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America: The Tea Party Eats Its Babies

America: The Tea Party Eats Its Babies

Date: December 17, 2023 11:45 am

Officially, the Tea Party does not exist in America. But their policies and even more so their political style shape the Republican Party. That too continues to cause problems for a section of the party.

Last Thursday, Kevin McCarthy took the bench for the last time in the US House of Representatives. It was only earlier this year that the Republican was elected president after 15 attempts — only to be ousted nine months later by a group of right-wing hardliners. Because he made a deal with the Democrats to prevent the US from paying back.

Now the Californian is stepping down from Congress after 17 years, and offers the following advice to his future former colleagues: “If you believe your philosophy will bring more freedom to people, don’t be afraid. Don’t be afraid you’ll lose yourself. Work because of it.”

Very important

For Christopher Borick, a political scientist at Muhlenberg College in Pennsylvania, McCarthy’s downfall is an example of the influence of an inner-party group that doesn’t really exist: the Tea Party movement.

For some rebel Republicans, McCarthy was too mainstream, too much of an establishment. That’s why they targeted him: “This attitude, this dynamic, was a big part of the Tea Party and is still alive and well among Republicans!”

Rebellion against Obama

A look back to February 2009: It was the time of the financial and credit crisis in America – and the birth of the Tea Party movement. On TV channel CNBC, financial expert Rick Santelli speaks out against the Obama administration’s billion-dollar bailouts at the expense of taxpayers.

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If the Founding Fathers could enjoy it, they’d be turning in their graves, Sandelli complains: “That’s why we’re thinking about having our Tea Party in Chicago in July!”

Chantelli’s angry rant goes viral. Tea Party chapters sprung up across the country. Their goal is lower taxes and spending, less government and fewer regulations. But what’s really new, says Professor Boric, is his political style:

It is disruptive and destructive politics. The institutions, the processes, the elites, the system is so flawed that we will do anything to change it. And stop.

Christopher Borick, Muhlenberg College

Its success is based on the success of the Tea Party movement: former President Donald Trump

It resonates with voters

With their campaigns against the so-called RINOS (“Republicans in Name Only”), the Republicans did not have enough populists, and the Tea Party won over voters: thanks to them, the Republicans won a majority in the House of Representatives. 2010 again, after four years in the Senate.

In 2013, their blockade stalled the first budget in nearly 20 years. Even Donald Trump’s election in 2016 would not have been possible without the Tea Party, political scientist Borik believes: “These changes in American politics brought about by the Tea Party certainly created a more open environment for a kind of politics that Trump then ushered in.

Trump’s MAGA movement takes on tradition

With Trump’s election, the Tea Party joined his MAGA (“Make America Great Again”) movement, which dominates the Republican Party today. Colin Seeberger of the liberal think tank Center for American Progress says, noting that the Tea Party movement was more relentless than it could have been, citing the ousting of Kevin McCarthy:

In the early years of the Tea Party, such tactics were practiced only by a small group of lawmakers. But what we’re seeing today is with the radical MAGA Republicans, the whole crowd is joining them.

Colin Seeberger, Center for American Progress

Political scientist Borik says 2023 shows that the legacy of the Tea Party undermines the functioning of democratic institutions. That’s what makes budget and aid deals for Ukraine so difficult right now.

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By Julia Castine, ART Washington, Tagessao, December 15, 2023 at 6:49 pm