Friday, March 18, 2016

Donald Trump's Campaign Threatens to Steal Tea Party's Thunder

Ah, hardcore Ted Cruz supporters aren't going to love this argument.

At the Los Angeles Times, "Trump campaign threatens to steal tea party thunder":

Sarah Palin Donald Trump photo Cclx0auVIAQfYZC_zpsr9gfauiq.jpg
Always a bit of a rebel, Debbie Dooley was so frustrated in 2009 over bank bailouts and stimulus packages that she threw herself into organizing Atlanta’s first tea party rally.

Today, the daughter of a Southern preacher has shifted her energy and passion into electing Donald Trump as the latest Washington outsider to shake up the status quo.

No matter that many of Trump’s policies stray from the tea party’s original small-government ideals. The tough-talking billionaire ignites that same anti-establishment fervor that fired up many tea party foot soldiers like Dooley.

In the process, Trump has recast their earlier champions — namely tea party darling Sen. Ted Cruz — as disappointing outsiders-turned-insiders who cater to corporate donors and fail to deliver on big promises.

“The support for Trump is not only a screw-you to the Republican establishment, it’s a screw-you to the conservative establishment,” said Dooley, 57, an energy consultant. “[People] are sick and tired of the same old, same old — just money corrupting the political process. They work hard, they vote for elected officials and they expect them to keep their promises.”

Trump’s candidacy has not only fractured the Republican Party, it’s threatening to break apart the tea party movement and erode a once-powerful voting block that has driven conservative politics and elections for the past seven years.

In addition to grass-root defections by activists like Dooley, tea party leadership has split over Trump’s presidential bid. Some conservative activists met this week to try to stop him, while others have joined his campaign.

Meanwhile, major financial backers, including groups funded by the billionaire Koch brothers, have been sidelined from publicly backing GOP primary candidates, partly out of fear they might alienate their divided base.

The soured relationship should come as no surprise. The tea party was always somewhat of a marriage of convenience between Washington’s free-market powerhouses and frustrated ordinary Americans who showed up at rallies with their tri-cornered hats and “Don’t Tread on Me” flags.

Fighting President Obama provided an easy alliance that Republicans at first leveraged to their advantage. But it also was a relationship built on what now looks like a rickety foundation — less about think-tank-driven policies and more about voter outrage against perceived elitism.

From an ideological standpoint, the tea party’s natural candidate should be Cruz, the Texas senator who was swept into office in the tea party revolt and wears his unpopularity in Washington as an “outsider” badge of honor.

But in Trump’s long shadow, Cruz and rival Sen. Marco Rubio, before he left the campaign, suddenly looked to many rank-and-file activists as part of the problem.

“I don’t see Ted Cruz being a job creator,” Dooley said...
Still more.