Tea Party: How Much Worse Could It Get?

The GOP has been supplanted by a funhouse-mirror distortion of traditional conservatism, writes Miami Herald columnist Leonard Pitts Jr.

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GOP presidential candidate Michele Bachmann (Getty Images)

In his Miami Herald column, Leonard Pitts Jr. says that the genteel, pragmatic Republicanism of the past has been supplanted by a pitchforks-and-torches mentality, a funhouse-mirror distortion of traditional conservatism. And he's wondering how much worse it could get if Obama does win re-election.

This country is in a world of hurt if the likes of Michele Bachmann or Rick Perry wins the next election. It might be in greater trouble if Barack Obama does.

I can take no credit -- or blame -- for that analysis. It originated with one of my colleagues, a veteran political reporter, and he shared it one day not long ago as we were chatting in the office. It troubles me for one simple reason: it makes sense.

So here is how his thinking goes. The genteel, pragmatic Republicanism of the past has been supplanted by a pitchforks and torches mentality, a funhouse mirror distortion of traditional conservatism. Meaning, of course, the tea party.

These are folks who don’t just support the death penalty; they cheer for executions. They don’t just oppose health care reform, they shout “Let him die” to the uninsured individual who faces life-threatening illness. They are the true believers: virulently anti-government, anti-Muslim, anti-gay, anti-science, anti-tax, anti-facts and, most of all, anti the coming demographic changes represented by a dark-skinned president with an African name. They are the people who want "their" country back.

Read Leonard Pitts Jr.'s entire column at the Miami Herald.

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