I once viewed the Tea Party as the Paul Potts of politics, supported by ordinary people a bit rough around the edges, yet capable of great accomplishments.
Potts, an unassuming man who sold mobile phones for a living, stood solo on the stage of a British variety show and with a talent unexpected of someone so seemingly mainstream, belted out an exquisite operatic aria before a dumbstruck audience.
The we’re- just-regular-folk Tea Party supporters popped up on this country’s stage in much the same way, out of nowhere but from our everywhere, singing angry discontent for a government tone deaf to the people’s wants and needs.
Any semblance ends on that note.
While Potts himself defined stage presence, the Tea Party is an example of presence merely staged through unprecedented financial support by a right wing audience, focused on regaining political power.
In politics, the true genius works the ticket booth. FreedomWorks and Americans for Prosperity–major sponsors and early shapers of the Tea Party movement–recognized early how best to chorus the voice of a disgruntled citizenry as a means to push forward an extremist conservative agenda.
Both organizations are heavily financed by industries opposed to the enforcement of environmental laws, alternative energy policies, safety regulations in the workplace and the regulation of financial industries.
Figure in the formidable financial influence of media mogul Rupert Murdoch, billionaire brothers David and Charles Koch and the “Citizens United” Supreme Court ruling that struck down laws prohibiting direct corporate spending on campaigns and the Tea Party looks far less spontaneously populist and much more artfully orchestrated.
As Obama senior adviser David Axelrod, pointed out, “What they don’t say is that, in part, this is a grassroots citizens’ movement brought to you by a bunch of oil billionaires.”
The true influence on the upcoming election is the handful of individuals writing checks behind the scenes. Ironically, much of this financial backing stems from the same special interests the Tea Party rallies against.
Yet, without that bankroll, the Tea Party wing of the Republican Party would soon have found itself flat on its political octave.