transmogrify: to change or alter greatly and often with grotesque or humorous effect. From Webster’s Ninth Collegiate Dictionary.
A little over a year ago (1), Michael Hirsch writing in the National Journal (2), authored an op-ed entitled “George W. Bush: He Gave Rise to the Tea Party”; arguably perhaps a valid history of what propelled the Tea Party into being. According to Hirsch, the case for the Tea Party’s emergence involved a series of events, all tied to the then-president, that ran against credible core conservative principles. There was run-away spending (3), illegal searches in the form of domestic surveillance without a warrant, the expansion of the federal government with Medicare Part-D (the drug prescription program), and worst of all, the bank bailout known as the “Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), signed by Bush shortly before he left office in 2008.
The point in reciting the foregoing is to underscore what some people have lost track of; i.e. the Tea Party movement, in its nascent, civil form, emerged out of some legitimate, supportable conservative concerns. But, what has happened to it since the election of Barack H. Obama is quite another story. It was that historic event that unleashed a fury, the intensity of which reached and remains white hot. What follows is a description of what that level of emotion fueled.
The transmogrification of the Tea Party movement started to take shape with the advent of birtherism, and with racist and xenophobic slanders like “Kenyan…communist…social…unAmerican”, all topics covered at different times in this blogspace. This new president was to be, not just opposed, but removed from office at the extreme, or at least de-legitimized so that he would be judged a failure; a person incompetent and undeserving of being elected. Of course, to achieve such extreme ends would require a variety of radical actions including public mock-ups of Obama as “The Joker” or Hitler, legislatively, a determination to shut down the government on the one hand, while refusing to negotiate needed policy on the other, and fierce opposition to any conservative who dared engage in compromise with Obama, much less even utter the word. That is the Tea Party we have come to know today.
Whether the behaviors cited above are characteristic of all Tea Party members is a debatable question. But, the dominance of these tactics strongly suggests that the movement has been co-opted and otherwise taken over by extremists who seem to believe that they can burn the federal government to the ground, then start over and create something better. There is no question that there are aspects of our government, and the way in which we are governed, that need fixing. But the nihilistic approach being pursued by those now in control of the Tea Party has turned what started out as a constructive force into a decidedly destructive one. Regrettably, there are no signs that this state of affairs is going to change any time soon.
1. March, 2013
2. This publication is one of the most respected, non-partisan periodicals that addresses various national issues.
3. From 2000 – 2006, GW Bush, in concert with a Republican Party that controlled both houses of Congress, doubled the national debt.