Monday, October 21, 2013

An Unremorseful Tea Party Already Spoiling for Another Fight

For people to learn lessons from their mistakes five things have to happen: they have to have an element of humility in their nature; understand that they are not the center of the universe; have empathy and a basic respect for their fellow humans; be aware of themselves and the impact of their behavior on those around them; and want to change very much. 

If any of those are absent, they might do little temporary shifts but it’ll only be to try and get out of crisis.  Essentially they’ll carry on doing the same old same old. Or else they might not even make any superficial move towards changing. Carry that to the extreme and you have a sociopath.

Since President Obama stood his ground, backed by Harry Reid and sane politicians, and the Tea Party experienced a resounding loss, many have expressed the hope that now the Tea Party will be sobered; will have learned their lessons. They’ll take a long hard look at how detrimental to everybody – including themselves – their actions have been. How they’ve undermined democracy by acting against the wishes of the majority of the electorate and underestimated Obama, Harry Reid and Democrats in general. 

How their behavior was so outside of the bounds of normalcy and decency that they turned even moderate Republicans against them, making enemies where before they had friends. How absolutely nothing good resulted from their actions. Nothing for them, nothing for anybody else.

The idea that this group has been sobered in any way at all is na├»ve. The Tea Party is already spoiling for another fight, congratulating themselves and Ted Cruz on a fight well fought. Bob Vander Plaats, CEO of The Family Leader (an umbrella Christian conservative organization), anti-gay, anti-abortion, who has become increasingly unpopular in Iowa, has backed losers and has failed in every run he himself has made in politics but believes he has a political future said of Cruz “[he] is a rock star sucking all the energy in the conservative movement. He’s making all the right enemies with the Republican establishment, which is taking him to unprecedented heights.”

And judging by the type of support the Tea Party is garnering, from organizations like the Heritage Foundation which has turned ultra conservative in the past six months and whose money helps secure seats in the House for Republican Representatives, they’ll never surrender. It isn’t going to bother them that the GOP job approval rating has taken a massive hit or that its chances of succeeding in any future election are diminished. That’s because they don’t want to nurture the Republican Party as a moderate party. They want to take it over. They’re taking the long view. 

It’s hard to take this group seriously when they’re so out of touch and are openly saying that what they’ve learned is how to be more effective next time, how to up the stakes, how to create more pressure. Or that’s what they think they’ve learned. How you believe you can up the stakes from government shutdown and defaulting on debt is hard to imagine. How you can imagine there’s anywhere to go against a President who just flat out says “no” and stands his ground is beyond rational. 

How you think you can take over a whole country which is ruled by democracy and retain power for any length of time when your support is 22% and on a downward trajectory – words fail.

They behave like fools and none of the normal parameters of rationality apply to them. But they’re fools with a mission and with money backing them. Which adds something sinister to the mix. Can you imagine an America run by super conservatives who have secured power by gerrymandering and some of whose members wave the Confederate flag in front of the Whitehouse? You might not be able to but they can. And they believe it’s a good thing.

They won’t succeed in the long run. But they can do damage in the short run and they’ve already illustrated that they have a talent for that, so it's probably not a good idea to dismiss them entirely.