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Tea Party Now a Huge GOP Liability

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  The resignation of South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint from the Senate followed close on the heels of the desertion from the Tea Party of Freedom Works head Dick Armey took some by surprise. DeMint and Armey were the two biggest and most identifiable fish in the Tea Party affiliated pond. DeMint could be relied on to broker his name ID and prodigious fund raising prowess to every Tea Party backed Senatorial candidate--and loser   

Armey was a tireless advocate at big, stagey Tea Party rallies and confabs for the Tea Party's anti-big government hard line message. Now both are out. If that wasn't bad news enough for the Tea Party, GOP conservative House leaders turned on it and ousted Representatives Tim Huelskamp of Kansas and Justin Amash of Michigan two of the loudest Tea Party position advocates from the House Budget Committee. They were kicked to the curb almost certainly because GOP House leaders know they have to make a deal with President Obama on the budget or risk being further dragged through the public and media mud as being the   cause for shoving the nation over the fiscal cliff. The Tea Party's brand of patented loose cannon obstructionism is too threatening to a GOP still reeling from the election flop.   The ouster of the Tea Party hardliners and desertions by GOP bigwigs from the movement was hardly the first rumbling that the lights are dimming for the Tea Party.

A year earlier, polls showed that far more Americans had an unfavorable view of the Tea Party than when it roared on the scene a couple of years earlier. The disaffection cut across all lines and that included many conservatives.   The reason for the plunge in Tea Party backing in Red State districts support wasn't hard to find. When Tea Party affiliated candidates scored big victories and even upsets of GOP incumbents in some races in 2010 they had one mantra and that was to shrink government, and shrink it fast. Millions of Americans cheered their war call, and voted for the candidates that yelped it the loudest. But it's one thing to scream about big government, bloated federal spending, and whopping federal debts, and it's quite another to actually hold Congress, and by extension, the nation hostage in an uncompromising, shrill battle to chop down government.

The Tea Party, in effect, wildly overreached and many conservatives didn't like it. Tea Party backed congressional members stalled every piece of legislation that might have put people back to work, demanded draconian slashes in Medicare and Social Security, gummed up the works on debt reduction talks between Obama and GOP House leaders, and wasted congressional time and energy passing bills and amendments to kill health care reform as well as education, health, social service and law enforcement programs locally and nationally. The result was that Congress was at a virtual stall for two years and public approval of Congress dropped to lows that made used car salespersons look like public champions

The open backlash against the Tea Party wasn't lost on GOP mainstream leaders, who even in the best of Tea Party days were anxious, if not downright terrified, that their shock battalions might get to unruly, and go too far overboard, and alienate the moderate and conservative independents that they got back in the GOP fold in 2010. They desperately needed them to have any chance of beating Obama in 2012. Obviously, that didn't happen. Now with the 2014 mid-term elections shaping up to be a titanic battle for the GOP to hold onto the House and not lose any more ground in the Senate, open advocacy of Tea Party positions becomes even more of a risk. The GOP with the Tea Party drag on it would have absolutely no chance to make any headway on immigration reform. That would kill the slender chance it had to soften opposition from Hispanic voters to the GOP. It would also turn off thousands more conservative voters who want to see government get back on track and get results.  

The Tea Party is far from dead. There are   many Americans that still think the idea of smaller government, caps on spending, and debt reduction are noble and necessary goals worth fighting for. Millions of them voted for failed GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney solely because they bought into his promise to shrink government.   Though a majority of Americans now back Obamacare, a significant minority still don't. And they will continue to make noise. That and having the Tea Party label attached to the GOP is a huge liability that GOP leaders can no longer afford.

Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. He is a frequent political commentator on MSNBC and a weekly co-host of the Al Sharpton Show on American Urban Radio Network. He is the author of How Obama Governed: The Year of Crisis and Challenge. He is an associate editor of New America Media. He is the host of the weekly Hutchinson Report on KPFK-Radio and the Pacifica Network.

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Earl Ofari Hutchinson is a nationally acclaimed author and political analyst. He has authored ten books; his articles are published in newspapers and magazines nationally in the United States. Three of his books have been published in other (more...)

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Majority of Americans, in fact, DO NOT support oba... by sbaker on Saturday, Dec 8, 2012 at 12:29:34 PM
According to a couple of polls 50% favored repeal ... by Maxwell on Saturday, Dec 8, 2012 at 3:03:19 PM
Democracy is two wolves and a sheep voting what's ... by Matt Kjeldsen on Saturday, Dec 8, 2012 at 4:43:52 PM
Please name the Article(s) and Section(s) you thin... by Maxwell on Saturday, Dec 8, 2012 at 8:48:24 PM
Republicans discussing health care - two pumpkins ... by BFalcon on Sunday, Dec 9, 2012 at 5:15:40 AM
The powers enumerted for the federal government ar... by Matt Kjeldsen on Sunday, Dec 9, 2012 at 9:32:51 AM
Sorry, Maxell, most who read the Constitution cann... by Walter J Smith on Sunday, Dec 9, 2012 at 4:05:26 PM
The SCOTUS, too, they must misunderstand it.But yo... by Maxwell on Sunday, Dec 9, 2012 at 6:01:56 PM
Youre right Maxwell, our founding fathers were ign... by Levon Marcellus on Sunday, Dec 9, 2012 at 10:48:45 AM
That's the most inane argument ever directed at me... by Maxwell on Sunday, Dec 9, 2012 at 1:16:15 PM
The Tea party of hate, racism and sabatoge may be ... by Toby Seiler on Saturday, Dec 8, 2012 at 5:40:54 PM
Stupid is as stupid does...says someone...... by David Weaver on Sunday, Dec 9, 2012 at 1:27:37 PM
The modern tea party was formed in support of Ron ... by Matt Kjeldsen on Saturday, Dec 8, 2012 at 1:25:33 PM
9/11 Truth was never, to my knowledge, on the Tea ... by Maxwell on Saturday, Dec 8, 2012 at 2:47:06 PM
You are correct that 9/11 Truth was never a part o... by Matt Kjeldsen on Saturday, Dec 8, 2012 at 4:31:05 PM
Also want smaller state government?... by BFalcon on Sunday, Dec 9, 2012 at 5:18:34 AM
The bigger the government, the more corrupt, inept... by Matt Kjeldsen on Sunday, Dec 9, 2012 at 9:59:29 AM
I don't think that is a picture of you. I just don... by Ralph Dratman on Sunday, Dec 9, 2012 at 3:16:25 PM
sorry to say, but it is if you like independe... by Matt Kjeldsen on Sunday, Dec 9, 2012 at 3:53:24 PM
Given what a cynical, astro-turf movement the Tea ... by Maxwell on Saturday, Dec 8, 2012 at 2:40:33 PM
That the TPs demise is even quicker than it's rise... by James Tennier on Saturday, Dec 8, 2012 at 4:12:04 PM
The basis of the tea party is going to grow. It is... by Bill Johnson on Saturday, Dec 8, 2012 at 9:36:19 PM
To associate the Old America and Native Americans.... by BFalcon on Sunday, Dec 9, 2012 at 5:22:57 AM
"I am for new America, inclusive and kind to all, ... by Maxwell on Sunday, Dec 9, 2012 at 1:20:20 PM
Yes you are woefully ignorant of history.   ... by Bill Johnson on Sunday, Dec 9, 2012 at 2:08:25 PM
Anyone remember that one?... by Maxwell on Sunday, Dec 9, 2012 at 2:23:36 PM
He is talking about the old america he found in a ... by Walter J Smith on Sunday, Dec 9, 2012 at 4:11:29 PM
It is time for the GOP to wake up to itself. ... by Ira Herson on Sunday, Dec 9, 2012 at 4:23:23 AM
I believe Goldwater had very much the same warning... by David Weaver on Sunday, Dec 9, 2012 at 1:36:01 PM
But Nixon wasn't so worried about the racist, sexi... by Walter J Smith on Sunday, Dec 9, 2012 at 4:18:51 PM
It is understandable that as a statist, this autho... by Levon Marcellus on Sunday, Dec 9, 2012 at 10:41:21 AM
Here is a cartoon humorously but accurately (and p... by Maxwell on Sunday, Dec 9, 2012 at 1:28:36 PM
It is not so much that the Tea Party is a big liab... by Walter J Smith on Sunday, Dec 9, 2012 at 4:00:04 PM
They once were mutually beneficial to each other, ... by Maxwell on Sunday, Dec 9, 2012 at 6:20:02 PM
I gave up on the Republican's in the mid 1990's w... by KurtB on Sunday, Dec 9, 2012 at 6:06:14 PM