The Tea Party has always existed
Captain Fogg over at Human Voices wrote a very compelling contrast between the way the far right treats Obama versus how they treated Kennedy, Remembering the Hero. Even though today Kennedy has an approval rating that tops 90%, while he was in office, he received the same kind over-the-top rhetoric about how he was discarding the Constitution and how he was a traitor.
Let me take it a bit further. Basically, since at least World War II, there has always been about 20% of the population that thinks that the commies are taking control of the nation. That's not just me, that's the conclusion of Change They Can't Believe In.
Ever since 2009, I've been amused and outraged that the Tea Party is treated as some legitimate political movement. The mainstream press just loved the idea of middle class people finally organizing. But that's not what was happening at all! These were the McCarthyites who knew that 81 communists worked in the State Department. These were the Birchers who ranted about the communist plot of water fluoridation in 1960. And of course, these were the people with the "treason" signs on the parade route in Dallas.
I think our country would be a good deal better off if we knew more about John Wilkes Booth. He wasn't crazy. It was just that in the circles he ran, it was a given that Lincoln was a tyrant. In his mind, he was Brutus in Julius Caesar—not an assassin but a hero of the people.
No one thinks themselves greater patriots than the Tea Party. But they aren't patriots to the United States. They are patriots to some kind of vague notion of what they think America once was. And most sadly, that usually means an America where only whites had power.
I don't think most of these people really wanted armed revolt and political assassination. But Captain Fogg is right that these people are sowing it. But whenever there is a tragedy that they helped create—whether it is Dallas or Oklahoma City—they slink away. For a while. When they come back, they don't slink. They stride proudly back with their signs, "Obama's Plan: White Slavery!"
(Cross-posted at Frankly Curious.)