Tue, Oct 08, 2013 - Page 9 News List

Tea Party Republicans emerged from a bizarre political culture

The US is on the brink of disaster, brought to it by a movement unique in its startling lack of realism and rigor, despite being occasionally well-polished

By Henry Porter  /  The Observer

“Many pander to extremists on their own side rather than forging sensible alliances with the other,” the magazine’s leader says.

A couple of weeks ago, writing about gun control in the US, I applied the ironic technique of treating the US with the same condescension that the US speaks about other nations. Those tropes would be pointless for the Tea Party, for there are few movements anywhere in the world that are so unrealistic or have such a startling lack of rigor. Satire and irony are useless when it comes to a movement that is pro-life on abortion, but pro-death in the matter of executing people or the 32,000 yearly toll caused by privately owned firearms.

Tea Party Republicans pepper their speeches with the words “freedom” and “liberty,” but do nothing to oppose the government surveillance programs that infringe the rights of all Americans. They rail against the power of big government, but never the malignancy of big business.

They are all over the map. Their policies are like the diet of high fructose corn syrup that TPers often favor — appetizing, temporarily satisfying, but ultimately a health hazard.

HINTS OF MCCARTHYISM

Cruz was elected November last year, but has already become a national figure and is being touted as a possible presidential candidate in 2016. Princeton and Harvard educated, with a Cuban father, he looks quite a bit like a young version of former US Senator Joseph McCarthy. And indeed, shortly after arriving in Washington, his prosecutorial line of questioning of then former US senator Chuck Hagel, Obama’s nominee for defense secretary, with its references to possible ties to foreign enemies, reminded people of McCarthy: “Are you or have you ever been...”

I recommend his filmed interviews, especially with Evan Smith of the Texas Tribune, because you will not see a more polished zealot. This is a man who agreed that Social Security was a Ponzi scheme on the grounds that it paid investors from their own money or the money invested by others.

He regards many of his colleagues as “squishy Republicans” and repeats this refrain: “The federal government is engaged on a war on jobs and what is at stake is individual liberty and the constitution,” which makes absolutely no sense, given the hundreds of thousands of government employees now on unpaid leave because of the shutdown.

If you found yourself on a train with Cruz, you would be struck by his intelligence and confident manner, and initially you might buy his line that the US Constitution needs to be redrafted to beef up the 9th and 10th Amendments, which he says would enhance individual liberties and the states’ powers. However, very soon you would see none of it adds up and that his suspicion of government is far greater than his love of liberty.

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