Tagged: Tea Party

Hand in glove

Republican Party 1854-2016.

A nativist tradition has always had a presence in US political culture, at times lurking beneath the calm waters of regular electoral politics, at other times crashing through like a Kraken intent on the destruction of the nation.

Since 2009, the Republican Tea Party has been that mythological sea monster, initially awakened by Mr Trump’s birther fabula. Now these Republicans have again turned to Mr Trump in massive numbers. His campaign represents their best fears and worst hopes for America.

Party out of bounds

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As news meanders across the political media universe that Jeb Bush’s email dump revealed sensitive personal information about 12,000 people, raising the spectre of another incompetent Bush in the White House, one wonders how he would be able to navigate a successful primary run for the Republican nomination. The Republican Party is not a single entity but rather an unappetizing ragout of functionally incompatible factions:

1. A tiny rump of reasonably rational Republicans, the so-called Establishment which caters to Wall Street and maintains a respectable 10 handicap.

2. A Tea Party faction that is the driving force in Republican political psychology. The Tea Party has several wings:

(a) a wacky libertarian wing (e.g., Rand Paul) comprised of Isolationists, Anti-Vaxxers, the Gun Lobby, and Gold Bugs.

(b) a social conservative, religious wing (Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin) that is  obsessed about addicted to talking about gay sex.

(c) a bandit wing (e.g., Cliven Bundy, paranoid militias and survivalists living in fortified bunkers, White Supremacists in Idaho) that is ready to engage in the violent overthrow of the US government.

(d) a classic poujadist wing comprised of people who want free services from government but don’t want to pay taxes.

3. A “Bomb Iran” caucus (e.g., John McCain and Lindsay Graham), which sometimes overlaps with the “Bomb Moscow, But Make Putin Our Presidential Nominee First” caucus (e.g., John McCain, Lindsay Graham, Franklin Graham, Steven Seagal, etc.), and the “Bomb Everyone We Dislike to Show We’re Manly Men” caucus (e.g., John McCain and Lindsay Graham).

2016 may not be the year for another RINO, which is the tag of death for a moderate Republican like Mr Bush.

Variations on a theme

The Republican Party establishment, desperate to regain relevance after its resounding defeat in November 2008, bottle-fed the Tea Party during its infancy when it should have strangled it in the crib. Now the monster child is grown up and devouring its political parents.

Mr Cantor (and the Republican Party) gave aid and comfort to the Tea Party, the most destructive force in American politics since the McCarthy era. Now that Faustian bargain is paying negative dividends.

The political climbers seeking Cantor’s old position don’t understand that for the Tea Party Republican base, anyone in a leadership position, with a responsibility for governing rationally, is by definition a traitor (e.g., a RINO) and, hence, a target for electoral retribution.

Conservative days of rage

The recent shooting in Las Vegas by individuals who associated with the “Bundy Ranch” reminded me of a prediction I made about the Tea Party in October 2010:

It could be that the USA is in the midst of conservative days of rage that recall the period of uncivil unrest that occurred in the wake of the 1968 Democratic National Convention. Those Tea Partysans who are unable to contain their disappointment over a legislative defeat appear willing to cross over the line from a peaceful remonstration of grievances into violent opposition. Even “Pro-Life” conservatives have turned on other Pro-Life politicians who are now deemed “baby killers” because they wrangled an executive order banning the use of federal funds for abortion from a pro-choice President (and in the screwy logic of the contemporary conservative base of the Republican Party, what would otherwise be treated as a victory is viewed as a defeat or, worse, as a traitorous surrender). The overlapping membership of the remnants of 1990s militias and the newly-minted extremists within the Tea Party camp could lead to the formation of groups analogous to the Weathermen/Weather Underground. Whereas the Weather Underground’s theory of the legitimate use of political violence was fueled by Marxist-Leninist theory, copious quantities of pot, LSD, and polymorphous perversion, today’s incipient Rogue Underground is driven by apocalyptic visions of death panels and hidden Muslim agents, Hitler and the Anti-Christ — all embodied in the Affordable Health Care for America Act — and fueled by a collective memory of rage that was stoked when the Branch Davidians were consumed in the cleansing fires of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’s secular purgatorium. Similar to the Weather Underground, which possessed a photogenic and charismatic frontperson in Bernardine Dohrn, a conservative Rogue Underground can already claim a candidate with similar qualities as the attractive face of its armed resistance.

*

It would be interesting to know whether, and how deeply, the FBI has infiltrated the Tea Party organizations.

*

Lacking moderate voices among their membership, the Republican Party has only one option as long as it is out of power: total, absolute, non-cooperation. That is understandable, even rational. However, the way in which it pursues non-cooperation is curious, especially the use of slogans and distortions of reality that only invigorate the less emotionally stable segments of its political base. Republicans only paint themselves into a corner. It’s been said many times before: if Republican legislators insists on describing the Affordable Health Care for America Act as a threat to American democracy and values, as a government takeover, and as socialist, then there’s no way these legislators can contribute positively to such a piece of legislation, and the rhetoric will be impelled further into loon land. And the loons will come out to play.

*

Also curious is the way the once staid, emotionally controlled presentation of the Republican Party has morphed into an uninhibited expression of feelings and a political style that exhibits the characteristics of a new form of secondary narcissism. In The Culture of Narcissism, Christopher Lasch described the shift in the type of patient who presented him/herself for psychoanalytic treatment: “Psychoanalysis, a therapy that grew out of experience with severely repressed and morally rigid individuals who needed to come to terms with a rigorous inner ‘censor,’ today finds itself confronted more and more often with a ‘chaotic and impulse-ridden character.’ It must deal with patients who ‘act out’ their conflicts instead of repressing or sublimating them.” Today’s Republican politician, no less than the Tea Partysan that is her de facto mirror-image, now presents similar characteristics. The Republican politician reacts impulsively to disappointments, and “acts out” against the agency (whichever one is found to be handy at any given moment: “liberals,” Obama, ACORN, unions, Pelosi, “Hollywood,” “illegal immigrants,” the “mainstream media,” etc.) that is perceived to be the source of disappointment through the use of disparaging language that reaches for the worst metaphors of political degradation. The emocons of today are no longer able to sublimate frustrations and anger, and their rage boils over on the floor of the House (“baby killer”), in town hall meetings, at Tea Partysan gatherings, and on voice mail left for members of Congress (“I hope you bleed … (get) cancer and die”). None of this is new, of course: paranoid style rage against the changing political cultural circumstances is older than McCarthyism, the clinic bombings, and Tim McVeigh. What is new is the open embrace of a discourse of victimhood, of victimization, from the conservative milieu. The fear of victimization is the emotional anchor of conservative politics today, a sense of victimization conservatives enable through their refusal to participate in the political process like responsible legislators and citizens.

*

Individuals identifiable with the Tea Party-Patriot tendency now feel entitled to attack governmental authority using symbolic and physical violence (if necessary). This new violence entitlement, often claimed in the name of Jesus, the Second Amendment, or Ayn Rand, has, unfortunately, been given comfort by mainline Republicans (who should know better) and by rogue conservatives (who don’t know any better).

It might as well be spring

Ukip is comparable to the American Tea Party. Tea Party Republican leaders would agree with Ukip leaders on certain issues. They share a hatred of a “federal” government (in Washington DC and in Brussels, respectively). They are simpatico concerning cultural disdain for homosexuals, blacks, intellectual elites, and foreigners. Where they differ is that Ukip may achieve significant electoral success in the EU and in the upcoming UK elections. The Tea Party appears to have run out of ideological steam, failing to elect its own candidates and suffering from the co-optation of its core principles (or cultural ressentiment) by so-called establishment Republicans.

 

Criminal world

States’ rights fundis fight for a piece of dirt in Nevada. If that’s where they want to stage their last stand, so be it!

Cliven Bundy is an ante-bellum man. He’s replaced Sarah Palin as the leading Tea Party candidate for the Republican presidential nomination.

Rand Paul is still the leading conservative intellectual, though.

Donald Sterling is a distraction from Cliven Bundy.

 

Tea Party redux

The year of reading tea leaves VII: violent tea

01 October 2010

It could be that the USA is in the midst of conservative days of rage that recall the period of uncivil unrest that occurred in the wake of the 1968 Democratic National Convention. Those Tea Partysans who are unable to contain their disappointment over a legislative defeat appear willing to cross over the line from a peaceful remonstration of grievances into violent opposition. Even “Pro-Life” conservatives have turned on other Pro-Life politicians who are now deemed “baby killers” because they wrangled an executive order banning the use of federal funds for abortion from a pro-choice President (and in the screwy logic of the contemporary conservative base of the Republican party, what would otherwise be treated as a victory is viewed as a defeat or, worse, as a traitorous surrender). The overlapping membership of the remnants of 1990s militias and the newly-minted extremists within the Tea Party camp could lead to the formation of groups analogous to the Weathermen/Weather Underground. Whereas the Weather Underground’s theory of the legitimate use of political violence was fueled by Marxist-Leninist theory, copious quantities of pot, LSD, and polymorphous perversion, today’s incipient Rogue Underground is driven by apocalyptic visions of death panels and hidden Muslim agents, Hitler and the Anti-Christ — all embodied in the Affordable Health Care for America Act — and fueled by a collective memory of rage that was stoked when the Branch Davidians were consumed in the cleansing fires of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’s secular purgatorium. Similar to the Weather Underground, which possessed a photogenic and charismatic frontperson in Bernardine Dohrn, a conservative Rogue Underground can already claim a candidate with similar qualities as the attractive face of its armed resistance.

*

It would be interesting to know whether, and how deeply, the FBI has infiltrated the Tea Party organizations.

*

Lacking moderate voices among their membership, the Republican party has only one option as long as it is out of power: total, absolute, non-cooperation. That is understandable, even rational. However, the way in which it pursues non-cooperation is curious, especially the use of slogans and distortions of reality that only invigorate the less emotionally stable segments of its political base. Republicans only paint themselves into a corner. It’s been said many times before: if Republican legislators insists on describing the Affordable Health Care for America Act as a threat to American democracy and values, as a government takeover, and as socialist, then there’s no way these legislators can contribute positively to such a piece of legislation, and the rhetoric will be impelled further into loon land. And the loons will come out to play.

*

Also curious is the way the once staid, emotionally controlled presentation of the Republican Party has morphed into an uninhibited expression of feelings and a political style that exhibits the characteristics of a new form of secondary narcissism. In The Culture of Narcissism, Christopher Lasch described the shift in the type of patient who presented him/herself for psychoanalytic treatment: “Psychoanalysis, a therapy that grew out of experience with severely repressed and morally rigid individuals who needed to come to terms with a rigorous inner ‘censor,’ today finds itself confronted more and more often with a ‘chaotic and impulse-ridden character.’ It must deal with patients who ‘act out’ their conflicts instead of repressing or sublimating them.” Today’s Republican politician, no less than the Tea Partysan that is her de facto mirror-image, now presents similar characteristics. The Republican politician reacts impulsively to disappointments, and “acts out” against the agency (whichever one is found to be handy at any given moment: “liberals,” Obama, ACORN, unions, Pelosi, “Hollywood,” “illegal immigrants,” the “mainstream media,” etc.) that is perceived to be the source of disappointment through the use of disparaging language that reaches for the worst metaphors of political degradation. The emocons of today are no longer able to sublimate frustrations and anger, and their rage boils over on the floor of the House (“baby killer”), in town hall meetings, at Tea Partysan gatherings, and on voice mail left for members of Congress (“I hope you bleed … (get) cancer and die”). None of this is new, of course: paranoid style rage against the changing political cultural circumstances is older than McCarthyism, the clinic bombings, and Tim McVeigh. What is new is the open embrace of a discourse of victimhood, of victimization, from the conservative milieu. The fear of victimization is the emotional anchor of conservative politics today, a sense of victimization conservatives enable through their refusal to participate in the political process like responsible legislators and citizens.

*

Individuals identifiable with the Tea Party-Patriot tendency now feel entitled to attack governmental authority using symbolic and physical violence (if necessary). This new violence entitlement, often claimed in the name of Jesus, the Second Amendment, or Ayn Rand, has, unfortunately, been given comfort by mainline Republicans (who should know better) and by rogue conservatives (who don’t know any better).