I know what you’re thinking: how the HELL can he use a title like that? Well, solely because the Tea Party has taken away all my sound arguments in defense of their position(s) and made me irrelevant, right alongside them.
When he first said it, I disagreed with my old friend Erick Erickson as he suggested it was time for the Tea Party to put down its protest signs and pick up jobs INSIDE the Government and within the GOP party establishment. The basis for my position at the time was that, I believed, the Tea party’s greatest asset was its angst and its energy; Conservatives walking the streets and shouting out their demands was something you just didn’t see enough of and we’d be far better off if we encouraged it rather than poo-pooing it out of existence just as it was beginning to show some signs of effectiveness.
Given the behavior and the performance of the two years hence, I’m here to tell you: I was wrong.
After all the successes the Tea Party has enjoyed by way of their direct impact on the headcount in Washington DC, it is beyond my comprehension as to how they have become inexplicably incapable of extricating their own sorry heads from their own sorry asses.
There. I said it.
Plucking defeat from their very own jaws of victory, the Tea Party has accomplished no more than to make fools of themselves in this game of chance called “politics” having, instead, chosen to become the very caricatures they continue to allow the media to make them out to be. I’m ashamed to know the lot of them. They’ve managed, somehow, to make the latest battle in Congress over deficits and debts to be all about THEM rather than the legislative crisis at hand; I’m personally embarrassed FOR them as I’m being forced to watch them self-immolate.
And, now that I’ve gotten your attention and turned your ire in my direction, consider what the Tea Party has accomplished in the debt ceiling debate.
The news, reported by the usual suspects, is all about what effect the Tea Party has had on the GOP…on the Freshmen in the House…and the extent to which they have (in the eyes of many) only served to dumb down the dialog. Mind you, this is coming from the media elites who are known Liberal operatives…or fairly accurately accused of same… but understand that it is ONLY the Liberal Operatives that command the airwaves. And they are gobbling up oodles of bandwidth and airspace, paid for by the Tea party’s own inanity, to further and push the meme. Even Obama himself has been handed the opportunity, time and again, to move away from discussing the matters at hand and pointing out, instead, that the problem with the Debt ceiling crisis…and spending and revenues and deficits… is the Tea Party’s interference in adult matters.
I give you Friedman, and I offer Dowd, and because you’ll suggest I’m cherry picking, I’ll offer you the Tea Party Nation’s OWN Press Release which, I can assure you, cost them a lot of money to publish and push across the wires:
“A failed CCB bill gets you no cover. The ONLY way any Republican may get forgiveness from us is if he obtains a high price tag like $500 billion in 2012 first-year cuts, defunding of Obamacare and Planned Parenthood, sweeping reform of all health care entitlements such as Medicare, and actual Congressional passage of a Balanced Budget Amendment,” Phillips said.
That’s not the sort of approach you’ll find encouraged anywhere in the book “How To Make Friends And Influence People” and it certainly is not the way to go about building a coalition. In fact, how far apart is the Tea party, really, from the party they are trying to clean up (read: ouster) when all they have for persuasion is “my way or the highway”? Do they seriously believe they are going to win over moderates, independents (like me) or-God forbid-blue dogs on the left?
My friends are increasingly at each others’ throats. Some are staying engaged but are increasingly shutting up more and more frequently because they’re tired of being yelled over (and yelled at). Others are re-thinking whether it was such a good idea after all… this “throw all in with the Tea Party”… because they are fast realizing this latest version of “it” isn’t much different from the KosKidz (or a dozen other screaming Liberal fan clubs) because all they seem to know how to DO anymore is just bitch for the sake of bitching.
It seems to me that the next logical step for the Tea Party movement (they have arrived at that fork in the road moment…again) is EITHER to shut up and govern through building coalitions which understand the meaning of the word compromise…or man up already and become an official Political Party.
However much the Tea Party might be feel emboldened somehow by the attention they are getting, they are a long way from being capable of helping govern; coalition-building and compromise are the cornerstones of a Democracy and marginalizing your potential coalition partners is the best way I can think of to wind up standing out in the cold with no seat at the table. It’s great good fun to be pissed off, get some headlines, and help get people elected…but if that is your end game, and you have no plan for how to “govern” once you get them there, then all you’ve accomplished is to wind up irrelevant, and make [gulp, retch] Maureen Dowd right.