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Republicans and the Tea Party: Embracing the Snake

By       Message Bob Burnett     Permalink
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Aesop told the tale of a kind-hearted farmer who was working his fields when he found a frozen snake.  Sensing the viper was about to die, the farmer tore open his jacket and pressed the snake against his warm skin.  Unfortunately when the viper revived, he gave his rescuer a fatal bite.  "I saved you," moaned the farmer.  The viper hissed, "But you knew I was a snake when you embraced me."  This fable characterizes the relationship between the Republican Party and its Tea-Party wing.

A contemporary interpretation for Aesop's fable would be, "compassion is wasted on the immoral."  From its onset, the Tea Party has been a political snake with one poisonous objective: advancement of the Tea-Party agenda regardless of the consequences to the Republican Party or the United States.

The Tea Party emerged after the 2008 presidential election, a toxic combination of the 2008 Ron Paul presidential campaign, hard-core conservatives dissatisfied with the Republican Party establishment, and political organizers funded by rich donors such as the Koch brothers.

In 2010 the Tea Party published its "Contract From America:"

1.    Identify constitutionality of every new law

2.    Reject emissions trading ("cap and trade")

3.    Demand a balanced federal budget

4.    Simplify the tax system

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5.    Audit federal government agencies for constitutionality

6.    Limit annual growth in federal spending

7.    Repeal the health care legislation passed on March 23, 2010 ("Obamacare")

8.    Pass an 'All-of-the-Above' Energy Policy

9.    Reduce Earmarks

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10.Reduce Taxes

This served as the framework for the policy agenda of the House Republicans, led by Tea-Party member Eric Kantor, the House Majority Leader. 

For many years, Republican politicians had to take the Grover Norquist tax pledge in order to garner conservative support.  In recent years, the "Contract From America" has served a comparable function.  In particular, Republican candidates have had to pledge to repeal Obamacare, reduce taxes and federal spending, and demand a balanced budget. 

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Bob Burnett is a Berkeley writer. In a previous life he was one of the executive founders of Cisco Systems.

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