An article in today’s New York Times by Mike McIntire about the close relationship the Tea Party movement has had with American business is pretty damning. It highlights a string of bizarre synergy between a supposedly populist movement and business interests around things like keeping Asian paper tariff free, opposing net neutrality, and commercial space travel. Amidst some really good reporting on the Tea Party’s fealty to big corporate interests, McIntire includes this paragraph:
The Tea Party movement is as deeply skeptical of big business as it is of big government. Yet an examination of the Institute for Liberty shows how Washington’s influence industry has adapted itself to the Tea Party era. In a quietly arranged marriage of seemingly disparate interests, the institute and kindred groups are increasingly the bearers of corporate messages wrapped in populist Tea Party themes.
I honestly don’t know what makes McIntire think “The Tea Party movement is as deeply skeptical of big business as it is of big government.” The Tea Party has been largely engineered by money from rightwing corporate donors like the Tea Party. The actual activists have been funneled towards activities that protect corporate interests and fly in the face of any claims to populism.
More to the point, the Tea Party has never been anything other than the same old Republican dead enders who stood by the Bush administration while they turned a massive budget surplus into our largest deficits ever. None of these grassroots Republicans said one word about the Bush administration’s fiscal irresponsibility. Only when a Democrat occupied the White House did these self-described deficit hawking populists remember they cared about the deficit.
McIntire’s piece is otherwise quite good. It goes deep into the realities of the Tea Party and exposes the “movement” as being run by corporate Republican operatives, funded by corporate Republican businessmen, and used as a tool to further corporate Republican interests. The only thing which McIntire isn’t able to report is why grassroots Tea Party activists actually let themselves take part in this sort of shilling against their own economic interests.