Today’s output from Blogistan Polytechnic Institute’s state-of-the-art HEMMED (High-Energy Meta Mojo Elucidation Detector) machine is Processing. Wait, you say, the computer gods require that you follow the pattern of Input, Processing, Output. How can Processing be Output? Easy…because the story is not completely written.

Like many progressives, I was stunned that voters in the 2010 mid-term elections embraced the tea party movement despite it’s horrible optics and angry white voter message (“The President is Black!!“). It took me a while to come to grips with the fact that it was a typical mid-term with low turnout, the President’s party in power, a major economic crisis and lots and lots of money to muddy the message.

For me it was a little cognitive dissonance, a little historical revisionism, a little listening to my own singing (sorry for that high note), even a little of the hopey changey stuff (and wishing really really hard).

I am down to one thing left to process: what did the tea party movement accomplish and what is its future?

“New” Republicans?

I looked around a bit, lifted up a few rocks (eeek!), read and scanned a bunch of news articles and here is what I found: the tea party movement provided enthusiasm and organization … the two things that win low-turnout elections.

One thing I noticed, though, is that they did not win everywhere. Sometimes the visuals were just too harsh.

But they did win when old fashioned Republicans simply nodded their heads and allowed themselves to be re-packaged and marketed as the choice of the Tea Party. Anyone out there who thinks that Senator-elect Roy Blunt of Missouri is a newfangled Republican … one who is fiscally conservative … has been reading those history books written in Texas.

My question now is how long will it take for the establishment Republicans to either ratchet back the tea party’s expectations or realize that they have created a monster that they cannot control.

We should have no delusions that the Republican Party is anything other than the Party of Wall Street. The insiders and power brokers are the richest 1% and those who have been doing their bidding for decades. The religious right and now the tea partiers are simply the ground troops that the Wall Street GOP needs to stay in power.

Nuking Their Masters?

Methinks that Wall Street Republicans won’t be happy if the financial markets are plunged into chaos by a failure to approve raising the debt ceiling:

If the government can’t issue new debt, first it must stop paying for things, resulting in furloughs and a tightening or suspension of federal services. This happened in 1995 (before the big government shutdown at the end of the year) when Congress failed to increase the debt ceiling and the government underwent a smaller shutdown — to slow the drip drip of money out of the Treasury and avoid a default.

At some point, the Treasury will be unable to issue more debt. When that happens, things decay dramatically.

“My guess is you’d probably see some real panic in financial markets. You’d probably see interest rates on U.S. debt go through the roof. Sort of like what happened with Greece earlier in the year when there was concern that Greece would default on the debt,” Dean Baker, [economist at the Center for Economic and Policy Research] says.

One pundit noted that :

Wall Street types say: ‘Well they’ve always raised the debt limit and they always will.’ But they don’t know how crazy the Tea Party people could be. [John Boehner] needs a couple dozen Republicans to walk the plank to vote with Democrats on this. He may not have enough.


Dancing with Those Who Brung Ya?

And there is that other pesky problem. Towards the end of the George W. Bush Reign of Error, the religious right was complaining loudly about being used by the Republican Party and not getting value for their mindless devotion to it’s needs.

Here is what happens when the old girlfriend meets the new girlfriend and the object of their affection has not really told either of them which one he likes best:

The recent rumblings of discord between the libertarian wing of the Tea Party movement and white evangelicals like Tony Perkins, [head of the conservative Family Research Council], whose organization opposes same-sex marriage and abortion, have already reached Capitol Hill.[…]

“The Tea Party movement was born out of objections to the expanding size of government,” says Christopher Barron, who chairs GOProud, an organization for gay conservatives. “Even social conservative candidates didn’t run on social issues.

“The Tony Perkinses of the world are trying to rewrite history to make this about those issues,” he says.

Perkins characterized the assertions as “hilarious,” considering, he says, that polls show that a majority of Tea Party adherents who voted earlier this month identified themselves as conservative evangelicals.

Perkins says that part of the economic solution involves “policies that strengthen the family,” including prohibiting taxpayer money for abortion and preventing the extension of marriage rights and “government benefits” to same-sex couples. It’s a fusion of economic and social issues that some have dubbed the “teavangelical” movement.

That merging is anathema to limited government activists like Andrew Ian Dodge, coordinator of Maine Tea Party Patriots, who sees the movement as a “grand coalition” whose members needed no calling card other than their own fiscal conservatism. “That’s the only requirement — whether you’re gay, straight, black, white, whatever,” Dodge says.

He and others argue that because the GOP in the midterms remained focused on fiscal issues, it attracted a wave of independent voters — voters whom the party will need to retain if it is to win back the White House in 2012 and who are typically not motivated by a conservative social agenda.

An Election Day poll showed that a majority of self-identified members of the Tea Party who voted in the midterms say they are conservative evangelicals. However, another survey suggested that overall, just over a third of Tea Party adherents are Christian evangelicals.


About That Whirlwind

And the pushback has started already:

[Former] President [George H.W.] Bush discussed the Tea Party movement, and although he said “some of the ideas make a lot of sense,” he said he isn’t sure how the new movement will fit into the larger political landscape.


Oops. That will probably not sit well with the new girlfriend.


Happy Tuesday to everyone and fist bumps!

The BPI Campus Progressive agenda:
1. People matter more than profits.
2. The earth is our home, not our trash can.
3. We need good government for both #1 and #2.
•Corollary: We have to win elections.

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