After the primaries on Tuesday, the post mortem began. Breitbart.com published Tea Party Grapples with Tuesday Losses, The New York Times published G.O.P. Establishment Sees Its Candidate Win North Carolina Senate Primary and CNN declared GOP establishment 1, tea party 0 after North Carolina Senate primary.
These articles give the impression that there is this great battle between establishment Republicans and the tea party. While optically that is true, it has never been the case. The tea party was an orchestration of events and people to ensure that the plutocracy was not destroyed by a charismatic president who was elected before the country was ready for him. The tea party did not begin with Rick Santelli’s rant; it was a movement waiting in the wings to be sprung when needed.
Any objective observer must concede that President Obama has accomplished a lot. Those big accomplishments were necessary to simply keep the poor and working middle class afloat as the juggernaut of unfettered capitalism was pulling them under.
However, the tea party however was poised to ensure that the most progressive side of President Obama’s policies remained unrealized. Movement members were also poised to ensure that the Republican Party remained the primary watchdog for the well-being of the plutocracy. They were the enforcers of the Powell Memo.
If one looks at where we were in 2008, when many in the plutocracy feared where we would be today, then compare it with where we actually are today, one must agree that the tea party has won. The tea party did not lose on Tuesday. Their branded candidates lost while the establishment candidates won on tea party policies. Some ask if the establishment candidates will embrace the right-wing policies as they run in the general election. The simple answer is that they won’t highlight them. However, past is prologue, and if they are elected, they will govern by these policies.
Progressives can learn much from the well-funded, well-advertised tea party astroturf movement and its blueprint. Because truth and real populist values are on the side of progressives, vast amounts of money is not essential. An open internet and engagement will suffice.
Many progressives have abandoned the Democratic Party because they feel the party has morphed into Republican-lite. They’ve gone to the Green Party, or the Justice Party, or a myriad of other parties that they believe are more in tune with their values. Many in the Occupy Wall Street movement have either grown to loathe parties or have been coerced into a strain of libertarianism that Rand Paul types are courting.
The tea party accomplished its mission within the Republican Party, ensuring that the chosen party not only stuck by tea party values, but reinforced them. It used all necessary tactics to accomplish its mission—carnal racial fears, scapegoating, distorted data and misinformation as tools.
The reality, however, is poignant. The policies that continue to stranglehold poor and working middle-class Americans are tea party policies. Many Democrats who know better and who want better simply acquiesce to these policies in an attempt to survive. Unfortunately, a few Democrats are also wards of the plutocracy.
Progressives do not need to follow the bad policies of the tea party to win. They should, however, follow the tactics—because the tactics work. Progressives must not allow the GOP to triangulate them by sectionalizing. Progressives must not allow Democrats to maintain Republican-lite stances.
The tea party ensured that the Republican Party lived up to its values—as bad as they are—by using any and all means necessary. Progressives, in turn, must use all truthful populist value-based tactics to make the Democratic Party the Progressive Party. Only then will we be able to say—as the tea party should confidently say today—mission accomplished.