Once the source of strength for the Tea Party Patriots, the number of local affiliated groups has plummeted by nearly 90 percent according to new research by the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights (IREHR).
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.
For years, white nationalists found themselves on the outside looking in, faces pressed against the glass to get a glimpse at the movement happenings at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). But the times they are a changing. Not since Pat Buchanan’s racially-tinged insurgent campaign at the 1992 conference have white nationalists found a more hospitable environment in the halls of CPAC.
With the rise of the Tea Party, the doors to CPAC flew open wide in 2010. The same year that CPAC gave the “Ronald Reagan Award” to the Tea Party movement, the far-right John Birch Society, a group kept outside for decades, was allowed to co-sponsor the event for the first time. Others on the far-right were welcomed into the fold, and racist rhetoric about president Obama was allowed center stage. Just like that, CPAC became a white nationalist friendly zone.
Despite a more tightly controlled platform this year, the annual conservative confab did little to disabuse white nationalists of the notion that they were at home, particularly when leaders expressed racially-charged rhetoric and calls for nativist “death squads” were met with raucous cheers from the floor.
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.
On Wednesday, June 19, the Tea Party Patriots will gather its forces in a rally on Capitol Hill and attempt to press its case against the Internal Revenue Service and to stem the push towards comprehensive immigration reform. A pre-rally conference call attended by 7,000 organizers augurs a big event to come. The list of prospective speakers listed on the “Audit the IRS” website includes three senators, eleven congressional representatives, a host of far-right media personalities and a bevy of local, state and national Tea Party leaders.
Tea Party Patriots, originally formed as a 501(c)(4) non-profit corporation in 2009, has a history of questionable electoral activity. Nevertheless, as one of the largest of the movement’s national factions, it is taking advantage of the so-called IRS scandal to re-ignite the anger of Tea Partiers, encourage their (false) sense of victimhood, and increase their ranks.
In the vast Potomac Ballroom of the Gaylord hotel in National Harbor, Maryland, the 40th annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) held March 14-16, started as a well-choreographed effort to present a softer, more diverse, conservative movement. Beyond the main hall, however, the carefully crafted façade melted away. In the many conference rooms that the Tea Party dominated, events featured blatant racism, homophobia, sexism, and Islamophobia. Despite the efforts of organizers to sweep it all under the rug, this year’s CPAC showed a conservative movement riddled with white nationalists, and others long a pillar of the farthest edge of the far right. The conservative sense of white dispossession at the core of this new conservative movement, bore little resemblance to the high and mighty elites of the Reagan and Bush years.
For decades, the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) has been a barometer of the different political tendencies inside the right-wing. In the 1980s, Reagan administration officials and Reaganite New Rightists dominated the podium. Pres. Reagan spoke at CPAC in both 1984 and 1988. In the 1990s, culture warriors like Pat Buchanan and the Rev. Pat Robertson joined Republican regulars such as Sens. Bob Dole and Phil Gramm. At this years’ CPAC13, Tea Party leaders and Tea Party-supported politicians will dominate the proceedings. The result is an agenda filled with bigots, conspiracy mongers, and publicity hounds.
IREHR has previously examined the Tea Party movement's anti-immigrant nativism and documented the presence of racists, anti-Semites and militia advocates in its ranks. This article documents the intersection between so-called property rights groups and Tea Party racism, and analyzes the threat the movement poses to the sovereignty of Indian nations, their resource rights and economic development.
On Tuesday, June 5, in a hotel meeting room two thousand miles away from a recall election that was being watched coast to coast, the Washington State coordinator for Tea Party Patriots, Woody Hertzog, regaled a small group of Tea Partiers assembled in the Puget Sound town of Silverdale with tales of his recent campaigning trip in the Wisconsin trenches. Hertzog told the group that he and other Tea Party activists from across the country poured into the state, becoming a door-to-door army in support of Governor Walker. The election was still taking place half way across the country, yet it was all these Puget Sound Tea Partiers wanted to talk about. Midway through the meeting, the results from the Wisconsin special election came in. When it was announced that Governor Walker and other Tea Party supported candidates were victorious, the room erupted in cheers and applause. One older man in the back of the room commented aloud, “I guess we can put away our guns, for now.”