Much of the Tea Party "movement" prides itself on its independence -- it's generally to the right of the GOP and often has not hesitated to spew its ire at Republicans -- but Sarah Palin, who is positioning herself as a bridge from the teabaggers to the GOP, wants these right-wing independents to pick a side already:
"Now the smart thing will be for independents who are such a part of this Tea Party movement to, I guess, kind of start picking a party," Palin said. "Which party reflects how that smaller, smarter government steps to be taken? Which party will best fit you? And then because the Tea Party movement is not a party, and we have a two-party system, they're going to have to pick a party and run one or the other: 'R' or 'D'."
Palin said that the Republican platform best meshed with the Tea Party's creed. However, she mentioned that her husband Todd was not a registered Republican and that the party should be open to embracing independents.
It's pretty clear which party the vast majority of teabaggers prefer, if not all of them, and that's Palin's party. And while Todd may formally be independent, it's pretty clear which party he prefers, too.
The Alaskan Independence Party. Oh, right.
Okay, it's pretty clear which of America's two major parties he prefers, and that's his wife's.
Obviously, Republicans would like to co-opt the Tea Party "movement" in order to benefit electorally. And, indeed, the GOP's increasing right-wing extremism, its new mainstream, very much mirrors what's going on with the teabaggers.
And Palin's right that the teabaggers, those who insist on remaining genuinely independent, ultimately need to pick a party or end up in irrelevant oblivion.
Here's what I wrote a couple of weeks ago:
Yes, yes, there is still a good deal of genuine grassroots independence among the teabaggers, a good deal of anti-Republican sentiment, as much of the movement represents a far-right assault on both parties, and on the political establishment generally, but it's clear the hijacking is underway -- and it comes from both sides, with the GOP trying to hijack the tea party movement and the tea party movement, or some of it, trying to hijack the GOP.
Indeed, as HuffPo reported last year, the movement has "an honored place within the mainstream Republican party." And it makes sense that Republicans are eagerly trying to merge the two -- according to a Rasmussen poll conducted late last year, the "Tea Party" is significantly more popular than the "Republican Party."
So what now? The identity crisis will no doubt continue, with a good deal of soul-searching at this weekend's national convention, but so will the joint efforts of Republicans and teabaggers to pull the GOP even further to the right than it is already.
Consider Palin, carving out a niche from which to remain a major national player and eventually to launch a national campaign, the Shadchan of the Right.
(Cross-posted from The Reaction.)
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