In order to understand their surroundings, human beings depend on their brain’s ability to organize, identify, and interpret a barrage of sensory information that allows them to perceive, among other things, a potential threat. There has been a gross misperception among a large number of people who observe American politics that the greatest threat to this country, and more specifically its democracy, is the rise of extremists in the conservative movement. As a rule, the first extremist group that comes to most people’s mind is the Koch brothers’ tea party movement that they errantly bifurcate from establishment Republicans and it is curious how in dog’s name they make any distinction between the two. Apparently, it is fashionable to delineate two identical threats to America and its people and it is an error that establishment Republicans use to their advantage.
The recent defeat of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor by a libertarian college professor due to wild support from teabaggers was supposedly a “sign” that the tea party was still relevant in American politics. Then on Tuesday, when an establishment Republican Senator defeated a teabagger challenger in Mississippi and another handily won in an Oklahoma congressional race over a Sarah Palin and Ted Cruz-endorsed teabagger, there was celebration that the extremist candidates lost. The insinuation is that there was a difference between the establishment candidates and teabagger challengers when the stark reality is that they are one-in-the-same in their vision for America and devotion to a brand of libertarianism with no use for the federal government; except possibly as a vehicle to issue biblical edicts as the law of the land.
One would be hard-pressed to find any difference whatsoever between Republicans and their teabagger cohort except their willingness to openly state their goals. It is true that establishment Republicans tend to keep their anti-government sentiments concealed, and temper their hatred for the poor, women, and gays with carefully censored remarks. But make no mistake, they hate those groups as much as they hate taxes, regulations, and President Obama that both groups openly express as racists and libertarians. About the only difference between extremist and establishment Republicans is the establishment fully understands it still needs the federal government machine to give taxpayer dollars to the rich, corporations, and Wall Street; otherwise, neither group has any use for the federal government.
Last October when House Republicans shutdown the government and refused to raise the debt limit, the majority of the blame was leveled at teabaggers even though so-called establishment Republicans gladly joined their “extremist” brethren and voted in concert (all but 9 Republicans voted for the shutdown) to shutdown the government. Further, when it came time to end the shutdown and raise the debt limit, 144 “Republicans” voted to keep the government closed and default on the nation’s debt. In both cases, there was no difference between extremists and establishment Republicans because their agenda was identical; neutering the federal government. Republicans, especially establishment types, knew that the Senate would not acquiesce and defund the Affordable Care Act, and it was left for Speaker John Boehner to plead for assistance from Democrats to do the right thing by the American people; something neither establishment nor extremist Republicans have any interest in doing.
What both extremists and establishment Republicans have an inordinate interest in is cutting all funding for social programs, ending regulations, and eliminating taxation. A couple of weeks ago a teabagger was giddy at the prospect of Republicans gaining a majority in the Senate because then “food stamps, minimum wage, Planned Parenthood, taxes, Medicare, women’s and gay rights, and education funding are going to be abolished.” The idea of eliminating those programs are not exclusive to extremists in the conservative movement and it is a mistake to think otherwise. In fact, any program administered by the federal government has been targeted by mainstream Republicans for ultimate elimination and if anyone thinks otherwise they only have to peruse the budget proposals from the Republican Conservative Committee and to a lesser extent Paul Ryan’s Path to Prosperity budget.
The truth is the Republican Party has always been as extreme as the tea party when it comes to taxation, federal regulations of any kind, as well as funding social programs; particularly since Americans elected an African American as President. One often reads that Republicans likely rued the day they embraced the Koch brothers’ teabagger movement, but that is clearly not the case.
There is no doubt whatsoever that in the leadup to the 2010 midterms, Republicans knew exactly what teabaggers intended to accomplish when they swept into control of the House. In fact, during the debt ceiling crisis of 2011, establishment Republicans were in league with teabaggers who opposed the so-called “grand bargain” John Boehner and President Obama reached to raise the debt limit and boasted they only achieved a minor victory in Draconian social program cuts they lusted after by threatening an American credit default that they would use again to finish the job they started.
It is high time for political pundits, and indeed all Americans, to stop segregating Republicans and teabaggers and call them what they really are; extremists intent on eliminating the federal government. It doesn’t matter if it is federal social programs, federal taxes, federal regulations, or the Constitution; Republicans of all stripes will go to any lengths to abolish the federal government’s authority to provide for the general welfare of the American people. In fact, in that sense, Republicans and their teabagger cohort are libertarians; except where civil rights and religion are involved. Both groups advocate for government interference in Americans’ lives according to the demands of the religious right, and each extremist wing hates civil rights protections for any American that is not a white male or evangelical Christian.
The danger in segregating establishment and extremist Republicans is that it gives so-called mainstream Republicans cover for policies and agendas that are contrary to the will of the people and result in negative polling. It is important to remember that everything teabaggers support has been deeply imbedded in the Republican Party and the racial opposition to President Obama enabled them to openly advocate for policies they have supported since FDR’s New Deal. Mainstream Republicans did not suddenly have the idea to abolish worker rights, minimum wage, Social Security, banking and Wall Street regulations, or child labor laws; they just found willing partners in the tea party to openly oppose those federal protections and would eliminate them tomorrow if they were able.
There may be “moderate” Republicans in Congress and state legislatures, but they are few and far between and for the most part are not what reasonable Americans would consider “moderate” at all. Republicans may appear moderate to garner electoral support during election years, but when it comes time to cast their votes, they are as extreme as the teabaggers and it is time to call the entire Republican Party what it really is; an anti-American and anti-government extremist sect.
Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion.
Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn’t look good.
Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.