Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Where does the Tea-Party End and The Republican Party Begin?

After the November, 2009 anti-health care reform rally in Washington there was some indication that the Tea Bag Party and the Republican Party had become increasingly one and the same.
You have to hand it to Michele Bachmann: She has succeeded in turning the GOP into one big Tea Party.

This past weekend, the Minnesota Republican went on Fox News and called on viewers to show up on the Capitol lawn on Thursday at noon for a press conference and a last ditch attempt to kill health care reform. The gathering that resulted was marked by the now-routine extremism of the Tea Party conservatives. "I'm a bitter gun owner who votes," read one sign. Others questioned President Obama’s citizenship, portrayed him as Sambo, or called him a traitor. One said, "Obama takes his orders from the Rothschilds." Old ladies wore red T-shirts decrying "Obamao care." The crowd also took spirited swipes at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. At one point someone yelled, "Put down your Botox and show yourself."

But what was most noteworthy was that the entire House Republican leadership was also in attendance—and their rhetoric was just as over-the-top as some of the protesters. House Minority Leader John Boehner declared the health care bill the "greatest threat to freedom I have seen." In essence, Congressional Republicans were merging with a movement that gives open expression to racist and anti-Semitic sentiments.
Is the radical fringe absorbing the GOP? Or is the Republican Party morphing into the Tea Party movement? The answer might be as close as the 2012 elections.
But one thing about the rally proved sparklingly clear: Michele Bachmann is a major star. When she stepped up to the podium on the Capitol steps, the crowd went wild. It wasn’t too hard to imagine the event as a warm up for the 2012 presidential election, where Bachmann might prove a far more viable candidate than Sarah Palin. The rally confirmed her primacy as a leading voice of the Republican Party—a party that, with this protest, has fully embraced the conservative movement's most extreme elements.
What is interesting is that the 'tea bag rebellion' heavily supported by Americans for Prosperity, a group created by the owners of Koch Industries. The significance of a huge oil and gas conglomerate busing in participants is highlighted in a recent article by Jim Hightower, "Two multibillionaire brothers are remaking America for their own benefit."
Consider the boisterous "tea bag" rebellion. No one professes more hatred for the two-party, business-as-usual political system in Washington than those angry Americans who're caught up in the tea-bag rallies. Yet unbeknownst to most of the mad-as-hellers who have showed up, it was AFP's Republican-tied lobbyists and political functionaries who cynically financed, organized, and orchestrated the very first tea-bag protest. AFP has steadily coopted the tea-bag faction to make it a front for the corporate agenda, and many of the tea-bag groups have devolved into subsidiaries of the Republican party. Indeed, AFP has become the Astroturf-To-Go Store, fabricating and spreading fake grassroots organizations all across the country. It was especially busy during the 2008 presidential campaign and in the first year of Obama's presidency.
The bottom line is that this mass hysteria is being driven by huge corporate interests. The contributing factor to this metamorphosis is a firestorm of right-wing paranoia.

Leonard Zeskind, author of Blood and Politics, a history of the white nationalist movement, says that the Tea Partiers' conspiracy theories aren't new. Similarly hysterical warnings of government overreach were rife during the Clinton or Carter administrations. "In the militia days in the 1990s it was about a UN invasion. It's exactly the same phenomenon. Some of the same people are involved," he says.

But these extreme conspiracy theories aren't just confined to the radical fringe. They're being adopted by national politicians, as Rep. Rogers proved with his attempt to roll back Obama's Interpol order. Back in the 1990s, says Brian Levin, the director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University San Bernardino, "The black helicopter stuff was pretty well segregated from the mainstream world. But now you have Sarah Palin entertaining the Obama [born in] Kenya thing or [Gov.] Rick Perry from Texas toying with the secession idea."
The fringe it seems is controlled, financed and supported by a corporate agenda of the Republican Party. Really, who can tell them apart?

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