When we witnessed the spectacle of the anti-Obama protestors at the McCain-Palin rallies in 2008, we should have realized they wouldn’t go away without a fight. And after Obama won the presidency, well, it was clear that some people had lost their minds. Aggrieved, angry and racist, some working class white folks threw a collective temper tantrum. The mobs of angry unwashed masses assembled, and the result is the Tea Party.
But of course, it isn’t quite as simple as that. This lynchmob is a perfect example of top-down, corporate sponsored outrage. Rich benefactors such as the Koch Brothers joined with lobbyists and the Republican Party to help create the Tea Party and harness its energy for their own nefarious purposes. In the end, a “movement” which appears angry and populist is in reality a front group for the worst, most regressive oligarchic policies. And the people who are chosen to do the bidding of these wealthy interests, the candidates for office in this election season, are the most amazing assemblage of crackpots, extremists and white supremacists. They found their opening in the Great Recession the GOP created. Moreover, they capitalized on the missteps of an Obama administration that, however noble its intentions, cozied up too much with Wall Street, failed to attack the jobs problem right away, and wasted too much time appeasing fascists across the aisle who awoke daily praying for the demise of this president. Add to that a half-stepping stimulus program that steered us clear of a depression, but was not nearly enough to get the nation out of the morass.
The Tea Party is not merely a subsidiary of the GOP. It is the GOP. The Tea Party and the Republican Party are one and the same. The Tea Party is the base, and yet the base is all that is left, due to the years of Lee Atwater’s race baiting that drove away all the people who are free from mental defect.
Some media outlets have declared the results of this election a foregone conclusion. And while a Republican victory across the nation is a possibility, we really don’t know until we know. However, what we do know is that in this campaign season, the Tea Party has scored a victory. Whether they win an election or not, they have succeeded in contaminating the waters. The Tea Party is a corrosive acid that is eating away at the public discourse.
And the spirit of the Tea Party is one which has no shame in its game. It is a hateful and heartless spirit that strives to elevate demagogues, bullies and criminals. In this political environment, some people believe they can say or do whatever comes to mind. One Tea Party group has called for the ouster of a Congressman Keith Ellison not because of his stance on the issues, but because he is a Muslim. Carl Paladino, the Republican gubernatorial candidate from New York, recently went on a homophobic tirade in the wake of gay teen suicides throughout the nation. Sharron Angle, the GOP-Tea Party Senate candidate in Nevada, aired a television ad designed to tap into white racial fears of Latinos.
A volunteer for Tea Party nominee Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) boot stomped the head of a MoveOn protestor outside of a debate. A California man planned an assassination plot on the Tides Foundation and the ACLU because Glenn Beck, the Fox news jester and Tea Party televangelist, demonizes these and other progressive groups on a daily basis. And NPR has received death threats after firing Islamophobic Juan Williams, also a Fox news analyst. Apparently not realizing that he is susceptible to racial profiling, the African-American journalist channeled his inner Teabagger and proclaimed that he is scared of Muslims on a plane.
In my state of Pennsylvania, you can see the harshness of the times. There have been cross burnings in recent months, including two crosses burned on the lawn of a white teenage girl because she invited black friends to her home. And at a parade in Lancaster County a few weeks ago, the crowd greeted a multiracial high school marching band with rocks, taunts and racial epithets. The crowd also sprayed soda on the students, who were from William Penn Senior High School in York, Pennsylvania, and were black, white and Latino. This is the lynch mob in action. This is the Tea Party. These are the people who beat, punched and kicked civil rights workers at segregated lunch counters in the 50s and 60s, who spat at Negro or “colored” students on their way to school, and blocked the schoolhouse door as the federal government enforced desegregation orders.
And so the spirit of the Tea Party lives on, albeit on borrowed time. With the U.S. poised to become a majority of-color nation in the coming years, the backward racists are outnumbered and will be outvoted through a process of attrition. The Republican Party, now primarily a Southern regional party, will likely implode due to the upcoming civil war that will play out in the former party of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass—a party that once boasted 1,500 black political officeholders nationwide during Reconstruction, yet is now the functional equivalent of the Afrikaners National Party in apartheid South Africa. Nevertheless, for now, we live in a country full of pain and suffering—and hate. These times demand scapegoats, and the Tea Party is more than willing to oblige and hunt them down. We need to be very careful and look out for one another.
Reprinted with permission from the Black Commentator.