Monday, January 14, 2013

Rick Santelli as Evidence of the State of the Tea Party

Rick Santelli did a Santelli exchange on CNBC this morning, which I thought was important to re-post as an indicator of how fractured the Republican/Tea Party ideology has become as a result of the beating that the Republicans took in last fall's election.

In this morning's editorial, Santelli focuses on morality and specifically concedes a few important points: 1) fiscal conservatives have the burden of proof and are going to have a hard time defending their position because 2) the election was a referendum on taxation/spending which the Republicans lost and 3) the Democrats have the short term moral high-ground because cutting deficits means withholding payments from seniors, etc.  He rounds out the editorial by warning that the long term morality of saddling future generations with debt is ultimately more important, but his tone suggested to me that he realizes that he's effectively lost the battle for the foreseeable future.  He even admits that most people "make fun" of the way he frames the debate.

Santelli is credited as an ideological father of the Tea Party movement which initially put deficit spending by government as the centerpiece of its platform (but has since been rebranded as a movement of ultra-conservative Republicans).  I suspect that he is a reasonable indicator of the general sentiment shared by many Tea Partiers who are seeing their ideology falter in public opinion.  Ultimately I think that this has some bearing on how the debt ceiling talks play out, because in 2011 freshmen Tea Partiers were leading the charge.  In the current environment they may not be so emboldened.

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