By Peter Galuszka

Whatever happened to the Tea Party movement?

The other day I found my laminated plastic media credential for the Virginia Tea Party PATRIOTS CONVENTION that happened about this time two years ago at Richmond’s convention center.

I was overcome with nostalgia. It was such a fun group: Patrick Henry re-enactors, Jamie Radtke, gun nuts with Glock pistols, Libertarians, Corey A. Stewart in a lonely booth bashing immigrants and even our very own Very Rev. James A. Bacon Jr. preaching about runaway federal spending.

Back then, they packed a wallop. The succeeded in getting enough hard right politicians elected that they took the House of Representatives, the Virginia House of Delegates and almost took the U.S. and state Senates.

But now, in the word of Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne, the right’s neoconservative wing is facing a total rout. Abandoning them,  Mitt Romney is praising Barack Obama’s foreign policy initiatives. Romney doesn’t “want another Iraq.” Paul Ryan’s Ayn Randism is nowhere in evidence. Where’s the “Power of Selfishness?” Whatever happened to Main Street Republican Eric Cantor trying to run the lead the Tea Party parade? Now Obama is back talking about a “Grand Bargain” on debt that might have been possible had Young Gun Eric not gotten in the way with his oversized ego.

According to Dionne: “The biggest sign that tea party thinking is dead is Romney’s straight-out deception about his past position on the rescue of the auto industry.” Tea Baggers conjured up “Obama the Socialist” on this one. Turns out the bailout worked. So much for free-market fundamentalism.

Dionne notes that this is all related to the fact that the election comes down to undecided voters in swing states, like Ohio and Virginia. Despite what you may read on this blog, most voters don’t want the rich to get special tax breaks and don’t want their Medicare and Social Security cut or replaced with some hoary scheme to prop up Big Insurance with a voucher system.

It could be that Romney will scurry back to the straight-no-chaser version of conservatism if he wins. But having read more about what he did in Massachusetts, I really don’t know where is is or was. He used to sound like Obama before Obama became Obama.

But if you want a thermometer check, all you have to do is read Bacon’s Rebellion. Remember all those dire, clarion calls about deficit spending? How big, bad and awful, the federal (but not state) government is? Now we get recycled press releases from the Governor’s office about how universities can help recruit corporations.

The Tea Party exists, I guess. But their Websites haven’t changed since early 2010. Too bad they took ownership of that cool rattlesnake flag. I really liked it but if I a license plate with one for me car, people will get the wrong idea.

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  1. thebyurokrat Avatar

    This is only a surprise if one had assumed the Tea Party was actually an independent movement. It was pretty clear early on that the involvement of national guys like Dick Armey indicated that the energy was simply being co-opted by the GOP. Now they’ve run out of steam, and have been neutered by the national party.

  2. Peter wrote, “Remember all those dire, clarion calls about deficit spending? How big, bad and awful, the federal (but not state) government is? ”

    The deficit spending problem is still there. We’re just $2 trillion deeper in the hole since the 2010 election. Do you think that the problem has magically disappeared? Or do you deny there was ever a problem in the first place? The quiescence of the Tea Party doesn’t change the reality of the budget situation.

    As for your insinuation that I have implied that state government is not “big, bad and awful”… I’m not sure exactly what that means… except it’s obviously meant to be derogatory. The fact is, I have used Bacon’s Rebellion as a platform to rail against Virginia’s unfunded pension liabilities and budget accounting gimmicks. I have warned against excessive use of debt and ill-considered investments in transportation mega-projects. And I have consistently driven home the theme that core state functions — K-12 education, higher education, health care, transportation and land use — are broken and need desperately to be reformed.

    Unless you can blame Republicans for them, you sweep these failures under the rug. One day you will wake up, Peter, and realize that you are an apologist for a bankrupt status quo for which liberals and Democrats must take as much ownership as Republicans.

  3. Peter Galuszka Avatar
    Peter Galuszka

    I am an “apologist for a bankrupt status quo?” How’d we get to this point? I thought I was talking about the current election and about how all of the issues you bring up in your response have gone bye-bye (at least as campaign issues).

    Unless I am wrong, federal and state spending have suddenly vanished as issues.

    Idea! Why don’t you start blogging on how neither Romney nor Obama is bringing them up. You seem strangely silent.

  4. The tea party is still around and still potent – but as like-thinking individuals rather than a banner-led movement.

    Pay attention to Romney’s support – white guys – and they’re going come dang close to electing him or come close to it.

    They are convinced that Obama is the one that has added the trillion deficit every year and they intend to hold him responsible.

    We have a new BOS as a result of the tea party down/up my way.

    They took the Va Association of Counties to the woodshed over their position on the eminent domain referenda questions.

    There is a movement in the country – you can call it what you might – but they believe basically in the narrative than Jim Bacon has been bloggin on …. too many people on entitlements, too many others expecting more help from the govt – and now time to put an end to a lot of it.

    AS I said, we’ve seen it at the local level – and take a look at Mr. Cantor – whom the tea party has certainly influenced.

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