Stockholm Syndrome is defined as an emotional attachment to a captor formed by a hostage as a result of continuous stress, dependence, and a need to cooperate for survival. We all became acutely aware of this phenomenon during the famous Patty Hearst kidnapping. Since then it has been portrayed in many movies and novels. It seems to start with the need to ingratiate oneself to your captors in order to avoid punishment and curry favor in order to be rewarded. This behavior becomes so ingrained through reinforcement by the captors that after a while it is difficult to distinguish the captor from the victim. The birth of the Tea Party was a rude awakening for the GOP. They had been challenged from within before, but the impact of the Tea Party was swift and devastating. The moderate Republican has appeared to be an endangered species seemingly soon to be extinct. In recent weeks, however, since the beginning of the 2014 primary season, pundits have been observing that the Tea Party has been losing almost all of its bids to unseat establishment Republicans. They have been talking about the demise of the Tea Party and the renewed primacy of the Republican establishment. But in truth, are we simply seeing the Tea Party in Republican clothing?
This newfound ray of hope being interpreted by the pundits as the Tea Party demise is very misleading. Just as in the case of Stockholm Syndrome, the incumbent candidate had taken on the behavior of the Tea Party. The issues and positions taken were far right, while the challenger, in order to distinguish himself had to move further to the right. But, in fact, the positions taken by the incumbent Republican typified those of the Tea Party. These are the very positions that they had been professing for the past several years. All we need to do is take a look at the GOP platform or their behavior in Congress to verify that the GOP has been effectively replaced by the Tea Party. It reminds me of the classic Sci Fi movie, The Invasion of The Body Snatchers. They look the same, but their bodies have been taken over by an alien being.
Whether we look at their positions on economic issues, social issues or international issues, none is reflective of the GOP of yesterday’s establishment. However it is not only the positions they hold that are of concern. The GOP has also become a party of orthodoxy. It is a party of true believers. There is little room for divergent thinking. A desire for diversity and a “big tent” is professed, but their actions speak much louder than their words. The positions taken by the thoroughly-infiltrated GOP on immigration, equal pay, women’s health, voting rights, to name just a few critical issues, belie their words and close their doors. Their unwillingness to compromise or see the potential validity of other points of view has led to an isolation and insulation that creates the fervor of the true believer. I think no one personifies this “true believer” mentality more than Ted Cruz. His presentation rings with a religious fervor. His sureness of his rightness leaves no room for disagreement. That is the case with Boehner, Cantor, Issa, McConnell, Palin and on and on. Interesting that Cantor, Issa and McConnell are viewed as part of the GOP establishment. Yet it is almost impossible to distinguish their position from those of the Tea Party. Winning has become more important than anything else, so much so that they have been willing to sell their souls to the Tea Party.
The Democrats have an opportunity in 2014 to challenge the GOP on issues that are critical to most Americans. It will not be hard to distinguish Democratic positions from the positions of the far right Tea Party-infiltrated GOP. Not succeeding in this challenge will place much of what we care about in America in jeopardy.