments:

  1. This was a pretty amazing leap, comparing the Tea Party with Jacksonian Democrats,

    http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303376904579135231053555194?cb=logged0.2053993446752429

    and referenced Walter Russell Mead no less. I well imagine he would recoil at the comparison.

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  2. I was going to dismiss this considering the source, but I actually agree with him in part. The demographics are interesting, too.

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  3. I would compare the Teabaggers more with the Know Nothings and Copperheads. I don't see how they fit the Jacksonian type at all.

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  4. I don't really see how Obamacare is at issue here, other than it has come to bear Obama's name. The Tea Party originally assembled around Ron Paul's Libertarian message then morphed into an exclusively anti-Obama campaign, driven by "birthers" like Orly Taitz, the "birther queen." They refused to accept Obama's legitimacy largely in the belief that he wasn't American. This kind of blatant ignorance is a by-product of the long standing anti-immigration sentiments in this country and Obamacare was little more than an effigy to try to burn.

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  5. Bad news for teabaggers in Virginia,

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/fearing-a-lost-governors-race-va-republicans-confront-party-divide/2013/10/13/713edfbe-31d2-11e3-8627-c5d7de0a046b_story.html

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  6. Well we do have a strain of Know Nothings going way back in the country -- anti-government, anti-immigration, anti-taxation types, as well as anti-Catholic/anti-Jew.

    Awhile back two books came out on the Tea Party and as I recall they traced the movement's origins to the Wall Street bailout. But that was quickly morphed into the "astro-turf" movement that the Koch Brothers et al. could use for their own purposes.

    Part of the problem with the Tea Party is that they attract all sorts of nut jobs from the right -- so you have people like Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann who are legitimate politicians whether we like it or not, but then also the Orly Taitzs of the world. That said, I don't think the Tea Party is a birther party by nature. They just don't like paying taxes and resent that the nation is becoming less white.

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    1. From what I've read, the TP grew out of Ron Paul's 2008 presidential run. He wrote a couple books during that campaign that became fodder for the early Tea Party groups, notably The Revolution: A Manifesto, which became an amazon bestseller. Whether intentionally or not, much of his ideology fits in well with the corporate mentality, so it was easy to see how this would attract the Koch Bros.

      But, his Libertarian strain extends to everything from legalizing pot to downsizing the US military, so obviously this doesn't fitin well with many right wing conservatives, which is why he faired so badly in the campaign. However, he made a name for himself, and it was fairly easy to take what you wanted from his writings and toss out the rest.

      This, I think, opened the door for persons like Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachmann and Ted Cruz to embrace the Tea Party. They essentially hijacked the movement, as they are currently trying to do with the Republican Party. I also think it was fairly easy for the Heritage Foundation and its benefactors to rally behind it and shape it into the "strong arm" they needed to keep the Republican Party in line, using these persons as their "Bully Boys" in Congress.

      The fear within the GOP is apparently now so widespread that two-thirds of House Republicans voted against the clean resolution, fearing Tea Party backlash in their districts, when the caucus itself only numbers 47 in the House.

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    2. As for Orly Taitz and the Birther movement, it too attached itself to the TP. Virulent anti-immigration became the fodder for the party, most clearly manifesting itself in Arizona and the anti-immigration laws the state legislature passed. Most of these persons would identify themselves as Tea Party members, although the Tea Party is now a blanket for many organizations, like the Koch Bros. Americans for Prosperity.

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  7. I think they all sort of merged in the end but the actual Tea Party was probably started after that "rant heard 'round the world" on the floor of the Stock Exchange about bailouts for homeowners. And I vaguely recall Fox News jumping on the bandwagon very soon after that.

    But you're right; there was so much hatred of Obama and resentment that black people actually turned out to vote in a president, that all the crazies came together in the end. There was one guy holding a Confederate flag at one of the recent protests.

    They are still saying 20-25% of the population supports the Tea Party, which is insane. But then we don't live in a particularly sane country.

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  8. A lot of isolationism in America. Persons prefer to live in their own private worlds rather than come together. It was interesting in the Koch documentary, the attempt to get rid of the "bussing" that was trying to make schools more culturally diverse in Wisconsin. Yet, the same conservatives want parents to be free to choose were to take their kids to school. Obviously a throwback to the 70s. It's like these guys refused to accept the Civil Rights Movement, much like Southerners refused to accept Reconstruction, so as Eric Foner would say, we are living in another age of "Redemption." That seems to be what the Tea Party is ultimately about, and why Alan Grayson made the allusion to the KKK.

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