In recent weeks, I’ve stuck some pins in what’s called the Tea Party. Gentle sticks but they’ve generated a few “passionate” … and sometimes printable … responses. Warning: those of the group who’re tender skinned would be well-advised to stop reading.

Several recent congressional elections across the country proved the group had little to no influence on outcomes, even in the closed Utah primary convention which the far right has controlled for years. With the exception of Rand Paul, generally, in open races, their candidates finished poorly. More proof bark was worse than bite. We’ll be hearing less of ’em. The Republican Party sure hopes so.

The group has no citizen-driven, national leadership. And, little by little, the intent of the paid muckrakers behind the effort is becoming more exposed. While many honest citizens truly supported some of the original rhetoric, the self-serving professional dividers agenda is now clearer. Many of those sincerely angry folks can’t … or won’t … support what is coming out.

Several state “tea branches” have sent many candidates for national office a questionnaire exposing what the money behind the effort really wants: return to the gold standard; mandated immediate 25% reduction in all government employment except military and homeland defense; investigations into “payoffs” of the President, Senate Majority Leader and Speaker of the House; withdrawal from the U.N.; repeal of the hate crimes law; a “no” vote on any bill using the terms “social,” “economic” or “environmental justice.” And more fantasy.

But the power brokers most egregious, lame-brained demand is to abolish the 17th amendment to the U.S. Constitution. For those who aren’t constitutional scholars … including me … the 17th was adopted in 1913 to stop state legislatures from naming U.S. senators and to give that power … the vote … directly to the people.

Now if I were a true “partier,” taking to the streets with an honest desire for less government control in my life, why in the world would I want that? I wouldn’t! Nor do a lot of others who, so far, have been supportive.

But the money guys behind the curtain … the ones putting up the big bucks and calling the shots … they’d like it. They’d like it a lot!

Think for a moment. Remember the lousy U.S. Supreme Court decision a few months ago giving corporations the ability to throw unlimited amounts of dollars into congressional races? If state legislators suddenly had sole power to name all U.S. senators, guess what would happen in Salem, Olympia, Sacramento and all other state capitols? How many hundreds of millions of dollars would be tossed at the handful of people in each state who had the power to handpick the U.S. Senate? And all of it legal.

There were many horrible and outright crooked examples of the rich buying senate seats in the 19th and early 20th centuries. It was really bad! Why do you think we citizens voted to amend our constitution and give the power directly to the people?

But Dick Armey and the others paying the Tea Party bills want to see it happen again. They aren’t a bunch of patriotic guys who love putting out millions of dollars for “love of country.” Not on your life! They want something. They want access to power by taking us voters out of the picture and owning the best “senators” money can buy.

This “tea party” thing is as hollow as a Trojan horse. The power behind it … read “money” … is coming from a handful of miscreants trying to grab more power. To do that, they’re capitalizing on the honest anger of a lot of innocent people. We’ve always had angry people when it comes to government; especially federal. I’m one of ’em! But the Internet and our electronic lifestyle make it easier to create a rallying point to round up those who have felt disaffected and give them a sense of finding like minds with whom they can vent.

I think most T-P participants are in that category: angry, frightened and needing to vent. But look above the local courthouse. Look at the “issues” being given to candidates for national office. Read the “grievances” being published as “candidate questionnaires.” Follow the money. The millions in advertising and huge costs of paid organizers aren’t coming from local groups. It’s Armey and the others fronting for right wing foundations and a handful of rich, self-described “patriots.”

We have what we’ve always had: two major political parties. The best advice for angry Republicans and disaffected Democrats: go home. Go back to the base. If the real answers aren’t there, they don’t exist.

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