It can be said the current government shutdown is decades in the making
The Tea Party rose to power in 2010 on a wave of misinformation and hatred of Barack Obama. Sponsored and promoted by Fox so-called News, rallies were held all over America. Angry, predominately white citizens came with their racist signs, their unfettered rage and their belief that our first African American president was born in Kenya, was a socialist, Marxist, Communist fascist, was Hitler reborn and sympathized with terrorists. And calm, rational people scratched our heads and wondered why.
In order to understand what happened on October 1st, it is necessary to understand the origins of the Tea Party, the money, the people behind it and their actual agenda. We’ve all been told the Tea Party is a “grass roots movement” born out of real Americans’ frustration about high taxes, the economy and well, it gets a little fuzzy after that (taxes on middle class families are lower than they have been in years).
Let’s look at the origins of the Tea Party first. You can go back to the 1980’s and big tobacco to find a link between the companies currently funding the Tea Party. We’re all familiar with right wing groups like Freedomworks and Americans for Prosperity, but what many may not know is they were not always separate entities.
Both Freedomworks and Americans for Prosperity were at one time a single group called Citizens for a Sound Economy or CSE. It was founded by none other than billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, and they received millions of dollars from tobacco companies, primarily Philip Morris. And what did CSE do for the tobacco industry? They fought against publicizing the health risks of tobacco, excise taxes and government regulation.
Fast forward to 2002, seven years before the “grass roots Tea Party” began to gain national attention. A study funded by the National Cancer Institute of the National Institute of Health found that in 2002, the Koch brothers with financial backing from big tobacco, created a now-archived website entitled usteaparty.com. The featured text reads “Today we’re having a new tea party against high taxes!”
But you have to go farther back than 2002 or the 1980’s to find another piece of the puzzle. Charles and David Koch are the sons of Fred Koch, a founding member of The John Birch Society, a right wing organization still in “business” today. The John Birch Society railed against the Voting Rights Act, the Civil Rights Act; Fred Koch even went so far as to write that the civil rights movement equaled Communism. Here is an excerpt from a New Yorker piece on the Koch brothers:
“In 1958, Fred Koch became one of the original members of the John Birch Society, the arch-conservative group known, in part, for a highly skeptical view of governance and for spreading fears of a Communist takeover. Members considered President Dwight D. Eisenhower to be a Communist agent. In a self-published broadside, Koch claimed that ‘the Communists have infiltrated both the Democrat and Republican parties.’ He wrote admiringly of Benito Mussolini’s suppression of Communists in Italy, and disparagingly of the American civil rights movement. ‘
The colored man looms large in the Communist plan to take over America,’ he warned. Welfare was a secret plot to attract rural blacks to cities, where they would foment a ‘vicious race war.’ In a 1963 speech that prefigures the Tea Party’s talk of a secret socialist plot, Koch predicted that Communists would ‘infiltrate the highest offices of government in the U.S. until the President is a Communist, unknown to the rest of us.’ “
The Tea Party truly began with the John Birch Society, gained traction in the 1980’s with CSE thanks in part to donations from big tobacco, and quietly made its presence known in 2002 with an archived website entitled US Tea Party.com. And all that hard work, the decades of spreading fear and paranoia finally culminated in the government shutdown this past Monday. But why? Why do Charles and David Koch and their corporate backers want to destroy our government? Is it just greed?
That’s part of it, make no mistake. Koch Industries is one of the largest environmental polluters in the country. One of their subsidiaries, Georgia Pacific, is currently poisoning the entire town of Crossett, Arkansas. If Koch Industries didn’t have that pesky EPA to worry about, they would be free to carry on their business without fear of legal repercussions. Combine that with the new best thing to conservatives-binding arbitration-and Citizens United, and you have a recipe for zero oversight, zero ramifications for releasing toxins into our air, water and ground. Since no one would be paying attention, no astronomical fines. It’s a win-win for Koch Industries, a lose-lose for the rest of us.
Now here’s the $64,000 question. How do you get a majority of Republicans to buy this? What do you tell predominately white, middle class or even poor Americans to convince them that these “policies” are in their best interest? You scare them. You tell them the same thing Fred Koch told people; you just have to modernize it a bit. Instead of “Communists,” it’s socialism. Instead of “the colored man,” it’s immigrants. Instead of the president being a Red, he’s “foreign,” “un-American,” “a terrorist sympathizer.” The message remains the same, the base becomes terrified of a mythical boogeymen, and they vote for men and women who are lying to them every single day.
So a “movement” that claims to be “Taxed Enough Already” really started with the John Birch Society, found backing from Philip Morris, moved into the new millennium with US Tea Party.com, and somehow got millions of Americans to believe that none of that is true. And they don’t. You try and tell a Tea Bagger all of this, and they will deny it with every breath in their body. It’s a liberal plot, we’re just angry that “they’re” winning.
Ask the millions of people who will bear the brunt of the Tea Party’s insanity if this is winning.