The Tea Party is not populist --- it never has been

They Aren't Populists

by digby

I have written before that I like Dylan Ratigan's righteous populism, but I have less respect for his understanding of politics. He just opened his show with a perfect example of why that is:

Ratigan: Today we find ourselves yes with a very strange brew. Two weeks before the election the Tea Party movement making headlines for every single wrong reason. Instead of arresting reporters and criticizing gays, I thought Tea Party candidates would speak out on property rights and defend the ability of any given American to actually retain their own freedoms and protect themselves from financial injustices. Wasn't that the point?

Unfortunately this isn't rhetorical on his part. He's often held up the Tea Partiers as potential allies in fighting the big banks and Wall Street. He has never been right about that.

Sure, Ron Paul's "tea parties" in 2008 sort of started the whole thing and Rick Santelli's rant was sort of about property rights (if you think that screeching about deadbeat neighbors running down your property values qualifies.) But the Tea Party as we know it has been a right wing, social conservative, John Birch society anti-tax movement from the beginning and allowing them to pretend to be something else for so long has severely impaired the ability of the real populists -- like Ratigan -- to make their case.

The Tea Party is the far right, period. They are not populists, they are opportunists who don the mantle of populism to give cover to the plutocrats. Hopefully, this election cycle has finally put to rest any notion that they are.