A new political party for a New America: the Tea Party GOP

Summary: This is the fourth in this series about the new politics now emerging in America, in some ways different than anything in our long history. Here we look at the new GOP and its shock troops, the Tea Party Movement. When reading the many articles describing it as crazy, ignorant, and doomed — remember that they are the dominant force today, dragging the political spectrum to the Right (due to the length of this post, supporting material about this is in the comments).

GOP sunrise
GOP sunrise, from “Right Truth” website


  1. Introduction to our new politics
  2. The historical evolution of our new politics
  3. Our political parties are stronger than ever
  4. This crisis was planned, but not by the Tea Party
  5. Understanding the people of the New Right
  6. Other posts in this series
  7. For More Information
  8. Flashback to a prophetic note from August 2011
  9. The 2 parties agree on so many key issues

(1)  Introduction to our new politics

While the shutdown and debt crisis probably ends in days or a few weeks, the lessons we learn from it can help us better manage the many crises that lie ahead. The two great lessons:

  1. Our government’s structure is exceptional because it is flawed, and so copied by few other nations. Part two discussed this.
  2. The two Tea Party and Evangelical factions of the GOP have allied, becoming a powerful force in US politics. This crisis shows that they have become a disruptive due to their alienation and unwillingness to compromise.

The first is the dynamite, the second the detonator. But the problem was inevitable, and would eventually have emerged, during this crisis or some future crisis. The Founders hated and feared “factions”, but made few provisions in the political system for their management.

Today we discuss the second factor. The US political system has matured into ideologically coherent parties, with both having an extreme that provides shock troops. It’s the logical evolution of our system, remarkable only in that it took two centuries.

The Republicans, as usual, do this much better than the Democrats. Elements in the GOP coalition have built the Tea Party movement into a powerful grassroots activist network. Surprisingly, with its powerful backers the Tea Party Movement has come to dominate the GOP, yet another of the historically commonplace instances of a tribe emerging from the margins to dominate the group.

Here are some articles that describe this new force, and how it fits into the politics of the New America now under construction.

(2)  The historical evolution of our new politics

Tea Party radicalism is misunderstood: Meet the Newest Right”, Michael Lind, Salon, 6 October 2013 — “Our sense of the force currently paralyzing the government is full of misconceptions — including what to call it.” Excerpt:

Allow me to clear away a few misconceptions about what really should be called, not the Tea Party Right, but the Newest Right. …

Tea Party
It looks like this kind of tea party, but isn’t.

(a) … the Newest Right can be thought of as being simply a group of “extremists” who happen to be further on the same political spectrum on which leftists, liberals, centrists and moderate conservatives find their places. But reducing politics to points on a single line is more confusing than enlightening. Most political movements result from the intersection of several axes — ideology, class, occupation, religion, ethnicity and region — of which abstract ideology is seldom the most important.

(b) … the Newest Right or Tea Party Right is populist. The data, however, show that Tea Party activists and leaders on average are more affluent than the average American.

(c) … the Newest Right is irrational. The American center-left, whose white social base is among highly-educated, credentialed individuals like professors and professionals, repeatedly has committed political suicide by assuming that anyone who disagrees with its views is an ignorant “Neanderthal.” Progressive snobs to the contrary, the leaders of the Newest Right, including Harvard-educated Ted Cruz, like the leaders of any successful political movement, tend to be highly educated and well-off. The self-described members of the Tea Party tend to be more affluent and educated than the general public.

The Newest Right, then, cannot be explained in terms of abstract ideological extremism, working-class populism or ignorance and stupidity. What, then, is the Newest Right?

The Newest Right is the simply the old Jeffersonian-Jacksonian right, adopting new strategies in response to changed circumstances. While it has followers nationwide, its territorial bases are the South and the West, particularly the South, whose population dwarfs that of the Mountain and Prairie West. According to one study by scholars at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas:

While less than one in five (19.4%) minority non-Southerners and about 36% of Anglo non-Southerners report supporting the movement, almost half of white Southerners (47.1%) express support…. In fact, the role that antigovernment sentiment in the South plays in Tea Party movement support is the strongest in our analysis.

The Tea Party right is not only disproportionately Southern but also disproportionately upscale. Its social base consists of what, in other countries, are called the “local notables”—provincial elites whose power and privileges are threatened from above by a stronger central government they do not control and from below by the local poor and the local working class.

Even though, like the Jacksonians and Confederates of the nineteenth century, they have allies in places like Wisconsin and Massachusetts, the dominant members of the Newest Right are white Southern local notables — the Big Mules, as the Southern populist Big Jim Folsom once described the lords of the local car dealership, country club and chamber of commerce.

These are not the super-rich of Silicon Valley or Wall Street (although they have Wall Street allies). The Koch dynasty rooted in Texas notwithstanding, those who make up the backbone of the Newest Right are more likely to be millionaires than billionaires, more likely to run low-wage construction or auto supply businesses than multinational corporations. They are second-tier people on a national level but first-tier people in their states and counties and cities.

… The political strategy of the Newest Right, then, is simply a new strategy for the very old, chiefly-Southern Jefferson-Jackson right. It is a perfectly rational strategy, given its goal: maximizing the political power and wealth of white local notables who find themselves living in states, and eventually a nation, with present or potential nonwhite majorities.

Although racial segregation can no longer be employed, the tool kit of the older Southern white right is pretty much the same as that of the Newest Right:

  • The Solid South. …
  • The Filibuster. …
  • Disenfranchisement. …
  • Localization and privatization of federal programs. …

It is perfectly rational for the white local notables of the South and their allies in other regions to oppose universal, federal social programs, if they expect to lose control of the federal government to a new, largely-nonwhite national electoral majority. Turning over federal programs to the states allows Southern states controlled by local conservative elites to make those programs less generous — thereby attracting investment to their states by national and global corporations seeking low wages.

… Today the white notables of the South increasingly live in states like Texas, which already have nonwhite majorities. They fear that Obama’s election, like Lincoln’s, foreshadows the emergence of a new national majority coalition that excludes them and will act against their interest. Having been reduced to the status of members of a minority race, they fear they will next lose their status as members of the dominant local class.

While each of the Newest Right’s proposals and policies might be defended by libertarians or conservatives on other grounds, the package as a whole — from privatizing Social Security and Medicare to disenfranchising likely Democratic voters to opposing voting rights and citizenship for illegal immigrants to chopping federal programs into 50 state programs that can be controlled by right-wing state legislatures — represents a coherent and rational strategy for maximizing the relative power of provincial white elites at a time when their numbers are in decline and history has turned against them.

They are not ignoramuses, any more than Jacksonian, Confederate and Dixiecrat elites were idiots. They know what they want and they have a plan to get it—which may be more than can be said for their opponents.

Michael Lind is the author of Land of Promise: An Economic History of the United States and co-founder of the New America Foundation.

For more about the new GOP, and what makes it tick: “It’s Not Ideology“, Jonathan Bernstein (political scientist), 2 October 2013

Get involved button
Voting is not enough

(3)  Our parties are stronger than ever

Party Strength and the Shutdown“, Jonathan Bernstein (political scientist), 2 October 2013 — Excerpt:

The parties – both of them — are strong in the sense that almost everything in US politics runs through the parties. 

That hasn’t always been the case. In the nadir of party strength, which was roughly in the postwar era, much of what happened in US politics didn’t run through the parties at all.

… Now most campaign professionals and a large number of governing professionals are party people — not (usually) from formal party organizations, but people who have made their careers working within one political party, usually for a series of candidates and party-aligned groups. The party-aligned press is strong, especially on the Republican side. Candidates raise most of their money from party donors, often through party-aligned groups of one kind or another.

Because (or at least probably because) most of this party growth has taken the form of informal networks of party loyalists rather than under the control of formal party organizations, it’s meant that our contemporary strong parties are not inherently hierarchical.

For more about this: “Does the Government Shutdown Reveal the Parties’ Strengths or Weaknesses?“, Seth Masket, Pacific Standard, 3 October 2013

(4)  This crisis was planned, but not by the Tea Party

The Tea Party is a powerful force in the GOP, acting as shock troops. But shock troops lead the way into battle; they are not the leaders. Political leaders often work behind the scenes, especially when arranging unpopular but potentially effective actions.

A Federal Budget Crisis Months in the Planning“, New York Times, 5 October 2013 — Excerpt:

Shortly after President Obama started his second term, a loose-knit coalition of conservative activists led by former Attorney General Edwin Meese III gathered in the capital to plot strategy. Their push to repeal Mr. Obama’s health care law was going nowhere, and they desperately needed a new plan.

Out of that session, held one morning in a location the members insist on keeping secret, came a little-noticed “blueprint to defunding Obamacare,” signed by Mr. Meese and leaders of more than three dozen conservative groups.

It articulated a take-no-prisoners legislative strategy that had long percolated in conservative circles: that Republicans could derail the health care overhaul if conservative lawmakers were willing to push fellow Republicans — including their cautious leaders — into cutting off financing for the entire federal government.

“We felt very strongly at the start of this year that the House needed to use the power of the purse,” said one coalition member, Michael A. Needham, who runs Heritage Action for America, the political arm of the Heritage Foundation. “At least at Heritage Action, we felt very strongly from the start that this was a fight that we were going to pick.”

(5)  Understanding the people of the New Right

Inside the GOP: Report on focus groups with Evangelical, Tea Party, and moderate Republicans“, Democracy Corps, 3 October 2013 — Summary here by MathBabe. Opening:

If you want to understand the government shutdown and crisis in Washington, you need to get inside the base of the Republican Party. That is what we are doing in the Republican Party Project and these focus groups with Evangelicals, Tea Party, and moderate Republicans. All the passion, nuances and divisions found expression when we conducted this work in the summer.

Understand that the base thinks they are losing politically and losing control of the country – and their starting reaction is “worried,” “discouraged,” “scared,” and “concerned” about the direction of the country – and a little powerless to change course. They think Obama has imposed his agenda, while Republicans in DC let him get away with it.

(6)  Other posts in this series

  1. Most of what Democrats say is wrong about the Republicans’ recent actions in Congress
  2. Let’s learn from this inevitable crisis, which results from flaws in our system
  3. About the crisis: The GOP is right. So is Obama. That’s why it’s a crisis.
  4. A new political party for a New America: the Tea Party GOP

(7)  For More Information

(a)  To read other articles about these things, see the FM reference page on the right side menu bar.  Of esp relevance to this topic:

(b)  About the Tea Party Movement:

  1. Are the new “tea party” protests a grass roots rebellion or agitprop?, 1 March 2009
  2. More examples of Americans waking up – should we rejoice?, 10 October 2009
  3. Does the Tea Party movement remind you of the movie “Meet John Doe”?, 27 January 2010
  4. The Tea Party movement develops a platform. It’s the Underpants Gnomes Business Plan!, 8 March 2010
  5. About the Tea Party Movement: who they are and what they believe, 19 March 2010
  6. The Tea Party Movement disproves my recommendation for the path to reforming America, 20 April 2010
  7. At last we see a Tea Party political platform, 13 May 2010
  8. Kinsley – “My Country, Tis of Me – There’s nothing patriotic about the Tea Party Patriots”, 15 May 2010
  9. Why has wild man Mark Williams become a top leader of the Tea Party movement?, 13 June 2010
  10. More people participating in politics: is this good for America?, 20 June 2010
  11. God and the Tea Party Movement, 30 March 2012

(8) Flashback to a prophetic note from 10 August 2011

From the always insightful Tom Tomorrow:

Tom Tomorrow, 10 August 2011
10 August 2011

(9)  Remember: the 2 parties broadly agree on many key issues

Talk of political polarization often masks the agreement of the two parties on many key issues, such as domestic surveillance, our foreign wars, government support of banks (in good times and bad), and many aspects of macroeconomic policy.

One party running America
Let’s not forget the broad consensus between both parties


21 thoughts on “A new political party for a New America: the Tea Party GOP”

  1. Pingback: A new political party for a New America: the Tea Party GOP - Global Dissident

  2. FM is always beautifully written.
    But I know FM usually supports William Lind’s viewpoint. Mr. Lind is close to being a Tea Party supporter, except he likes streetcars over autos. He worked for Free Congress, which was founded by the guy who founded the Heritage Foundation. How do you explain FM’s contradiction?

    1. Dashui,

      I do not see the contradiction. To agree with someones’s view of one issue does not imply agreement with everything that person believes.

      If so, agreement with the Founders about creating America would imply endorsement of slavery.

  3. Also, there’s the non-vote on the Syria non-a-war. It was the left and the Tea Party that stopped that. The Obama, Feinstein, McCain the ‘moderates’ and the mainstream media were all ready to starting killing some Arab people.

    Bob Dylan – “Times They are a-Changin”


    1. Cathryn,

      That is an interesting example of the extremes vs the big center. Many in some conservative circles oppose our wars. Patrick Buchanan and many writing at American Conservative, part of the long conservative opposition to foreign adventures.

      But with this is the reflexive partisan opposition of the outs to any initiative to those in power. Many liberals denounced Bush Jr as Hitler for doing things that they applaud Obama for doing.

      Similarly I wonder how many in the TP movement oppose Obama’s Syria policy because he is a democrat, atheist, Moslem, socialist — but would applaud a patriotic bold defender of American (I.e. A GOP president) for doing so.

      Earl Conlon is a leader of the planned Oct 11 trucker protest in DC. From the Tea Party Command Center message board:

      Reply by Earl Conlon yesterday: i’ve always believed Obama to be the Anti Christ from the day i first laid eyes one him.. not to mention the dreams i have had for the past 15 years showing me a man in office who i’ve never heard of before. then comes 2008 and the dreams get more detailed and intense…

      About the protest: “‘Truckers for the Constitution’ Plan to Slow D.C. Beltway, Arrest Congressmen“, US News & World Report, 3 October 2013 — “Police must detain ‘accessories’ to ‘treason’ or truckers will, organizer says”

    2. Bonesetter Brown


      More significant than Buchanan is Ron Paul and his followers opposing the wars. Ron Paul and Occupy Wall Street might agree on a few things beyond foreign military intervention — more examples of the extremes against the center.

    3. So the tea party is making a calculated anti-war move rather than being of pure heart? Oh dear, oh dear.

      A large factor of this was the polls. . There was massive opposition to this, and the calls into congressmen came in hugely against the Syria war. The progressives and Ron Paul and his supporters were against the wars to start with — and the Tea Party had the sense to know which way the wind was blowing. This Syria not-a-war came in just after the NSA news and that multi-embassy evacuation. I think this all fed into a very justifiable sense of cynicism about the security establishment. I suspect the moderates were expecting scary scary stories on the TV news to sway the public in favor of the Syria attack, and they were all left hanging in the end. They just couldn’t sell the war because no one believes a word they say.

      1. Cathryn,

        “So the tea party is making a calculated anti-war move rather than being of pure heart?”

        I have not seen anything on which to say *why* some elements of the Tea Party opposed intervention in a Syria. “Why” is often the most difficult of questions to answer.

        My guess (emphasis on guess) is that most of those who opposed the war — breaking with most of their fellow conservatives — did so sincerely, like Pat Buchanan and Ron Paul.

  4. This post was too long, so I cut this note. But it’s an important insight for both US domestic affairs and our foreign policy.

    This is an essential article to read about our mad Long War: “Terror: The Hidden Source“, Malise Ruthven, New York Review of Books, 24 October 2013 — Review of The Thistle and the Drone: How America’s War on Terror Became a Global War on Tribal Islam by Akbar Ahmed. This excerpt applies to the Tea Party as well as the Taliban.


    Rather than exploiting the denizens of “remote tribal regions” as Obama’s speech proclaimed, the terrorist activities associated with al-Qaeda and its affiliates are actively engaging the responses of tribal peoples (the thistles of Tolstoy’s metaphor) whose cultures are facing destruction from the forces of modern society — including national governments — currently led by the United States.

    In this, as in numerous other settings, Ahmed puts his finger on the crucial linkage connecting the localisms of tribal conflicts with the broader Islamic notion of global jihad. His theme is not some vaguely defined “clash of civilizations” but rather the clash between metropolitan centers and rural peripheries that is internal to all modern civilizations—whether these be Islamic, Western, Russian, or Chinese. He provides numerous examples to show that the “thistles” of Tolstoy’s metaphor are to be found in a wide variety of regions, including Somalia, Yemen, Afghanistan, Kashmir, and Pakistan’s northwest frontier, as well as Berber North Africa, Nigeria, and Aceh in Indonesia.

    Ahmed produces an impressive body of data to support his argument that tribal systems are coming under attack everywhere from the forces of the modernizing state. With regard to Waziristan, for example, where he served as a Pakistani political agent before entering academic life, he finds that

    every aspect of life — religious… and political leadership, customs, and codes — is in danger of being turned upside down. The particles that formed the kaleidoscope of history and remained stationary for so long have now been shaken about in bewildering patterns, with no telling when and how they will settle into some recognizable forms.

    This is the theory I gave about motives of jihadists in this series:

    1. How I learned to stop worrying and love Fourth Generation War. We can win at this game.
    2. We are the attackers in the Clash of Civilizations. We’re winning.
    3. Handicapping the clash of civilizations: bet on America to win
  5. Why do I believe the Right is winning? Let’s look at some articles of the past few days, much like the news flow for the past few years.

    Conservative Georgia District Urges G.O.P. to Keep Up the Fight“, New York Times, 6 October 2013 — Read the quotes!

    Take Back the House? Democrats Aren’t Even Ahead on Friendly Turf In 2014“, Nate Cohn, The New Republic, 7 October 2013 — Candidate selection is vital, and the GOP has the enthusiastic edge.

    The mythical moderates?“, David Karol (Assoc Prof of Politics, U MD; bio here), blog of the Washington Post, 8 October 2013 — The GOP has stronger internal cohesion, giving them an edge in every conflict.

    The Roberts Court: What Kind of Conservatives?“, David Cole, New York Review of Books, 7 October 2013 — “There can be no doubt that today’s Supreme Court is a confidently conservative institution. … {looking at the new docket} In all of these cases, the real question is not whether the conservatives will win, but how they will win.”

    The conservative shift in public opinion has happened in all 50 states“, Peter Enns (Asst Prof Government, Cornell; bio here), blog of the Washington Post, 8 October 2013 — This is the pure form of political change.

    Poor Little Rich Guys“, Dahlia Lithwick, Slate, 8 October 2013 — “The Supreme Court clamors to protect the right of Richie Rich, Scrooge McDuck, and the Koch brothers to further corrupt American politics.”

    McCutcheon, the Next Victory for the 1%“, Scott Lemieux (Asst Prof political science, College of Saint Rose), The American Prospect, 9 October 2013 — “McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission looks set to be another win for the right and the rich, based on yesterday’s oral arguments.”

    1. I think Dems are weak because they are so beholden to donors. Donors are right wing oriented when it comes to finance.

      America is in a self destructive pattern. It will be I think in a different place when it realizes the wrong road it followed. I do not think regenerating from there will take America to a much better place as the capacity just won’t be there since America’s education system is suffering. Most important resource is human capital.

      1. Winston,

        “I think Dems are weak because they are so beholden to donors. Donors are right wing oriented when it comes to finance.”

        I agree with your underlying premise, but would restate this as “Dems are strong as a party because of their donors.”

        As wealth , income, and power (all forms) concentrate in the USA, success will increasingly result from alliance or attachment to the plutocrat class. For political parties, political operatives, and politicians. For policy wonks (now becoming courtiers). For people working in charities and non-profits. Etc

        For the Dems success has come by moving to the center-right, as the GOP moves right, and abandoning the Left. For more see: The world of wonders: Democratic Party takes center, pushes GOP right to madness

  6. In last comment on FM’s previous post i gave both sides motives. But what are the motives of those that are leading the Tea Party? What are the motives of the ultra wealthy that are financing teaprtiers?
    As i have felt and experienced before, this kind of chaos (and worse ones) provide perfect cover for crimes of the century.
    Usually such fraud and crime like getting billions from failed banks and corporations need cover and not to be investigated and prosecuted. They have enough money and power to instigate such chaos.
    If there is a bigger chaos then there will be even bigger oportunity to con people out of money. In Balkan wars, in the middle of the chaos, state of Croatia and Slovenia printed new currency while old Yugoslav Dinar was transfered to the remainder of Yugoslavia, exchanged for foreign currency then split between warring presidents Tudjman and Milošević.

  7. Jihadis are also played footsie with. It appears the dance with sometime enemeies is a continuing tradition from mafia to drug cartels to Jihadis. The recent Libyan catch was a asset, let go by US and given asylum by British!
    CIA used mafia to try to kill Castro. Mafia was interested as Castro had shut down their gambling casinos. Then there is drug cartel connection. its been publicized in different material. Latest is a book by Mexican journalist. I have also been recommended to read the Underground Empire.
    See what British official said and related material:
    Including extremists given asylum by British against native country government’s desires-like the recent Libyan catch!

    Guardian has handed a gift to terrorists’, warns MI5 chief: Left-wing paper’s leaks caused ‘greatest damage to western security in history’ say Whitehall insiders

    MI5 chief Andrew Parker called paper’s expose a ‘guide book’ for terrorists
    He said the coverage is a gift to ‘thousands’ of UK-based extremists
    Secret techniques of GCHQ laid bare by Guardian

    This guy appears to be another example of playing footsie with AQ….which appears to be a long running trend…
    Abu Anas al-Libi capture: Britain asked why America’s most wanted al-Qa’ida terror suspect was given UK asylum
    Theresa May faces questions from MPs

    “Sudan was under pressure from Moammar Gaddafi, then Libya’s president, to stop harbouring Libyan al-Qaeda operatives who wanted him overthrown and replaced with an Islamist regime.
    An apologetic bin Laden gave al-Liby and his compatriots bags of cash and scattered them around the world. Al-Liby ended up in Manchester, a known base of the al-Qaeda-linked Libyan Islamic Fighting Group”

    “By then, according to U.S. prosecutors, he was already a leading figure in an al-Qaeda plot to mount a spectacular attack against U.S. interests in Africa, in revenge for American military action in Somalia.”

    “In his memoir The Black Banners, Mr. Soufan said that John O’Neill, then the head of the FBI’s bin Laden unit, warned British detectives that they were making a serious mistake by letting him go.
    When his house in the city was finally raided by police, they discovered a 180-page al-Qaeda manual on methods of carrying out terror attacks and assassinations.
    According to a former FBI official he was taken in for questioning by police in Manchester after the bombings but was released and fled the country.”
    Bin Laden’s trusted lieutenant captured by U.S. forces in Libya was given political asylum by Britain

    “In 1995, al-Liby was granted political asylum in the United Kingdom, after a failed Al Qaeda plot to assassinate Hosni Mubarak, then president of Egypt. An Egyptian request for extradition was declined on the grounds that al-Liby would not receive a fair trial.
    In 1996, the British MI6 is alleged to have paid a Libyan Al Qaeda cell to kill Colonel Gaddafi, al-Liby being allowed to stay in return for aiding the alleged plot, which was unsuccessful. In 1999, al-Liby was arrested by Scotland Yard and interrogated. However, he was released because he had cleared his hard drive and no evidence could be found to hold him. In May 2000, his flat in Manchester, where he was a student, was searched by police, who discovered a 180-page handwritten manual for Al Qaeda followers, translated from Arabic to English, which became known as the Manchester Manual, but al-Liby had already fled abroad.”

    “investigative journalists both in Britain and the U.S. found al-Liby had mysterious connections to Western intelligence operations.”

    “in a 2011 book, FBI agent Ali Soufan claimed that al-Liby actually was arrested . Associated Press on 9/21/2001 reported that the raid may have been conducted as part of an investigation into al-Liby’s role in the 1998 embassy bombings. Al-Liby is arrested and then let go for lack of evidence.
    The embarrassing fact that al-Liby is actually arrested and then released was revealed in September 2011, in Soufan’s book.
    Remarkably, even though al-Liby worked al Qaeda on the embassy bomb plot in Kenya, he was not arrested and continued to live in Britain. His residence there was not raided until May 2000. It was alleged that al-Liby was protected because he worked with British intelligence on a plot to kill Libyan leader Colonel Mu’ammar al-Qadhafi.”
    US captured al Qaeda operative: Brits used him, US once released him

  8. Fabius,

    I appreciate these threads as a means to “see” and “understand” the world. As I’ve tried to better understand US history, patterns of revolution and counter-revolution seem to be the norm until a national crisis emerges to temper the grievances temporarily.

    In my mind, the interesting part is if/when one group militarizes and how they train, equip, and fund the political violence. More so, are they capable of achieving their aims?

    I thought you’d find this article from Salon interesting. It ties in with this thread as well as your previous question of is violence possible. If you go to the Oath Keepers actually link, notice that their motto is encased in a Ranger scroll- imagery in the hope of Tier 3 military legitimacy. “Oath Keepers go operational, form “Civilization Preservation” units“, by Ryan Lenz, Southern Poverty Law Center, 9 October 2013

    “An article posted to the group’s website Tuesday announced the formation of “Civilization Preservation” units, basely loosely on the organization of U.S. Special Forces teams, to provide “community security and support during crisis” – but also “to assist in forming and training town and county militias.”

    These comically named 12-person teams would consist of two communications experts, two medics, two combat engineers, two weapons experts, two operations leaders, a commander and his assistant – positions that would be filled by the law enforcement officers and former military personnel who comprise the Oath Keepers. The Oath Keepers imagines that these units would be scattered across the country, working with other veterans organizations such as the VFW, American Legion and Marine Corps League, to lead communities “in resistance to oppressive regimes.”

    “They can fight, of course,” the e-mail says. “But they are most dangerous as a force-multiplier by helping an entire community to fight.”

    It’s the first time the Oath Keepers, part of the antigovernment “Patriot” movement, has moved in the direction of actually establishing any sort of militia or fighting force of its own. While the group’s rallies are sure to bring a fair share of wild conspiracy theories and weapons, Oath founder Stewart Rhodes has heretofore dismissed criticisms of the group by saying the fears that are central to the group’s very identity – all centered around the idea that some sort of tyrannical “New World Order” is looming – are merely hypothetical worries.

    With the formation of these units, it seems, Rhodes and his 30,000-plus Oath Keepers have dumped the theoretical in favor of practical preparation for some post-apocalyptic world when the fabric of American civilization begins to fray. The effort also seems to represent a more radical turn for the group.

    Signs of the radicalization appeared earlier this year during the debate over gun control following several mass shootings. As the White House worked to enact new gun restrictions, the Oath Keepers responded to the “disarmament freaks” by announcing rallies at the nation’s state houses to warn lawmakers that they would be “held accountable if they choose to dishonor” their oath to the Constitution. Even before that, in December, Rhodes drafted a manifesto entitled “My Personal Pledge of Resistance Against Any Attempt to Disarm Us by Means of an ‘Assault Weapons Ban.’”

    “It is the height of Orwellian perversion of language and logic to say that disarming you of the most effective arms for combat that you still have is somehow not really disarming you, because you still have hunting rifles and shotguns,” Rhodes wrote. “And you can bet that if you let them take away your military semi-autos, next on their list will be bolt action rifles, which they will call ‘sniper rifles’ (and by God, that is certainly what they are good for!).”

    But that pales in comparison to what Rhodes has now endorsed. “We will … be force multipliers to help prepare communities so they can preserve civilization by providing their own security, disaster relief, infrastructure preservation, emergency communications, strategic food reserve, and medical care,” the article continued.

    What seems lost on the Oath Keepers, however, is that all of this preparation is already in place. It’s called the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Yes, the same FEMA that in the fevered imaginations of the Patriot movement’s most zealous followers is busily building concentration camps for political dissidents like Rhodes and his Oath Keepers.”

    1. MikeF,

      Thanks for alerting us to this! I read Salon, but missed this.

      It’s is a logical development for the Oath-keepers. Much like the evolution of the Freikorps in Germany after WW1 (see Wikipedia). That didn’t end well.

      These guys are not looking to do FEMA’s work, they look like private users of force — attempting to do the work of law enforcement and the National Guard. Or the KKK (keeping White’s property and women safe from the Black mobs).

      I wrote about this: About the Oath Keepers: boon or bane for the Republic?, 12 June 2010. It’s time to revisit the subject.

  9. A point I shall develop in further discussions:

    As a radical, insurgent yet also reactionary grassroots movement nevertheless with high income ties, today’s Tea Party bears striking semblance to the French Catholic League, a 16th century French organization headed by the Dukes of Guise and financed by Philip II of Spain.

    To draw the analogy further, Obama would be a Politique, the faction that believed France’s national interest trumped various sectarian concerns. Richelieu would epitomize this faction in the next century.

    As for me, in this context, I would be a Huguenot. I of course, am not very interesting; but this is my disclosure.

    I will develop this concept in subsequent comments, probably in response to other posts – as this one is already getting a bit dated. Stay tuned.

    Catholic League


    French Wars of Relligion

    1. I look forward to hearing more about this. Just this note is original and brilliant!

      Putting our current events in a historical context makes them far easier to understand, IMO.

    2. Interesting concept. Who would be the today’s Henry of Navarra? A leader that gives up some of his core believes in order to be acceptable for his enemies and as a result destroys their supporter base?

  10. The hard reality is that American middle class wages are going to fall in the future–a lot. There is no way to justify American engineers/nurses/etc making 5x what their Chinese/India counterparts make, or 2x what their European counterparts make. The way forwards is to redesign our society so that the drop in wages doesn’t hit true living standards. We are wasting huge amounts of money on such things as unnecessary commuting due to suburbia, to speak nothing of the military/healthcare/edumacation/prison/legal/financial and other industrial complexes. Cutting waste allows for cutting real wages without cutting living standards. The bad news is that the competition can also cut their waste and thus their wages, so we’d be back where we started. The good news is that our competitors have even more dysfunctional politics than our own, and are thus unlikely to cut their waste anytime soon.

    What gives energy to the Tea Party is the failure of Democrats to push for lower costs as the remedy for the lower wages which have already arrived for many Americans and will be arriving soon for everyone else. Affordable Care Act is typical. Doesn’t really address the basic problem, which is that healthcare is too damned expensive. What is needed is to bust the doctor’s and nurse’s unions, bust the regulations that prohibit widespread use of computer-based-diagnosis and other productivity enhancements, force hospitals to agree to a flat fee before any discretionary surgery so that patients can truly shop around, allow true catastrophe insurance, scrap bankruptcy exemptions and thus incentivize people to avoid high healthcare costs, get the government out of the healthcare industry other than for essential emergency care, etc. The Democrats have been branded, correctly, as the party of tax-and-spend. That is NOT a good label, whether or not the Republicans are the party of borrow-and-spend-on-cronies.

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