I've given some thought to the Repubs embrace of the tea baggers, and have come to the conclusion that it represents that party's second historic sell -out of epic proportions. An unbelievably calculating, shameless, lack-of-any-level-of-ethical-behavior kind of sell out.
More after the squiggely thingie..
Here's the ugly history: Back in the 1960's, when LBJ was leading the fight for civil rights legislation, he knew that it would alienate the conservative, racist part of his Democratic party, but he was willing to do it anyway because it was the right thing to do for the country. He famously said "we've just lost the south for a generation". Oh, if it had only been for a generation!
At that point, the Republicans had their own choice to make. They could have made it clear that there was no room in THEIR party for the racists either, which would have marginalized the haters. Instead, the Republicans, lead by Richard Nixon, created the infamous Southern Strategy, which aggressively courted these conservative ex-democrats by playing to their racist fears. St. Ronald Reagan continued the strategy, using code words like "welfare queens" to build on the racist belief that all minorities are out to take advantage of the system.
Pandering to racist fears has been a core part of the Republican strategy ever since. Look, I know there are decent Republicans out there, who follow the party for financial, not social reasons, but you have to admit that their voices have been totally drowned out by the nutbars.
And when the tea party arose from the primordial muck (fueled by the Koch bothers mega-fortunes), those dwindling few decent Republicans had one more chance to stand up for the voices of fairness, sanity and reason. They could have rejected the ignorance, extremism and hatred represented by the Tea Party core beliefs. Instead, the Republicans doubled down and turned over the keys to their whole party to the wingnuts in the tri-corner hats.
You see - the 1%, for whom all Republican policies are intended to benefit, simply don't have enough voters in their midst to win at the polls. So they HAVE to partner with the social neanderthals who have broader numbers in order to have any hope of winning an election. A marriage made in hell for sure!
Just to recap: To the everlasting shame of the Dems, ours was the party of inherited racism prior to the 1960s. Yet with the courageous leadership of a VERY flawed politician (LBJ) we shed that awful skin. Since that time, the Republicans have knowingly, calculatedly and coldly embraced this racism by choice at two critical junctures in our history. They could have chosen to take the high road and keep the most radical elements of our society from infiltrating their midst. Instead, they embraced the nuts, gave them a major party platform, and indeed, their party has come to be defined by this extremism.
Ultimately this will be the party's undoing, because the tea nuts are so extreme, and so unwilling to compromise, that they will end up marginalizing themselves. The Republican party is too old and too exclusively white to survive in a country that is increasingly diverse. Oddly enough, I will mourn their demise, because I believe that the country really does need two strong, competent, and honest parties in order to make our democracy work. Sadly, the tea baggers were never really interested in governing - they just want to rule.
Let me be clear: The Democratic party is a disappointment to me in many ways - failing to be courageous in defense of party's liberal tenets, failing to competently articulate our vision of the legitimate role that government plays in a healthy society, failing to support truly progressive candidates, surrendering individual liberties on the pretense of keeping us safe and more. But the Republican party couldn't not be more shameless - pandering to the least knowledgeable, most racist, most hateful elements of our society and giving them control of your party.
And why ANY gay person (a group of which I am one!) would affiliate with this party whose official party platform vilifies us is a total mystery to me.