Los Angeles-based journalist, storyteller, and humorist
No Tea Party: Brexit, Trump, and the KKK
06/30/2016 04:35 pm ETUpdated
Aug 25, 2016
Brexit represents a growing trend in worldwide populist movements that threaten to undermine democracy, both in Europe and in the U.S.
In the U.K., a small, wealthy, white, rightwing upperclass has deliberately stoked its country’s xenophobia into a belligerent nationalism that now threatens its very existence.
The usual conditions of growing inequality, rising poverty, and poor economic opportunity allow such demagogues to manipulate the masses to further their own financial and political agenda.
What’s dangerous is that this race-baited anger has been fueled here at home by Donald Trump, whom my German friends refer to as America’s Hitler. The exploited anti-immigration paranoia in the U.K. parallels directly to the flames Trump has been fanning since he began his presidential bid.
-First, the anger and fear of everyday white folks – persons whose political conservatism was directly molded by racially infected fears of a liberal government run by a black president.
- Second, opportunistic Republicans seeking a new label for a damaged brand.
- Third, right-wing billionaires like the Koch brothers, with their well-funded propaganda machines.
- Finally, Fox News and the right-wing media machine which promoted the movement and also helped racially agitate and misinform its soldiers.”
How do we know the Tea Party is coded with racial hostility?
Because their rationalizations are only Obama-related. Consider:
- Tea Partiers despise Obamacare, but when it was called Romneycare and enacted by Massachusetts in 2006, it garnered no such animosity.
- Tea Partiers blame Obama for the $80 billion automobile bailout, even though George W. Bush started the bailout before he left office with $17.4 billion. It was also President Bush who signed a $700 billion bailout to the financial industry during the 2008 financial crisis, but the uproar wasn’t manufactured until Obama took office in 2009, even though he reduced the bailout amount to $475 billion. Furthermore, there was no uproar when Reagan bailed out Wall Street in the 1980s.
When angry old white men whine that they wanted their country back, the only change to the American way of life has been a black man entering the White House. The Great Recession had descended months prior, but it was only upon the presidential handoff that resentment reached a crescendo - for policy a Republican President had set.
Rolling Stone Journalist Matt Taibbi has written how Tea Party Supporters
“are all furious at the implication that race is a factor in their political views, despite the fact they blame the financial crisis on poor black homeowners, spend months on end engrossed by reports about how the New Black Panthers want to kill ‘cracker babies,’ support politicians who think the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was an overreach of government power, tried to enact South African-style immigration laws in Arizona and obsess over…Barack Obama’s birth certificate.”
Unfortunately, this illegitimate rhetoric has grown stronger over the last 30 years, culminating in the modern-day Tea Party, which is to the right of George W. Bush, who was to the right of Reagan, who was to the right of Nixon – creating a far right political skewering of the current Republican party, one that has dangerous implications for race relations.
“The Boston tea party was a revolt against the economic royalists, who had seized the British government and passed the world’s largest corporate tax break at the time, devastating colonial tea sellers. The purpose of the Tea Act was to increase the profitability of the East India Company to its stockholders, which included the king, and to help the company drive its colonial small business competitors out of business. Because the company temporarily no longer had to pay high taxes to England, and held a monopoly on the tea it sold in American colonies, it was able to lower its tea prices to undercut those of the local importers, and the mom and pop tea houses in every town in America.”
In response, a group of Bostonians boarded the tea ships and threw millions of dollars worth of tea into the harbor. War soon followed.
This is not much different from today. Except today’s tea party has taken its lesson from the Reaganization of the U.S. The very companies abusing the tax credits and colluding with government officials are the very companies funding the modern day tea party movement.
In actuality, the real Boston tea party zeitgeist was seen more in Occupy Wall Street than any corporate-funded, rightwing exploitation of the working poor’s discontent, whose anger is wrongly attributed to the very programs designed to help the them.
And this FOX News-driven Tea Party didn’t emerge in 2008 by happenstance. The Koch Brothers had been orchestrating such a rally for years. In 2002, David Koch’s CSE even purchased a tea party domain name. There was just no need to utilize it until a Democrat took the White House.
Last fall, when the hacktivist group Anonymous threatened to reveal the identities of hundreds of Ku Klux Klan members, media interest centered around which notable politicians could be tied to the news. However, once Anonymous posted the list, many of the names were no secret, their Facebook profiles boldly displaying their allegiance.
This is as unsettling as it is unabashedly brazen.