Since 2006, with the beginnings of the breakaway of populist conservatives from the national Republican Party via the Tea Party movement, the GOP has been trying to figure out how to co-opt and capture it once again, just as George W. Bush did with many elements of the conservative movement in the early years of the 21st century.
But with the unofficial (and official) rise of the Tea Party movement, this development has struck fear in the Washington establishment because it represents an intellectual challenge to the anti-intellectual status quo of the Democrats and the Big Government Republicans.
Dorothy Parker observed her own destructiveness and the “curling smoke” of the “burning bridges” of her escapades. The IRS and the Washington Establishment may have irreparably burned down the bridge of legitimacy granted it by the American people, and the national Republicans smell an opportunity in the curling smoke.
Men and women of the Establishment Republican Party like Senator Susan Collins of Maine, who previously regarded the Tea Party Movement as something unpleasant and unsophisticated, are now trying to be their friends. That sound you just heard was thousands of Tea Party individuals choking with laughter at the thought of Susan Collins defending them. Same goes for Mitch McConnell and other majoritarian Republicans. Already well known is the GOP establishment had and has nothing but contempt for the Tea Party. As my grandfather used to say, “Cover your wallet,” as the GOP desperately tried to inject itself into the debate.
The appropriation of conservative populist issues by the Republican Establishment for its own gain is not without precedent. In 1977, after campaigning against the Panama Canal Treaties for more than a year, the RNC asked Ronald Reagan to sign a direct mail piece for the committee. Reagan agreed, and over a million dollars cascaded into the RNC. But when Reagan asked RNC chairman Bill Brock to release some of the funds for a “Truth Squad,” Brock refused, in part because his friends former president Gerald Ford and Senator Howard Baker supported the treaties. Reagan was furious and vowed never to raise money again for the RNC, and he didn’t until after he became president in 1981.
The unspoken 600-pound gorilla in the room is that the IRS did not go after Republican Party groups. There has been some noise made in that direction, but it is just that--noise. The real IRS vendetta was aimed at the Tea Party movement and not at the myriad GOP inside-the-beltway groups like American Crossroads or Americans for Job Security or any of the other interlocking GOP seen as front groups for corporate America.
As I stated elsewhere recently, The Republican Establishment is pea green with envy but also embarrassment "that the IRS did not think them worthy of harassing, or even worse, on the same side as the IRS. In other words, the IRS saw the GOP as too feckless to worry about. Either explanation is not very appealing for the national Republicans.”
Of course, the only thing going through the minds of the pecuniary consultants who run the Republican Party is they are missing out on a fundraising bonanza which is necessary to feed their army of mediocre consultants.
Let’s face it, the Tea Party movement is comprised of breakaway elements of populist conservatives disgusted with the Big Government Bush Republicans beginning in 2006. They remain separate and apart even today, seven years later, because they perceive the national GOP has not changed, still a part of the corruption of Washington.
The crimes committed by the IRS have yet to be completely catalogued, but unless millions are paid out in damages and people go to jail, then justice will not be served. What they did was not rinky dink. There was a twenty-seven month criminal conspiracy inside the IRS to deny the Tea Party their basic civil rights to political speech and action and association while rubber stamping any liberal group’s application.
Conspiracy is not too tough a word to use or to say in polite company that the Tea Parties were denied their civil rights to political participation by their own government and outside agitators.
Many questions are begged. Did outside liberal groups conspire with the IRS against the Tea Party? Did Republican Establishment types conspire with the IRS to censor the Tea Party? If so, how high up did the conspiracy go inside the two major parties, both of which had something to gain with the marginalization and/or destruction of the Tea Party movement?
As far as the Tea Party and it sympathizers are concerned, nearly everybody in Washington is a suspect. The Tea Party has found the enemy, and it is the Washington Establishment.
Isn’t it ironic that the Tea Party now stands for the rule of law and that elements of the United States government and the Washington establishment have become the rogue, criminal element in America?
Craig Shirley is the author of two bestselling books about Ronald Reagan including Rendezvous with Destiny and Reagan’s Revolution, he is the author of the bestselling December, 1941; 31 Days That Changed America and Saved the World and is the president of Shirley & Banister. He is now completing a biography of Newt Gingrich and writing several more books about Reagan including Last Act. He has lectured at the Reagan Library, is the First Reagan Scholar at Eureka College and is a member of the Board of Governors of the Reagan Ranch.