Part II – The TEA Party – Steeped in Hypocrisy
The first Inquisition was created through papal bull, Ad Abolendam, issued at the end of the 12th century by Pope Lucius III as a way to combat heresy in southern France. Just as the Medieval Inquisitions had their roots in religion, so too, the current local version, under the auspices of TEA Party Patriots, is closely aligned with radical evangelical politics.
Of course, the high priests of this new Inquisition aren’t acting under the authority of Rome – or Washington, as the case may be – but that hasn’t slowed down their dedication to excising the heretics from the body politic. They don’t need no stinkin’ pope – They has the power of “We the people!” Even though most of the people don’t have a clue.
Despite the original TEA Party focus on the fiscal policies of the government, the evolution of the movement has become inexorably tied to the right-wing social agenda – anti-abortion, anti-gay rights, anti-illegal immigration, anti-sex-ed… (When is somebody going to call “uncle” on these guys?)
“Tea Party Patriots is 100% grassroots, 100% of the time.“ That was the mantra of the original TEA Party, an unorganized populist movement. The Tea Party Patriots got its start as a scrappy, ground-up conservative organization. Its rowdy activists demanded more transparency and less business-as-usual in the nation’s capital, and they worked hard to elect candidates who they believed wouldn’t succumb to the ways of Washington. But it didn’t take long for the grassroots tea party organization to embrace the DC establishment—and some of its more questionable practices.
Lately, Tea Party Patriots (TPP) has started to resemble the Beltway lobbying operations its members have denounced. The group’s leaders have cozied up to political insiders implicated in the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal and have paid themselves significant salaries. Recently, the group has hired several big-time fundraising and public relations firms that work for the who’s who of the Republican political class, including some of the GOP’s most secretive campaign operations.
TPP has long insisted that it wants to avoid divisive social issues like abortion to focus on the core values of fiscal responsibility and limited government. However, in the spirit of “actions speak louder than words,” it has joined with the ranks of a long list of evangelical organizations affiliated with the far-right wing of the political spectrum.
Jay Anderson, one of the most visible leaders of the local TEA Party, is a paid operative of the TEA Party Patriots Associations and often designated as the group’s local spokesman. “We’re not Republicans, we’re not Democrats,” he’s been quoted as saying, but when he wraps himself in the vestments of the LCCRCC, he has no problem with genuflecting at the altar of partisan dogma while sacrificing conservative fiscal doctrine. Although he has publicly declared that, “Individuals are free to run for any political office or support any candidate,” he proclaims a different standard for republicans: Support the guy with the “R” behind his name or find yourself the target of the Grand Inquisitor himself.
Jay is supported in his efforts by a gaggle of right-wing activists, particularly Ed Argenbright, head of the Big Sky TEA Party in Helena. Ed is a former state Superintendent of Schools, who has embraced his more zealous nature as he advocates for “…getting God back into government.” Ed’s main function apparently is to lend the credibility of previous political experience to the tribunal and impede the diffusion of heretical ideas among the neophyte (“clueless”) congregants.
Following the 2012 election, the TEA Party Patriots announced their intent to aggressively wrest control of the Republican Party from those they accuse of not adhering to their conservative catechism. The recent nasty purge of long-time members and officers of the Lewis & Clark County Republican Central Committee was a key to their takeover strategy which wouldn’t have been possible without the proverbial choir of acolytes. Whether willing accomplices or unwitting dupes is unimportant, the Republican Party in Helena is now firmly in the hands of about 30 extreme social conservatives bent on cleansing the party of heretics, blasphemers, sodomites, and – horrors! – moderates.
The new TEA Party mantra: “Holier Than Thou. Holier Than Thou. I thank God Almighty, ’cause I’m holier than thou!”
Check back for Part III….