As the investigation continues surrounding how the Internal Revenue Service targeted Tea Party and other Patriot groups for greater scrutiny on non-profit applications, the news will get worse for the President, but it will be manna from heaven for the Tea Party.
When investigators finally discover exactly who ordered the different treatment of the Tea Party group applications way back in 2011, it’ll be too late to put the genie back in the bottle. No matter if it is a high ranking official or a relatively middle manager bent on political advantage, this scandal proves the very government interference that fuels Tea Party popularity.
This time, it’s not paranoia or political hyperbole. This time, they were in fact, singled out for greater scrutiny because of the kind of organization they are. It’s what they have built their organizations upon since the beginning, except now they are the actual focus of the government.
Because President Obama is not the first president to have an administration to see the IRS target a political opponent, we won’t see high ranking officials pay a significant career price. This is not a Watergate moment. Ironically, it was Richard Nixon that actually wrote the script on how to use the IRS as a political weapon.
This will be a black eye and certainly won’t help any bi-partisan negotiations on other issues, but overall, this should not be a major game changer for President Obama.
On the other hand, this will prove to be a major game changer for the Tea Party and associated groups.
In their heyday of 2010, the Tea Party saw its greatest influence, changing the conversation about the Affordable Health Care Act and seeing far more conservative candidates win Republican primaries. Some of those conservative Republicans won general elections and brought the Tea Party brand of conservatism to both local and federal government. Others were won primaries and were doomed in general election races, actually helping Democrats win some competitive seats, like the one Senator Michael Bennet won.
But the 2012 election was not as kind to the Tea Party. The Occupy Movement became the protest movement du jour and the ultra conservative swing that the Tea Party influence meant to the GOP was seen by many as a hindrance to progress and not as momentum.
With moderate Mitt Romney rising to claim the Republican Presidential nomination, the Tea Party began to see its influence diminish in 2012. While not completely irrelevant, the Tea Party was enjoying its fourteenth minute of fame.
And then, like a sign from the political gods that their time on the political stage was not through, the realization of some of their fears came true. The government was indeed isolating them out for unfair treatment.
There is no need for paranoia at this point. Tea Party groups can finally revel in the fact that they are influential enough to actually deserve unfair treatment from the federal government.
What may initially sound like an injustice, in reality, is the ultimate political compliment. To be deemed important enough to be attacked is to truly be relevant. Enemies do not attack those that do not matter. Just when the movement needed a serious shot in the arm, the IRS delivered news far more useful than non-profit status.
What the Tea Party now does with this new momentum is the question. Will this be a short lived jolt, or a life-saving charge to the system? That remains to be seen.
About The Blogger
- Dominic Dezzutti, producer of the Colorado Decides debate series, a co-production of CBS4 and Colorado Public Television, looks at the local and national political scene in his CBSDenver.com blog. Read new entries here every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Dezzutti writes about federal, state and local matters and how our elected leaders are handling the issues important to Colorado. Dezzutti also produces the Emmy winning Colorado Inside Out, on Colorado Public Television.