Rachel Maddow did a long segment on her show last night about the waining influence of the Tea Party, the group that had previously drawn thousands to their tax day rallies, but could barely get hundreds to show up at most of them this year.
“I’m not saying that the Tea Party has never been strong, that is had always been a weak movement, that they never had any energetic political mojo, but judging by their public events, which is what we used to judge them by when we said they were strong, the Tea Party seems to have peaked. It seems to be over.”
She accused Republicans of using the Tea Party as a way to go really far right with their positions, even though they don’t have much influence anymore.
“The Tea Party is still credited by the beltway press with being a hugely powerful force. That diagnosis by the beltway press in turn gives them a big influence in Washington. Republicans are allowed to stake out policy positions way to the right of where they might otherwise be because they supposedly have to answer to this ferocious, big, energized street movement that is going to hold them accountable. This has the effect of pulling Democrats negotiating positions further and further to the right, which means that after Democrats try to negotiate with them, the policy outcomes achieved by those negotiations also shift further and further to the right. There’s not much empirical evidence of the existence of this Tea Party thing as a big movement anymore. But as long as nobody in Washington reports on that or notices that, Republicans in Washington can still use the idea of the Tea Party as a means of pushing the debate as far right as they want to push it.”
Her guest, Chris Hayes, Washington editor of The Nation magazine, agreed and compared the Tea Party to a certain reality tv show star, and not one that is currently running for President.
“I could never figure out at what point the vicious cycle got started but it’s clear that it’s become, it’s like being famous for being famous. At a certain point, like, you can never remember what Kim Kardashian did in the first place that you, like, who Kim Kardashian is but, like there she is, and, like, you know who Kim Kardashian is so whatever she does, then you go to cover it. I feel like the Tea Party is sort of like that at a certain point. There’s this kind of self-fulfilling celebrity to them. Sarah Palin is a very sort of similar phenomenon, and I’m not sure how you break up that phenomenon.”
For those who do remember what Kim Kardashian did to become famous in the first place, just be glad the Tea Party did not follow suit.