TL; DR — it died for ‘our’ sins. “Campaign finance lawyer” Paul H. Jossey goes to Politico to drum up some free media, get revenge on former employers/competitors, and incidentally blow the gaff on his fellow grifters:
As we watch the Republican Party tear itself to shreds over Donald Trump, perhaps it’s time to take note of another conservative political phenomenon that the GOP nominee has utterly eclipsed: the Tea Party. The Tea Party movement is pretty much dead now, but it didn’t die a natural death. It was murdered—and it was an inside job. In a half decade, the spontaneous uprising that shook official Washington degenerated into a form of pyramid scheme that transferred tens of millions of dollars from rural, poorer Southerners and Midwesterners to bicoastal political operatives.
What began as an organic, policy-driven grass-roots movement was drained of its vitality and resources by national political action committees that dunned the movement’s true believers endlessly for money to support its candidates and causes. The PACs used that money first to enrich themselves and their vendors and then deployed most of the rest to search for more “prospects.” In Tea Party world, that meant mostly older, technologically unsavvy people willing to divulge personal information through “petitions”—which only made them prey to further attempts to lighten their wallets for what they believed was a good cause. While the solicitations continue, the audience has greatly diminished because of a lack of policy results and changing political winds…
Today, the Tea Party movement is dead, and Trump has co-opted the remnants. What was left of the Tea Party split for a while between Trump and, while he was still in the race, Ted Cruz, who was backed by Jenny Beth Martin, co-founder and national coordinator of the Tea Party Patriots. In 2014, the Tea Party Patriots group spent just 10 percent of the $14.4 million it collected actually supporting candidates, with the rest going to consultants and vendors and Martin’s hefty salary of $15,000 per month; in all, she makes an estimated $450,000 a year from her Tea Party-related ventures. Today, of course, it’s all about Trump, but Trump rallies are only Trump rallies, not Tea Party rallies that he assumed control of. There are no more Tea Party rallies.
A recent poll showed that just 17 percent of Americans support what was once known as the Tea Party—the lowest number ever. The bailout-Obamacare-driven grass-roots revolt has vanished. Various autopsies have offered a number of causes: IRS targeting, bad candidates, hostile media, and even some hazy form of moral and political victory, in that the Tea Party pushed the GOP to take tougher stances on some issues. All have at least some merit.
But any insurgent movement needs oxygen in the form of victories or other measured progress in order to sustain itself and grow. By sapping the Tea Party’s resources and energy, the PACs thwarted any hope of building the movement…
There’s a lot more detail — much of it fairly damning, including Jossey’s only-virgin-at-the-whorehouse tales of his own PACery. Most of it is stuff us filthy Democrats / progressives / liberals have been saying about the ‘Tea Party patriots’ any time since the movement was astroturfed to distract the rubes and Media Village Idiots in 2009. When he’s not deploring the unearned success of all those other PACmasters, he’s fluffing the Koch brothers (“true believers and they don’t need your money”) and Erick “Resurgent” Erickson. But I get the distinct impression that Jossey may be an early adopter of the Next Big Conservative Idea — that Trump had nothing to do with the “real” Republican Party, which he hijacked for his own immoral purposes:
… At its best, the Tea Party sought a return to the nation’s philosophical roots of government of the people, by the people and for the people. In sad irony, the Tea Party was hijacked by those who mirrored its critique of government: bloated, inefficient and looking out only for themselves.
If there is a Tea Party 3.0 it must unshackle itself and rise again as a grass-roots movement.
And Mr. Jossey will be more than happy to offer his advice, for a fee befitting his status as a seasoned campaigner. I’m sure he’ll have plenty of company outside the smoking ruins of the GOP, come November 9th (if not sooner).