Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Elephant Dung #10: Tea Party slams Reince Priebus, RNC

Tracking the GOP Civil War

(For an explanation of this ongoing series, see here. For previous entries, see here.)

Well, that didn't take long, did it? Reince Priebus has only been RNC chair for a few days and already the Tea Party is trying to knock him down: 

While Priebus boasted, during his campaign for RNC chairman, of his good relations with Wisconsin tea party groups, the leaders of those groups give his tenure mixed reviews, with some accusing him of giving only lip service to the movement while stacking the deck against its candidates, shutting them out of the process or working to absorb them into the GOP.

"Priebus will do whatever it takes to co-opt the tea party movement," said Mike Murphy, chairman of a tea party-allied 527 group called The Republican Liberty Caucus of Wisconsin, founded in late 2009.

In the midterm elections, Murphy's group supported tea party candidates, including some who were undercut by the state GOP, which largely ignored long-shot tea party candidates and endorsed the primary rivals of others at its May convention — months before the primary election.

"He didn't allow for conservative voices that didn't jibe with the establishment view and if he charges down that course (at the RNC), the tea party people will wake up and it may very well split up the Republican Party" coalition that powered the GOP's 2010 landslide, said Murphy.

Interviews with eight other Wisconsin tea party leaders since Priebus's election Friday as RNC chairman revealed similar misgivings about Priebus's handling of the party endorsement process, which they saw as emblematic of the clubby establishment politics that the tea party has railed against since the movement burst onto the scene in April 2009.

Priebus is hardly some wishy-washy moderate. He may be an insider, but his politics are on the far right (and hence well within the mainstream of the GOP).

And yet the Tea Party still doesn't like him? Why?

Well, because he didn't turn the Wisconsin GOP over to the Wisconsin Tea Party, obviously, even if he was more than willing to embrace Tea Party politics.

And that's the key here, you see. The co-opting goes both ways.

The Tea Party accuses the GOP of trying to co-opt it, and, sure, the GOP has very much been trying to do just that, that is to say, to capitalize electorally off Tea Party support, but the Tea Party is also trying to co-opt the GOP, to take control of it and use it to win elected office.

The Tea Party presents itself as against the establishment, but what it really wants is to became establishment itself, specifically within the Republican Party. To put it another way, it wants the counter-establishment to be the establishment. It denies this, of course, but its pursuit of control of the Republican Party, and its pursuit of power generally, would seem to refute its credibility.

Of course, most, if not all, revolutionaries -- and I use the term broadly when referring to Teabaggers, most of whom are either right-wing Republicans or otherwise right-wing anti-government types who are Republican in spirit -- desire power, not merely the overthrow those in power. Simply put, they want what others have, and often want it badly enough to resort to violence. (Read Hannah Arendt.)

I get it. 

But let's stop pretending that the Tea Party is really all that distinct at this point from the GOP. They may not be one and the same, but they need each other and feed off each other, and they're moving closer and closer all the time.

In this case, Priebus is surely more than happy to open the doors of the GOP as wide as possible to the Tea Party. But even that won't be enough. The Tea Party won't be happy until it takes over, until Priebus and the "establishment," however right-wing, bow to its every command.

It's an uneasy relationship, but it's the essence of the Republican Party.

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  • Responding to your ludicrous assertion that conservatives "want what others have," (as opposed to class envious Marxists) allow me to shed some light on your darkened perspective. You are right to observe that Tea Party activists want to take over the GOP. It would be helpful if you could substantiate your assertion that Tea Partiers have denied that intention. Some many have. Indeed, some may not have that intention. Regardless, the acquisition of influence within the organs of political power is the only way to affect public policy, and therefore the only meaningful goal of political action. You act as though it's scandalous. What would be the point of engaging in politics if not to affect policy consistent with your principles?

    Where you are wrong is the assumption that Tea Partiers want power simply because others have it. There you project the mentality of a leftist. Surely, there are professed conservatives who just want power to benefit a carved out constituency (which likely includes themselves). However, these are indicative of the establishment the Tea Party seeks to replace. Like George Washington, the ideal Tea Party public servant seeks power only to ensure its just constraint.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:06 AM  

  • A LARGE portion the Tea Party manifested was because a colored man was elected to President. I'm not saying all Tea Party types are racist or bigoted, but many are and their fright led them to take action. Definitely know that people likely to define themselves as Tea Partiers are bigoted more so than just the normal moderate Republican. And most of these Tea Partiers never set foot inside a building of higher learning in their lives. Heck, some of them look like graduating high school might have been a stretch.

    If Clinton had been elected none of the Tea Party stuff would have happened! And Hillary is more liberal than Obama!

    Hell, Obama is pretty darn moderate.

    His skin color frightens a lot of ignorant people (who also watch Fox..what a deadly combo).

    By Blogger Ryan, at 7:15 PM  

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