Ideological predecessors of the Tea Party, like the John Birch Society and the White Citizens Councils, mounted fierce resistance to racial equality in the United States. Their opposition to integration of public schools and transportation in the 1950s and 1960s Civil Rights Movement could be described as nothing short of terrorism.
Today, that fierce racism of white supremacy plays out in other venues where John Birch Society and the Tea Party jointly oppose universal human rights advocated by the Indigenous Peoples Movement. One can easily track their direct influence within state-level organizations like Republican Liberty Caucus.
As white supremacy affinity organizations like Citizens Equal Rights Alliance promote termination of American Indian tribes, Tea Party, John Birch Society and Republican Liberty Caucus ideologues bring sixty years of experience in organizing hate campaigns to the racist alliance. More sophisticated than the hooded Klan of yesteryear, these modern white supremacists hide behind concocted legalisms and outdated notions of American society.
As traditional American liberals find themselves confronted by modern organized racism, it is tempting for them to resort to customary practices of diplomacy, compromise and negotiation. The problem with this well-meaning but wrongheaded approach is, What’s to negotiate?
With the liberal reforms of the 1950s-1970s long over, indeed annihilated by Reagan/Bush, the conservative investment in a white supremacy revival via the Tea Party, Religious Right and GOP is harvesting the fruits of judicial appointments like U.S. Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia. One reason the Indigenous Peoples Movement in the US is steering away from the courts, and seeking diplomatic initiatives between the National Congress of American Indians and the Obama administration.
Since the liberal elite is rightly seen as hypocritical by both human rights adherents and white supremacists, the conservative elite has an advantage. There is no grassroots liberal counterpart to the Tea Party. The liberal grassroots rarely organizes for power; the conservative grassroots does nothing but. Exploring common ground with violent racists is more of that nonsensical diplomacy with people who are dead set to destroy them and their values. An examination of history shows it never works.
Liberal values have to be fought for, which means opposing conservative values, embraced since Reagan by the liberal elite. Thus, acolytes of Reagan, like Obama, and neoliberals like Hillary are unreliable allies of the liberal grassroots. Meanwhile, the conservative grassroots is a frenzied hate machine pushing the GOP toward values of the Confederacy. All of which means grassroots liberals need an organizing strategy, not a mission statement.