The GOP, the Tea Party & the class struggle By David Sole

By David Sole
Sep 30, 2010

A Mad Tea Party
by Helen Cox, used with permission
© All rights reserved.

The corporate media can’t give enough coverage to the Tea Party movement and its relationship to the Republican Party. Little, however, gives any useful information about the real nature of these groupings in light of the class nature of U.S. society or the economic crisis.

With the huge growth of industry and finance after the Civil War, the Republican Party became (and continues to be) the established party of the Wall Street big-wigs. The Democratic Party based itself on the defeated southern racists and the millions of immigrant workers in the growing cities of the industrial north. But the leadership of the Democratic Party has always been firmly in the hands of a section of these same Wall Street moguls.

Franklin D. Roosevelt’s election during the Great Depression began a long domination of the White House by the Democrats. From 1932 to 1968 the Democrats were the ruling party, except for two terms by Republican Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower.

The Republican Party was left as a minority party tightly linked to the big corporations and bankers. In an attempt to build a mass base, the Republicans embraced and drew in the most racist elements of the old Confederacy, ending the long-standing “solid South” of the Democrats.

The Tea Party continues this strategy. It provides a wider base for the inherently anti-populist Republican Party of the ruling class elite. Financed by massive funding from right-wing billionaires, the Tea Party movement reaches out to mainly middle-class elements who are worried about their financial security in this prolonged economic crisis. It attracts some working-class elements.

Instead of blaming Wall Street for the capitalist meltdown, the Tea Party targets those classes below them on the economic ladder. Anti-immigrant, racist, anti-LGBT and anti-union sentiments are the driving forces of all Tea Party groupings. Many of their leaders flaunt their profound ignorance of history, economics or science. Their extremism often puts them in conflict with their own Republican Party creators.

Though the Tea Party has supplied a mass base for the Republican Party, it sometimes turns around and bites that party. It dislodged Republican stalwarts in some recent primary elections. The Republican leadership, for its part, has little choice but to accept the Tea Party extremism into its ranks if it is to succeed in the elections.

The Tea Party’s future is limited by its complete lack of a program for the economic crisis. Ignorance and bigotry cannot substitute for jobs and economic growth. Corporate and banking profits might be going through the roof, but middle-class Tea Party-ers won’t benefit from this “recovery.”

How the economic crisis develops will determine the Tea Party’s direction. At present the Tea Party’s middle-class base is worried, but not totally ruined. As such they will most likely remain an uncomfortable appendage to the Republican Party.

If the economic crisis deepens, destroying their investments, their pensions and their businesses, the Tea Party could break off from the Republicans with support from right-wing ruling class elements. It was under really desperate economic conditions in late-1920s and early-1930s Germany that Hitler’s National Socialist German Workers Party (Nazis) attracted a mass fascist base.

While all the Tea Party groupings emit a strong whiff of fascism, they are not yet organized as a physical threat to the working class and oppressed peoples. They showed a glimpse of that option last year when they organized into gangs of thugs to disrupt Congressional meetings on the health care bill across the country.

Not all of the middle class flock to the right-wing Tea Party. Many of them are anti-racist, favorable toward unions and generally progressive. They can become allies of the working class in a struggle. What is most lacking — and most needed — is a working-class in motion to confront the capitalist economic crisis.

A powerful movement that pointed its fire at the billionaire ruling class could fight for a massive public jobs program, real national health care, a moratorium on foreclosures, ending the wars and using Pentagon dollars to pay for education, housing, social services and rebuilding the country’s infrastructure.

Led by the vast working class and the oppressed people, such a movement would draw behind it much of the middle class. Those elements still favorable to a fascist program would have no chance against a militant working-class movement. Not only could this movement disintegrate the Tea Party, but it could challenge the ruling class itself.

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