A Tea Party takeover of the GOP in Utah is now almost complete. Grover Norquist, standard-bearer in the Tea Party movement (assisted by the Koch brothers), is fulfilling a long-term plan for the Tea Party to be "primary" leader in the Republican Party. Utah is very active in the plan. Impetus to the plan was initiated during the Bush administration.
The first part of the plan was to hold Tea Party rallies to build a strong national membership, as a forceful voting base, in State and local elections. Tea Party lectures and membership drives received strong support from the news media, i.e. Rush Limbaugh, and Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck at Fox News. Their negative propaganda against moderate and liberal legislators (wayward Republicans and all Democrats) is well known.
The second part of the Norquist plan is to get hard core Tea Party members elected to Congress to carry out far right legislation, such as the recently proposed Ryan budget plan, which calls for tax cuts for the rich class, to the detriment of the poor and middle class (with cuts in Medicare and Medicaid programs, etc.).
According to plan, the Tea Party replaced a responsible, middle of the road Republican, Sen. Robert Bennett, with a far-right, uncompromising Tea Party member, Sen. Mike Lee. Senator Lee voted not to raise the debt limit in 2011. He voted for America to go into default -- that is, to shut down the government. He did not care about inevitable disaster of lowering America's credit rating, nor ensuing catastrophic economic damage to the nation. Senator Lee stayed true to the Tea Party line. He voted "No -- We Go Our Way or No Way."
Senator Hatch is likely next to be taken out by the politically influential Tea Party. His departure will most likely happen even though Senator Hatch has moved toward Tea Party ideology. He joined Senator Lee and candidate Mitt Romney in a well-publicized campaign for a balanced budget amendment. Such amendment is a major objective of the Tea Party.
The Tea Party wants Dan Liljenquist to be seated. He is a young, more devoted, more energetic follower of Tea Party philosophy. A bigger Tea Party push involves replacement of Rep. Jim Matheson with Tea Party advocate, Mia Love. Again, the Tea Party agenda is to gain majority hard-right influence in Congress.
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert adheres to Tea Party advocacy. He has made state claim for federal public lands to be turned over to Utah for state political management. The claim is also part of the bidding of ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council). ALEC is also behind voter ID laws, union-busting, "stand-your-ground" laws, and efforts to invalidate thinking that there is man-made cause to climate change.
The Tea Party is extremely anxious to take down the Obama administration. Not long after the Obama became president, Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell said the primary objective of the Republican Party is to defeat Obama in 2012. The objective follows basic Tea Party intentions: Defeat President Obama by defeating his legislative initiatives; make his administration look unsuccessful; make Congress dysfunctional. Show no leniency before the 2012 November election, regardless of hurt to the economy, turmoil in the stock market, damage to retirement savings, or unsettling of the well-being of America. Destroy any hope for the Obama presidency.
In 2010, House Speaker John Boehner seemed to be open for compromise on budget deficit and economic legislation. At the same time, President Obama had appointed a bipartisan Bowles-Simpson National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform to come up with a budget plan, including deficit reduction objectives.
In 2010, the commission provided a sensible, reasonable bipartisan plan that Obama announced to Congress for study and consideration. However, the newly elected Tea Party members in the House quickly let Speaker Boehner know that the Tea Party is in charge and that their votes on Obama initiatives would be No, No, No.
From a difficult leadership position, the speaker backed off from any negotiation on a budget plan. He made a hard right turn to go along with Tea Party dogma -- where he continues today. In effect, disallowance of congressional accomplishments is essential in taking down the president.
I am an independent voter. I was a member of the Republican Party and voted the Republican ticket over a period of 50 years. Now, the Grand Old Party (GOP), as we remember it, no longer exists. The Great Tea Party (GTP), not the old GOP, is in charge.
Consider the platforms of the many Republican candidates for president this year. Clearly, candidate platforms show loyal support of Tea Party doctrines. The moderate GOP is pandering to the Tea Party and losing its soul.
In 2011, Republican Party Chairman Richard Richards said that Republicans need to listen to the Tea Party. Are Republicans still listening and failing to see aggressive, insidious change in the GOP? And change is obvious. As reported in the Standard-Examiner on April 27, the Tea Party, not the GOP, selects or endorses candidates to unseat Hatch and Matheson
Tea Party delegates will not negotiate on a give-and-take basis. That is, they will not cooperate on a balanced plan to increase taxes on the wealthy, together with adjustments in entitlement programs. Instead, the delegates want to reduce taxes on the richest Americans and go back 40 or 50 years, slashing away at social programs. Too often, Tea Party congressmen sign "Grover Norquist" pledges not to raise taxes of any kind, nullifying them as open-minded, receptive legislators.
The Tea Party also takes a hard stand on women's health, personal-choice, and contraception issues. Is this the way regular Republicans want to go?
Can the regular GOP Party be revived so that it will negotiate, compromise, work things out, be reasonable, as it did in the days of Eisenhower, Reagan and Bush Sr. as well as in the days of former Democratic presidents?
Can the Grand Old Party (GOP) regain its once-proud stature and single identity, or has it already evolved into the Great Tea Party (GTP) so that only a name change is needed?
Sorenson lives in Ogden.