Alex Constantine - September 29, 2012
By Lauren Fox
US News & World Report, September 4, 2012
When James Hoffa, president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, looks at the Tea Party today, he flashes back to 1964 and sees the John Birch Society.
"The Tea Party, these right wingers are basically the modern-day John Birch Society," he told U.S. News. "They are being extremists."
The John Birch Society gained traction in the earl 60s with its vehemently anti-communist rhetoric and distrust in government.
Hoffa says just like in the early 60s when the John Birch Society pushed for Barry Goldwater, who was the more conservative candidate, to be the Republican presidential nominee, the Tea Party has forced its the GOP further to the right.
"It's just like in 1964 when Goldwater ran against Johnson and the John Birch society was calling the shots."
Hoffa says the strong voice of the Tea Party in Congress has forced the Republican leadership to ignore party centrists, which ultimately could put Republicans at risk among the general electorate this November.
"These people are so far to the right that they are putting themselves off of the field," Hoffa says."The Republican party and the Romney, Ryan combo have veered so far to the right that they have lost their credibility on almost any issue."
But while Hoffa insists their ideas are too radical for the country, the one advantage that the Republicans have these days, Hoffa says is a financial one.
Hoffa argues the Supreme Court's ruling in the Citizens United case, which allowed people to donate unlimited amounts of campaign cash in the name of free speech, gave Republicans an edge and left the party vulnerable to being held hostage to radical far-right interests.
"We cannot have one person underwriting an entire campaign," Hoffa says.
Republicans have countered the argument by accusing the Teamsters of dumping millions into elections on behalf of Democrats.
According to the Sunlight Foundation, a group that tracks election spending, public sector unions alone have spent $139 million in the election so far.
While the Teamsters are big donors, Hoffa says it's an unfair comparison.
"There is no million dollar guy on the Teamsters giving money," he says. "Everyone puts in $50 or $20 and they find a way to get the job done."