Old habits are hard to break. The mainstream media always had a weird fear of the tea party and always have understood Donald Trump to be a product of it. And nothing that has happened since he became president changed that. In fact, the media could be more afraid than ever.
The Washington Post ran a piece last week that argued not only that the Tea Party had not gone away but that it arguably is more powerful than ever.
“The tea party as over, we thought,” wrote Geoffrey Kabaservice, an author. “Not quite a decade old, the right-wing populist movement that once seemed poised to be an enduring force in national politics has burned out, overtaken by a more virulent strand of populism led by President Trump.”
Mike Pompeo being named to replace Rex Tillerson as secretary of state installed yet another figure who rose through the Tea Party to prominence, Kabaservice argued, following the trail blazed by Vice President Pence, United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley and White House budget director Mick Mulvaney.
“The grievances that animated the movement and fed Trump’s presidential candidacy live on,” Kabaservice wrote. “The tea party’s insurgent impulses have fused with his erratic populism to come one of the three contending forces in the Republican Part – the other two being establishment Republicanism and ideological conservatism. Tillerson’s fall is a prime example of how traditional Republicans are becoming yesterday’s men and women in the Trumpified GOP. Tomorrow, will it be the ideological conservatives like House Speaker Paul Ryan?”
Tillerson was dismissed by Trump because he was “‘too establishment,’’ Kabaservic wrote, “by which the president seems to have meant Tillerson’s prudence (at least in relation to Trump), adherence to traditional diplomatic protocols, and unwillingness to rip up trade agreements and the Iran nuclear deal.”
Pompeo, on the other hand, is reckless, chaotic and uninformed – a typical tea partier in the eyes of the mainstream media.
“Unlike Tillerson, Pompeo has tweeted his desire to roll back the Iran deal and has called for regime change in North Korea. As secretary of state, Pompeo presumably would be in tune with Trump’s ‘America First’ positions and his contempt for diplomatic norms – characteristics that reflect the tea party outlook as well as Trump’s economic nationalism.”
Tea partiers are in line with Trump on a variety of fronts, Kabaservice writes. “Despite the tea party’s provenance as a conservative movement, there was little about past political patterns and practices that it wanted to conserve,” he wrote. “Activists hoped not only to ‘throw the bums out,’ but also to get rid of anything that passed for the status quo. The affinity of tea party veterans for Trump is based in part on their common interest in disruption.”
And disruption is Trump’s true goal, according to Kabaservice and the Washington Post. “Republicans who hoped that Trump eventually would pivot toward more conventional presidential behavior, once he realized the gravity of the high office he occupied, have waited in vain,” he wrote. “The Trump presidency appears less of a conventional administration and more of a permanent, tea-party style insurgency. The president clearly enjoys campaigning more than governing and still causes GOP officeholders near-daily heartburn with his tweets. Nearly every historical understanding of what the Republican Party stands for has been upset by Trump’s impulsive policy proposals on trade, foreign alliances, immigration, the Second Amendment, due process, and on and on. The tea party scared the establishment, but Trump can take revenge on the establishment in ways the tea party only dreamed of doing.”
Slate can’t accept that any political movement would align itself with President Trump, and it pointed to last week’s spending deal to make its case.
Under a story headlined, “Donald Trump and the Tea Party myth: Why the GOP is now an identity movement, not a political party,” with the subhead, “If Tea Party conservatives actually cared about spending, they’d rip apart Trump’s big government ideas.”