History is a funny thing. When you have an understanding of it you can spot it rattling down the street like a steam roller and you can leap out of the way in time. When you're oblivious to history, you never see it coming until it rolls you over and transforms you into road pizza. If you are a political actor in the current tragi-comedy taking place in the U.S. Congress, and also ignorant of history, the rest of of us have seen this tedious play before and in the third act, you can depend upon the past sneaking up and biting you in your collective dumb asses. So it is with the Tea Party suckers who have been bamboozled by the rich man's agenda. Senate Republicans propose bill after bill to cut the top income tax rate and abolish the estate tax, or now that it has been Frank Luntzified, the death tax. Their agenda has nothing to do with helping the middle class, yet they know there is a grass roots movement behind them who are anti-government and hate Obama. As long as the plutocrats make nice, the plebeians will do their dirty work for them. Thus, the mainstream Republicans have made an unholy alliance with radicals and racists, and if history is a harbinger of things to come, the Tea Party will either devour the GOP from within, or become a fringe third party.
As the Republicans look toward 2016, their best chance to win the presidency is with the right-wing Governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie. But he's not right-wing enough for the clueless caucus of the GOP, who seem to prefer the plagiarist Sen. Rand Paul as their candidate. If I may just make an aside here, I realize that having sport with someones looks is the lowest form of criticism. Having said that, am I the only one that thinks Rand Paul looks like Lee Harvey Oswald? They have the same pinched, weasel face and an expression of combative, smug assurance. Paul is the perfect Tea Party candidate. He's a libertarian one moment and a right-wing flame thrower the next. He has said, "I have a message from the Tea Party, a message that is loud and clear and does not mince words. We've come to take our government back." Paul has also expressed reservations about provisions of the Civil Rights Act and had an aide on his staff who was forced to resign when it became known that he was a former shock-jock and Neo-Confederate activist known as the "Southern Avenger." The Tea Party is thought to be made up of the common angry citizen but a current Pew Poll shows the typical member to be older, whiter, and wealthier than your average yahoo. The same poll found that forty-nine percent of Americans have an unfavorable opinion of the Tea Party. But that ain't gonna stop them and they will continue to be a tapeworm in the GOP's small intestine.
The parallel universe in which the Tea Party exists is the same one that once enraptured the Dixiecrats. They were also a party that favored home-rule and opposition to the Federal government. But before that, they were part of a post-war Democratic coalition that included the "Solid South." The South could be depended upon to vote Democratic because of a poisonous political bargain to accommodate racists and white supremacists within the party. When Harry Truman established a Presidential Commission on Civil Rights, there was a rebellion in the party among the far right. At the 1948 Democratic Convention, when the platform committee adopted a Hubert Humphrey plank calling for civil rights, the right flank bolted and formed the States Rights Democratic Party, better known as the Dixiecrats, and nominated a presidential candidate of their own, J. Strom Thurmond, the miscegenating Governor of the great state of South Carolina. Their platform was to protect the Southern way of life beset by an oppressive federal government, and to uphold Jim Crow laws concerning voter suppression and white supremacy. Even after an ignominious defeat, the segregationists were welcomed back into the party, and remained there well into the sixties.
When the Democratic-sponsored Voting Rights Act of 1964 and Civil Rights Act of 1965 were signed into law, Lyndon Johnson said that the Democrats had probably lost the South for a generation. Even LBJ underestimated the right-wing resentment that animates the opposition nearly fifty years later and manifests itself in the Tea Party. Richard Nixon made all the pigeons flock to him with the cynical "Southern Strategy" of 1968. The GOP started whistling "Dixie," and all the goobers converted to Republicanism. Tricky Dick won seventy percent of the popular vote in the deep South, but lost ninety percent of the black vote. And so it stands. The Democrats didn't win a lot of elections after 1968. Even Jimmy Carter lost the South when running for a second term. The Dems payed dearly for their embrace of right-wing radicals and segregationist Southern politicians, but it was necessary to purge the obstructionists to construct a true progressive agenda. The radicals are still on the right-wing, railing over Obamacare now just like they did over civil rights in the past. But they are the asp in the bosom of the Republican Party now, and if they don't get their way come convention time, history says they're gonna bite.