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Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

More on the Tea Party/GOP Dance

Yesterday I posted some thoughts on the relationship between the Tea Party Movement and the Republican Party, suggesting the latter was probably in the process of swallowing the former.
At about the same time, the ever-excellent David Weigel of the Washington Independent provided another, and very detailed, perspective on the Tea Party/GOP relationship in the context of the controversy over next month’s National Tea Party Convention in Nashvillle.
Weigel reports that while some of the grumbling over the convention among Tea Party activists has been published in the context of an alleged “takeover” or “hijacking” of the Movement by Republican pols. But at the same time, there’s not much interest in any other political direction:

Nine months ago, [American Liberty Alliance chairman Eric] Odom got national headlines for pre-emptively denying RNC Chairman Michael Steele a speaking slot at the Chicago Tea Party. “We prefer to limit stage time to those who are not elected officials, both in government as well as political parties,” he said at the time. Today, Steele is winning a Tea Party Nation web poll on whether he should speak the convention, and Odom is gearing up for a trip to Massachusetts to help the Republican candidate, Scott Brown, take the state’s open Senate seat. The Tea Party Express, an operation of the GOP-supporting Our Country Deserves Better PAC which has been utterly rejected by some Tea Party activists, is rolling into the convention and catching hardly any flack for it. The presence of Palin, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) and Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) at the convention is seen, universally, as a coup with import that will outlive the controversy over the event itself.

So for all the protests by Tea Party activists about their hostility to the Republican “establishment” and their independence from both parties, it appears their short-term political objectives, and their heroes, are so closely aligned with the GOP’s dominant conservative wing that you can barely tell them apart.
UPDATE: Two other new pieces of note have appeared on this subject: a New York Times report by Kate Zernike on the growing determination of Tea Party activists to take over the GOP at the grassroots level and move it sharply to the Right; and a piece by Michelle Goldberg at TAP about Christian Right involvement in the Tea Party Movement, which calls into question its supposed libertarian character.

One comment on “More on the Tea Party/GOP Dance

  1. Bernie Latham on

    Let me forward a different thesis here.
    A bit over a year ago, the Bush Legacy Project briefly surfaced as an attempt to duplicate what Norquist had so successfully achieved with his Reagan Legacy Project. But it pretty much dropped back beneath the waves due to the necessity of transferring blame (for the last eight years, for the deficit, for the wars, for the losses over two election cycles) from “conservatism” to Bush and to the Republican Party in its modern incarnation. “Conservatism” could not be allowed to be tarnished. Better, if rather awkward, to savage Bush even when many/most of those savaging had earlier heralded Bush as one of the greatest Presidents ever and to savage the Republican party for not being a Republican party.
    We all know how the Republican Party still polls and it remains in the basement. In marketing-speak, the brand is in very bad shape.
    And here’s the thesis: the tea party phenomenon and name is now (regardless of genesis) being used to rebrand the Republican Party.
    It certainly is the case that anyone and everyone running as a Republican is touting their tea-party bona fides on the high shout of trumpets.
    New Republican motto: We are all tea partiers now.
    And I’ll add that conceiving of what’s going on in this way also clarifies the functional role of Palin and Beck and their ascension in the present conservative/republican universe.


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