October 3, 2013
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To paraphrase Margaret Thatcher, there is no such thing as the Tea Party. There is only a collection of individual billionaires.
Back in 2009 and 2010, during the debate about Obamacare and during the mid-term elections that swept Republicans into power in the House of Representatives, Americans first caught a glimpse of a monster. That monster has now taken over the halls of Congress and shut down the government that George Washington had three horses shot out from under from him to create.
That monster was, of course, the Tea Party. At the time, many in the establishment media treated the Tea Party like what its proponents in the right-wing echo chamber said it was: a genuinely grassroots movement, like the one that created this country way back in the 1770s.
They pointed to the big crowds outside of the Capitol Building and on the Mall in Washington, D.C. and said, “the people are upset about President Obama’s policies and now they’re taking to the streets!”
With Fox So-Called News pumping out pro-Tea Party propaganda, and other news outlets either too cowed or too busy laughing to look closely at who was really behind it all, it seemed, for a while at least, that the Tea Party was, indeed, a grassroots popular uprising.
But as the smoke cleared, it became clear that the Tea Party was far from a democratic grassroots movement and even far from reflecting traditional American values. In fact, it was the very opposite of grassroots and democratic. It was the creation of billionaires intent on destroying our government, preventing Americans from getting access to healthcare, and sabotaging any attempt to regulate Wall Street or the oil industry.
The small handful of oil and Wall Street groups behind the Tea Party, groups like FreedomWorks and Americans for Prosperity, were all front organizations for the billionaire oil tycoons and banksters who wrecked the economy.
And if you need any more proof of whose interests the Tea Party actually represents, consider this: Americans for Prosperity and FreedomWorks actually began as parts of the group Citizens for a Sound Economy, which was created in 1984 to defend the interests of big tobacco companies. They even started something they called a “tea party” in the 1980s so that smokers could have a “smokers’ rights” group.
The billionaires behind these groups weren’t trying to save democracy, they were trying to hijack it, and they were rich and powerful enough to be able to essentially buy their own politicians and dupe a few thousand “American” activists to do their bidding.
The Tea Party’s astroturf roots should have been obvious to anyone paying attention to their rallies. Back in 2009, for example, Americans for Prosperity, the pet-project of the oil-rich Koch Brothers, actually bussed Tea Party “activists” around the country to protest President Obama’s proposed healthcare law.
Margaret Thatcher, the UK’s conservative prime minister from 1979 to 1990 once said that “There is no such thing as society, there is only a collection of individuals.”A similar thing can be said about the Tea Party: there is no such thing as the Tea Party, only a collection of individual billionaires and their front groups.
And in January of 2010, five right-wing justices on the Supreme Court handed that collection of individual billionaires a big gift with their decision in the Citizens United case. Their decision declared money as speech and stripped the government of many of its powers to restrict corporate electioneering. The Supreme Court essentially gave the billionaires behind the Tea Party the power to hire their own army of politicians to wreak havoc in Congress, politicians who said they fought for “liberty,” but were really working in the interests of the corporate billionaire class.