Tampa Area Republicans terrified of Tea Party, Ryan (Guzzo)

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.

Posted in Uncategorized | 22 Responses | Print |

22 Responses

  1. The article makes it seem as though the Tea Party, on the other hand, could serve to hide the fact that the most significant awful Republican policies come from segments that are hardly on the fringe. Ryan?

  2. Ryan is worse than a teabagger. He is a Pinochetian fascist, whose ideal government performs no function but favoring the rich and persecuting women and minorities. Which would be just like a teabagger, except that he surely understands that the teabaggers will end up in the same debt serfdom as the people they hate, instead of the old-timey racial caste system they pine for. They want a police state run by the 20% of “real Americans”, he wants a corporate tyranny run by the 1%.

  3. This article gets it wrong. Freedomworks is funded by big money interests and have effectively co-opted the Tea Party movement. They have channeled millions to local tea bager organizers (i.e.bribes). The big funders’ deal with the tea party is, as long as you support Wall Street give a ways, you can do your crazy stuff. The big money boys will fund the tea party candidates for Senate and Congress. Witness the tea partiers failure to uproot the (anti) Patriot Act, voting for NDAA, various security state surveillance laws, etc.while constantly bleating about the govt suppressing Constitutional rights.

    • Hey Erik,

      My sources explained that it would not be an issue this year but in years to come. They explained that the anti-Obama campaign is so strong that Republicans are willing to sleep with the enemy to get him out of office. Also, the Republicans I interviewed explained that they are just now realizing that they have been feeding the “monster” for too long and now they are set to begin taking election positions from traditional Republicans. They were wondering if they perhaps realized their mistake too soon.

      And remember, these are Hillsborough County, Fl. Republicans giving their opinion. I found it interesting that the local party where the RNC is being held had these opinions.

      (BTW, I am not a member of the Republican Party nor I am anything close to a conservative. The men and women I spoke to for this article are very high up in the local party but would never have gone on the record, even anonymously, if I was a Republican._

      • I think this article is confusing. I sounds like an opinion piece. It has no direct quotes whatsoever and no particulars that validate it as actual reporting on the Hillborough County Republican party. It doesn’t even spell out what Hillsborough County consists of and then uses Pinnellas (spelling?) county as an example of one of the points. I think the Republicans interviewed were mouthing off. No doubt some observations are legit but it adds nothing to the understanding of politics and the motivation of people who vote for the Tea Party to conflate the entire movement into racists and kooks fighting world government conspiracies.

        • No opinions in this piece are mine. I am not a member of the Republican Party. The point of this piece is to show the beliefs within the party and the split that is growing. I can assure you that all those interviewed for the piece are high ranking Republicans. My 14 years reporting on politics and history in Tampa Bay validate my credibility. Again, this is a piece on the beliefs of the high ranking Republicans in Hillsborough County – I am not stating anything is fact – it is just what they believe, which I found interesting.

  4. I’m surprised that Tea Party types have so much influence in the parties. I thought that the system was more that the elites selected the vast majority of candidates and the faithful masses just marched to the polls and rubber stamped them. If the system is crumbling, and probably for the worse, the mainstream parties and elites share much of the blame.

    The American people were overwhelmingly against the baleout, and Fed financing, of the large banks that had created and peddled the fradulent morgage paper, but they were simply brushed aside. And what do you think older people think when they get 0% interest on their savings?

    Do you think people care nothing about the denigration of civil rights in the United States, the militarization of the police, the lack of privacy, warrentless and secrete searches, extraordinary powers given to the executive to bypass due process? Where have Paul Ruzzo and the elites been in that struggle?

    As an academic, what do you think of the American (support at least) and Israeli policy of assassination of scientists, academics and professionals for political reasons? What about the bombing of science buildings because they may have some connection to defense. (I am absolutely against it and believe that officials and individuals responsible for it should be held to account before courts of law!) Name a single University President who has denounced this policy.

    If people distrust scientists (which by and large they don’t deserve) maybe it is because they are overwhelmingly financed by the state and sometimes distort their efforts toward or remain silent on state policy.

    As far as being racist and anti-Muslim, I would like to know if this constant medling and interference in Muslim countries is something demanded “by the people” or something foisted on us by the elites? Who is the source of all the scare mongering?

    Paul Guzzo blames the less intelligent people who fall for it. I think he and his rich elite friends are the source of the racisism.

  5. “Teabaggers ?” Really ?
    Such infantile name-calling doesn’t belong in this respected blog.

    As David Park notes above,
    your guest columnist resents lower income voters finding a voice in the party of the rich.
    If middle and lower income folks become politically active, they will take over the Republican Party from the rich. The rich, Guzzo worries, will thus be left without any means of controlling our political process.

    All the stuff about identifying the Tea Party stuff with KKK, racism, &tc. is of a piece with the Liberal /Progressive meme that the only reason a person might not worship President Obama is due to racism.
    Further supporting the perception that there’s barely any difference between the old school GOP and the Dems.

    • When Mitt Romney is cheered by your beloved working-class conservatives for saying, NOT that Obama wasn’t born in the US, but that the only reason Obama’s birthplace is questioned is that black liberals like him aren’t Real Americans, I see no proof that they’re any different than their lynch-mob ancestors. They just want Big Government out of the way so they can restore people like me to our “proper place” at gunpoint.

      Hitler built his party on the votes of the “forgotten man”, with strident nostalgia for a mythical past, worship of war, and endless blaming of minorities for getting in the way of “good Germans”. The rich loved his anti-Communism, and many of them were helping him (see the story of George W. Bush’s grandfather Prescott Bush and his connections with Nazi banking in the 1930s).

      If you want to hide like a coward behind Godwin’s Law, then how about the Nationalist Party takeover of South Africa in 1948, where the English elite was willing to allow blacks the vote, but the Afrikaner middle class rose up as one to impose apartheid? Can you tell me the difference between Tea Party conservatism and South African conservatism? Because Ronald Reagan had no problem with the latter.

  6. “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.”

    Traditional donors hardly matter in the new Citizens United universe where approximately 50 billionaires are attempting to buy the government that suits them and their greed. Like Erikk Red above points out the billionaires are perfectly willing to use the Tea Party idjits as astroturf organizations as long as their are willing to be stupid.

    If spending is such an issue with Tea Baggers, how come they didn’t really spring up during the immense unfunded spending of the Bu$h-Cheney years? Oh yeah, they don’t mind spending on wars and bailouts, just the poor lazy folks down the street.

  7. I always find it amusing how the UN is simultaneously an ineffective collection of buffoons and the evil mastermind behind every world-domination scheme ever hatched.

    They’re either scary or they’re a joke, but they can’t really be both at the same time.

    • Tea partiers also don’t realize that Obama can’t be a Marxist and a Nazi at the same time, either.

  8. “government spending … that one issue is all they know.”

    I would argue that the tea baggers don’t even know that issue. Those I have spoken with believe that the Ryan budget is a great idea, and reject the fact that it just doesn’t add up, and will produce a $4T increase in the national debt. They talk as if “government spending” is the worst kind of eee-vil and something to abolish. They want a return to the gold standard, fer Gawd’s sake!

    At one point, it might have made sense to say that this one issue is all they CARE about – but now, they’re into banning contraception (abortion, natch), repealing the Affordable Care Act (“Obama-Care”), restricting voting rights, and having US Senators appointed by the state legislatures.

    So some of the old Party fossils in Florida are flabbergasted by the direction “their” party is taking under the ‘baggers? Looking across from the librul side, it’s been heading in that direction for a L O N G time.

  9. Can the Tea Party survive as a grass-roots organization without big-money backing? It got this support initially as the plutocratic masters of the Republican party saw how it could increase turnout. But it is unlikely that the big money will let the unpopular social agenda take over from their real objectives of cutting taxes and destroying social programs. Will the “Tea Party” split into a social (anti-abortion, pro-religion) wing and a “libertarian” wing concerned mainly with the plutocratic economic agenda? Will any of the working-class people duped into supporting the plutocratic agenda ever wise up?

  10. From a wider historical perspective there are some difficulties in this article. It is a bit too anecdotal (esp. the excessive reliance on “Republicans are saying”), and even if we accept the basic argument that Republicans are running scared from their Tea Party base, there should be more attention to the fact they created this Frankenstein. But even this should elicit a big yawn – the Tea Party base has, after all, been a substantial part of the GOP for decades. They’re afraid of racism now? A quarter of a century post Lee Atwater and Willy Horton? Really? Remember the meme about Vince Foster’s suicide being a murder orchestrated by the Clintons? And suddenly, nearly twenty years out, they are “conspiracy theorists”?

    As for Tea Partiers qua grassroots, ahem: it’s a pretty open secret at this late date that they are backed by the Koch Kartel. The crazies have NOT joined the GOP, the GOP has been crazy since at least the 1980s, a downward slide that arguably was already in evidence with Goldwater (remember “Extremism in the Defense of Liberty is no Vice”?). The modern prophet and musical genius Frank Zappa saw this coming in the early 80s for Christ’s sake. (Go to: link to youtube.com).

    What the Republicans are afraid of is that the Tea Party is lifting up a rock and showing the creepy crawly creatures that are the modern GOP and the muck and slime that is their platform (compare this to their relatively socially progressive 1956 platform that not even the Dems would probably pass today). They are terrified that the Tea Party will actually make public a platform that they will write and hope that no one reads. Don’t get me wrong, I think both parties are these days beneath contempt. However I think you would have done better to expose how deeply entrenched the attitudes of the Tea Party have actually been within the GOP for a very long time; and they have had dire consequences for our political discourse which has moved further and further to the right (in no small part due to the generous and copious funding of right wing think tanks), with attendant loss of a diversity of views. Example: when was the last time Josh Marshall (to cite but one so-called “left-leaning” blogger) covered the Green Party and its candidate as opposed to the latest Republican scandal or insane inanity of the day?

    They have sown the wind, but it is you and I who will reap the whirlwind.

  11. Didn’t the Insider Republican Party inspire and organize and bring out these Tea Party activists to begin with? And now the Republican Inner Party members don’t like where their proteges are going?

    Too bad. So sad.

    They have filled their toilet. Now let them swim in it. Or drown in it. Or flush themselves down, as the case may be.

  12. The piece is weak but the article raises an important question: what will happen to the Republican party now that the tea party has acquired so much influence. The author worries about scaring away the old “moderate republicans.” With Olympia Snowe’s retirement that is a fait acomplit.

    I am not too worried about the fate of the Republican party if Romney loses. If he wins the power of the tea party will get further institutional bolstering as they go further in altering laws and perhaps appointing another right winger to the SCOTUS.

    I agree with the earlier comment; losing local contributors is irrelevant the new world of Citizens United.

    Hell, by the time the tea partiers recover from their hangover their votes will be irrelevant because of further subversion of voting rights.

  13. What’s the support for the demographic & structural claims in this article? Guzzo seems to have his heart in something like the right place, but his methodology appears to involve little more than talking to a very small number of people who view the TP as social inferiors. Unreliable in the best of times, selective interviewing simply has no hope of penetrating, or even factually characterizing, the turbid TP phenomenon.

    This strategy ends up playing to the nostalgic trope of the decent Republican of yesteryear. True, we can’t quite remember them having *done* very much that qualifies as decent in all those decades — but it’s comforting to live in a symmetric world where we all share the same “values” and differ politely over details of implementation.

    I was at a suburban pool party at about this time during the last presidential election. A border state — and not with Mexico or Canada. “He’s really an illegal alien, you know” — this drifts into my hearing from a table of nodding red-faced one- and two-percenters. Not a mullet in sight.

  14. There is another aspect of Tea-Partyism that often goes unnoticed, and that is the fiscal-reform aspect. Ross Perot’s anti-debt message appealed to the same populist mentality, as did the flat tax movement of the last decade, and much of the Ron Paul Revolution. It may be related to anti-IRS sentiment in the far right.

    Anyway, right now the Republicans are considering calling for a return to the gold standard in their party platform. Is this the result of Tea Party influence? I suspect so, since it is just the sort of nuttiness that they are known for.

    I wonder how long it will be before someone gets the brilliant idea to compose a new “bill of rights” consisting of…well, the sky’s the limit. English-only? A ban on affirmative action? A declaration to the effect that the U.S. adheres to Judeo-Christian, Western civilization? Dissolution of the Supreme Court? The Tea Party has enough of a nationwide following that if they could agree on what they stand for, they could conceivably push through constitutional amendments like these.

  15. Here is the proof that the Tea Party is being infiltrated by extremist militia/white separatist ideologues.

    link to talk2action.org

    “According to Murphy and Talley, Oklahoma Tea Party leaders are so “frustrated by recent political setbacks” that they have been talking with state legislators about the possibility of creating “a new volunteer militia to help defend against what they believe are improper federal infringements on state sovereignty.”

    Here’s the key section:

    “Another Tea Party leader, J.W. Berry of the Tulsa-based OKforTea, helped initiatite the discussion through his newsletter under the subject “Buy more guns, more bullets.”

    “It’s not a far-right crazy plan or anything like that,” Berry said. “This would be done with the full cooperation of the state Legislature.”

    Think Progress reported that Berry “has posted rants against President Obama: the `Muslim President’ — a `reincarnation of Pol Pot’ who is trying imprison Americans for resisting health reform. One ominous posting from Berry says that his militia should `launch a thousand guerrilla attacks on the plans that these people have to ruin us and our country.'”

    In addition, Think Progress pointed out, “Berry frequently cites conservative news outlets like CNS [formerly the Media Research Center’s Conservative News Service which now calls itself the Cybercasat News Service] and notes that he draws inspiration from the white supremacist thriller “The Turner Diaries” [the William Pierce-authored novel that inspired Tim McVeigh]. Despite his extremism, Berry has met with Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) and other members of the Oklahoma Republican delegation, and counts them as `rock solid.'”

    The Turner Diaries is a racist manifesto. Simple as that. It calls for genocide. The militia movement of the ’90s also got the ball rolling on repealing the 13th Amendment, so that state legislatures would have the power to take the right to vote away from minorities.

    In other words, back to 1860 and Dred Scott.

    As the article points out, no one in the Tea Party movement has opposed or denounced any of this.

    Nor have any denounced Todd Akin and his no-abortion-for-rape crusade. Liberty for us Real Americans, slavery for the rest of you.

  16. Claims that Tea Party consists of those previously uninvolved in politics and only came together over fiscal issues, especially the deficit, are belied by a variety of studies over the past couple of years which show that they are, in fact, the right wing Republican base. Sorry, but anonymous Hillsborough County party apparatchiks can’t wish that truth away – the GOP owns it!

  17. Amazing, if I didn’t know active tea party members and had not gone to the events myself this article would have shocked me! Luckily, I know this is a bunch of rubbish full of false information.

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