The Tea Party: A phony grassroots movement headed for political oblivion?

This week’s primaries were supposed to be a celebration for the so-called Tea Party, a phony grassroots movement that is really a front for the extreme right-wing.

Instead, several of the party’s annointed candidates lost to establishment opponents and some who won — like fringe candidate Sharron Angle in the Nevada GOP Senate primary — highlight the con job the Tea Party is trying to pull on American voters.

Notes The Washington Post:

The national “tea party” movement’s recent winning streak broke with Tuesday’s primary results, providing fresh evidence of the decentralized conservative network’s struggle to convert activist anger and energy into electoral results.

That struggle is likely to continue as Republicans head into general elections without knowing whether conservative activists will throw their support behind more moderate GOP nominees. Even the tea party favorites who prevailed on Tuesday face the new challenge of fighting perceptions of extremism among moderate and independent voters.

From California to Virginia (with some notable exceptions), establishment-favored candidates won Tuesday in Republican primary battles for governor, House and Senate. In California, candidates who claimed the conservative mantle were outgunned by well-known and well-funded opponents. And in two congressional races in Virginia, where the tea party movement is popular and abundant, activists were unable to coalesce around a single candidate — illustrating the organizational challenges facing the movement’s grass roots.

A new Washington Post-ABC News polls show half of the American electorate now disapprove of the Tea Party and think of it as too extreme — an 11 point jump in the group’s negative rating.

Angle’s win in Nevada may well be the beginning of the end of the Tea Party.

Writes Brent Budowsky in The Hill:

Will voters favor a candidate who supports saunas and massages for criminals, opposes Social Security and Medicare for seniors and fights against jobless benefits and jobs programs for workers? Don’t bet on it, in Nevada or any other state. Mark the Nevada Senate campaign as leaning blue. The fad of the polyester populists of the right, who will vote like bank lobbyists in Congress, will soon come to an end.

The great Nevada campaign will prove the point I have been making all year. The Tea Party movement may control the Republican Party at the cost of losing many general elections. It is the oldest and truest timeless rule of politics. Voters oppose the status quo, but oppose extremism even more.

David Corn, writing for Politics Daily, says the more people find out about the Tea Party and the fringe candidates it backs the more the party loses support.

Says Corn:

At first, the TP movement could be seen as a patriotic uprising with a time-tested and honorable moniker. And its original target was President Obama’s health care overhaul — a controversial move that many voters, independents especially, were wary of. But in recent weeks, the — shall we say — excesses of the Tea Party have been on display.

When Rand Paul won Kentucky’s Republican Senate primary, he proudly declared, “I have a message from the Tea Party: we’ve come to take our government back.” Paul, now the closest thing to a national spokesman for Tea Partyism, in the next few days proceeded to round out the usual Tea Party message by noting he did not support all of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and by saying that he believed Obama’s pressure on BP, the despoiler of the Gulf of Mexico, was “un-American.” Paul was simply sharing his true desire for small-government. But his remarks revealed the not-so-pretty libertarian underbelly of the leave-us-alone Tea Party movement and exposed its fundamental bias against using government to combat such wrongs as corporate pollution or racism. He looked like a John Bircher of the 1950s — yet he was reflecting the current sentiments of his people.

The backlash is inevitable. The Tea Party is not — and never has been — the “grassroots” movement that is claims. It was born out of a sham grassroots organization created in the office of a Republican consultant for a millionaire GOP client and then nurtured into existance by former Republican Congressman Dick Armey of Texas.

It’s a phony organization, espousing fake idealism, playing on the gullibility of those who flock to so-called “populist movements.” It will make a lot of noise but — in the end — will accomplish nothing.

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16 Responses to "The Tea Party: A phony grassroots movement headed for political oblivion?"

  1. hologram5  June 11, 2010 at 9:16 am

    Nice article Doug, although I wish some of these people would actually read the dictionary to learn what these words they throw around so liberally actually meant. When a word is used for such generalization it loses its meaning.

  2. Teacher  June 11, 2010 at 11:19 am

    This is funny…. the tea party is more popular than ever. We get scores of sign ups every day even in our small state.

    People are learning that if we stick to the principles on which this country was founded, we can reverse this frightening trend of big government control over every aspect of our lives, out of control wasteful spending of our tax dollars, huge deficits and the worst corruption we have ever seen in DC thanks to the public being fooled into voting to put this ‘fringe’ administration and its terrorist minions in power.. They are truly sorry now.

    Never heard of the idiot who wrote this article but I can tell you most of us never heard of Dick Armey you claim to have created this… he may have jumped in front of the parade after it formed, but he certainly had nothing to do with forming it… and I would know being a state leader of my grassroots group.

    Change is coming in November, you can count on that. Our anger is not phony, you can count on that too. You folks keep talking about the tea party demise, yet we keep signing them up more and more, including former Democrats.

    • Pondering It All  June 11, 2010 at 2:08 pm

      They say that in a poker game, if you don’t know who is the sucker, then it’s YOU!

      If you don’t know who Dick Armey is…

    • Ray  June 12, 2010 at 2:46 pm

      I am forever amused when people say “if we stick to the principles on which this country was founded” as if there are actually people in government who do not. It is sad that our government has been in a dissolute state for some time but both parties are to blame so why would you even believe any one you support would not do the same?
      The major problem with a limited government is it would not have survived the early years of our country. I suspect some historian can make a pretty good case that almost every administration has expanded government since Washington’s time. In fact Reagan was one of the worst offenders. So why believe your guy?
      What we need are people willing to tackle the tough issues and find solutions i.e. in other words we need to change the perverted system of politics we have to a more efficient system better able to address the needs of our country.

  3. Guardhouse lawyer  June 11, 2010 at 2:24 pm

    Tea Party = TP = Toilet Paper.

    Coincidence? I think not.

    Any state leader of the TP movement who does not know who Dick Armey is should go and join the Know-Nothing Party. But my guess is that teacher never heard of that one either.

  4. woody188  June 11, 2010 at 10:53 pm

    If the Tea Party started anywhere it started with Keli Carender, who blogs as “Liberty Belle” back on Feb. 15th 2009 in Seattle. Check your facts Doug, you are dead wrong and losing legitimacy with every mis-print you post.

    I will also note the WaPo article you cite claims they are grassroots. Darn facts getting in the way?

    I’d say you are being PARTISAN against the Tea Party. Shame, shame, shame.

    • Doug Thompson  June 12, 2010 at 5:12 pm

      Unlike you, Woody, I was in the conference room of the GOP consultant on the day Citizens for a Sound Economy — the precursor of the Tea Party — was founded.

      Unlike you, Woody, I worked inside the GOP and know the inner workings of the group of conservatives who formed the basis of Citizens for a Sound Economy, Freedom Works, etc. — all acknowledged as the beginnings of the Tea Party.

      Unlike Teacher, I know who Dick Armey is and the role he played in the creation of this whole sham.

      I don’t have to check my facts because I was there at the beginning. I don’t recall seeing you or any other of the keyboard commandos around at the time.

      Don’t pretend to lecture me on the history of sham grassroots organizations like the Tea Party. I helped create too many of them during my tenure as a political operative. I fought those wars and have the bruises to prove it.

      You want history? Try checking your facts:

      http://www.chicagonow.com/blogs/off-the-markley/2010/02/tea-party-movement-a-bunch-of-phony-corporate-d-bags.html

      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/alex-brantzawadzki/anatomy-of-the-tea-party_b_380575.html

      http://www.commoncause.org/atf/cf/%7BFB3C17E2-CDD1-4DF6-92BE-BD4429893665%7D/Walker%20summary.pdf

      http://www.prwatch.org/cash-roots

      Jesus, no wonder these fringe groups gain so much ground — there are so many idiots out there willing to join.

      • woody188  June 13, 2010 at 1:51 am

        Just one problem with that, one of the Tea Party core values is decentralization. The real grassroots don’t acknowledge FreedomWorks or Americans for Prosperity because they are nationally organized. They don’t trust them. They despise Palin as she is anathema to their cause. You continually point to these top down groups and ignore the real people attending events and the local organizers battle with the nationally organized wings that they see as part of the problem, not part of the solution.

        Beginning Of The End: Sarah Palin Hijacks The Tea Party Movement

        You wanted something different, something that couldn’t be corrupted, and when it came along, you lambasted it as fake and helped to destroy it. Of course the mainstream media latched onto the nationally organized groups and promoted them as THE “Tea Party.” Who didn’t let Ron Paul attend the Republican debate in 2008 even though he grossed more donations, and had the highest contributions from those currently serving in the military?

        I’m only trying to keep things honest and open. It’s not often you are wrong but you are wrong and I can’t change that. Only you can change that. At least acknowledge that with at least 40% of the Tea Party identifying themselves as Independent and Democrat, there is NO WAY the movement is what it is being portrayed to be in the mainstream media and even by yourself. NO WAY!

      • woody188  June 13, 2010 at 2:22 am

        And another thing, you used to claim the Tea Party was dangerous and not unlike terrorists back when they were first gaining momentum. Now that Armey’s groups have been successful in self-proclaiming themselves as the national voice for the Tea Party and the media has gone along with it, now they are just idiots and fruitcakes?

        Or would you like to repeat the claim that the Tea Party and hence, Richard Keith Armey as Chairman of FreedomWorks (previously Citizens for a Sound Economy), are terrorists?

        When the Tea Party first started it was decided to base leadership on a de-centralized model. This was to prevent exactly what the Armey’s of the world wanted, to co-opt the popular movement and bring them under the “big tent.”

        Real Tea Party activists know to be wary of any national group trying to control local Tea Party organizations.

        Name-calling by the editor-in-chief is likewise very unbecoming. What is it they say about name-calling in debate?

        • Doug Thompson  June 13, 2010 at 6:22 am

          I don’t know what they say about name calling. I just pointed out the truth about the sham organization that has lured you and others into its clutches. The fact that you are so caught up in the hype that you can’t recognize the truth is sad.

          When something real comes along I’ll praise it but this outfit is not real. I was there when this sham began. You weren’t. So don’t try to confuse the argument with links to others who weren’t there and have no idea what happened or how this con job started.

          The Tea Party gets no slack here. Neither do the fools that follow it.

  5. Native Warrior  June 12, 2010 at 4:06 am

    OH YEAH!!! KEEP ON FIGHTING!!!

  6. paulb6  June 13, 2010 at 7:11 am

    believe that the people of the tea parties are tired of politics as usual and feel that there prior party of affiliation has been taken over by political ideas that do not represent there ideas now. When ever any party is created you will always have some who are uninformed of the current politics, however that is the extreme minority, you will have most who are informed in all the political arguments of the current day. Examine closely and you will find that the composition of the average Tea Party person is from either party, however they are tired of special interests capturing the party’s candidates attention and having the party voting not in the favor of there members ideas but in the special interest groups . Both party’s better wake up and realize that the tea party is not a fringe group of lunatics or radicals . I actually believe this myth is made up and spread because of the threat they present to the special interest and the rich who govern both parties.

  7. Bill  June 14, 2010 at 4:20 am

    The expression, “Shit Happens” epitomizes the Tea Party to me. They are the excrement on the shoes of America, and although their stink rises to the level at which one breathes, it is hoped that someone will wash them into a waste treatment center. I just hope it happens before they do too much damage.

    • Almandine  June 16, 2010 at 1:39 pm

      Real classy, Bill.

  8. Dan H  June 22, 2010 at 1:10 pm

    Yes, there are a lot of Americans tired of the same dance in DC. But what they fail to admit is that part of the reason we’re where we are is because Americans have been lazy and not paying attention. They worry more about voting for American Idol than for their representatives in gov’t. They don’t bother to learn what the issues are, preferring to let Fox News or MSNBC tell them what to think. They accept the expedient lies of politicians promising endless tax cuts with no consequences. The ‘angry voter’ is part of the problem, but of course people would rather point fingers than look in the mirror. The phenomenon known as the Tea Party is really a movement created, organized and led by corporations and Wall St. that taps into people’s natural tendency to point the finger of blame, giving them something to blame and go after. As demonstrated by the one sided view f the Tea Party, it becomes obvious who the wizard hding behind the curtain pulling the levers. The only thing wrong is government; the silence of the Tea Party regarding the oil spill or other corporate malfeasance says it all. This site explains the real forces behind the tea party – http://wp.me/pNmlT-f7

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