The tea party movement is dead. The one I was familiar with anyway. Judson Phillips held it down and Sarah Palin drove a stakeright through its heart live last night on C-Span in front of an unsuspecting audience.
Sarah Palin didn’t give a tea party speech last night. She gave a partisan Republican address. It was a purely political speechdesigned to position her for a presidential run in 2012 or 2016. Period. She wasn’t there to celebrate the organic nature of a movement she had nothing to do with creating. She was there to co-opt the name and claim the brand as hers. And she did.
The movement, that came to be officially recognized almost a year ago but whose roots go back further than that, has been snuffed out and replaced in the public mind. The movement that began as a people’s movement of angry independent, libertarians and conservatives will now be thought as the movement of people like Palin, Dick Armey, Judson Phillips, Mark Skoda, etc. Essentially, a wholly owned subsidiary of the “Official Conservative Movement” and the Republican Party.
This new tea party bears no resemblance to the one that began a year ago as a reaction to the collapse of our financial system and the subsequent bailout. That movement of ragtag and unorganized libertarians, independents and conservatives was something new and unique. An authentic protest movement angered not just by the new President, Barack Obama, who had presided over the bailouts but the president who started the ball rolling and whose incompetence had led to the crisis in the first place, George W. Bush.
The people we saw on the steps of Legislative Plaza and county courthouses across the state last year weren’t “movement conservatives.” Certainly the movement conservatives were there at those protests but the tea parties were much bigger in size, scope and concept than just traditional modern conservatism reheated. Last night, the professional conservatives fixed that for good.
For over a year the media has struggled to try and define just what exactly the movement was. Now they have a definition.
Palin, while explicitly saying the movement had no leader, implicitly offered herself up as one. After this speech, which was widely covered on the internet and carried on television, the tea party movement and Sarah Palin will be inextricably intertwined.
So with the spotlight on her and the attention of the curious media surrounding her what did she present as a tea party agenda? What did she discuss?
Ronald Reagan, national defense and superficial deficiencies of the current democratic occupant of the White House. Wow.