Harkening back to George Orwell’s novel ‘1984’, the leadership of and the fringe element within the Tea Party are becoming a Conservative Thought Police, and show no signs of easing their move toward such practices when you consider their actions in this year’s midterm elections.
The Tea Party began with a call for a reduction in the national debt by reducing government spending and, ultimately, taxes. Worthy goals, indeed. It enjoyed wide appeal initially due to its “taxed enough already” message resonating with hardworking Americans, primarily in the South and Midwest.
Most conservatives overlooked the flamboyant revolutionary period costumes and big top antics because the intent was evident, the motivation was just, and the recognition of a growing problem was overdue.
However, fast forward a few years and now an ultra small band of leaders of the Tea Party have directed the fiscal policy movement into a political machine aimed at purging the Republican Party of, well, Republicans. It is literally 400 or so zealots trying to act like 400,000.
This evolved Tea Party or rather, Conservative Thought Police comes complete with daily emails directing readers to respond to stories they don’t like, big money PACs, candidate endorsements, and even competing factions within its own ranks. It is as if they are out to create a new form of establishment as they tear down the current establishment they so vehemently rage against.
Nowhere has this been more evident than in the Mississippi US Senate race. Any opposing political and cultural expression is suppressed if it is not in favor of their chosen candidate, state Sen. Chris McDaniel. Speak a brief word of praise or affirmation about Thad Cochran and watch the arrows fly; someone, somewhere is watching.
Follow a few of the extreme Tea Partiers and you’re sure to see quite a bit of their intense vitriol towards those who even slightly differ with their view of the political world. They are literally willing to burn the Republican ideological house down over a few narrow set of beliefs.
If you don’t blindly agree or readily accept their point of view (God forbid you make them think or question their reasoning), they resort to name calling, collective degradation, and passing off their assumptions as fact.
Coward, scum, idiot, RINO and other names are what they like to call fellow conservatives that don’t wholeheartedly get on board with their agenda. You’re “not a conservative” if you don’t think and believe just as they do. They will curse you in one post and then proclaim their love for Jesus as they note their singing in the church choir on the next. Yet they call you the hypocrite.
And it’s not just occasionally; it’s constant. It is as if they are always monitoring, patrolling Twitter, Facebook, and other social media outlets waiting to pounce on the next thought not as strongly worded or as straight down the line as they want.
Emotion has replaced reason with many Tea Party types, a trait that has mostly characterized Democrats in the past. Liberals were the ones who would tug at the heart strings, overreact with emotionally charged pleas and then deride you for not agreeing. Now, it’s the Tea Party.
Again, not every member of the Tea Party are as the zealots that continue to give them a bad name but the actions of a few are impacting the perception of the many.
And you wonder why there seems to be this infighting between the Republican Party and the Tea Party – Republicans don’t want to be characterized as emotionally charged, irrational zealots who cannot hold a rational conversation about public policy without employing such divisive tactics. Why? Because that doesn’t win elections, and winning elections and whipping votes thereafter is the only way to employ a conservative agenda.
The Tea Party has become like a missle without a guidance system. It’s got a lot of energy, but you never know where it’s going to blow up or who’s going to get taken out.
The Mississippi Tea Party and its affiliated local groups literally are opposed to all statewide elected officials, all congressmen and senators (most all of them Republicans), the state Republican party, conservative blogs, commenters and talk radio hosts. The question is now, who’s left to be on their team?
If they’re running a candidate in a Republican primary, the aforementioned list might be a good group to, at the very least, not vilify.
This shift toward being a Conservative Thought Police isn’t likely to help the Tea Party win friends or elections anytime soon. It’s more likely to continue the reluctance of most Republicans to embrace the zealotry while further making the Tea Party irrelevant in the grand scheme of politics both in Mississippi and nationally, a la Ted Cruz in the US Senate.
But this is what happens in American political movements – they either become mainstream or remain on the fringe. As long as the Tea Party acts as a Conservative Thought Police they will own that spot on the fringe.