Thursday, March 24, 2016

The Consequences of the Tea Party

Back in 2009, April 15 to be specific, I wrote a blog describing Fox News invovement in the Tea Party as a modern form of yellow journalism. If you remember your journalism history (thank you Calder Pickett), you'll know that newspaper competition in the 1890s was fierce. Pulitzer and Hearst essentially created news to sell newspapers.
Fast forward and we see the consequence of those 2009 tea parties in the shape of Donald Trump. At that time, we had a new President, a black President with a Muslim-sounding middle name, a President born in Hawaii the validity of whose birth certificate was questionned by a businessman named Donald Trump. We had a Senate leader, Mitch McConnell who openly said his purpose was to assure that said President would be a one-termer. Well, Senator McConnell failed in his purpose, but he has remained a thorn in the President's side -- most recently refusing advise & consent to the President's Supreme Court nominee, citing non-existent precident.
Since 2009, we've come into a time when a lie repeated sufficiently is treated as truth, when shutting down the government is an accepted means of law-making even if it damages our bond rating, when obstruction is a way of life in the U.S. Congress, and the House has voted more than 50 times to repeal landmark legislation governing the healthcare industry. We've come from the brink of economic depression to relative financial security. In 2009, the unemployment rate was in the double digits; right now it is below 5%. But one area that hasn't been great has been that the new jobs created are low-paying jobs. And that may play into the current political nightmare that is the Republican party, a situation they caused in blocking as many bills from Pres. Obama as they could.
In 2009, Tea Partiers protested big in business, government, national debt and taxes. They detested the elite and were furious that the governent bailout to bring the country out of the recession helped Wall Street and automakers without helping regular citizens. So it is a bit ironic that they celebrated the Supreme Court decision in Citizens United which held that corporations had the same right as average citizens to influence elections.
The Republican Party welcomed the energy of the Tea Partiers, but, 2012, the bloom was off the rose because the party stalwarts began to see that they couldn't control them. By the 2014 elections, the GOP was running their candidates against Tea Party candidates and winning. I think the mainstream GOP thought they had figured out how to have the best of Tea Party energy without their volatility. I don't think they understood the firestorm that was coming.
After years of repeated lies being treated as truth (birthers, Muslim President, PPACA death panels, etc.), the rank and file in the Republican party learned to accept grandious statements of dubious validity. That made it easy for that birther businessman Donald Trump to make grand promises with little chance of implementation like the beautiful wall on the US/Mexican border with Mexico paying for it, repealing the PPACA and replacing it with a wonderful plan that was just a return to the old way but with insurance sold across state lines, deporting millions of Mexican undocumented workers, and special badges for Muslims living in the US. Some would say his biggest unrealistic promise has to do with bringing American jobs back to America. While much, maybe most, of his manufacturing is done in China and Mexico, his followers believe that he will bring jobs back by imposing tariffs on foreign manufactured goods.
The Tea Party fomented the outrage, the GOP conditioned them to believe lies, and Donald Trump has capitalized on the situation. Now the leaders of the GOP are expressing panic that they have an uncontrolled candidate headed to the top of the party ticket. They are talking brokered convention, alternative delegate counts, etc. What they do not seem to understand is that they have the candidate they built. As you sow, so shall you reap. Time for them to reap the onsequences of the Tea Party Express of 2009.

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