Is The GOP Merely Using The Tea Party Movement?

Glenn Greenswald has an excellent, spot on article over at Salon regarding the “relationship” between the GOP and the tea party movement. I believe it to be a credible analysis. Thoughts?

36 Responses to Is The GOP Merely Using The Tea Party Movement?

  • The substance of the analysis is correct, though the anti-GOP rhetoric is excessively shrill.

    “This is what Republicans always do” – right, as if they do it exclusively. This is what major political parties always do regardless of their ideological orientation.

    They are interested in maintaining power for its own sake. Thus they must always, always play this balancing act. They NEED grassroots support to survive, but they must also CONTROL it lest people with actual principles come anywhere near the levers of power and upset status quo.

    When things are cold and lifeliess and the party is being defeat by its rival, the grassroots support is good and great. The base is encouraged to become active in politics, to show how much they love their country through civic participation, and to show how much they hate the enemy.

    But soon those dogs of war become too much for their handlers. The crusty old party elites start talking about the dangers of “populism.” Now the people are “insane”, “crazy”, “dangerous” for daring to get just a little more involved in politics than the carefully-prescribed parameters their social betters laid out for them.

    One thing Mr. Greenswald is absolutely right about, however, is that Neoocons and Ron Paul supporters are mortal enemies. I’ve read more than one neocon op-ed these last days denouncing Paul and his supporters as dangerous and insane.

    Of course there’s nothing insane about continuing to provoke the hatred of the Arab and Muslim world through slavish and irrational support for everything Israel does. No, I guess that’s just our moral obligation, in spite of the fact that almost every other country in the world, developed and undeveloped, Muslim, Christian, secular or otherwise, has had enough of Israel’s war-crimes and brinkmanship.

    The whole world is anti-Semitic I guess. And nothing any American does at any time can ever be responsible for provoking Muslims. We should be able to urinate on a Koran and the Muslim world should thank us by asking McDonalds and the GAP to come to their neighborhoods.

    If patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel phony charges of anti-Semitism are the first. Complete and total denial of the human nature of Arab and Muslim people by making arguments that logically amount to insisting they should bear all insults and oppressions without reaction would be a close second.

  • Joe,

    Well I looked passed his obviously biased views (particularly his social liberalism; in fact, I suspect he might be a libertarian) and rather looked at the substance of his argument, which I believe is sound.

    And it sounds like you’re not going to like a column I hope to post this evening explaining why I’m an anti-populist…I hope you can be friends with a “crusty old party elite.” ;)

  • If it is “anti” the involvement of ordinary citizens in politics – who sometimes bring their ignorance and pathologies into the debate, a fact of democratic life that simply can’t be avoided – then no, I won’t like. And by “involvement” I mean something more than voting, but actually speaking out.

  • Mr. Greenwald, the sockpuppet master, is wrong as usual. The tea party movement has quite a few Republicans in it. I backed it from its inception and you do not come more Republican than me. Saying that the Republicans are using the tea party movement today is akin to saying the Republicans used the abolition movement in the 1850s. Common goals cause people to unite politically. Sometimes activists are disappointed, as I am sure anti-war activists who backed Obama are. However, politics is a matter of choices between alternatives. The Democrat party is completely anti-thetical to the tea party movement and usually mocks them. The Republicans have been supportive. Of course most tea party members are going to support the GOP in the fall. I await with baited breath Mr. Greenwald’s next posting explaining as to how the Republicans are merely using those who are opposed to the policies of Mr. Obama.

  • For those who may be unfamiliar with Mr. Greenwald and his use of internet sockpuppets, read the article linked below:

    http://ace.mu.nu/archives/187585.php

  • I think Greenwald is right to some extent. All parties absorb different movements, and neither party is particularly good at delivering on its promises (after all, the easy isssues in politics have usually already been decided, so the action is always around issues where it’s hard to make changes). As a descriptive matter, that’s how politics works. At the same time, it’s hard to avoid the impression that Greenwald is concern trolling in this article. One can nearly always make the case that, descriptively, a party isn’t delivering (or won’t deliver or hasn’t delivered) on what it’s various constituents want; but to jump from that reasonably accurate description to the imputation of bad faith or a cynical and deliberate plot, is generally the mark of a partisan of one sort or the other.

  • “The whole world is anti-Semitic I guess”

    After World War II Joe, if I were a Jew I would conclude that much of the world was anti-semitic and much of the remainder of the world coldly indifferent to the fate of the Jews.

  • It seems a lot of ink is spilled on of the GOP is using the TEA party movement.

    It never occurs if the TEA PARTY MOVEMENT is perhaps using social conservatives?

    We all alliances of course but in many places in the TEA Party movement there is a libertarian ethos and a view of” IF WE CAN JUST GET RID OF THESE SOCIAL ISSUES” everyone will flock to us. that divide is there and of course should be watched. It is under the surface at times.

  • I am writing a series of articles at my blgsite on the platform of the Constitution Party. Its position is the closest to Church teaching:

    The Constitution Party
    http://commentarius-ioannis.blogspot.com/2010/02/constitution-party.html

    US Constitution Party – Preamble
    http://commentarius-ioannis.blogspot.com/2010/02/us-constitution-party-preamble.html

    US Constitution Party – Sanctity of Life
    http://commentarius-ioannis.blogspot.com/2010/02/us-constitution-party-sanctity-of-life.html

    I for one am sick and tired of liberals, eco-weenies, Democrats, neo-conservatives, Jacobins, RINOs, social gospel fruit cakes, and all that mess. Let’s get back to the twin pillars on which this nation was founded: the Bible and the Constitution.

  • I don’t think so, jh. I think a lot of tea party folks are pro-life and pro-marriage. A wise libertarian argument makes a clear distinction between the federal enforcement of “social issues” and the delegation of these tasks to the states.

    Its not so much about philosophical libertarianism in other words, it is about constitutionalism. Libertarians like Ron Paul say, “get rid of Roe v. Wade” because its unconstitutional and because the states should decide what happens with abortion.

    I used to really dislike that argument. I argued against it. But I disliked it for reasons that I have admit now were irrational. I don’t think the federal government is willing or able to be the abortion police. I don’t think Congress will pass a human life amendment in our lifetimes. But I do believe that individual states would outlaw abortion if Roe were overturned, something more likely to happen on the grounds that it is arguably unconstitutional.

    In fact, all but the bluest states still have pre-Roe anti-abortion laws on the books that would immediately go into effect if Roe were overturned. Those blue states have now passed legislation defending abortion rights if Roe were to be overturned. Would they try to secede from the union over Roe? It’s doubtful. But it’s also doubtful that they would comply in any kind of meaningful way.

    We can’t make California into Arkansas. There are cultural differences and political differences and religious differences that the federal government can’t make vanish with the wave of a legislative wand. A culture of death can only be confronted with a culture of life. And cultures aren’t created by decree.

  • Paul, I’m with you on the issues (though not necessarily the party politics), provided you get over your squeamishness with the word “distributism” and read a Papal encyclical or two. Start with Rerum Novarum. Then read Quadragesimo Anno.

  • I think a lot of tea party folks are pro-life and pro-marriage.

    Some are. Some aren’t.

  • A lot of tea party-esque libertarians I’ve known are all personally pro-life. In fact, pro-life libertarians to me are like pro-life Democrats — a sizeable, but not very vocal, minority.

    In fact of the pro-life libertarians I know, abortion is usually not a prominent issue. I can’t generalize this, but, in my experience at least, libertarians tend to be pro-choice or at the very least “personally opposed” to abortion but oppose government restrictions on abortion because of their sentiments and wacky slippery-slope arguments about the government going too far.

  • Thanks, Joe. I shall do that. However, it’s just not morally right to forcibly take from those who have to give to those who think they deserve it.

    When the rich man came to Jesus and asked what he had to do to inherit eternal life, Jesus said obey the Law and the Prophets. The rich man responded that he had all his life. Jesus then said he lacked one thing: he had to give up his riches to the poor and follow Jesus.

    Note that Jesus never told the disciples to confiscate the rich man’s riches. And Jesus never said that Caesar had to tax the rich man so that the needy could suckle at the teat of the public treasury. Rather, giving has to be voluntary.

    Indeed, one might argue that Jesus was concerned not about the poor but about the rich man’s soul and the idol that he had made of his riches. So why are we the members of the Body of Christ commanded to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, etc.? So that we don’t suffer the rich man’s fate.

    It is NOT the job of Caesar to care for the needy. That’s our job as members of the Body of Christ. Thus, I oppose all attempts at govt sponsored re-distributionism which is always and everywhere inherently immoral. Everytime we give to Caesar the authority to redistribute wealth, we sacrifice Christ’s authority that He gave the Church to do that, and we abdicate our personal responsibility and accountability on the same.

    No socialism. No communism. No social justice. No common good. No peace at any price. Rather – God’s eternal justice – that’s what matters.

    I will also add this: as long as we continue to murder unborn babies, extol the virtues of gay sex, permit rampant pornography and engage in all manner of evil filth, no amount of wealth redistributionism can possibly save us. Repentance and conversion, righteousness and holiness come before economic prosperity, social justice, and societal peace, and we in the United Soviet Socialist States of Amerika deserve none of these. For lesser crimes than what we daily commit God allowed the Assyrians to deport Israel into captivity and Babylon Judah. What does it take for us to learn? Must the Obamination be led away with a hook through his nose for his abortionist policies as King Manasseh was led away to Assyria for making his children walk through the fire?

    Don’t think for one moment that God doesn’t so love unborn babies that He won’t visit His eternal justice down on our guilty heads.

  • Donald —

    The point of the piece was not that Republicans (American political conservatives or members of the Republican party) are using tea party protestors or pandering to them. It is that Republican politicians and pundits are pandering — people whose record, past statements, and advocacy are manifestly opposed to the principles of the tea party movement and now they’re suddenly impassioned members of this movement. It can look superficial; perhaps they’ve had a change of heart, or more likely, they’re pandering and riding to victory on a viable political movement that still has a lot of momentum.

  • The re-distribution of wealth is not intrinsically evil. Read the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Catholic Church.

  • I’m not saying it’s a requirement, but it is not inherently evil.

  • Eric – yes, wealth redistributionism is inherently evil. You have no right to take one man’s rightfully acquired wealth and give it to another man. That’s stealing. “You shall not steal.” Exodus 20:15

  • Wealth redistribution for the common good isn’t theft. Render unto Caeser and all that.

  • BA,

    For goodness sake this man made a complete fool of himself and provoked the crowd.

    I don’t know if we can say, on the basis of this incident, this provocation, that we can say that there is a definite pro-gay marriage faction in the tea party movement. As I think you’ll agree, opposing federal action on the issue is not the same as supporting the moral substance of the issue itself.

    The question is, would they oppose a state’s right to outlaw gay marriage and promote traditional marriage? I don’t think many of them would.

  • Paul,

    “However, it’s just not morally right to forcibly take from those who have to give to those who think they deserve it.”

    I think the Popes generally agree. But it isn’t morally wrong to levy taxes for legitimate purposes. There’s a line between anarchy and constitutionally-limited government.

    And I think government has a limited role to play in creating the conditions for prosperity. Look at the Louisiana Purchase. American tax money went into it, but millions of people got land out of it.

    Every taxation and every expenditure made possible by taxation is a redistribution of wealth. That’s a basic part of living in society. We have to know the limits. The “all or nothing” approach of some libertarians and some leftists on the other side is wrong, and its not very Catholic either.

  • I don’t know why this guy would criticize the GOP for pandering to the Tea-partiers. It’s essentially the same thing the Dems (most of whom supported the war) did when they pandered to the anti-war crowd. It got the Dems back in play with their ideological base and then into majority. One could easily argue this is precisely the corrective behavior the GOP needs.

  • John Henry,

    Govt’s only legitimate purpose is the common defense. Its purpose is NOT to keep the plebians addicted to suckling at the teat of the public treasury. Indeed, that is the exact opposite of the common good, for it enslaves people instead of enabling them to stand on their own two feet. 2nd Thessalonians 3:10 states:

    In fact, when we were with you, we instructed you that if anyone was unwilling to work, neither should that one eat.

    Joe Hargrave,

    There is a difference between rightful taxation which ensures that citizens pay for what they receive and wrongful taxation which takes wealth away from those who work to give to those who don’t. Paying for good roads, police protection, fire departments, national defense, etc., is rightful taxation. Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, National Health Care, Welfare, etc., are all wrongful taxation. It is NOT govt’s job to feed the poor, give drink to the thirsty, care for the sick, etc., etc. That’s OUR job as members of the Body of Christ, and if govt didn’t tax us so much, then we would have the money to do so.

    What ever happened to the principle of subsidiary?

    The best govt is always the smallest govt.

    BTW, why are you people so willing to trust secular atheist humanist pro-abortion, pro-gay marriage politicians to distribute your tax money? As long as they are atheist humanists, pro-abortionists, they cannot and must not be trusted.

    No wealth redistribution by govt. Not now. Not ever. Intrinsically evil. Always was. Always will be. No debate necessary.

    We Christians have to take care of the less fortunate. NOT GOV’T!

  • “or more likely, they’re pandering and riding to victory on a viable political movement that still has a lot of momentum.”

    I think we shall have an opportunity to find out after the November elections Eric. In any case, I think Tea Party members not enamored of the Republicans, and a substantial number are not, have simply made a rational decision that the Democrats last year showed that in regard to government spending they are far worse than the Republicans from the Tea Party point of view. Of course the derision and outright hatred of the Tea Party movement shown by many Democrats in Congress and most left-leaning pundits have convince most Tea Partiers that they have no friends on the Left.

  • Paul,

    I don’t think our dispute is that great. The problem is when you say “redistribution”, that includes the legitimate and the illegitimate.

    To say we should stop all redistribution is like saying we should punish the innocent with the guilty. When the gov’t taxes you to pay for the common defense, that’s a redistribution of wealth. It goes out of your pocket and into something else.

    Why don’t we just say that we’re opposed to the welfare state? Because that narrows it down to the illegitimate kind of redistribution. John Paul II spoke out against the welfare state, but he didn’t rewrite the Catechism to say we shouldn’t pay taxes. Because these aren’t mutually exclusive positions!

  • Joe,

    I agree wholeheartedly with the meaning behind your last entry even if I may not agree with the terminology.

    This is so hard to get straight in words. As a Catholic I am responsible for helping my neighbor. That’s inherent in being a Christian. That’s not the State’s job – it’s mine – and yours and everyone else who calls himself Catholic.

    Indeed, I would wager that if each one of us actually tithed 10% of our gross income (and many of us can’t do that because of excessive taxation) to Holy Mother Church, then we could do far more to combat poverty and societal ills than govt ever could (assuming of course that the money doesn’t go to CCHD and the Marxist enterprises it supports – but that’s a different issue).

    If we simply do what God wants….2nd Chronicles 7:14:

    “…and if my people, upon whom my name has been pronounced, humble themselves and pray, and seek my presence and turn from their evil ways, I will hear them from heaven and pardon their sins and revive their land.”

  • “I don’t think so, jh. I think a lot of tea party folks are pro-life and pro-marriage. A wise libertarian argument makes a clear distinction between the federal enforcement of “social issues” and the delegation of these tasks to the states.”

    Some are and some are not. I am not blind to some of the discussion going on. In fact INSTAPUDIT that I respect has sort of made the pitch the ast two weeks of perhaps not worring about these social issues.

    I sort of fin the GOP bashing gets old while ignoring the huge real fault lines in this new “coalition” and acting like it is all sweeteness and light.

    To me it makes as much sense as the sillyu “throw all the bums out”.

    I am not a Tea Party guy but I have defended them. I am not a Libertarian thought I have defended them. But I note some warning signs in this new movement that means we should be concerned and therefore I am wary of this lets bash the GOP movement as we ignore perhaps something more dangerous.

    LEts THROW THE BUMS out. But those bums might be social conservatives.

  • By the way I have lost a certain respect for the TEA Party on this whole CO OPt and pandering charge. I thought the purpose was to have their ideas listened too and engaged.

    Wait they are listening to us and talking about our ideas so we must be taken advantage of.!!!

    I have been engaged in politics long enough to see there is not much difference between SOME local Tea Party folks and SOME local GOP that get all involve in Roberts Rules of Order and love to debate who is not pure enough to be in the party.

  • I would like to add one clarifying and nagging thought: paying taxes for good roads, a strong police force and defense department, a competent and quickly responding fire department, effective public sanitation, water and public plumbing services, public education for one’s children, etc., are all services one pays the govt to provide. As such, it is NOT wealth redistribution.

    Paying taxes so that people can receive Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, Welfare, etc., IS wealth redistribution. It transfer wealth from those who rightfully acquire it and gives it to those who did nothing to acquire it.

    Now that being said, the reality of Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and Welfare is a bit more complicated than that. At one time we gave money to govt to save up for us for a medical emergency, old age retirement or as insurance against unforeseen job loss. But today none of those social justice programs are like that. Rather, the money we are taxed is squandered on bread and circuses for the plebians so that they will continue to vote for the incumbents of both major political parties.

    One last thing: why should we ever have trusted govt (i.e., secular politicians) to act with integrity and use our tax money to save up for us for a medical emergency, old age retirement or as insurance against unforeseen job loss? If we simply had tithed 10% of our gross income to God as the Bible prescribes, then these problems would be resolved by we the members of the Body of Christ instead of being abdicated to “almighty Caesar”.

    Folks, I am completely opposed to wealth redistribution – giving must be voluntary. Otherwise, we should be honest and stick with providing money for a visible and measurable service. Collectivism didn’t work in the time of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5. It doesn’t work now.

  • I don’t know what the future will bring, but my inclination is that the G.O.P. ignores the ideas of Dr. Paul at their own peril.

    The ‘Paul-ites’ see through the G.O.P’s attempt to acquire tea party/Ron Paul support without actually changing any of their ideas.

    If anyone thinks the Republicans have learned their lesson they are going to be sorely disappointed.

    Paul has put a spotlight back towards the fundamental ideas of liberty as expressed in the minds of intellectuals such as Mises, Hayek and Rothbard; not to mention the founding fathers as well.

    For me, discovering the Austrians, libertarians and Classical Liberals has been as exciting and enlightening as when I first was introduced to the intellectual backbone of the Church…

    From such powerful ideas there really is no going back… especially to the G.O.P.

  • Ron Paul is welcome to leave the GOP anytime he wishes Anthony. Who knows, if he runs for President again like he did in 1988, he might even get 0.5% of the vote again.

  • Thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule of worshiping war and ‘Honest’ Abe to add to the conversation, Don. You really took me down point-by-point.

  • Apologies. That was not very polite of me. I get rather easily frustrated with smarmy responses.

  • No apology necessary Anthony. I respect your intelligence. We simply do not agree politically. Besides, I enjoy some robust back and forth.

  • In regard to Ron Paul and his views of the Civil War and Abraham Lincoln, I share the views of the proprietor of the blog linked below:

    http://abrahamlincolnblog.blogspot.com/2007/12/ron-pauls-bizarre-opinion-on-lincoln.html

    In regard to the negative opinion that Ron Paul expresses in the interview linked below as to almost all Republican presidents, it does mystify me as to why he stays in the GOP.

    http://www.swamppolitics.com/news/politics/blog/2007/12/ron_paul_takes_on_repubs_from.html

  • Hello, I love all your articles, keep them coming.

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