It has been a challenge for many Americans – and many people watching from overseas – to understand the Tea Party’s willingness to cause the country so much harm in its zeal to repeal a law designed to extend access to health care and comprehensive health insurance to all Americans. No doubt many books will be written on the subject, but for now, Dr. Lawrence Rosenthal has offered a concise history and analysis in “The Tea Party, the government shutdown, and Obamacare,” a policy brief published by The Foundation for Law, Justice and Society at Oxford. Rosenthal is the executive director of the Center for Right Wing Studies at the University of California, Berkeley and the co-editor of Steep: The Precipitous Rise of the Tea Party, which was published by the University of California last year.
In just half a dozen pages, Rosenthal puts into historical and legal perspective the Tea Partiers’ recent rampage. “Tea Party politicians and activists speak openly of this as a ‘last chance to save America.’ This is the context in which bringing economic ruin to the country can be contemplated.”
He reminds us that the Tea Party first built a head of steam by sending people to disrupt congressional town hall meetings on health care reform “with aggressive tactics that left many Congresspeople intimidated and shaken.” That approach, he says, “was, in effect, extra-parliamentary: it was attempting to prevent a legislative outcome that national elections did not sustain.”
Rosenthal argues that Tea Partiers bring to a reading of the Constitution the same approach that Christian fundamentalists bring to reading the Bible, resisting any interpretation that clashes with what they believe is the inerrant word. And he writes that the Tea Party blends populism with the free-market absolutism of the Koch Brothers, ideological descendants of those who objected to the New Deal.
What makes the Tea Party unique in the march of modern American conservatism is that the passions of the populist right, the uncompromising, expressive side of American conservatism, were brought to bear in the name of the doctrines of the fiscal absolutists. Suddenly, the zeal and the vitriol usually reserved for opposing abortion or the ‘gay agenda’ were being directed against Keynesian stimulus legislation, cap and trade climate legislation, economic regulation, taxation, and, above all, expansion of health insurance coverage to tens of millions of uninsured Americans.
Rosenthal traces the Tea Party’s fierce hostility to Obamacare to zero-sum thinking in American conservatism, not only for benefits from government (e.g. Obamacare must hurt people now on Medicare) but for liberty itself. As an example of that thinking he cites Robert Bork’s position that the Civil Rights Act reflected “unsurpassed ugliness” because it treated the black person’s right to be served as superior to the restaurant owner’s right to deny service. (We certainly see this zero-sum approach to liberty reflected in the insistence of Religious Right leaders that LGBT equality and religious liberty are inherently incompatible.) Rosenthal sees this zero-sum attitude – “the Tea Party’s feeling that Obamacare means that something of theirs is being taken away and given to others” as “the defining element of a Tea Party constitutionalism.”
And it is the principle that translates the virulence, the fierce resistance of the Tea Party, into a legal theory. It is a principle that rationalizes the Tea Party’s willingness to threaten national financial ruin in the form of a government shutdown and a potential debt default if Obamacare, now being implemented as the law of the land, is not stopped.
Note: The Center for Right Wing Studies at the University of California Berkeley is home to People For the American Way’s library of original source materials on the history of the Religious Right, where it is accessible to researchers and journalists.
The Tea Party may have succeeded in shutting down the government, but last week PFAW members showed them that they can’t shut down the people’s voice. Nearly 100,000 people signed our petition calling on Speaker Boehner to stand up to Ted Cruz and the Tea Party, and end their hostage-taking tactics.
Last week, we went to the Hill to deliver the message. It may have been cold, windy and rainy, but that didn’t stop us and hundreds more from gathering at the Capitol to demand that Speaker Boehner end the tea party shutdown. We heard from Rev. Jesse Jackson, from union leaders and furloughed workers, and from congressional leaders including Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer.
The message was clear. This shutdown is dangerous to our standing in the world, destructive to our ability to govern, and damaging to the lives of real Americans. It isn’t just a game: These destructive actions are affecting thousands who depend on paychecks that are being held up by these fringe members of the Republican party who don’t even know what it is they want. And now, thanks to almost 100,000 of you, Republicans in Congress can’t ignore the fact that the people aren’t on their side, because they’re not on ours.
Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli wants to be the state's next Governor. But he has been dogged by an ethics scandal involving gifts he received from the head of a company that has sued the state. So last week, Cuccinelli tried to put the issue to rest by saying he'd contribute $18,000-the value of his questionable gifts-to a medical charity, saying, "I'm trying to wipe the slate clean here so we can focus on what's gonna matter in people's lives in Virginia in the next four years."
Of course, Cuccinelli's contribution doesn't magically wipe away questions about his character. And there's plenty of other evidence for Virginians to consider about the character of his record, and what four years of Cuccinelli as governor could do for -- or rather to -- the state.
Cuccinelli says his campaign is focused on jobs and the economy, but his extreme record as a state legislator and attorney general makes it clear that he considers himself commander-in-chief of the Religious Right's culture warriors.
He has bullied members of the Board of Health into adopting his anti-choice extremism. He has smeared and tried to defund Planned Parenthood. He even slams comprehensive sex education programs. As the Washington Post noted this week, he "was instrumental in ensuring that new regulations will result in the closure of many of the state's abortion clinics."
As a state senator, Cuccinelli was one of a handful of sponsors of an unconstitutional "personhood" bill that would have criminalized many common forms of contraception. Cuccinelli hasn't disavowed his support for "personhood" bills or their goal of making abortion illegal. But as a candidate for governor, he is trying to distance himself from the effects such legislation would have on women and families in Virginia. He claims that such legislation, which would grant legal rights to an egg at the moment it is fertilized by a sperm, wouldn't interfere with access to birth control. He is not telling the truth.
Here's another reminder of what kind of governor Cuccinelli would be: one of his first steps as Attorney General was to tell Virginia's public colleges and universities that they had to abandon policies against anti-gay discrimination. He reversed a legal opinion by his predecessor in order to prevent same-sex couples from adopting children. He refused to support repeal of the state's unconstitutional anti-sodomy law. He argues that consensual sex between gay adults is a detriment to society and should be illegal. As a state senator, he even opposed legislation that permitted private companies to voluntarily extend health benefits to employees' domestic partners.
Cuccinelli is also a champion of the Tea Party's anti-government extremism. He calls President Obama a tyrant. He filed suit against the Affordable Care Act five minutes after it was signed into law, a self-aggrandizing publicity stunt. He has falsely told people that under the law the government could send people to jail for not buying insurance. He even slams safety net programs like Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid for making people dependent on government.
There is seemingly no right-wing fringe to which Cuccinelli will not pander. He has used the power of his office to harass scientists in a climate-change-denying witch-hunt. He has called for a constitutional convention to rescind 14th amendment birthright citizenship. He said he was considering not getting his infant son a social security number because it was being used to track people. He flirted with birtherism.
And this week, he celebrated Constitution Day by appearing with right-wing radio host Mark Levin. Levin is an anti-union, anti-environmental-regulation, anti-public-education activist who rails against "establishment" Republicans and calls President Obama a Muslim Brotherhood sympathizer. In 2007, Levin's Landmark Legal Foundation nominated Rush Limbaugh for the Nobel Peace Prize.
Cuccinelli is an example of the strong political coalition that has been made between right-wing Catholics like himself and conservative evangelicals, including Virginia-based powerhouses like Falwell-founded Liberty University and Pat Robertson's broadcasting empire. Cuccinelli has criticized people, like President Obama, who support marriage equality for thinking they "know better than God." And he says homosexual behavior is "intrinsically wrong" and destroys people's souls and shouldn't be allowed in a "natural law based country."
Cuccinelli has clearly aligned himself with the far right within the Catholic Church and, like Paul Ryan, opposes the Church's advocacy on behalf of anti-poverty programs. He hasslammed the Catholic bishops for advocating for government assistance for the poor, saying that has "created a culture of dependency on government, not God." He complained that the archdiocese of Arlington, Virginia included issues like poverty, hunger, and health care on a voting guide without making clear that they, in Cuccinelli's opinion, are clearly less important than abortion.
Cuccinelli has convinced the Religious Right that he's their guy. That's why Rick Santorum has endorsed him and the Family Research Council's PAC is helping him raise money.
But if Ken Cuccinelli wants to convince Virginia voters that he's not going to govern as a right-wing culture warrior, he'll have to do more than trying to "wipe the slate clean" on his ethical standards. He'll have to erase from the public record his own extreme record. And that will be a lot harder than writing a check.
(also posted at Huffington Post)
Here’s a question for Ralph Reed and the ‘Teavangelical’ wing of the conservative movement: how can you portray yourselves as serious about governing when the keynote speakers at last week’s “Road to Majority” conference were Donald Trump and Sarah Palin?
Palin’s conference-closing remarks on Saturday featured a breathtakingly offensive joke about the Syrian civil war, which has taken an estimated 100,000 lives. She said we should just “let Allah sort it out.” Palin also had choice words for the bipartisan immigration reform bill moving through the Senate, which she dismissed as “a pandering, rewarding-the-rule-breakers, still-no-border-security, special-interest-written amnesty bill.” She was one of many conference speakers rhetorically crapping on Marco Rubio and the bipartisan “Gang of 8” reform bill and burning the bridges that conservative Latinos are trying to build.
At Friday night’s “gala” Reed bestowed a lifetime achievement award on Pat Robertson, who is increasingly difficult to take seriously, and who devoted his remarks to trashing President Obama. Trump, who also addressed the gala, spoke mostly about his own Trumpian greatness and how Mitt Romney might have been president if he had the guts to run Trump’s anti-Obama “you’re fired” ad. Trump shared plenty of pablum and piercing political insights, such as the Republicans needing to be “really smart” in choosing a “great candidate” in 2016. Trump also criticized the immigration reform bill as a “death wish” for the Republican Party, saying “every one of those people, and the tens of millions of people they will bring in with them, will be absolutely voting Democratic.”
There’s no question Ralph Reed still has pull. His conference opened with a luncheon featuring four Tea Party senators and he got a handful of Republican House members to speak along with former and future presidential hopefuls like Mike Huckabee, Herman Cain, Rick Santorum, and Ted Cruz. Rick Perry, who was introduced as a “Renaissance man,” bragged about the law he recently signed to protect the ostensibly threatened right of public school students to wish each other “Merry Christmas” Perry said, ““I hope my state is a glowing example of men and women who believe that those traditional values are how you make a stronger society.” Stronger society? Not so much.
In addition to the divide on immigration, relentless attacks on President Obama (Dick Morris said of the president, “he doesn’t care about national security”), and the unsurprising rhetoric on abortion, marriage, and supposed threats to religious liberty, there were some other major themes:
The conference was infused with the Tea Party’s anti-federal-government themes. Jonah Goldberg of the National Review reminded people of a video shown at the 2012 Democratic National Convention, which he recalled saying the government is the one thing we all belong to. “Now, as sort of a Tea Party-ish kind of guy, that makes me want to flip the safety on my rifle.”
Speakers urged activists to take advantage of the recent scandals surrounding the IRS, the Justice Department, and the National Security Agency. Santorum urged activists to “think big” and “seize the moment” provided by the IRS scandal. Sen. Ron Johnson said he would like Americans to apply their disgust about the scandals to the federal government in general. Rather than trying to restore faith in government, Johnson said, activists should be fostering distrust of the government.
Grover Norquist is known for his quip that he wants to shrink the government until it is small enough to drown in the bathtub. At Road to Majority he spelled out his plan to complete the strategy he embarked on with the Bush tax cuts and the no-tax-increase pledge he demands Republican candidates sign. He noted that “thanks to the marvels of modern redistricting,” Republicans are likely to have a Republican House until 2022, which means they have several chances to get a Senate majority and a Republican in the White House before then. Whenever that happens, he says, Republicans can put the Ryan budget into law and dramatically curtail government spending. He calls it “completely doable.”
Meanwhile, he said, in the 25 states where Republicans control the legislative and executive branches, activists should push for the passage of more anti-union legislation, and for laws that encourage people to obtain concealed carry permits, home school their children, and participate in stock ownership, three things that he said make people more Republican. He called this changing the demographics by changing the rules.
Obamacare: Will it Destroy America or Obama?
House Republicans have made repealing the Affordable Care Act – “Obamacare” – an obsession. Rick Santorum said opposition to the law should have been the centerpiece of the 2012 campaign. And many speakers repeated the demand that the health care reform law be repealed in its entirety. Stephen Moore, founder of the Club for Growth and a Wall Street Journal editorial board member, said repealing Obamacare is the single most important thing that has to happen in Washington over the next two years. But a number of speakers had a slightly different take, suggesting that the implementation of the complex law would be its undoing, and that public outrage at rising insurance rates would bring down the Obama administration. Dick Morris predicted Obama would be “destroyed” by the law’s implementation.
GOP: Friend or Foe?
One running theme of the conference was conservative activists’ distrust for national Republican leaders, particularly around opposition to abortion and LGBT equality. Several speakers made reference to the notorious RNC “autopsy” on the 2012 election and the perception that some party leaders want social conservatives to tone it down. Reed himself complained that while self-identified evangelicals represented 45 percent of the Republican ticket’s vote, some party leaders were saying they are the problem and should “ride in the back of the bus.” He vowed that on issue of abortion and man-woman marriage, social conservatives would not be silent, “not now, not ever.”
It’s not just Ted Cruz who mocks his fellow Republicans. Gary Bauer complained that the last two Republican nominees had a hard time talking about sanctity of life issues, and he said party officials in Washington spend too much time taking the advice of “cowardly pollsters and political consultants.” Mike Huckabee complained that “Republicans have been, if not equal, sometimes more guilty than Democrats in thinking the brilliant thing to do would be to centralize more power in the hands of the central government.” He said he’s “sick of hearing” that people think the GOP needs to move away from a conservative message.
There was enough grumbling that when it was RNC Chairman Reince Priebus’s turn to speak on Saturday, the Wisconsin Faith & Freedom official who introduced him felt a need to vouch for Priebus’s faith and commitment to conservative causes. He said angrily that it is “an absolute lie” that Priebus is not a social conservative and insisted that there is no division in the party.
Priebus started his remarks by establishing his religious credentials: “I’m a Christian. I’m a believer. God lives in my heart, and I’m for changing minds, not changing values.” He added, “I’m so grateful that we’ve got a party that prays, that we’ve got a party that puts God first, and I’m proud to be part of that.” He said he “gets it” that conservative Christians are a “blessing” to the party. He said the GOP needs to have a permanent ground game in place all across the country.
Priebus defended his plan to shorten the presidential primary season and move the party convention from August to June from critics who call it an insider move against grassroots conservatives. It isn’t an establishment takeover, he insisted, but a way to prevent a replay of the 2012, when Romney went into the summer months broke after a long primary season but not yet able to tap general election funding.
Still, not all the conservative are convinced that national Republicans are with them. Palin portrayed Republicans in Washington as being overly fond of government spending: “It doesn’t matter if it’s a Republican or a Democrat sitting atop a bloated boot on your neck, out of control government, everyone gets infected, no party is immune. That’s why, I tell ya, I’m listening to those independents, to those libertarians who are saying, you know, it is both sides of the aisle, the leadership, the good old boys….”
Phyllis Schlafly talked about having waged internal battles to make the GOP a solidly anti-abortion Party and encouraged activists not to be seduced by talk of a conservative third party but to work within the Republican Party to make sure the right people on the ballot. Norquist insisted that activists had helped brand the GOP as the party that will not raise your taxes, and he said Republican elected officials who vote for tax increases damage the brand for everyone else. They are, he said, “rat heads in coca-cola.”
It might surprise many progressives, who have spent years bemoaning the effectiveness of Republicans’ emotion-laden rhetoric, that speaker after speaker complained that Democrats are so much better than Republicans at messaging. Of course complaining about messaging is easier than admitting that there may be something about your policies that voters don’t like.
At a panel on messaging strategies, author Diane Medved said that when defending traditional marriage, she would love to say “what is it about ‘abomination’ that you don’t understand?” But she knows that won’t reach people who don’t already agree with her. She argued that conservatives should marshal the “science” that supports their positions. She also tried out a new messaging strategy, saying that opposition to marriage equality is a feminist issue because it is empowering to women to affirm that they are different than men. “Women deserve to have credit for being who they are as a separate gender and they are not interchangeable with men.”
Ryan Anderson, co-author of a book on marriage with Robert George, the intellectual godfather of the anti-marriage-equality movement, took issue with the name of the panel, which was “Don’t Preach to the Choir.” Anderson said the choir needs to be preached to, because too many Christians are giving up on marriage. There is no such thing as parenting, he insisted, there is mothering and fathering. Anderson said that anti-marriage equality forces have only been fighting for five years, while proponents have been fighting for 20 to 30 years. “It’s not that our argument for marriage has been heard and been rejected,” he said. “It’s that it hasn’t been heard at all.” Anderson promoted the widely discredited Regnerus study on family structures as evidence that science is on his side.
Eric Teetsel, executive director of the Manhattan Declaration, encouraged activists to be careful with their rhetoric. “I don’t believe that there are very many, if any, people in this movement, certainly not in public life, who have any ill will toward the same-sex community, at all. But sometimes we say things that make it sound like we do.” If Teetsel really believes that, he needs to spend some more time actually listening to conservative religious leaders, pundits and politicians who regularly charge that gay-rights advocates are Satan-inspired sexual predators who are out to destroy faith and freedom if not western civilization itself.
Don’t Worry, Be Happy or Arguing as a Lover with Stupid Liberals
Anyone who pays attention to religious right groups has been seeing the word “winsome” a lot. Conservative evangelical leaders are well aware of polling data that shows young Christians are turned off by the anti-gay bigotry they see in the church. So there’s a push on for everyone to make conservative arguments in a “winsome” way, to be “happy warriors” like Ronald Reagan, to be cheerful when arguing with liberals. Being cheerful was a big theme at Road to Majority. Said Rick Perry, “when we fight for our county, we need to do it with joy.”
The Manhattan Declaration's Teetsel took this theme to new heights in the messaging panel in which he called for “arguing as a lover” when “trying to woo people over to our side”: be respectful, self-effacing, funny, give people an opportunity to save face. But he doesn’t seem to think much of his audience, saying America is no longer a society of ideas, and that in our celebrity-crazed culture it doesn’t make sense to appeal to 18th Century sources of authority like the Federalist Papers, which “are not considered authorities in my generation. People do not care what these men in wigs thought 300 years ago.”
“We serve a God who condescended to become a man in order to share his gospel. And I think that’s an example that we can learn from. Romans 12:16 advises us, do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. So we have to bite the bullet. We have to recognize some of these facts and condescend to watching Glee from time to time so that we can talk to people about it.”
In remarks to the FreedomWorks Texas Summit on Friday, Senator Ted Cruz credited himself for blocking recent background checks legislation, mocked his Senate GOP colleagues and derided the families of Sandy Hook victims as “political props.” In response, People For the American Way president Michael Keegan released the following statement:
“Senator Cruz’s remarks make clear that he’s more interested in representing the Tea Party than ordinary Texas voters.
“In a single speech, Cruz managed to insult Newtown families, mock his Republican colleagues and take credit for blocking background checks backed by over 90% of Americans. His remarks prove that Tea Partiers in Congress will work to block any gun safety legislation, no matter what it is or how many Americans support it.
“Senator Cruz is working overtime to alienate senators on both sides of the aisle. He may be a darling of the Tea Party, but he’s a growing political liability for the GOP.”
Watch Cruz’s speech:
Ted Cruz ridicules and criticizes his GOP Senate colleagues
Ted Cruz says Obama is using Newtown families as 'political props'
Ted Cruz takes credit for blocking background check legislation
The Religious Right and the Tea Party have not exactly been responding well to GOP strategist Karl Rove’s plan to spend big money bringing down unelectable Tea Party candidates in primaries or to RNC chairman Reince Priebus’ suggestion that the party make over its messaging.
Add to the list of right-wing discontents Eagle Forum’s Phyllis Schlafly, who this week sent out a six-page fundraising appeal urging supporters to “join together to save America” from Rove and his fellow “Establishment bullies.”
Schlafly blames Rove and the “Establishment” for every Republican president or presidential candidate since Reagan, all of whom she labels “RINOs.” But she sees hope for the “emergence of a new Reagan Republican Party” in the persons of senators Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and Mike Lee, and former senator Jim DeMint.
As for the rest of the party, “Establishment Members of Congress are doing nothing to stop Obama’s grab to put all 2 to 5 year-olds under federal control,” she warns.
Excerpts from the letter are below. All emphases are in the original.
Dear Fellow American,
The battle for control of the Republican Party has begun and I am asking you to answer the call to action!
The Establishment Republicans want to lead the Party down the road of big-government spending and globalist entanglements by selecting our nominees, deciding what issues they talk about, and controlling all the political money.
They want grassroots conservatives and the Tea Parties to shut up and just do what they are told. The future of America depends on how you and I respond to this challenge.
Let me tell you where we are in this battle, and how fierce it has already become. I need your help!
After Ronald Reagan’s two terms were over, the Establishment operatives (sometimes called RINOs – “Republicans In Name Only,” or country-club Republicans, or “moderates”), grabbed control of the Republican Party and gave us a series of losers as presidential candidates such as Bob Dole and John McCain.
And don’t forget their choices of George H.W. Bush (who betrayed his “no new taxes, read my lips” promise), and George W. Bush who gave us phony “compassionate” conservatism (which really meant big deficit spending) and even tried to put the U.S. in an open-borders North American Union.
The Establishment and Karl Rove even supported Gerald Ford against Ronald Reagan in 1976.
We can’t afford to let that crowd pick our candidates again. But Rove now thinks he should be the “decider” of which primary candidates are “electable” and which are “unelectable.”
Please vote NO on his dreadful scheme.
We must sound the alarm and rally activists from Alaska to Florida about the embarrassment that Karl Rove and his big-government allies – posing as “moderates” – are to the Republican Party.
The Establishment is trying to purge the Tea Party conservatives from the Republican Party. Let’s be clear – we welcome the Tea Partiers.
We must show the nation that Republicans – true conservatives – don’t want Karl Rove, or any Establishment guru to run the Republican Party off a cliff.
Fortunately, we are seeing an emergence of a new Reagan Republican Party. In 2010 and 2012, Republicans elected some real conservatives to the Senate after defeating Establishment candidates in the primaries: Rand Paul in Kentucky (who defeated Mitch McConnell’s choice), Ted Cruz in Texas (who defeated a fabulously wealthy Establishment candidate), and Marco Rubio in Florida (who defeated Establishment candidate Florida Governor Crist, who then showed his true colors and became a Democrat).
Jim DeMint (now with Heritage) and Mike Lee of Utah were two other successful non-Establishment Republican Senators. It’s time for the grassroots to take control of the Republican Party away from the elitists who want to choose our candidates, tell them what to say, and how to vote.
Our litmus test for Republican primary candidates should be: “Are you a Karl Rove candidate?”
The Establishment is doing nothing to stop Obama from his announced plan to promote a Zero Nuclear World by cutting our nuclear missile force and refusing to modernize our anti-missile system.
The Establishment is doing nothing to stop Obama from taking over the curriculum of our public school system – a plan that is unwanted by Americans, illegal and unconstitutional. Establishment Members of Congress are doing nothing to stop Obama’s grab to put all 2 to 5 year-olds under federal control through federal daycare, early childhood education, Pre-K, and mandatory all-day Kindergarten.
We absolutely must join together and save America. Time is running out. Eagle Forum is ready to lead the way, but we need your active support.
Please return your Conservative Activist Pledge right away. The conservative grassroots must rally and fight back.
And please, make the very most generous donation to Eagle Forum you possibly can. We’ve beaten Establishment bullies in the past, and with your help we will do it again!
The U.S. Courts website posted an update this morning that Judge Richard Cebull, Chief U.S. District Judge for Montana, will take senior status in March of 2013. Cebull is currently the subject of a misconduct review by the Judicial Council of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. Senior status is a form of semi-retirement where a judge vacates his or her seat and continues to hear some cases, but typically not a full caseload. The status provides a full salary for part-time work.
People For the American Way president Michael Keegan released the following statement:
“Judge Cebull should resign or retire, not take senior status. He used his official email account to send an incredibly disgusting and racist email. When asked why, he said he sent it because he opposes the President.
“Americans expect the courts to be fair, impartial, and open to all. Cebull clearly demonstrated that he does not have the temperament to serve as a federal judge, period.
“Cebull may hope that taking senior status before the misconduct review concludes will help him avoid sanction. But he should be held accountable by the 9th Circuit regardless of his status.
“Taking senior status is a half-measure that allows Cebull to continue hearing cases. That’s not appropriate. He should resign or retire immediately.”
The power center that Dick Armey and FreedomWorks have been aggressively building in the U.S. Senate around reigning extremist Jim DeMint will almost certainly welcome Ted Cruz in January. The Republican convention gave most Americans their first look at Cruz, who has become a Tea Party folk hero after crushing the establishment candidate, Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, in a bitterly contested primary.
Ted Cruz loves to portray his victory as an upwelling from the grassroots, as he did during his Tuesday night speech from the platform. “I have the honor of standing before you this evening for one reason, because thousands upon thousands of grassroots activists stood united, not for a candidate, but for the sake of restoring liberty.”
It is certainly true that his impressive come-from-behind primary victory captured the fervor of anti-government Tea Party activists as well as conservative evangelicals that Cruz has been courting for years at religious right gatherings. But it wasn’t an act of spontaneous combustion. Pouring gasoline on the prairie fire were national right-wing super PACs and Dick Armey’s FreedomWorks. Club for Growth Action dropped millions into the race on Cruz’s behalf; Jim DeMint’s Tea Party-backing Senate Conservatives Fund also kicked in with seven-figure spending. (DeMint has since cut his formal ties to the group so that it could create a super PAC.) A FreedomWorks spokesperson said after Cruz’s primary that wins by candidates like Cruz would “force Romney to the right.”
Cruz also benefitted from endorsements by an impressive roster of right-wing figures. During the primary he bragged that he was the only candidate this year supported by all four of his favorite senators: DeMint, Mike Lee, Rand Paul, and Pat Toomey. he Cruz campaign used video of a Palin campaign visit for its GOTV efforts. After his primary win an excited Breitbart blogger quoted Sarah Palin’s celebration on Facebook. She wrote that Cruz's victory was a win "both for Ted and for the grassroots Tea Party movement," and that the “message of this race couldn't be clearer for the political establishment: the Tea Party is alive and well and we will not settle for business as usual. Now, it's on to November!”
While the media accurately describes Cruz as a darling of the Tea Party and its corporate backers, he also had strong backing from religious-right figures. Cruz has campaigned for support at the Family Research Council’s Values Voter Summit and the Freedom Federation’s Awakening conference, where he said “we are engaged in spiritual warfare every day.” James Dobson and David Barton are among the religious-right leaders who backed Cruz; Rick Santorum endorsed Cruz on Glenn Beck’s television show.
Cruz embodies Ralph Reed’s desire to merge the Tea Party and religious right. In his convention speech, Cruz talked about the Tea Party movement as a “Great Awakening” – a not-so-subtle shout-out to religious-right leaders who are calling for a spiritual great awakening that they believe will turn the nation back to God and its Christian roots. At Rick Santorum’s event on Wednesday afternoon, Cruz mocked media conversations about divisions between different “chunks” of Republicans, declaring the party united. “We’re all here because we believe in values and principles bigger than ourselves,” he said.
Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition kicked off its 2012 conference with a splashy show of the Reed’s political muscle in the form of three U.S. Senators. Rob Portman of Ohio, Jim DeMint of South Carolina, and Marco Rubio of Florida all delivered speeches that reflect Reed’s goal for 2012 and beyond: merging the messages and organizing energies of the overlapping Tea Party and Religious Right movements to elect conservative Republicans.
“American exceptionalism” was a major theme of the day – defined generally as America being uniquely blessed by God for its commitment to limited government and free-market economics grounded in a belief that individual rights come from God. And – no surprise -- President Obama was portrayed as an enemy of faith and freedom.
Portman declared that the Obama administration had treated freedom of religion as a “second-class right.” He argued that life should be held sacred “from conception til death.”
DeMint charged the President with wanting a country and economy run from the top down, and called for a stop to government “purging faith” from the American way of life. “We need to realize we’re blessed,” said DeMint. “We need to know that we’re in trouble. And we need to know that 2012 may be our last chance to turn this thing around.”
Reed introduced Rubio as one of the greatest talents and most transformational figures that any of us have ever seen. Rubio, who is hawking a new book, argued that social and fiscal conservatism are indistinguishable, and that the notion of God as the source of freedom is essential to freedom itself. “You cannot have your freedom without your faith, because the source of your freedom is your faith.” He argued that calling for the wealthy to pay more taxes is “divisive” and pits Americans against each other for the purposes of winning an election, claiming, “that is never who we have been.” (Surely even Rubio does not actually believe that the Republican Party and Tea Party have never run divisive campaigns in order to win elections.)
Listening to Rubio, you can understand why GOP strategists have such high hopes for him. He calls on people to help their neighbors. He says the conservative movement is not about imposing its values on others or leaving people behind. He says conservatives want drinking water to be clean and the air to be breathable. (In reality, of course, policies backed by today’s far-right GOP would indeed impose their values on others, leave millions of Americans behind, and eviscerate regulations that protect our families’ food, air, and water.)
Before the conference started, an FFC press release claimed that its activists will be “phoning, mailing, and knocking on the doors of 27 million conservative and pro-family voters, distributing 35 million voter guides, and making a total of 120 million voter contacts” in 2012. At today’s luncheon, Reed encouraged members of the audience to imagine what could happen with another 10 or 20 senators like Rubio. Yes, just imagine.
Today Tea Party Nation president Judson Phillips emailed members an article from fellow activist Marcia Wood on the Arab Spring. Wood writes that “Obama has blatantly without remorse lied to Americans time and time again” in order to bolster the Muslim Brotherhood, and she claims to have figured out how the President can justify his supposed lying: “Without vetting it becomes quite apparent who he is, where he came from and what his business is in our United States. Remember that the Muslim Radicals believe it’s good to lie for a ‘greater cause.’” She concludes that Obama is “aggressively destroying our Nation cutting back on our Military power and nuclear capabilities as he pursues a false ‘ideology.’”
Although Obama and many Democrats try to soft sell the Arab Springs movement, it was by no means a peaceful movement. The violent clashes in Tunisia ended with the arrest of scores of people, store fronts were damaged, cars demolished as police tried to control the protestors with tear gas.
Obama continued his praise of the Arab Springs as they swept thru Libya, Bahrain, Syria, Yemen and Jordan, marking the greatest wave of political change the world has seen since the fall of the Berlin Wall. While we were sleeping he continued his support of the Muslim Radicals and Islamist Terrorists sending our troops into Libya where thousands of innocent people were murdered.
Obama defended the strikes in Libya saying our interests and values were at stake – which should have been rephrased to “his interests and values.” He met with one of the Prime Minister Beji Caid Essebsi of Tunisia gleefully handing him 39 million dollars. The Prime Minister was one of the pioneers of the Arab Springs!
Obama has supported the Muslim Brotherhood throughout the Middle East and regardless of his lies; this movement has not been about freedom and democracy. Obama has blatantly without remorse lied to Americans time and time again always giving excuses for his support of the Arab Springs and the Muslim Brotherhood.
Without vetting it becomes quite apparent who he is, where he came from and what his business is in our United States. Remember that the Muslim Radicals believe it’s good to lie for a “greater cause.” His lack of engagement with the Egypt hostage situation should not be a surprise, because in his arrogance he forgot one thing - the revolutionaries that he supported are not his friends and now he’s facing their wrath.
I see a Commander in Chief who is aggressively destroying our Nation cutting back on our Military power and nuclear capabilities as he pursues a false “ideology.” Obama is living it up on the Presidential Campaign trail while 19 Americans are being held hostage in Egypt by the Muslim Radicals that Obama supported. Something is definitely wrong with this picture!
During the CPAC panel on the future of the Tea Party, Kevin Jackson said that the conservative movement has a lot to learn from the Left because progressives are so forceful that they have even "changed the definition of pedophilia." Jackson might be referring to frequent right-wing claims that the U.S. should resist the growing social acceptance and civil rights for gays and lesbians because it will lead to the normalization of pedophilia:
Members of the House of Representatives plan to read most of the U.S. Constitution aloud on the House floor today.