How We Killed the Tea Party

by PAUL H. JOSSEY | Politico.com  |  published on August 15, 2016


As we watch the Republican Party tear itself to shreds over Donald Trump, perhaps it’s time to take note of another conservative political phenomenon that the GOP nominee has utterly eclipsed: the Tea Party. The Tea Party movement is pretty much dead now, but it didn’t die a natural death. It was murdered—and it was an inside job. In a half decade, the spontaneous uprising that shook official Washington degenerated into a form of pyramid scheme that transferred tens of millions of dollars from rural, poorer Southerners and Midwesterners to bicoastal political operatives.

What began as an organic, policy-driven grass-roots movement was drained of its vitality and resources by national political action committees that dunned the movement’s true believers endlessly for money to support its candidates and causes. The PACs used that money first to enrich themselves and their vendors and then deployed most of the rest to search for more “prospects.” In Tea Party world, that meant mostly older, technologically unsavvy people willing to divulge personal information through “petitions”—which only made them prey to further attempts to lighten their wallets for what they believed was a good cause. While the solicitations continue, the audience has greatly diminished because of a lack of policy results and changing political winds.
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I was an employee at one of the firms that ran these operations. But nothing that follows is proprietary or gleaned directly from my employment. The evidence of the scheming is all there in the public record, available for anyone willing to look.

The Tea Party movement began building in the George W. Bush years. Profligate spending and foreign adventurism with no discernible results nurtured disgust with Washington’s habit of spending beyond its means and sending others to die in its wars. When President Obama made reorganizing the nation’s health care system his foremost priority—and repeatedly misrepresented its effects in the process—anger at Washington exploded.

Republicans inside the Beltway reacted to the burgeoning Tea Party with glee but uncertainty about how to channel the grass-roots energy usually reserved for the left. A small group of supposedly conservative lawyers and consultants saw something different: dollar signs. The PACs found anger at the Republican Party sells very well. The campaigns they ran would be headlined “Boot John Boehner,” or “Drop a Truth Bomb on Kevin McCarthy.” And after Boehner was in fact booted and McCarthy bombed in his bid to succeed him, it was naturally time to “Fire Paul Ryan.” The selling is always urgent: “Stop what you’re doing” “This can’t wait.” One active solicitor is the Tea Party Leadership Fund, which received $6.7 million from 2013 to mid-2015, overwhelmingly from small donors. A typical solicitation from the TPLF read: “Your immediate contribution could be the most important financial investment you will make to help return America to greatness.” But, according to an investigation by POLITICO, 87 percent of that “investment” went to overhead; only $910,000 of the $6.7 million raised was used to support political candidates. If the prospect signs a “petition,” typically a solicitation of his or her personal information is recorded and a new screen immediately appears asking for money. Vendors pass the information around in “list swaps” and “revenue shares” ad infinitum.

  • mudguy1

    I think the makers of the movie “House of Cards” got most of their ideas from how the Rino’s run the GOP. Sad but most of it seems so true.
    Until the rotten apples are taken out of the barrel there will more apples turn bad.

    • Worried Vet

      This is why the rinos would rather see HillAry, they would lose their power and influence. The status quo would change with Trump. They know if he does half of what he says, many could go to jail and lose their jobs. These politicians have been voting them selves into becoming very rich very fast at our expense for decades. Term limits is the only way to break that corruption. Get rid of many if these useless agencies, USE that money to hire non partisan auditors with serious clearance to find and charge anyone with corruption that steal or embezzle from tax payers. This would include giving themselves raises or bonuses for doing a bad job. If someone in charge gives a bonus to someone doing a bad job and they so much as accept a cup of coffee from that employee receiving the bonus it’s bribery. No excuses only jail, no slap on the wrist no probation. If we had a agency like that then the corruption would slow way down, the fraud and theft would slow way down. Now the jails will become more overcrowded but new ones can be built with a little of the money saved. Until we tell those people in charge were not taking it anymore nothing will change, it will continue to get worse. When a person. Is elected and gets a full pension after what 8 years and millions in benefits for them and family it’s time to change the laws. The system has been abused way to long. We have no idea of all the perks they have voted for and passed, if we did there really would be an uprising.

  • gmm777

    The Tea Party folks had noble ideals. I mean, who could be against lowering taxes. Why would anyone have a problem following the United States Constitution? Smaller government would only make government more efficient. These are good solid things. However, a faction of society just wants free stuff from the government. A large government can’t be efficient and spends much more then it should. There is currently no accountability for wrongdoing in government. Government has regulated small business into the ground. State secrets are secrets no more because there are those who are above the rules that protect them. Fact is, that the current society is going in a different direction. I have witnessed an utter incompetent president begin to ruin this country in four years be reelected to continue with his wrecking ball. Now, we are confronted with an election for a new president. If polls are to believed, the Democrats will prevail. I would suggest that the relatively small group of noble Tea Party loyalists, like the United States are doomed.

  • bobnstuff

    I’m not sure if the Tea Party high jacked the Republican party or the Republicans high jacked the Tea Party but when they came together both lost. The Tea Party should have stayed independent. As a independent group they had power but now they get Trumped, about as far from their values as you can get. When the Tea Party began they had one thing in mind, Tax reform with a smaller government resulting. They were not Republican or Democrats now they are just a footnote,

  • justinwachin

    After hearing how much money some of these political action groups raise I stopped giving money to all of them in the mid 1990s. I still support the causes but the only thing most of these fundraisers are successful at accomplishing is building their own bank account.

    The best thing TEA Partiers can do is to become active in the political process locally. There they can learn the ropes, meet the elected officials, possibly begin to get on local boards and work to advance their agenda.

    I’m not part of the TEA Party, but several of their members have become active in the local Republican Party. They have helped change the political climate in our town immensely. They brought a group of energetic supporters and we were able to provide the know how and contacts. Together we have accomplished several things that we all agree on.

  • Steve Politte

    I was proudly once a member of the Tea Party, but then The Party branched off into different state Tea Parties. I never notice a stable administration in the Tea Party. It was mostly about raising money for different conservative candidates, at least that was my experience. I often asked them to consider Praying as an important aspect of what they represented, and that went nowhere. Had the Tea Party first been grounded in conservative Christian morals and values, and folks could see that, but didn’t, it might have thrived. The Tea Party needed to be different, unique, and special, an extension of moral and values taught by our Lord Jesus Christ, put into action by example, then perhaps it would have thrived and accomplished it’s goals. There may still be remnants of a Tea Party, I don’t know about that. And lastly, I notice a power struggle in the Tea Party, as in “Who was in charge!” There was no clear mission statement, just folks sharing similar ideas. Don’t know much about the financial issues, though I did donate many times. All in all, what do I know? God bless America!

  • Bruce R Haskin Sr

    If the members of the Tea Party would examine intensely their goals and compare their goals to the Libertarians they would find more agreement and would not have to contend with Rino-dominated GOP. Many Tea Party members are already libertarians but don’t acknowledge it.

  • TeaPartyPatriot

    .
    The Tea Party Was NOT killed. What did happen is that the D’genrats and Rinos in collusion, attempted to take over the organization designed to restore citizen controlled government but they were defeated when TRUMP gained the Rep nomination. The TRAMP is now trying to steal the election with stuffed ballot boxes and tampered voting machines . . . .

    Now is the time we have to be virgil and stop the election from being stolen or we will have to revolt.
    .

    • Ed Watson

      Revolt is still possible, even probable.

    • cutterguy

      you gonna vote for hellery?

      • TeaPartyPatriot

        With the TRAMPS record my chances of survival would be better if I voted for Lizzy Borden. Lizzy is only credited with killing two. The TRAMP had 47 skeletons in her closet before this election cycle and now she has 4 more.

        • cutterguy

          sorry I thought you were talking about Trump. I agree totally with you

  • BOC

    The Tea Party movement is still alive, but it’s the Republican Party that’s mort. Whether Trump wins or loses in November, the Republican Party has already lost a large segment of their supporters and they’re not coming back! With RINO toadies Ryan, McConnell, McCain, Graham et al, et al creating the UniParty with the Dems and with the help of the sheep from their states and districts that continue to vote them in they have successfully destroyed the Party, something that was unheard of until W, another progressive was voted into office, And Guess What?!?! They don’t care. just so they can hold onto their own personal power ensuring their families and friends are taken care of in the grand scheme of things.

    • Cynic

      I agree with most of what you say, but I think the Republican party is far from dead. The RINOs will continue to exist and smother any attempt by anyone to change the status quo and give the party an ideology that is solidly constitution-based and republican in spirit.

      Believe me, the RINO Establishment would rather have Hillary Clinton as president than any Republican maverick (like Trump, Ron Paul, etc., etc.) whom the power elite cannot control and who speaks his/her own mind.

      The Republican and Democrat Establishment have effectively killed our Constitutional Republic.

      • BOC

        Could not have agreed with more with your assessment. I was speaking of what the Republican Party used to represent, Conservative values, believing in and following the Constitution and what their incarnation with regard to being representative of the opposition party. From this I believe a new conservative party may be formed and you are correct, the Republican Party will continue to exist as,a weaker,self serving, special interests party, The Chamber of Commerce comes to mind, galvanizing their individual power, while turning their backs on what separated them from the true representatives of special interests, The Democrat Party.

        • Heatherdkane1

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  • James Maxwell

    IO do not think that the TEA Party has died nor gone away, but the article is
    correct in many respects, It was a loose knit collection across the Nation
    and it managed to make an impression in past elections. It is still alive but
    the article correctly point out that the influx of “professional” politicians and
    their staff of lawyers out to grab money by passing questionable petitions
    and asking for donations to enrich themselves. While there may have been
    some who actually worked for the cause the vast majority were only out to
    enrich themselves at the expense of other. There are still many TEA
    Party groups across the nation that active work to inform the voters and to
    insure that the corruption stops. But that being said there are professional
    criminals in our government who are determined to continue the corruption,
    cronyism and pay to play officials willing to find ways around the legal
    system to enrich themselves such as the Clinton foundation.

  • James in Texas

    All of politics is only about money, other peoples money! And because of this money, all politicians are for sale. The “thing” they fear the most is a person that is “not for sale”. Buyers like Madame Liar buy and sell politicians every day of the week by just offering them money for their “re-election”. I have found that not giving a single cent does not stop the “buyers” from overloading my e-mails with “you must support this or we will all die”. Not really, what actually happens is we just keep electing folks who look us in the eyes and “Lie to us time and time again”. Term Limits, Now!

  • Mudpuppy

    The fact that there are 28,000 (slight exaggeration) Tea Parties doesn’t help. i stopped signing those “petitions” long ago when I realized they were just money grab attempts. Even the NRA does that crap. They just go to the shredder. I don’t give to political movements of any kind at all because I trust none of them. I supported the Tea Party movement in the beginning (not with money) because it was good and not full of the usual lying, corrupt political types. It seems like most of it has been infiltrated by those scum.

  • joannhh

    Reports of The Tea Party’s demise are greatly exaggerated! We are still here.

    • SD of AZ

      Conservatives are still well and serving. The Teaparty is only a part of that movement and now the conservative movement is represented by the Silent Majority which has been thoroughly ticked off by this leftist administration of this sociopath black racist thug from Chicago identified as BO that has a problem with the US as a country. His attempt to fundamentally destroy this country has taken a bigger toll on the dem wit dems! And in the end will see his illegal edicts totally dismantled and the Soros funded dem wit lemmings will be left holding the blame for their stupidity in backing these monsters as in Soros, BO and Hillary! Go Trump!

  • sandman

    Those parties you bring to light that have used the Tea Party as a money raising scam, are NOT part of the real Tea Party! but an off shoot of the media driven hype in a negative light! The Tea Party is not dead! its just that the media has their hands filled right now with a candidate The People like and support, to the point of media hype reaching a new height! Not to mention level of partisanship that has grown into the monster it is today!

  • willr3

    I disagree with the premises. Mr Trump is not denigrating the Tea Party. The Tea Party should be proud that he is the culmination of years of our support for Conservative change. It is because of the Tea Party that he was able to gain a foothold in this election. Perhaps Tea Party leaders should do more to get the Trump campaign to showcase their efforts instead of distancing themselves from him. Mr Trump has merely built on the grass roots base of the Tea Party.

    • Anouk

      AGREED!

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