This is about the rise of the Teaparty, hitting the high points of its takeover of the Republican dialog and mentioning the most obvious consequences.
I take as given that the reputation of the Teaparty
is not universally good within the Republican Party, and that is why
I expect that the information here will help those voters to fall
away from their party.
The 2010 Republican primary elections for the US
House and Senate indicated a meaningful shift in several ways.
First, a few incumbents were defeated by their primary opponents,
which is unusual. Second, there were a number of other conventional
candidates favored on the party slates, who were challenged and
defeated by Teaparty opponents. Several of these came across to the
GOP establishment as loose cannons at best. A few seemed like
unbalanced extremists who should, for the sake of party integrity and
good sense, be abandoned. I'm thinking, in particular, of Sharron
Angle of Nevada ("2nd Amendment solutions") and Christine
O'Donnell of Delaware ("I am not a witch").
Third, helping to lock in their institutional
inroads, the Teapartyers were not abandoned by their party. I
thought that I detected a crucial choice involving Karl Rove. When
Christine O'Donnell won her nomination, Rove immediately was quoted
in the press as opposing the idea that the party should support her;
she was a terrible candidate and was almost bound to lose anyway.
But within 48 hours of that, he changed his mind. – A week later,
Rove announced that his PAC would have 50% more to spend for the
general election that he had previously announced. I was highly
suspicious at the time that those two announcements might be linked;
and the two years since then has shown that Murdoch and the Koch
brothers are not the only billionaires who might have played a role.
None of the lousy candidates were repudiated by the
national party. I noticed that there were local politicians in
Nevada who were mentioned as disclaiming Angle, and I hope that other
states had people with some good sense even though I never saw them
mentioned. Will GOP endorsements mean anything in the future?
Unfortunately, this corruption of "endorsing" on the
national stage seems to have fallen beneath the active notice of the
media. Worse, I saw a case where reporters re-interpreted
non-endorsement as a personal thing, on top of "winning is
everything" – In November, 2010, a few days before the
elections, Obama pointedly failed to endorse the Democratic candidate
for governor of Rhode Island. The CNN reporters of the
non-endorsement cynically wondered who Obama might be rewarding in
the GOP establishment... even though the same news cycle did have the
vulgar retort of that candidate to the news. That candidate's
reaction seemed to me to give sufficient evidence, by itself, that
this fellow was not suited for high office.
Throughout the 2010 election season, the GOP granted
these candidates a certain degree of gravitas. And all of them
seemed happy to enter the national debate by extending the official
Republican lie that "Obamacare is a takeover by the national
government of medical care in the US."
Now, it did happen that both Angle and O'Donnell
lost. Had Democrats been facing the folks that they beat in the
primaries, there's a good chance that the Democrats would have lost
both those races, and lost control of the Senate. As I imagine it,
dedicated Teapartyers had little or no regret for the total outcome
– Elevating the Teaparty profile was worthwhile to them, even at
that cost. In their perspective, the "conventional Republicans"
who they beat were very little better than the Democrats who won.
Now I will reach back to the early days of the Obama
administration for the early impetus of the Teaparty. Before the
street demonstrations and faces on Fox News, there was the now-famous
agreement between Republican factions to "oppose everything
Obama tries to do, deny him any success." I am not sure how
immediately important that was; the folks we now know as Teaparty
were going to oppose any expenditures, ... and undoubtedly would have
given McCain a hard time if he had been elected. This seems
to me to have been a ploy from the "win-at-any-cost"
segment of the conventional party which dragged in the whole party.
With some tacit approval of party leadership, the GOP
opposition to Obama was more abrasive and stupid and dishonest than
might otherwise have been allowed. In particular, when Obama shifted
from opposition to adopting the GOP's capitalistic program of
reducing pollution through "cap-and-trade", instead of
direct control, the new GOP stance became (1) calling cap-and-trade
socialistic, and (2) backing up to pretend that, after all, there
must not be any problem of global warming. Generally, they adopted a
position that, "Not only is there 'no problem,' but there is not
a strong suggestion of a problem which would call for prudent
I already mentioned opposition to Obamacare, which is
a clone of Romneycare, that was built on GOP ideas from 1995, and
never seriously opposed until 2009.
A few other issues worked out similarly, where the
old Republican main-line is apparently off-line; and sensible,
far-sighted approaches are no longer Politically Correct to even
suggest. Campaign finance reform? Not even public exposure of
contributors. Immigration reform? Certainly, no tuition support for
A separate consequence of the 2010 elections was the
GOP takeover of dozens of state governments, by governor and both
houses. This has been followed by literally hundreds of bills to
restrict abortions and access to abortions, and attempts to slip in
"legal" government interference with the right to
abortions. That does include "trans-vaginal probes" that
some states require that women pay for and obtain, clearly intended
as an objectionable nuisance. (It is ironical that these
legislators, on other days, complain of intrusive government.) That
does include laws to require doctors to misinform women about risks
of abortion ("leads to suicide and cancer") and to permit
doctors to lie to women about genetic defects, if lying might avoid
an abortion. There have also been attacks on unions; attacks on
public schools: curriculum on the one hand, charter schools on the
other. And a win-at-any-cost effort at voter suppression, mainly for
the sake of this 2012 election. (Attacking fraud would focus on
Finally, there is the hardening of Teaparty positions
into GOP political-correctness during the 2011-2012 Presidential
campaign season. Everybody signs the (totally irresponsible) Tax
Pledge of Norquist. Everybody ends up endorsing the Personhood
amendment, intended to ban all abortions and birth control pills and
IUDs. Everybody is (seemingly) denying global climate change.
(However, I do find the similar statements by Romney and Gingrich to
be equivocations ... more on that later.) See
These things are in the GOP platform. Norquist, the
no-tax anarchist, says something like, Just give us a Republican who
has enough fingers to grasp a pen and we will give him the laws.