In an op-ed for CNN, Republican lobbyist John Feehery suggested today that the GOP begin to manage and discipline the Tea Party movement, rather than riding it like a “bucking bronco.”
Feehery stated that “the Tea Party is distinct from the Republican Party, probably as distinct as Sam Adams beer is from Bud Lite” and that “the folks who go to Tea Parties are not concerned primarily with tax policy.” Feehery contended that tea partiers are “mostly motivated by out-of-control spending, towering debt, and the pervasive feeling that government is too big, too powerful, too unaccountable and too cozy with Wall Street.” Feehery added:
While the Tea Party movement presents a threat to the Obama administration, it also presents a challenge to congressional Republicans. After all, many of the protesters have as low a regard for the GOP as they do for the Democrats, and they hold the previous administration in as much as contempt as they do the Obama White House.
Feehery blamed “the bailout of Wall Street and the creation of the Troubled Assets Relief Program” for “Middle America’s complete loss of faith in the Washington-Wall Street industrial complex.” But Feehery failed to name the source of those scandals: the GOP itself.
In just six years, social conservatives in the Bush administration and Republican-controlled Congress tripled the national debt from $3 trillion to more than $9 trillion even as they gutted the nation’s industrial base, implemented tax cuts to prevent that debt from ever being repaid, and laundered billions of taxpayer dollars into the pockets of far-right evangelical political activists through so-called “faith-based initiatives.”
Instead of riding the resulting wave of anger among irrational and emotionally unstable Tea Party supporters, Feehery said that the GOP…
…should seek to get ahead of the stampede by offering good ideas that will reform the government and bring back into balance the role of the government to the taxpayers.
They should focus on three important areas: transparency, accountability, and thrift.
Transparency, accountability, and thrift: These are qualities that the GOP has utterly lacked. The “small government” party has, since the 1980s, doled out trillions of dollars in corporate welfare and expanded government regulation of every American’s lifestyle and religious beliefs.
Feehery revealed his own potential bias against complete transparency when he sidestepped massive corporate and evangelical graft. Feehery diverted his readers with a call for conservatives to further expand government in order to regulate a small fraction of government misspending: “who is cheating us on Medicare reimbursements, why HUD grants are going to political cronies, and who is getting special appropriations for members of the family.”
Instead of calling for accountability from the biggest wasters of tax dollars — the bloated and mismanaged Departments of Defense and Energy — Feehery fell back upon the tired fundamentalist tactic of blaming the Department of Education, where — despite obvious problems — only a tiny fraction of federal spending occurs.
By adopting a reform plan, Feehery suggested, the GOP can harness the best of the Tea Party movement while disabling the extremists.
But if the Tea Partiers can be said to be undermedicated, then perhaps Feehery has been breathing too much nitrous oxide. The GOP has already proven itself incapable of self-reform — and the Democrats, who have changed little since they gained control of Congress in 2006, may likewise be incapable of self-reform. After all, the same Democrats whose Republican-lite economic policies created the real-estate and Wall Street bubbles in the 1990s are firmly in control of the party now.
Americans continue to face the same difficult task that we have avoided since the end of the Cold War: The two ruling parties must be reinvented to serve basic modern economic, military, and human needs. We the voters must repudiate outmoded definitions of left and right, take time off from work and family to educate ourselves with facts and not rumors; and form new coalitions that are energetic, daring, intelligent, coherent, collaborative, non-violent, forward-thinking, and determined to put human interests ahead of those that presently control the two ruling parties: big business and big religion.
Until millions of Americans put aside their own pride, make sacrifices, and reject outmoded ways of thinking and acting, little will change — at least not for the better.