This past week Congress enacted a spending bill over the objections of the Tea Party. Yes! The Tea Party has indeed lost its grip on the House of Representatives, just as I claimed last October, almost four months before its demise was formally announced two days ago by the New York Times.
"Speaker John A. Boehner has reasserted control over his fractious Republican conference." sayeth the Times this week on its front page, "leaving his far-right flank angry and isolated."
As explained in this blog at the time, the death of the Tea Party came during the stand-off about the budget last fall when the Tea Party GOP in Congress insisted on closing down the government if Obamacare wasn't repealed. Beyond that they threatened not to raise the debt ceiling, meaning the country would default on its debts and we would all have to move into caves. Obama pledged to stand firm against them and their threats, announcing he would not negotiate with them. Boehner noted Obama's stance and proceeded accordingly.
Together Boehner and Obama defanged the Tea Party, as I pointed out step by step last fall. Knowing he could count on Obama not budging, Boehner let the Tea Party shut down the government, luring them into it by making vague noises to the effect he approved their shenanigans. Once they were out on the limb and with GOP polls dropping through the cellar floor and frightening even some Tea Party members, Boehner scampered up the tree with his power saw and cut off the limb. He put the budget bill and the debt ceiling measure on the floor of the House so that they could pass with the votes of both the less radical GOP minority of his party and the Democrats.
This wasn't a game, folks. At stake was the fate of the country and not just as to the looming default. Our very democracy was at risk. Democracy's fundamental is that the majority rules. By stooping to extortion the Tea Party contingent hoped to thwart the will of the people. They not only wanted to negate a duly enacted law, i.e. the Affordable Care Act, but also negate the outcome of the 2012 election. In 2012 Obama resoundingly won a second term, and one million more citizens voted for Democrats for the House than voted for Republicans. If it were not for GOP gerrymandering, the House would have been Democratic. Since fall of 2012, the Tea Party has been trying post facto to overturn the 2012 election by threatening to defeat any GOP member in a primary unless he votes with the Tea Party.
It no longer works. Boehner has chosen to ignore the threats and instead allow votes in the House even when there is not a Republican majority in favor of a measure. No longer can 84 GOP Tea Partyers paralyze the government.
The New York Times has now published the Tea Party's official obituary on its front page. The mainstream media (when it finishes gorging on Chris Christie) will fall in line behind the Times and view the Tea Party as a deflated balloon.
And in the background we can hear the angry wailing of the mourners. Among those now screaming bloody murder, according to the Times, are the Tea Party Patriots, Heritage Action, and the notorious Club for Growth, three of the mightiest of the far-right groups. How far the mighty have fallen!
In short, the Party is over. Now let's go celebrate! The drinks are on me.
Just remember you heard it here first.