By Obed Manuel
Barack Obama’s historic election in 2008 was met with an immediate reaction from a group of mostly conservative white Americans who did not complete college. It was a group that took to social media, and at times the streets, in an attempt to label Obama as a socialist, as a Muslim and as the new Hitler.
The Tea Party, as that group came to be known, spent the next two years in a state of angry incubation and organization that was funded by conservative billionaires.
And that political investment paid off, so to speak, because Republicans would go on to take back the House of Representatives with the help of the landmark Citizens United decision handed down by the Supreme Court.
The perennial phrases that dominated conservative talking points from 2008-2010 were “Take our country back” and “I want my country back.”
Now eight years later, everyone’s favorite Republican nominee has a similar catchphrase, and no, it’s not “Get ’em outta here!” or “Yuuuuge.”
Donald Trump has spent the past year making the claim that he will “Make America Great Again” and he’s tapped into the very human nature of people.
Now, while Trump does not necessarily have the entire Tea Party backing his, anti-establishment, anti-corporate (and xenophobic) appeal managed to split that leadership before Tea Party-favorite Ted Cruz dropped out.
How ironic is it that an elitist billionaire from New York City has convinced heartland, salt-of-the-earth Americans that he is one of them? That he is on their side?
This is the Obama Fallout.
Many of these individuals who could never fathom seeing a black man named Barack Hussein Obama in the White House have reacted out of fear and have jumped on the Trump Train.
That’s because the Tea Party philosophy is not one that is oriented toward policy making. It’s one geared toward reaction to the changing world.
It’s one that sees more people of color on TV screens and movements like #BlackLivesMatter and an exploding Hispanic/Latino population and reacts with fear.
And that fear has blinded them from seeing that Obama has done very little to advance the so-feared liberal apocalypse.
Women’s reproductive rights have been scaled back all around the country at the state level.
Same-sex marriage bans were struck down by the Supreme Court not Congress.
The president’s only actions on immigration are in severe danger of being struck down by that same court.
Major cities are still about as segregated as they’ve ever been.
And courts are handing big coal, oil and gas companies major wins that put the environment’s future in deeper peril.
It’s easy to wonder if those Tea Partiers at Trump rallies realize that the president’s signature legislative accomplishment requires all American citizens to purchase some form of private health insurance, a proposal that was born in the Republican Party.
Or that he is the president with the highest number of immigrant deportations.
Or that he re-escalated the U.S.’s involvement in Iraq and the Middle East.
Or that – you know what, you get the point.
Obama will go down in some history books as the most controversial president of all time. In others, he will be the most progressive.
But the Obama Fallout is only landing on one group: Republicans.
As Charles M. Blow writes for the New York Times:
“But please, shed not a single tear for this conservative calamity. They brought it on themselves. They allowed their unhinged contempt for — and in some cases, even hatred of — Obama to drive them insane, into the arms of a walking absurdity who catered to their rage.”
Republicans did indeed fan the flames of the Tea Party and of the reactionary wing of their party and now the fire is uncontrollable and sports a very strange hairstyle and eats taco bowls (because it loves Hispanics.)
It’s the final conservative hoorah for a while and it’s pretty sad that they haven’t realized it.
Featured Photo: 9/3/2009 – Jay Janner/AMERICAN-STATESMAN – A man who said he changed his name to Hustusa listens at the Tea Party Express rally in Waco on Thursday Sept. 3, 2009. He said Hustusa stands for Help Us Save The USA. Hustusa is from Vista, California, and is following the Tea Party Express across the country.