I'm not sure what to make of this:
Sen. Charles Schumer (N.Y.), the Senate Democrats' political guru, has a plan to poison the Tea Party by driving a wedge between its rich funders and its blue-collar rank and file.If Schumer is saying that Democrats should stick up for popular programs, that makes sense -- at least as outreach to people in the middle. If, however, the plan is to say, "Hey, you in the tricorner hat! The Koch brothers are not your friends!," that's not going to work.
Schumer ... will argue in a major speech on Thursday that super-wealthy Tea Party donors have hijacked the grassroots movement that grew out of the economic anxiety of the 2008 financial collapse to suit their pro-big-business agenda....
"There is a glaring weakness, one very weak link in the Tea Party's armor, which is an inherent contradiction within the Tea Party that, I believe can be exposed to greatly weaken their hold on the policy debate," Schumer will say, according to excerpts of his remarks.
"The fundamental weakness in the Tea Party machine is the stark difference between what the leaders of the Tea Party elite, plutocrats like the Koch Brothers want and what the average grassroots Tea Party follower wants," he will say.
Schumer will argue Democrats must defend popular government programs, such as extended unemployment benefits and student loan subsidies, to persuade Tea Party voters they could benefit from federal programs....
"Wealthy Tea Party leaders have convinced Tea Party rank and file and many other Americans that anti-government ideology is the answer to their problems -- but many Tea Partiers and sympathizers support government programs -- Democrats must exploit the difference," Schumer's office said in a statement announcing the speech....
I've never encountered a discussion of tea party funding in which any tea party member or supporter said, "Yes, we receive support from rich conservatives -- what of it?" The teabaggers always deny that their movement is heavily subsidized; they're in total denial on this subject. Nevertheless, they love the citizens United ruling, hated attempts to restrict campaign spending even before there was a tea party, and love rich people in general, especially rich conservatives. Among the right-wing rank-and-file, you'll never hear a discouraging word about the Kochs or other billionaire funders of conservatism.
The reason is tribal: the Kochs and other right-wing billionaires have the same enemies as the right-wing rank-and-file. So even the teabaggers who think they're fighting for the people and against the powerful are going to close ranks with the Kochs if Schumer and others attack the Kochs by name. They simply won't hear a discouraging word about them.
And to most of the people in the middle, unfortunately, the Kochs and the rest of the billionaires on the right are all but invisible. People in the middle don't pay attention to them the way politically focused righties and lefties do.
Economic populism? Go for it. It really might connect with middle-of-the-road voters, who think the economic system is rigged.
But attack the activist fat cats? It's probably a waste of time.