Salon's Joan Walsh: In the Obama Era, the 'Toxic Smog' of Tea Party Racism Has 'Tainted' the GOP

This isn't a golden age for Republicans. The party is out of the White House -- in fact, it's lost the popular vote in five of the last six presidential elections -- and it hasn't controlled the Senate since 2006.

And now here comes Salon's Joan Walsh to argue that things will get even worse for GOPers once they lose their "galvanizing and unifying issue," namely "irrational, implacable hostility to [President] Obama...often fed by a wellspring of conscious and unconscious racism."  

From Walsh's Monday piece (emphasis added):

The [Republican] party has no real plan...once Barack Obama goes off to enjoy a long retirement, or for the electorate he’s helped create...

...The tea party reached peak support (31 percent) in November 2010, and has fallen ever since...

...Chris Hayes came as close as anyone to defining [the Tea Party] during his MSNBC election coverage [last] Tuesday night: opposition to “runaway” government spending, particularly the 2009 stimulus, combined with hatred of “Obamacare” as the ultimate symbol of big Democratic government.

That seemed correct, but Hayes left out one thing: irrational, implacable hostility to Obama himself, often fed by a wellspring of conscious and unconscious racism. The Obama election, combined with the Tea Party backlash, served to make the GOP clearly and unmistakably the party of white people, and it doesn’t look like that will change any time soon.

But in a few years, the GOP will lose the galvanizing and unifying issue of Barack Hussein Obama...“Tea Party” no longer conjures up brave patriots in bright costumes, but losers who’ve cost the party elections, and whose Obama hatred not only failed to vanquish Obama but tainted the entire party with a toxic smog of racism.


So the shrill and amateurish nihilism that came to be associated with Tea Party politics has been rejected, while the Tea Party’s political and policy demands have mostly been met....


Having ceded to the far right on issues like immigration reform, health care, climate change, tax reform, infrastructure spending and the minimum wage...[the GOP is] left with no way to reach out beyond the confines of the 48 percent of the voters — albeit 60 percent of white voters — they seem to have consolidated...

 The Alison Lundergan Grimes vs. Mitch McConnell contest is a microcosm of the way the two parties have grappled with the changing electorate. Republicans have made elections safe for elderly white male incumbents, for now anyway, while Democrats are banking on a young college-educated woman, a pillar of their emerging coalition.

Still, Grimes could lose, and Democrats have to acknowledge that the GOP establishment’s victories over the Tea Party, as defined by blocking crazy, unseasoned neophytes from winning nomination, make the 2014 landscape more difficult...

But if Republicans prevail, they’ll face the 2012 electorate and then some in 2016. And they’ll likely be doing it with a cast of Tea Party characters, from Rand Paul to Ted Cruz to Rick Perry, since so-called “moderate” Chris Christie is almost certainly mortally wounded, and Jeb Bush only less so. The GOP has neither the people nor the policies to make them serious presidential contenders...A party that can never compete for the White House can’t survive.

So let the GOP establishment savor its spring primary victories. It has no answer for its looming post-Obama political future. They’re dusting off the anti-Clinton playbook, but they may not find it works as well, beyond the angriest confines of their angry right-wing base. Call it the Tea Party or not, those folks will always be a problem for the Republicans. But they’re getting older, and crazier, and soon they’ll be gone. If it keeps pandering to that fringe, so will the Republican Party.

Tom Johnson
Tom Johnson
Tom Johnson is a contributing writer for NewsBusters