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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Straining Tea

As a follow-up to J.P. Green’s post this morning suggesting that the DSCC is trying to split the right from the far right, it’s kind of important to understand that the far right is really feeling its oats these days, particularly in the Tea Party Movement.
But anyone trying to understand the Tea Party phenomenon is constantly injured not to stereotype its participants politically or ideologically. It’s a grassroots movement, we are told, so no one in particular speaks for them. They hate both parties equally, it is said, so you can’t confuse them with conservative Republicans. There are former Obama voters in their ranks, we are told breathlessly.
Well, okay, after reading a long, impressionistic, nonjudgmental “life among the tea party activists” piece in The New Yorker by Ben McGrath, I won’t assume the author (after all, he’s writing for The New Yorker, at the very center of Wall Street/Liberal Enemy Camp, for God’s sake) gets the views of tea party activists accurately or fairly depicted. But it’s pretty clear that there are an awful lot of these folks who can only be described as harboring views considered, until just last year, about 90 degrees to the right of the right wing of the Republican Party. They are independent of the Republican Party only to the extent that they won’t support it fully until it moves further to the right another 90 degrees (which seems to be happening at a brisk pace).
Sure, there are probably all sorts of people in the mix, but here’s my question for them: please read the following passage from McGrath’s piece and tell me how much of this scenario sounds plausible to you:

An online video game, designed recently by libertarians in Brooklyn, called “2011: Obama’s Coup Fails” imagines a scenario in which the Democrats lose seventeen of nineteen seats in the Senate and a hundred and seventy-eight in the House during the midterm elections, prompting the President to dissolve the Constitution and implement an emergency North American People’s Union, with help from Mexico’s Felipe Calderón, Canada’s Stephen Harper, and various civilian defense troops with names like the Black Tigers, the International Service Union Empire, and CORNY, or the Congress of Rejected and Neglected Youth. Lou Dobbs has gone missing, Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh turn up dead at a FEMA concentration camp, and you, a lone militiaman in a police state where private gun ownership has been outlawed, are charged with defeating the enemies of patriotism, one county at a time.

If you find yourself nodding your head at much of this stuff, then you are indeed living in a different conceptual world than I am, and I’m afraid I’ll have to stereotype you as a dangerous wingnut. Maybe a nice, patriotic, well-meaning wingnut, but a wingnut nonetheless.

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