Pavlich: Smearing of the Tea Party

Pavlich: Smearing of the Tea Party
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As Democrats continue to lick their wounds after a bludgeoning in the 2016 presidential election and after the loss of more than 1,000 political seats across the country under President Obama, progressive leaders are throwing ideas against the wall in hopes something will stick.

The latest strategy? Become the Tea Party of the left in order to regain power.

“A grassroots insurrection successfully transformed the Republican Party. Progressives need to emulate it,” Eric Sasson wrote in the New Republic after Trump’s election. “The left must now find inspiration from the right by starting their own Tea Party revolution.”

The irony of this suggestion is quite rich considering the slander repeatedly leveled against everyday American men and women who dared to participate in the original Tea Party movement. Who could forget Obama administration official Steve Rattner equating Tea Party members with suicide bombers in 2011?

“These Tea Party guys are, like, strapped with dynamite, standing in the middle of Times Square at rush hour and saying, ‘Either you do it my way, or we’re going to blow you up, ourselves up, and the whole country up with us,’ ” Ratner said during an interview with MSNBC. 

Or how about when New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman called the movement a “Hezbollah faction” of the Republican Party that must be snuffed out?

The Tea Party was regularly smeared in media as a violent, bigoted, “astroturf” movement hellbent on opposing the first black president because of his skin color rather than his big-government policies. These classifications were made without evidence, and there were many more.

Obama’s government took things a step further when the IRS unfairly and illegally targeted Tea Party groups and their members.

The Tea Party movement started in late 2008 as a rejection of President George W. Bush’s bailout of the auto industry and Obama’s excessive stimulus spending. It evolved into a movement opposed to ObamaCare, and grassroots efforts were employed to find qualified political candidates who could beat incumbents.

This strategy and work paid off when Republicans won a historic landslide election in 2010, taking back the House of Representatives. The momentum continued, and in 2014 Democrats lost control of the Senate.

Results were driven from political action on the ground, not by smashing windows or burning down buildings. Tea Party participants got together in local homes to tailor their strategy and to find the best candidates for office. The movement centered on opposing specific policy proposals and government overreach. It wasn’t about obstructing progress for the sake of obstruction as we’ve seen on the left since Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpIvanka Trump pens op-ed on kindergartners learning tech Bharara, Yates tamp down expectations Mueller will bring criminal charges Overnight Cybersecurity: Equifax security employee left after breach | Lawmakers float bill to reform warrantless surveillance | Intel leaders keeping collusion probe open MORE won the White House in November. In the months since, we’ve seen rioting in city streets and college campuses.

On Inauguration Day, dozens of anti-Trump protestors were arrested for destroying property and blocking inauguration attendees from getting through security checkpoints. A number of “comrades” from the Disruptj20 group were charged with felony rioting .

The day after, Madonna took the stage in Washington to declare she’s “thought an awful lot about blowing up the White House.” Across the country a Black Lives Matter protester at an anti-Trump event in Seattle raged about why it’s time to “start killing people” and how “The White House must die.”

On college campuses from coast to coast, pro-Trump speakers are being shouted down, physically attacked and threatened with death. The “resist” movement has taken hold as a way to oppose the new administration and its supporters at every turn, no matter what the cost or the tactic.

As we watch this potential strategy of a progressive Tea Party movement play out in public debate, many have equated the two movements as somehow being the same.

The Tea Party was far better behaved than the leftist mobs we’re seeing now. Equating the two only further smears the movement as something it never was: violent and unhinged.

Pavlich is editor for and a Fox News contributor.

The views expressed by this author are their own and are not the views of The Hill.