Well, I investigated all the books in the library,
Ninety percent of ’em gotta be burned away.
I investigated all the people that I knowed,
Ninety-eight percent of them gotta go.
The other two percent are fellow Birchers . . . just like me.
–Bob Dylan, Talkin’ John Birch Paranoid Blues
The John Birch Society, banished by the likes of conservative icon William Buckley Jr. to the fringiest outskirts of the GOP universe after its leader Robert Welch called President Eisenhower a Commie, has re-emerged and rebranded itself as what we now call The Tea Party. One need only compare the original Birch agenda to that of today’s Tea Party to see the ideological connection.
The John Birch Society is an American political advocacy group that supports anti-communism, limited government, a Constitutional Republic and personal freedom. It has been described as radical right-wing.
The society upholds an originalist interpretation of the U.S. Constitution, which it identifies with fundamentalist Christian principles, seeks to limit governmental powers, and opposes wealth redistribution, and economic interventionism. It not only opposes practices it terms collectivism, Totalitarianism, and communism, but socialism and fascism as well, which it asserts is infiltrating US governmental administration.
The society opposed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, claiming it violated the Tenth Amendment to the United States Constitution and overstepped individual states’ rights to enact laws regarding civil rights. The society opposes “one world government”, and has an immigration reduction view on immigration reform. It opposes the United Nations, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), and other free trade agreements. They argue the U.S. Constitution has been devalued to favor of political and economic globalization, and that such alleged trend is not accidental. It cites the existence of the Security and Prosperity Partnership as evidence of a push towards a North American Union. Stuart A. Wright has said that their political racism however was no different from both Republicans and Democratic politicians of the time
[William F.] Buckley [Jr.], an early friend and admirer of Welch, regarded his accusations against Eisenhower as “paranoid and idiotic libels” and attempted unsuccessfully to purge Welch from the Birch Society. From then on Buckley, who was editor of National Review, became the leading intellectual spokesman and organizer of the anti-Bircher conservatives. In fact, Buckley’s biographer John B. Judis wrote that “Buckley was beginning to worry that with the John Birch Society growing so rapidly, the right-wing upsurge in the country would take an ugly, even Fascist turn rather than leading toward the kind of conservatism National Review had promoted.”
Wild Bill was right. This ain’t my daddy’s conservatism we see today, but extremist Bircherism reborn. If further evidence is needed, consider that one of the Society’s founding members was Fred Koch, father of the infamous Koch Brothers, the Teabaggers’ favorite financiers. (Proving once again that rotting apples don’t fall far from the tree.)
I was reminded of the connection this morning while reading Sarah Palin’s legacy is Mitt Romney’s problem, by brooklynbadboy over at the Big Orange.
When Samuel J. Wurzlebacher, AKA “Joe the Plumber,” won a Republican nomination for Congress, Sarah Palin’s transformation of the Republican electoral base was complete. What has happened to the GOP, much to the consternation of the elite party establishment, is that it has become a party of paranoid conspiracy freaks, religious kooks, bigots, the marginally insane, and amateur grifters like Joe the Plumber. If Palin were running in the primary election for president, there is no doubt that she would be winning it, probably handily. This, in a nutshell, is why Mitt Romney, the only plausibly qualified candidate running for president in the GOP, is having such a hard time winning what should be a cakewalk primary. This party is no longer the party of the country club or even of Ronald Reagan. This is a party unhinged from reality. This is the party of Palin..”
The distinction between the party of Palin– the GOP– and the Tea Party is rapidly becoming one without a difference, much to the consternation of the GOP establishment. Having unleashed the Teabagger tiger from its Birchian cage, they’re discovering the aphoristic wisdom that the only safe time and place to avoid being eaten by a tiger is while riding on its back. The moment you dismount, you’re lunch.