First Published in DelawareLiberal on 5/29/2014 by ProgressivePopulist
Graphic from Madeline Kerwick, Corpus Christi, Texas
Always has been. Or, at least from the day Dick Armey became chair
of Citizens For A Sound Economy in 2003. That's Dick Armey, Republican
from north Texas. CSE was a pretty nondescript political funding
vehicle for the anti-tax movement when founded by the Koch brothers from
nearby Kansas in 1984. But Army gave it brainy fire and brimstone,
however plain spoken.
His plain speech hid his PhD pretty well and
worked great with Tea Party types. And Armey quickly worked out a
pretty brainy scheme to gain better funding as the 501c4 arm of the Koch
operation a year later when he created the subsidiary organization,
FreedomWorks. Koch managed the Americans For Prosperity Foundation.
Thus the early launch of the Tea Party in 2004 in a Texas where a
confluence of influences he readily recognized as a favorable climate
for hard right ideology existed. And both Armey and Koch built
alliances across the country as well.
A native libertarianism
prevails among white, born and bred Texans....the don't fence me in
mentality. As well as a native and non-native racism among Texas
anglos....against both black and hispanic Texans. Rural Texas white
populists built great animus against railroads seizing their cattle
land in west Texas and New York banks foreclosing on their cotton and
timber land when they could no longer handle outlandish interest rates.
The federal government supported both the rail and bank barons so they
got a hate on for the feds too. A laissez faire capitalism is
appreciated by both the oil industry and white transplants from places
like Michigan and other rust belt states rushing to Texas to begin anew
when the plants closed up there.
And then you have in the mix the
conversion of previously pretty moderate southern baptists (the very
people who gave Texas to Jimmy Carter in '76), who among other things,
once favored abortion theologically, to a more hard edged conservatism
when the right took over their church/seminary leadership. Big churches
became mega-churches preaching prosperity theology.
Add to that a Perot like populism, making money off the federal government but talking against it, just like the oil industry.
began building their Koch funded/grassroots appearing movement and soon
regional Texas anti-tax/government leaders emerged in places like
Houston in the form of the King Street Patriots and True The Vote, whose
racist agenda sold well in ex-urban and suburban Texas who resented the
more ethnically diverse cities like Houston, Austin and Dallas where
minorities and liberals dominated elections and city hall. As they
refined their voter suppression tactics, they exported them with
training and national organizers.
In 5 short years, the Tea
Party was introduced nationally and the the stage was set nationally for
the 2010 sweep of congressional seats and statehouses, after much field
testing of the Tea Party idea with school board, county, city and state
legislature elections. The defining event? The election of our first
African American President. Was he raising taxes? No. Was he pushing
a Black agenda? No. He was too busy saving the collapsed economy and
trying to stem massive unemployment and bring home their kid's broken
bodies from stupid wars? Yes.
All they saw was a Black man saving
their sorry asses. This was simply somehow too much to take. An
insult to the white people "who built this country".
2012, the Texas Tea Party elected Ted Cruz to the U.S. Senate, the Tea
Party's wet dream. No, and it doesn't end there. Virtually all the
Texas state office and congressional candidates in the Republican party
ran on harder right Tea Party planks and they took over most of the
significant Republican Party offices at state and county levels. This
includes the Harris County (Houston) Republican Party Chair seat, one of
the biggest in the nation. And he is from my home precinct, where I
kicked his ass for about ten years.
Have they peaked yet. Nope.
This past Tuesday the Texas Tea Party won the nominations for their
candidates for Governor, mentored by Ted Cruz, Lt. Governor and Attorney
General. Cruz is flying high in Texas and Senator Cornyn, the senior
Senator is sounding just like him. By the way, the whackiest of these,
the Lt. Governor candidate, Dan Patrick is originally from Maryland and
worked in Pennsylvania before migrating to Houston as a sportscaster
and sports bar owner.
This Tea Party saga is far from over.
Especially in Texas. I doubt it's over nationally anytime soon as
well. Texas is pretty good at exporting political ideas and creating
national leaders. And their gun culture. Remember the book depository?