Tea Party reality, and its dangers

A recent and riveting piece on the Mother Jones Website, a long profile/interview of U.S. Rep. Bob Inglis, (R-SC), a staunch conservative who was recently taken out by a Tea Party -backed candidate, documents the chilling reality of the party and its adherents' off-the-wall conceptions.

Inglis describes his descent into the depths of party wrangling with a constituency that had no regard for truth much less civility. He describes scenes in which he is left speechless in the face of elaborate fabrications, and he describes his decision not to stoop to the fever of the moment by referring to Obama as a socialist because it would simply be a lie.

Here's a taste:

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During his primary campaign, Inglis repeatedly encountered enraged conservatives whom he couldn't—or wouldn't—satisfy. Shortly before the runoff primary election, Inglis met with about a dozen tea party activists at the modest ranch-style home of one of them. Here's what took place:

I sat down, and they said on the back of your Social Security card, there's a number. That number indicates the bank that bought you when you were born based on a projection of your life's earnings, and you are collateral. We are all collateral for the banks. I have this look like, "What the heck are you talking about?" I'm trying to hide that look and look clueless. I figured clueless was better than argumentative. So they said, "You don't know this?! You are a member of Congress, and you don't know this?!" And I said, "Please forgive me. I'm just ignorant of these things." And then of course, it turned into something about the Federal Reserve and the Bilderbergers and all that stuff. And now you have the feeling of anti-Semitism here coming in, mixing in. Wow.

As much as it is revelatory of the Tea Party it is also a story of how a politician matured and showed courage even though it meant the end of his career. So it's simultaneously a frightening and uplifting tale.

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