Do tea party antics drive you a little crazy and leave you befuddled? You know, all the bombastic rhetoric, dark conspiracy, demonizing of anyone who isn’t male, rich and white? What about those tea party nut jobs in congress? People like Rep. Allen West who claims there are dozens of communists in congress or his tea party pals thumbing their nose at their own Republican leadership. Over and over we have seen the congress brought to a stop by tea party antics. Have you gritted your teeth as the tea party contingent led the government to the lip of fiscal gridlock and a credit downgrade, wondering what the heck they are thinking of?
To understand the dark energy of the tea party movement you need to look at it in context.
Josef – later changed to Joseph in order to sound more high-class - Goebbels was Hitler’s brilliantly twisted Minister for Propaganda and Public Enlightenment and, more than any other aide, was responsible for Hitler’s rise from rowdy beer hall blowhard to leader of Germany. He was also the one responsible for the book burnings, purging of Jews and non-Nazis from public life, the street brawls and organizing the public spectacles of the Nazi rallies. He was also the trailblazer in the original right wing talk radio. Over time, Goebbels mastered every form of media at the time.
Despite his tiny stature and hobbling clubed footed gait, Goebbels was truly a massive force behind the Third Reich.
The Real Legislative Goal -
Goebbels was also a member of the German parliament and here is where modern congress watchers can benefit from some history. Between the two world wars there was a struggling German democracy called the Weimar Republic. It was as bumbling and incompetent as it was earnestly sincere in trying to bring about democratic change. Between war reparation payments, hyper-inflation and the depression, the economic challenges were many. This was fertile soil for revolution and Hitler – guided by Goebbels — knew how to plow that ground.
In 1930 the Nazis won 107 seats in the Reichstag, or parliament (which the Nazis would later set fire to trigger public panic and the tumble to absolute power).
Here is what Goebbels wrote about participatory democracy:
“We will move into the Reichstag to supply ourselves at the arsenal of Democracy with its own weapons. We will become deputies of the Reichstag to paralyze the Weimar way of thinking with sixty or seventy of our own agitators and organizers, then the State itself will equip and pay for our fighting machine. Whoever is elected to parliament is finished, but only if he plans to become a parliamentarian. But, if, with his inborn recklessness, he continues his merciless fight against the increasing scounrelisation of our public life, then he will not become a parliamentarian but he will remain what he is: a revolutionary.”
He goes on to detail how Nazi deputies can use the income and perks of their position — like free rail passes provided to visit constituents — to further the Nazi cause. The goal, Goebbels makes clear, is to mock, disrupt and eventually paralyze the legislative process; to bring it to its knees in order to trigger social and economic chaos, essential to the Nazis taking power.
“We do not beg for votes,” Goebbles explains.”We demand conviction, devotion, passion. The vote is only an expedient, for ourselves as well as you … We do not care a damn about co-operation for building up a stinking dung-heap. We come to clear out the dung … We do not come as friends or neutrals. We come as enemies.”
Goebbels embodied his teachings, being at one point excluded from the Reichstag for insulting the President and causing an uproar. (Remember tea party pet GOP Rep. Joe “You Lie”Wilson at Obama’s first State of the Union speech?)
Here’s how Goebbels described his personal mission as a member of Parliament:
“Maybe the representatives of the other parties regard themselves as representatives; I am not a member of the Reichstag. I am an I.D.I and I.D.F. — Inhaber der Immunitat (possessor of parlimentarian immunity) and Inhaber der Freifahrkarte (possesor of a free railway pass) … The I.D.I. is a man who may speak the truth from time to time even in this democratic Republic. He distinguishes himself from other mortals by being permitted to think aloud. He can call a dung-heap a dung heap and needn’t beat around the bush by calling it a State … This is but a prelude. You’re going to have a lot of fun with us. The show can begin.”
Understanding the Real Challenge -
When viewed within the history of fascism the antics of the hard-line congressional tea party in-your-face cadre take on a different color.
The newest luminary in the brawling tea party ranks is Richard Mourdock, who unseated 6-term Indiana Republican Sen. Richard Lugar in a primary. When asked how he might work with Democrats in the Senate Mourdock gave a sneering one-liner that would set Goebbels to grinning: “I have a mindset that says bipartisanship ought to consist of Democrats coming to the Republican point of view.”
What’s that Goebbels said about demanding “…conviction, devotion, passion”? The vote — bipartisan or otherwise — is “only an expedient”.
So there you have it Dems. It can’t get any clearer than that. Where do you begin bargaining with a guy like Murdock or a gang like the tea party? Time to really get what you are up against. Take a little time this summer to read some history; say, European history; say from 1925 to 1940.
As with the Koch funded tea party and regressive right wing Super PACs, the Nazis were well funded by wealthy individuals and corporations who mistakenly — tragically for the world, the German nation and people — thought they would be able to control the Nazis. Little did they realize they had a cocaine-snorting rabid hound on the end of their slender leash. History is never a perfect re-run, but neither is it irrelevant to current affairs. Is the tea party a Nazi front? No. But they are fascists and are following the same tried and true game book the Nazis exploited in Germany and fascist parties throughout Latin America have used.
The Obama Administration, the National Democratic Party and many progressive leaders and groups — and of course the mainstream media — have minimized and completely underplayed the dangerous challenge of the tea party and the role they are playing. Right now they are playing the role of the stumbling Weimar Republic.
The “show” Goebbels announced 80 years ago is having an American rerun and it is time to wake up.
(Note, all quotations are from “Doctor Goebbels: His Life and Death” by Roger Manvell and Heinrich Fraenkel, a fascinating book on the rise and role of Goebbels in the Third Reich. The book was recently republished in 2010. Quotations cited are from pp. 86-87.)