The Tea Party loss in Mississippi last week resurrected the oft-repeated notion that the Tea Party movement is dead, at least electorally if not completely. Once again, that notion misses the big picture. The Tea Party is still batting over .500 in contests where national groups have endorsed a primary candidate.
On May 9, Erica Ritz wrote a story entitled “’The Longer You Are in the Tea Party, the More Racist You Become’: What Educators Learned at Alarming ‘White Privilege’ Conference.” The story ran on Glenn Beck’s television station, The Blaze, on a program entitled “Dana.” Dana refers to Dana Loesch, a Tea Party activist formerly from St. Louis. The show and the story attacked participants at an academic conference on “White Privilege,” including this author.
Cliven Bundy, the racist far-right Nevada rancher exposed by in article by Chuck Tanner published on this website, and by several articles in the New York Times, is now a Tea Party symbol of defiance against the federal government. While some politicians supported by Tea Parties--such as Senators Rand Paul, Dean Heller, and Ted Cruz--were quick to call Bundy’s racist comments “unacceptable,” the Tea Party organizations themselves have remained unwavering in Bundy’s support. Indeed, none of the national Tea Party organizations previously issuing supportive comments towards Cliven Bundy have denounced his racist comments, according to a survey conducted by the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights.
With the fight over Obamacare slowly receding, the Tea Party Patriots are mobilizing for a new effort to dramatically re-write the Constitution, beginning with a serious call to repeal the constitutional amendment that led to the creation of the Internal Revenue Service and the income tax, the 16th Amendment. As implausible as it seems, the effort is already picking up steam in the states. Along the way, they’ve picked up some strange bedfellows and turned some allies into enemies.
Field reports, event recordings, and new documents obtained by the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights show a growing national effort by Tea Party groups and allies to significantly rewrite the Constitution. This new report outlines the significant organizational players, the various strategies, and the rifts exposed in this latest Tea Party offensive.
From April 5 to April 12, people around the country watched as Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, backed by often armed supporters, stood in defiance of federal court orders to remove cattle he had illegally grazed on federal lands since the 1990s. Bundy supporters cast the drama a David versus Goliath clash between a Constitutionally-minded rancher and an out-of-control federal government. A closer look reveals a more complex story, offering insights in to the ability of the far right to engage in armed mobilizations on behalf of activists whose federal law violations get them into legal trouble. When the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) backed off from enforcing Bundy’s long-standing grazing violations, far-rightists claimed victory for their ideas and paramilitary tactics, threatening to embolden those would use violence to advance far right political goals.
Recently Sen. Charles Schumer made a groundbreaking speech outlining a Democratic Party strategy aimed at the Tea Parties. For the first time, a major figure in the liberal political universe sought to both explain the Tea Parties’ appeal to tens of millions of adult Americas and to project a strategy to break the Tea Party base away from its leaders—at least in the context of election campaigns. Mr. Schumer’s was wrong in his description of the Tea Party movement, however, and his proposed strategy was little more than a campaign statement that would do little damage to the Tea Parties.