Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina opened CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference) with an analogy. He compared Republicans and Democrats not to allies with differences fighting together for a common cause (as President Obama did in his State of the Union address); instead, he compared Republicans and Democrats to the Giants and the Patriots, a bitter rivalry in which only one can emerge victorious. “We don’t have shared goals with the Democrats,” he said. Senator DeMint echoes a consistent theme of the Tea Party: uncompromising partisanship.
The Republican radical right has made its views quite clear. During the Republican Presidential debates, audiences of Tea Partiers have booed gay soldiers, cheered for the death of the uninsured and applauded when Rick Perry bragged about how many had been put to death in the state of Texas. With Tea Party leadership we can expect public infrastructure and public schools to remain neglected, we can expect welfare and human rights to be ignored and we can expect petty bickering to trump bipartisanship. This is the time for reasonable people, liberal or otherwise, to circle the wagons. President Obama has tried to compromise throughout most of his presidency. But the Tea Party wants none of it. They want their way or nothing, and they have shown this attitude in their politics repeatedly. Unlike the Tea Party, the rest of America is willing to compromise. No longer can we let fanatics from the farthest fringe drive our national conversation.
The Tea Party is by and large against welfare spending, against gay rights, against universal healthcare and against government regulation of the economy. The nonsensical economic strategies of the radical right have been proven demonstrably false over and over. They claim that an unregulated economy will thrive and that businesses can regulate their own practices ethically. We know full well, however, that unregulated businesses will cut corners and shirk safety procedures to maximize profits, because that is what capitalism is. The maximization of profits will always take precedence over worker safety and fair wages in a purely capitalistic enterprise, and this is why government has to step in to protect citizens against unruly businesses. Yet the Tea Party calls regulation “socialistic” and wishes to deregulate the sectors that have proven they need regulation the most. The Tea Party is overtly religious in its motivations, trampling the line between faith and public discourse and in the process throwing that old doctrine of “separation of church and state” out the window. They continue to deny climate science and again side with business over the environment and public health. Discrimination against homosexuals and recycling worn out economic arguments will not work anymore.
The battle lines have been drawn. Our choice is now between either politics or progress, and for those choosing the latter, there is no better a man to rally around than incumbent President Barack Obama. As soon as the President is ready to call his loyal to arms, there are legions ready to stand behind him.