The battle began quietly in 2009. A small group of folks got together and decided they’d been Taxed Enough Already. I personally think the acronym was adopted after the fact, because taxation is rarely mentioned in TEA party circles. Instead they’ve become the most-extreme of the over-the-top right wing extremists in the Republican party.
The face that the TEA party shows to America on a daily basis is heavily influenced by white supremacy groups and radical groups claiming to represent the Christian right. There are a few good people in the mix who honestly want to cut government spending and reduce the debt, but they are certainly a minority at TEA party rallies. Those rallies are filled with signs claiming, among other things, that Obama is a Muslim, that Obama is from Kenya, that our government is oppressive, that arms should be taken up to advance their cause, that Obamacare is a fascist plot, and many more idiotic ideas. Most thinking people perceive the high percentage of anti-Obama messages and images as clear evidence of the racial hatred prevalent in these rallies.
Lately though, some of us have noticed a thinning of the herd within TEA party ranks. We saw radical TEA party champion Ken Cuccinelli defeated by Democrat Terry McAuliffe in Tuesday’s Virginia gubernatorial election. “Cooch“, as he is better known, has secured his place in the TEA party Hall of Fame, by railing against abortion rights, oral sex, sodomy, and any other issue he dreamed about in his late-night reveries of loose women below the waist.
Benjy Sarlin, writing today for MSNBC, lays out the battlefield scenario currently shaping up under the GOP’s big tent:
“But (the election of conservative non-tea party Republican Bradley Byrne in Alabama’s 1st congressional district) points to an election cycle in which groups like the Chamber of Commerce and the Karl Rove-tied American Crossroads are likely to take a much more active role in picking their favored Republicans early and guiding them through the primaries. And, even more importantly, take an active role in defending their incumbents from attacks that force them to the right. What happened in Alabama could happen in dozens of races around the country.
The GOP’s establishment voices are already pointing to Christie’s success in New Jersey – and tea party favorite Cuccinelli’s corresponding defeat against a weak Democrat – as evidence they have the party’s best electoral interests at heart. The 2016 Republican primaries are shaping up to be a referendum on which side’s vision holds the most sway.
But in the meantime, you can see the next round of battles shaping up already – especially in the Senate.
On the tea party side, groups like the Senate Conservatives Fund (SCF), founded by Jim DeMint in 2008 to identify and fund proto-tea party candidates, and Club For Growth are picking fights with sitting senators they consider too moderate.”
And so we see now, more of Civil War than a Revolutionary War. We see conservative brother against conservative brother in primaries all across the country. And we also see Republican primary winners in many cases losing house seats in traditionally Republican districts.
Meanwhile, the Democrats are sitting in the bushes licking their chops as the fierce “battle of the rightest” goes on. Will there be a legitimate third party soon, or will the new Republican strategy of “eating their young” reduce the GOP brand to an insignificant party of “back in MY day, sonny…” antiques.