It was 240 years ago this week that the original Boston Tea Party resulted in tea leaves being off of a British ship and into Boston Harbor in protest of tea taxes on colonists.
Now the TEA Party has been reborn under an anti-tax acronym (Taxed Enough Already) however the original tea party was more politically adept. They knew who their enemies were.
If the original tea party were reenacted by today’s TEA Partiers, they would dump tea off of their own ships and let the British do whatever they wanted.
I know how much fervor the TEA Party supporters feel for their cause. I live in south-central Kansas. People here were TEA Partiers long before the Koch brothers gave them their name and the backing of their vast empire to support the “grassroots” movement.
In time, when the TEA Party is just a chapter in modern history textbooks, people here will still hold on to the same ideals.
TEA Party members don’t like it being pointed out that their greatest achievements have been in damaging the Republican Party. They have had far more luck picking off not-conservative-enough Republicans than beating Democrats.
Did Obamacare get repealed? No. But TEA Party candidates ensured that Harry Reid stayed put atop the Senate and created a nightmare – with actual witches – in a Delaware Senate race that led to a loss in a very winnable race.
Two polls released last week show that the TEA Party is waning in support even among Republicans who still have a favorable opinion of the movement. Obviously Democrats have few positive feelings about the group.
But as evidenced by the past Presidential election, moderates aren’t too keen on the ultra-conservative group either.
In many places, seeing popular support falling would lead to a measured stance when it comes to addressing the TEA Party. Those ideals would be mentioned, but never highlighted.
Rush Limbaugh says Republicans themselves may be willing to lose seats in Congress to the Democrats just to get rid of the TEA Party affiliated representatives.
“The Republican establishment may in fact be so desirous of getting rid of the tea party as its base they may be willing to lose some elections in order to get rid of their base and put up a new base,” Limbaugh said last week.
He said people blame Texas Sen. Ted Cruz for the government shutdown and obviously most Americans didn’t want the government to shutdown so Cruz and his allies are facing political heat from both sides of the aisle.
Even House Speaker John Boehner is fed up with TEA Party members of his own caucus in Congress.
Page 2 of 3 - Former Vice Presidential Candidate Paul Ryan called the TEA Party invaluable when it comes to keeping the taxpayers in the game when it comes to deal such as the budget compromise he helped work out recently.
But Ryan’s own compromise is threatened by TEA Party affiliates like the Heritage Foundation and Club for Growth and the new Senate Conservatives Fund.
Since seven of the 12 GOP Senators up for re-election this year are facing primary challenges thanks to these groups, they won’t be able to vote for a compromised budget deal without damaging their electoral status with far right voters.
Nowhere are there more far right voters than in Kansas. And, not surprisingly, one of the seven senators who is imperiled by the Senate Conservatives Fund is Kansas Senator Pat Roberts.
Roberts, who most would comfortably call very conservative, is being attacked from someone even further to the right.
The Senate Conservatives Fund has endorsed and financially backed Dr. Milton Wolf in the election that will take place in eight months.
Roberts, who has been in Congress since 1981 and in the Senate since 1997 is drawing fire in part due to his tenure in Washington D.C.
“When I look at our Congress, at our Senate today, it’s abundantly clear to me that we need more patriots who won’t buckle under the pressure of Washington,” Dr. Wolf said during the announcement of his candidacy. “Who won’t go along to get along. It’s clear to me that we need the citizen legislator who will serve his or her time and then go home and live under the laws they helped create.”
While Limbaugh is noting that most in the Republican Party are shying away from Cruz because of the government shutdown, in Kansas those wounds are considered battle scars worth bragging about. Wolf is running not only with the support of Cruz’s PAC but he is already including himself in their voting bloc.
“I have a message for Senators Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and Mike Lee: Tonight the battle is joined,” Wolf said. “Your Kansas reinforcements are on the way!”
As former Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill said, “All politics is local.”
Don’t expect Kansas voters to be swayed by national trends.
Sen. Roberts knows that, and he won’t take his now well-funded challenger lightly. So don’t count his vote in favor of the compromised federal budget. He can’t afford to give his opponent more ammunition.
Page 3 of 3 - Kent Bush is the publisher of the Butler County Times Gazette and can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org