It’s helpful to remind ourselves from time to time: The Tea Party was NOT grassroots and was NOT about fiscal responsibility

The Republican strategy during the 2000s was always this: Scuttle Barack Obama’s presidency by cutting off as much spending as possible, and hope that by depriving the economy of oxygen he’d be sent home packing after one term.

Then they could keep pretending that upper-class tax cuts — and not the kind of direct stimulus spending that actually benefits middle-class workers — are the true engine of the economy. They were so dedicated to this strategy they pursued it even in the midst of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. That’s how much they loved their constituents.

And then along came the “Tea Party,” which Republicans used as a convenient, racially tinged cudgel to bludgeon our country’s first African-American president and deprive him of the infrastructure bill — and other sensible measures — that would have put millions back to work a long, long time ago.

In other words, they intentionally ratcheted up ordinary Americans’ pain in order to take back the levers of power they needed to please their corporate masters.

So, yeah, it was always about racism, and that couldn’t be more obvious.

A recent New York Times article noted that Republicans have thrown away all the themes that supposedly animated the Tea Party movement. Except that they haven’t. Because what the article reflects is a cleaned-up version of the Tea Party. The “concerned citizens angry about the deficit” version of the Tea Party. The semi-libertarian no-longer-silent mass that was concerned about the government “picking winners and losers.” That Tea Party is absolutely gone, because that Tea Party never existed.

That idea of the Tea Party was always a fiction—and not a polite fiction. It was the way the movement was sold not just in the pages of the Times, but on networks from CNN to Fox. But the reason that the Republican Party no longer hews to a deficit-shy, market-trusting, independent movement is because the Tea Party was never, ever, not for a moment anything close to that. It was a far-right movement, shaped and directed by talk radio, funded by Republican sources, and weaponized over a single issue—a black man as president.

Seems there’s plenty of money to spend now — because it’s going into the pockets of plutocrats instead of benefiting regular people. And the rage and racism of the tea party movement was a great excuse for keeping those government coffers under lock and key until all that filthy lucre could be redistributed back to the asses rather than to the masses.

Man holding poster that reads: "We don't want socialism, you arrogant Kenyan!" during April 15, 2010 tea party protest in St Paul, MN