American Conservative Union (ACU) chairman Al Cardenas once said “CPAC is like an ‘All Star’ game for conservatives.” Watching it unfold, however, is less like a ball game and more like surveying the line-up at a Moscow May Day parade during the times of the Soviet Union, if you can push the political ideology out of the picture for a moment. Or like monitoring a north Georgia Klan Labor Day Klan rally in the 1980s. You see who is in and who is out. In that regard, seeing the Tea Party emerge at CPAC 2013 is a little like watching the first time white power skinheads showed up at the Gainesville, Georgia Kluxer event in 1989.
For decades, the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) has been a barometer of the different political tendencies inside the right-wing. In the 1980s, Reagan administration officials and Reaganite New Rightists dominated the podium. Pres. Reagan spoke at CPAC in both 1984 and 1988. In the 1990s, culture warriors like Pat Buchanan and the Rev. Pat Robertson joined Republican regulars such as Sens. Bob Dole and Phil Gramm. At this years’ CPAC13, Tea Party leaders and Tea Party-supported politicians will dominate the proceedings. The result is an agenda filled with bigots, conspiracy mongers, and publicity hounds.
Day of Resistance Gun Rallies Stoke Tea Party Movement
Racism Remains an Issue
By Devin Burghart
At gun ranges, in park gazebos, at VFW halls, on city sidewalks and parking lots, and on the steps of state capitol buildings, the Tea Party driven gun rallies of February 23 succeeded in mobilizing dormant parts of the Tea Party base and attracting some new faces.
.223 Ammo and a Day of Tea Party Rallies
By Leonard Zeskind and Devin Burghart
The diameter of the .223 bullet is about a quarter of an inch. You can find them at gun shows sold in bulk. Hundreds of small pieces of lead stuffed into garbage bag-sized clear plastic containers. These bullets have to be specially weighted for hunting deer. But they are perfectly lethal when used against humans.
As military weaponry, it was first introduced with United States troops in Vietnam in 1963. Posse Comitatus farmer Gordon Kahl used .223 bullets to kill two federal marshals in North Dakota in 1983. And it has been the far-right’s ammunition of choice ever since.
Now Tea Partiers, Birchers and a host of self-described gun enthusiasts are commemorating the bullet with a “Day of Resistance” on 2/23—Saturday, February 23.
The article below ran in the January 2013 edition of Searchlight, an anti-racist, anti-fascist magazine published monthly in London with international distribution. It analyzes Klan, neo-Nazi and Tea Party activity during 2012, and recounts some of the movement's most violent episodes. At the end, please note the data that points towards problems in the future.
2012: A Year in ReviewBy Leonard Zeskind and Devin Burghart
The year began with whimpers from white nationalists about the decay of their supposed civilization. And it ended with a bang from gunners screaming about their rights after yet another mass shooting at a Connecticut elementary school. Election year events dominated the ebb and flow of the far right, the racists and the bigots. In between, skinheads and assorted Aryan-types were arrested and convicted in multiple instances of horrific violence.
Birthright citizenship—a cornerstone of the 14th Amendment that grants citizenship to everyone born on American soil—is again being challenged in Congress. On January 3, Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) introduced H.R.140, the “Birthright Citizenship Act of 2013.”
The congressional vote at the turn of the New Year should tell us something about what to expect in 2013. Although a boiled down half-measure aimed at avoiding the fiscal cliff passed, a strong "no" vote from the far right bucked Speaker Boehner's leadership. The fact that a new session in January will bring in new faces, will not likely change the shape of this obstructive bloc. Remember, Tea Party-endorsed candidates won nearly 80% of their House races last house November, a higher rate than in 2010. They will likely oppose every moderate or slightly progressive proposal over the year to come.
In Michigan, so-called right to work legislation has been signed. As everyone knows, such legislation has nothing to do with finding and keeping a job, and everything to do with driving down the political power and membership density of unions. Just four short years ago, this measure would have been considered inconceivable in Michigan. Earlier this year, many union officials scoffed at its prospect. Now it has become law.
What has so sharply changed the balance of forces? Simply put: the Tea Party movement has radicalized a large swath of white people and made them immune to any calls for the common good.
Ben Stewart presents an on-the-ground look at anti-union events in Michigan
Almost three thousand union members and supporters streamed into the Michigan state capital in Lansing on Thursday, December 6. Many arrived via the Walter Reuther Expressway from Detroit. Protestors donned hard hats, scrubs and overalls, chanting “Hey Hey! Ho Ho! Right to Work Has Got to Go!” As police lines held back the crowds of union members, and locked them out of the governors’ office building and the Capitol, the reality began to sink in. Michigan was going to be a “right to work” state.