Irony is one way of making life bearable. Mother Nature delivered in spades this week. How else can you explain the newfound reliance of the Republican establishment for the confirmation Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court of on the president, whose leadership causes it no end of grief, and on the foot soldiers of the Tea Party, whose very existence it has tried repeatedly to snuff out? By coincidence, it was just 10 years ago that the House defeated the first attempt by the bipartisan political elites of Washington to take hundreds of billions of dollars collected from everyday Americans and bail out massive Wall Street banks.
That action by our government officials in a Democratic controlled Congress working with a Republican controlled White House sent a message to everyday Americans that the “swamp” will do what it takes to protect its favored special interests, even if that means it has to steamroll you. That action in 2008 made something else very clear. The real political division in America is not between Republicans and Democrats, or even between conservatives and liberals. The real political division in America is between those inside the Beltway and the rest of us who pay for them.
That action gave rise to a new political movement. Much as the first shots at Lexington and Concord sparked a revolution that were only codified a year later with the Declaration of Independence, the first big bank bailout vote launched a political movement that only truly came to fruition months later, when CNBC anchor Rick Santelli ranted on the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange in opposition to more government bailouts, which gave the new political movement its name.
It was called the Tea Party. This movement made possible the recapture of the House by the Republicans in the midterm elections of 2010, when Democrats lost more seats in one election than they ever had before. But the Tea Party did not settle for replacing big spending Democrats. It also wanted to replace big spending Republicans and was perceived as a threat to the establishment. As the Republican primaries played out in 2010 and 2012, the Tea Party movement rallied around conservative challengers who fought candidates backed by the establishment. Senators including Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulCotton swipes at Fauci: 'These bureaucrats think that they are the science' Paul, Cruz fire back after Fauci says criticism of him is 'dangerous' No deal in sight as Congress nears debt limit deadline MORE and Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzOvernight Defense & National Security — US, Iran return to negotiating table Senate GOP blocks defense bill, throwing it into limbo On The Money — Biden stresses calm amid omicron fears MORE won their general elections after defeating more moderate establishment candidates in their primaries. Each of them did it with help from the Tea Party.
In 2013, matters came to a head when lawmakers backed by the Tea Party stood so firm in their opposition to funding ObamaCare that they were willing to let then Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidVoters need to feel the benefit, not just hear the message Schumer-McConnell dial down the debt ceiling drama Mellman: Are independents really so independent? MORE shut down the government. This infuriated establishment Republicans to no end. By the time of the 2014 election cycle, they determined to take action to defeat the Tea Party by raising tens of millions of dollars to be deployed against their challengers. The establishment not only spent money, but it engaged in scurrilous attacks to ensure the survival of its favored candidates.
Perhaps surprisingly to the establishment, most Tea Party supporters nevertheless worked to elect Republican candidates to the Senate in 2014. These were the very candidates who had defeated their favored challengers in the primaries. Why? Tea Party supporters concluded that the election of establishment Republicans would be better than the election of liberal Democrats who would rubber stamp everything President Obama sent them. While the establishment may have believed it succeeded in delivering a “punch in the nose” to the Tea Party four years ago, the victory of Donald TrumpDonald TrumpPence: Supreme Court has chance to right 'historic wrong' with abortion ruling Prosecutor says during trial that actor Jussie Smollett staged 'fake hate crime' Overnight Defense & National Security — US, Iran return to negotiating table MORE in the 2016 nomination fight proved the base was still more in line with the Tea Party than the establishment.
But now we have come full circle. The Republican establishment wants Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court because it believes he is the right kind of judge. Trump wants Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court because he knows how important it is to keep his campaign promises. The Tea Party wants Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court because its supporters believe him to be an originalist who will interpret and apply the law, rather than make new law from the bench. Scratch what I said above about Mother Nature and her sense of humor. It is not just arid. It is a fire hazard.
Jenny Beth Martin is chairman of Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund.