Republican doesn’t equal Tea Party
The Tea Party. Love them or hate them, chances are you have an opinion on them. For many left of center folks, that opinion isn’t particularly flattering. However, far to often the assertion seems to be made that GOP = Tea Party. For example, Dana Milbank recently made the assertion in a piece that Reason felt they should address. Personally, I think they make some excellent points.
Milbank’s extended lead example was the disgusting comment by Kansas state Rep. Virgil Peck (R-Tyro, appropriately enough) suggesting that maybe we oughtta just shoot illegal immigrants from helicopters like feral hogs. Concluded Milbank:
Kansans may be surprised to learn that the immigrant-shooting idea was offered in their names, but they wouldn’t be the only Americans getting unwelcome news from their state legislators now that many Tea Party types have come to power.
When Louis Brandeis called state legislatures “laboratories of democracy,” he couldn’t have imagined the curious formulas the Tea Party chemists would be mixing in 2011[.]
Reading this, you would have the distinct impression that Virgil Peck is a Tea Party kinda guy. But is he?
Well, for one, Peck was elected in 2004, not 2010. For another, the only Google News mentions of “Tea Party” and “Virgil Peck” that I could come up with were Milbank’s piece, a similar connection-through-assertion from Creative Loafing, and this Business Week article from 2010 mentioning that Peck voted against a “Health Care Freedom Amendment” that had “strong backing from the tea party movement.” But hey, he’s a Republican, and an asshole, and it’s 2011!
Honestly, they hit the nail on the head.
For many, the argument is that Republicans and Tea Party go hand in hand. In reality, it’s true that the vast majority of people who identify themselves as being Tea Partiers voted Republican in November. However, that doesn’t mean that every Republican is representative of the Tea Party ideals.
Senator Rand Paul, the freshman from Kentucky who’s father is a libertarian icon, is a prime example of an actual Tea Party candidate. They won him the primary over the establishment’s choice. They helped him win the general election as well. He entered politics at a time when the Tea Party was there to help him out.
Peck, on the other hand, predates the Tea Party by quite a few years. His 2004 election means he was part of the GOP before there was a Tea Party and makes any association he may have with them tenuous at best. His ideology seems to be more in line with that of a neo-conservative, rather than a Tea Party adherent. Tea Party groups tend towards Reagan conservative, paleo-conservative, libertarian, or something in that neighborhood. Peck hardly qualifies.
Milbank, however, doesn’t seem interested in that tidbit. Once again we see a member of the media make a stretch to associate the movement with maniacs or idiots. I really wish they’d get a new shtick.