The Tea Party Never Had Ideas

And now they’re running for the exits.

I apologize for not keeping this blog up. Things are moving at such insane warp-speed that I mostly do rapid-response stuff on Twitter and Facebook in a never-ending effort to keep up. But someone said something yesterday that got me thinking, and I want to revisit something I’ve mentioned elsewhere on this blog.

A lot has been made of the various Republican retirements this year (the ones that chose to retire, not the ones that were run out for trying to fuck their staffers). But something that people are overlooking is the simple fact that most of the Tea Partiers were elected on a platform an anarchy and naked racism masked as revolutionary cosplay.

Sure, some of them may have believed that they were actually going to reduce government spending, but that didn’t stop a unified GOP government from passing a 1.3 trillion dollar spending package. So at best they were ineffectual. At worst, they never really had a plan for winning.

If you look historically, the Bush presidency had a bunch of ideologues who, for better or much, much worse — actually got things done. I mean Bush’s legacy — sweeping tax cuts, Medicare Part D, two motherfucking wars, financial deregulation that caused the greatest economic collapse in a century, No Child Left Behind — dude accomplished shit. He had a lockstep GOP, he had high approval ratings, and he got shit done. Then his terrible fucking legacy swept the GOP out of power and elected Democrats to unified government. And Democrats got shit done, too. We saved the entire global economy (you’re welcome), the auto industry (you’re welcome), and put in place the first real healthcare overhaul since Johnson, expanding medical coverage to 20 million Americans who didn’t have it before while also containing costs/spending to their lowest growth levels in a half-century.

From the day that Barack Obama was elected, the GOP had one singular aim: destroy him. Limit him to a one-term President. It was pure nihilism. Fuck Obama, fuck Clinton, fuck the liberals, burn it all the fuck down. And throughout this process, their cosplaying constitutionalists pretended they had better ideas. “Elect us,” they said, “and we will cure the evils of Barack Obama and his socialism!”

Remember “Repeal and replace Obamacare?”

Good times. And secretly, or not so secretly, they had no ideas. They had no plans. They had no positive force. They were a pure force of negativity and opposition. Pure uncut anger and hatred. The kind of shit Fox News had been priming its viewers for. Fuck the black guy, fuck the woman, fuck the Mexicans, fuck them all. Our ideas are better, our worldview is more correct, if you elect us we will usher in the goddamned American paradise the smarmy liberals don’t want you to know is possible.

And then, in a cruel twist of fate, they got exactly what they asked for: a chance to prove it. To prove that they could repeal and replace Obamacare with something better. That they could slash the out-of-control deficits back down to reasonable levels. That they could cure the ills of the aging white population that voted them into power.

Immigration? Solved.

Trade? Handled.

Economic Growth? Two words: rocket fuel.

People whose entire career had been predicated on crowing night and day about how they were smarter, they were better, they were the fucking wonkiest policy wonks to ever wonk, were finally given the keys to the kingdom. How’s that working for them?

Obamcare? Not only is it still the law of the land, but their constant undermining of it has actually made premiums go up for consumers. So they managed to not repeal, not replace, but actually spend more money to provide less care. The scope of this failure on their signature campaign promise of the last decade is breathtaking.

Taxes? Congratulations — you forced through most of Bush’s 2003 tax cuts to become permanent (adding trillions to the debt), and passed your own milder tax cut in the dead of night. They promised an historic overhaul of our tax code — I was going to be able to do my taxes on a postcard! — and delivered what amounted to corporate amnesty to the tune of a couple trillion dollars.

Spending? Hoo boy. All these “taxation is theft” motherfuckers just guaranteed a lot of taxation for the rest of forever. It’s worth noting here that as a liberal, I like spending government money. I just also like taxing at appropriate levels so that we don’t end up with…

Budget crisis? Go back and watch Paul Ryan talk about the looming budget crisis in 2011 and how his plan would cut our deficit to 15% of our GDP. Paul Ryan, the biggest fake in American politics (h/t Charlie Pierce) is going to have for his legacy signing off on trillions of dollars in new debt, billions in new spending, and guaranteeing us an annual budget deficit of a trillion dollars over the next ten years.

Immigration? Tried/failed to solve that one, now they’re rallying around Trump’s stupid fucking wall because it at least has the vague appearance of being an idea.

The Tea Party wave was an unmitigated disaster at both the state and Congressional level. These people were conned by smooth talking 40-year-old bros with a dog-eared copy of Atlas Shrugged. They were promised the moon and given nothing. They sold themselves up the river to give more money back to the corporations who don’t need it. They worsened every problem they set out to solve because they never had solutions to begin with.

Sure, Trump is part of the impending wave. But Trump is basically just a Tea Partier with a shinier suit and a longer tie. He’s the professional bullshitter in a league of fucking amateurs. He’s the greatest card shark at the table. He’s not smarter than the rest of them, he just yells and screams louder.

Paul Ryan called the GOP the party of ideas. With scarcely one legislative achievement to his name, he’s resigning along with dozens of his colleagues because he knows they’re not, they never were, and they won’t be for some time.

This iteration of the GOP deserves Donald Trump. He’s the living embodiment of the institutional rot and decay of a party that traded in actual ideas and policies for charlatanism and naked fraud, a party that promised what they knew they could never deliver, a party unencumbered by reality, immune to their own brazen contradictions.

We need to sweep out the ideological decay at the core of modern Republicanism. Not just in 2018 but in every election until they figure out what it actually means to be a party of ideas, a party of values, a party that stands for something beyond the nihilistic fury of living to spite the perceived enemy.

Good riddance to Paul Ryan and the whole fucking wave that swept him into an office he never deserved.

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