Now that Tea Party activists have swung an election, not merely to the Republicans, but to a certain brand of Republicans — those apparently committed to opposing standard-brand go-along/get-along politics — its worth remembering that these people are despised by Democrats and media folk in general.
As if we need reminding.
From the very beginning of the Tea Party movement, the judgment of the left has been that Tea Partiers are extremists. Nuts. Wackos. And yet the nutty elements always appeared sparse. The first few peaceful protests surely had far fewer nuts than your average lefty anti-WTO protest.
The first charge against the Tea Party was racism, a smear designed to dismiss and marginalize and prevent any further consideration.
And, admittedly, there were signs, here and there among the early protests, expressing racially tinged ugliness. (You probably saw them not at the events but on TV, for television news reports seemed to show the same few signs again and again and again.)
But the main complaints of the Tea Party folk had nothing to do with race, and every honest person knew it. Indeed, the Tea Party protestors that I saw tended to police their own and discourage racist-looking placards and such. Most of the worst instances of racism were merely alleged, but never recorded. The charge fizzled.
The Tea Partys actual themes, in case we have forgotten them in the slap-happy self-congratulations of Republican victories, were, in descending order, opposition to a number of recent developments in government:
Bailouts of rich investors, bankers, and creditors in general
Over-spending by governments
Increasing government debt
Nationalized medical care, so-called Obamacare
The failure of government to stem the tide of illegal immigration
Only the latter element had a possible tie to racism. And north of Nevada, Tea Party activists have tended to discourage emphasis of this line-item complaint. Compared to welfare-for-the-rich, constant and increasing deficit spending, and the addition of another underfunded entitlement program (socialized medicine), immigration sort of pales as an afterthought.