Paul Guzzo writes in a guest column for Informed Comment:
As Republicans from all over the nation converge upon the City of Tampa to celebrate the Grand Old Party’s present, Hillsborough County, Florida-based Republicans seem to be more concerned with the party’s future.
The Tea Party Movement was supposed to provide the GOP with the type of grassroots manpower it needed to topple the Democratic Party in elections throughout the nation. Instead, Hillsborough County Republicans are worried it could spell the end of the Republican Party as they know it.
While none of the Republicans interviewed for this piece would use their names out of fear of retribution, they all used the same word to describe the Tea Party Movement’s effect on their local party – “cancerous.” They described the Teabaggers as “ignorant on the real issues,” “conspiracy theorists” and “racists,” the type of people they do not want representing their party.
Unfortunately, said the insiders, the Teabaggers are threatening to become the voice of the party, as evident by their recent victories over traditional Republicans in primaries throughout the nation.
The insiders believe that the Tea Party’s long term effects on the Hillsborough County Republican Party will be on its fundraising. They claimed that the traditional donors will not want to continue to give money to the party because they will not want their money being used to support Tea Party candidates within the Republican Party.
Instead, these traditional Republican funders will funnel their money into third party organizations that support candidates who share their traditional Republican values or they will give money directly to the candidates they support. This will hurt the party because it uses its money for get out to vote campaigns and to inform the public on the issues they do and do not support. Also, it will hurt those lesser-known Republicans and those without fundraising experience who have good platforms and are worthy candidates come election time; these candidates rely on party money.
The Tea Party Movement, they explained, is mostly made up of lower and middle class Americans, so they do not have the wealthy members or connections to wealthy businessmen who could replace the traditional members’ money.
Some local Republicans pointed out that the state party raised $9 million and Pinellas County’s Republican Party raised $800,000 for this election cycle, proving the fundraising theory wrong. However, the anonymous insiders reiterated that it will be an issue going forward, not this year.
“The anti-Obama campaign is so powerful that the Republicans will raise money this election cycle no matter what,” said a Hillsborough County Republican insider. “But when there is not an Obama election to rally the party, you will see the effects. The Republican Party will raise a fraction of the money in coming years if something is not done to calm this Tea Party threat.”
“The problem with the Tea Partiers,” said one high ranking Hillsborough County Republican, “is that they do not know the first thing about politics. These are men and women who before the Tea Party Movement – and I stress movement because they are not a TRUE political party – were never involved in politics in any way besides perhaps voting. They then grew a strong belief that something needed to be done about government spending and that one issue brought them to the Tea Party. But that one issue is all they know.”
The Teabaggers, another Hillsborough County Republican insider explained, quickly realized the need to support other issues if they were going to be taken seriously as a political movement, but rather than supporting “real issues,” they latched on to crazed theories such as the Agenda 21 conspiracy (the Teabagger belief that the U.N. is trying to deprive people of property rights by forcing them to live in cities). The Pinellas County, Florida Tea Party Movement’s succeeded in getting fluoride removed from its drinking water on the belief that fluoride is “toxic” and that scientists cannot be trusted because they work for “Big Brother.”
Another anonymous Hillsborough County Republican leader said his big problem with the Tea Partiers isn’t so much their “Big Foot chasing” but their attitude toward minorities.
“They are a modern day KKK,” he said. “How many minorities do you see at Tea Party rallies? Not many if any. “
He explained that the 9/12 Project membership is primarily made up of Teabaggers and while the group claims its purpose is to bring the nation back to where it was the day after 9/11 – at our most patriotic moment since WWII – it also incites hatred of ALL Muslims.
“This is just one example,” said one Republican insider when asked about 9/12 and racism. “Some of the things I see or hear at Tea Party rallies are amazing. You would think it was the early 1900s when you realize what their attitudes on minorities are.”
“So what has happened now,” explained one of the insiders, “is that all the crazies have rallied to join the Tea Party; these are the people who have never had a voice to back up their crazy conspiracies and have found that voice through the Tea Party, and they have hijacked our party because they have become the local volunteer-base.”
He said that is why Tea Party candidates are finding success in primaries across the nation – the “crazies” vote for the Tea Party candidates because, for example, they fear the traditional Republicans will not fight to prevent the U.N. from taking over the United States by trampling on our property rights.
“We let them get so deep into the party, I hope it is not too late,” said one insider. “I believe the Republican ideals are what are best for this country. But I fear the Tea Party ideals will overshadow our true ideals and destroy us.”
Some of the Republicans interviewed believe that the Democratic Party’s plan for this coming election is to portray the entire Republican Party as Tea Party advocates, as already proven by the fact that they are trying to link vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan to the Tea Party.
“This is just not true,” said one insider. “But the truth doesn’t really matter. If the Democrats and the media are successful in portraying Ryan as a Teabagger, this election is over”
Ironic. The Tea Party formed to fight Democratic Party and they may be its greatest weapon against the Republican Party.
Paul Guzzo has been a journalist in the Tampa Bay area for 14 years. His latest book, “The Dark Side of Sunshine,” an account of some of the area’s most infamous men and events of the past century, is due out August 30. Visit www.aignospublishing. com for more information.