Christopher Parker, co-author of Change They Can’t Believe In: The Tea Party and Reactionary Politics in America, explains why the Tea Party caucus is immune to compromise:
They refuse to compromise because, to them, compromise is capitulation. If you go back to [Paranoid Style of American Politics author Richard] Hofstadter’s work when he’s talking about when the John Birch Society rode high, he talks about how conservatives would see people who disagree as political opponents, but reactionary conservatives saw them as evil. You can’t capitulate to evil.
McKay Coppins makes related points:
From its genesis in 2009, the Tea Party movement has been fueled by the rhetoric of revolution. True believers attend rallies unironically dressed in colonial garb.
Their early organizers preached earnestly from Saul Alinsky’s left-wing activist handbook Rules For Radicals — a book that advises just the sort of procedural disruption they’ve imposed this week. And while Nevada Senate candidate Sharon Angle outraged mainstream political observers when she suggested people may start looking for “Second Amendment remedies” to the country’s problems, one recent survey showed that nearly half of Republicans believe armed insurrection might be necessary “in the next few years.”
Data points like those have long been Democrats’ bread and butter as they work to cast the Tea Party as “extreme.” But they also show just how extreme conservatives consider America’s current peril to be. To believe an armed revolution could realistically be on the horizon is to live with the genuine suspicion that your government could, at any point, be overtaken by tyranny. In that context, some temporary furloughs seem like a small price to pay.
71% [of Tea Party conservatives] think Obama is “destroying the country.” Wow. So is it any great surprise that these same people, and the House members who identify with them, are willing to go to dangerous lengths to mess up Obama’s signature policy achievement and force a significant change in the federal government’s direction? Who cares about the risk of destroying the economy if the destruction of the country itself is the current trajectory?
(Photo: Wearing what she calls ‘war paint,’ Susan Clark of Santa Monica, CA rings a bell while demonstrating against Obamacare outside the U.S. Supreme Court on March 28, 2012 in Washington, DC. By Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)