How The Tea Party Blew Up The GOP

Maybe now is a good time to take a step back and see this whole Wisconsin thing for what it is.  On this evidence, what happened tonight might just be the final blow for one of the two dominant political parties.

No.  Not the Democrats.  The Republicans.


Full explanation, post-jump.

Everybody talks about how the Democrats are so good at shooting themselves in the foot.  And they are good at that.  They’ve practiced at it.  A lot.  Anybody who has supported the Dems in the past decade has to be punch-drunk from all the times they have been alienated.  (Latest example: the closure of Gitmo — the clearest chance to be on the right side — has gone by the boards.)

But the GOP is plenty good at it, too.  Consider their embrace of people who are politely called immigration activists.  The Latino community could be on-side with Republicans on a bunch of things (notably, the social-policy stuff).  But Republicans, writ large, have spoiled any chance of winning over what will be the largest single identifiable constituency within the next 30 years (through actions like spiking the DREAM Act).

And the GOP’s pursuit of laws with respect to ladybits, and those with a chronic case of the gay — particularly at the expense of time and energy that could have been used on the Budget — locks in a certain gender gap.  Throw in the Republicans’ apparent desire to go after Medicare and Social Security, and you have old folks voting Democratic again and again.  And the fight to save the republic from NPR and PBS (including dirty commies like Click and Clack, Garrison Keillor, Jim Lehrer, and Oscar the Grouch) just looks petty.

So, what swing group is left?  Reagan Democrats — who were (and are) simple, hard-working folks who feel like the Democrats have led them astray, and who buy-in to the free market, low tax ideology that the Gipper sold.  More than anything, I think, these people are attracted by the sense of fair-play that the GOP trades in. And fair-play certainly was not present tonight.

Supposing for the moment that some of these folks switch off Fox News every now and again, and supposing that the mainstream media actually covers what happened tonight fairly — a long shot, to be sure, but stay with it — you would have to think that this has to go down hard with them.  To paraphrase the great political philosopher, Walter Sobchak, “this is not ‘Nam. There are rules.”  Anybody who saw Walker talk about compromise in the morning, and saw the Republicans ram the bill through tonight, has to know that the GOP will stop at nothing to get their way.  And what happened tonight will not, in the end, help average people one bit.  The instant spin may tell them different, but the proof will be in the pudding.

And what is the common thread running through the GOP’s attack on anybody who could — oh, I don’t know, help them win elections?  The Tea Party. Everything the Republican Party does nowadays is all about placating them.  The GOP, seeking to do anything to get the mojo working again after Barack Obama handed them their lunch in 2008, latched on to the teabaggers.  And it was fun for a while, and they won a bunch of elections that earned them the right to take control, and Michelle Bachmann and Paul Ryan and scores of other telegenic superstars of the vibrant right-wing all got famous and powerful and stuff.

But, what happened next?  Scott Walker is Exhibit A.  The mass uprising against his actions is Exhibit B.  Exhibit C may very well be an off-off-off year election that deposes, democratically, the Wisconsin legislature.

If the Republicans are smart, they’d cut off Scott Walker at the knees and move to the center.  But they’re not that smart, and they’re in too deep with the Tea Party now.  Run away from them and the Tea Party may bolt (thus splitting the GOP in two, right then and there).  So they will hold them close, if not closer still, and the die will be cast.

If the Democrats manage to take advantage now — long odds on that, true — then the GOP could be knocked deep into oblivion.  It may be that the GOP and the Tea Party take the White House in 2012.  If that happens, then what happened in Wisconsin will be a day at the fair by comparison.  And the American people will not like the result, if I have my guess.

And, thus: dirty hippie liberals owe the Tea Party a huge debt.  Without the Tea Party, the stakes could not be plainer.  And the most unlikely thing might just happen: people could start paying attention. When that does happen, if it ever does, then the GOP will truly become what they have risked becoming: a weak, miserable force, confined largely to the South, that has no hopes of ever retaking power on a national level for the foreseeable future.

That’s the view from here tonight.  Tomorrow, we — as usual — will be back to forecasting the Democrats’ risk of eternal doom… which is smack-dab in the middle of a well-beaten path.


Well done, CB. You deserve a scotch and soda.

“To paraphrase the great political philosopher, Walter Sobchak, “this is not ‘Nam. There are rules.” ”

As a 3-time winner of the “Best Walter” trophy at LebowskiFests in LA 2005 and 2007, and NYC in 2006 and an actual Vietnam vet, I agree. See my first win photo at:

There ARE rules. And make that a Caucasian aka White Russian, in lieu of the scotch and soda, or a sarsaparilla if you’re of the non-alocoholic sort.

@nojo: It’s zero, you crazy fuck! -Smokey

@RevZafod: I’m ashamed to admit that my Credence didn’t survive the tape-to-CD transition.

@nojo: I recently bought CCR’s Cosmo’s Factory on cd. “Actors in the White House, mortgage on the car.” Ramble Tamble, y’all.

@RevZafod: Got-DAMN!

Greetings from Red Amerika – Farmington New Mexico, awl and gas bidniss is big here

And, btw, awesome article, CB.
/tips Heineken to author

@redmanlaw: @nojo: Bother me tomorrow, today I’ll buy no sorrow.

(I gots all my CCR on the original vinyl).

Great post, CB.

I want to believe this is true, but I fear that the zombies who vote for the GOP holding plackards that read “I Can Take Care of Myself, Thank You” and shout about how they should be allowed to opt out of Social Security won’t realize they’ve been betrayed until they find themselves on the verge of retirement and realize they don’t have nearly enough income to get by on (thanks to a gutted Social Security system and a neutered social safety net). And even then, many will try to blame liberals (because if it weren’t for “regulation” their investment portfolios would clearly be worth milions).

It would be interesting, nonethelss to see what would happen if the GOP were able to push through their lunatic goal of privatizing Medicare and offering seniors fixed vouchers to purchase coverage on the private market. The vouchers would either prove so grossly inadequate that few would actually be able to afford coverage or so expensive that the country would be bankrupted almost over night.

This is the problem when you’re dealing with a political opposition whose constituents are so blinded by ideology that they honestly believe that there is a great conspiracy by the scientific community to knowingly spread the “falsehoods” of Darwinian Evolution and Global Warming. How do you convince, through reasoned argument, a group of loons who choose to accept the rantings of Rush Limbaugh over the findings of the Nobel Committte?

@Serolf Divad:
“The vouchers would either prove so grossly inadequate that few would actually be able to afford coverage or so expensive that the country would be bankrupted almost over night.”

If one digs into the Ryan plan, it’s clear that it’s the former. The trick is the indexing – the plan calls for the vouchers to be indexed to no more than CPI + 1%, which is WILDLY below the historical cost curve.

As it is, if people understood the cost of long-term care in the US there would be outrage. But they don’t. I can’t afford the insurance for that on top of what I already pay for regular insurance. It’s fiendishly expensive and, as Consumer Reports pointed out, most of the firms now selling policies won’t be in business when you need it. But as we are childless and I am likely to outlive the hubby I wake in terror some nights at the thought of coping with what can be as much as $180,000 per annum on my modest retirement account.

I’ve been reading a lot about the late 18th cent and am very struck by the parallels between the tea-baggers and the anti-freemason party that had a brief, violent and pig-ignorant life. Do we all remember that Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Franklin were all Masons? Hence the pyramid on the dollar. That it was widely believed that freemasonry was behind the American revolution and the French? And the spread of democratic thinking that threatened the Habsburgs? No? Just asking. Carry on.

@Right Reverend Benedick: This is why coyotes and cockroaches will thrive after humans destroy civilization and regress to hunting and gathering in small bands. We are dumber.


And how long do you think that would last? I mean seniors vote… they don’t just vote, the VOTE.

So while in theory this indexing would reduce the costs of Medicare’s successor by ensuring that government expenditures stay well below historical growth curves for medical insurance, in practice the GOP would instamntly cave to voters who won’t stand for not being able to afford insurance and shovel more and more money into the voucher program. The end result is that the deficit skyrockets.

That’s part of the insanity of ideas like Ryan’s, and I’m convinced almost everyone in the GOP with actual power knows this to be true. They only pretend to promote Ryan’s crap to appease the Teabaggers. The real worry is that the Teabaggers take over even the decisionmaking positions in tge GOP. Then we’re all screwed.

CB, nice article, but it contains the fatal flaw: that Republican voters pay any attention to what actually happens vs. what they are told happens. When people start to notice the problems that stem from the latest GOP fuck-you, they will be told that it’s the liberals’ fault, and no amount of holding up voting records will change the voters’ minds.

When you’re dealing with a populace as willing to be led as the one the GOP have found, logic and reasoning simply doesn’t enter into the equation. I’m sure if I cared more I could come up with a zillion examples (although getting W elected twice strikes me as a pretty obvious one), but I really don’t care.

The GOP will continue leading their constituents down the path to hell, and the constituents will continue exclaiming happily about how warm it’s getting, and make jokes about having forgotten their bathing suits. (Note for partisanship reasons: the Dems aren’t a whole lot better — until we can remove corporate money from the equation, politics will continue to be a game of “How can we screw the individual out of the most without them actually realizing it.”)

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