Mark Quick, who in 2011 ran with Sussex County Tea Party president Roseann Salanitri against conservative legislators Alison Littell McHose and Gary Chiusano, used social media to post what appeared to be a threat against GOP Assembly Leader Jon Bramnick and others. Quick's post was in response to a plea for civility made by Assemblyman Bramnick:
"I am deeply concerned how partisanship has evolved into hatred and intolerance. We must be very careful that our country does not continue down a path that can only be destructive for our nation."
Quick, who opposes the tax restructuring plan supported by Assemblyman Bramnick and others, responded derisively:
"As soon as the Traitors are in jail or swinging from a rope."
"Traitors... swinging from a rope?" Was that violent image (lynching) really necessary?
But this is just what we have come to expect from Sussex County's tea partiers -- coarse, pornographic rants laced with threats of violence. Posting mainly through social media, those responsible sound more like 15 year-olds than the 70 pluses they tend to be.
Here is one Sussex County tea party member musing on what should be done with the United States Congress:
"All 545 sitting in DC right now are guilty of treason. And all those living who have sat over the past 2 decades, since the signing of NAFTA are, too. That is our reality, they should all be indicted, dragged out in chains, the evidence a matter of congressional record and unimpeachable. And all should be subject to all the consequences the law provides up to the firing squad."
But not every Tea Party group is like this. On the website of a Tea Party organization in a neighboring county, we found this admonishment to members:
Remember the quote attributed to Ronald Reagan “The person who agrees with you 80 percent of the time is a friend and an ally – not a 20 percent traitor.”
Sussex County has New Jersey's most reliable conservative legislators -- year in, year out. And yet, since the beginnings of the Tea Party movement in 2010, tea party members in Sussex County have consistently attacked them as "20 percent traitors" (actually, we'd be surprised if there was five percent disagreement on the issues between them).
The Tea Party has attacked Assemblywoman Alison Littell McHose, Assemblyman Gary Chiusano, Assemblyman Parker Space, Senator Steve Oroho, and others. It lay aside developing a door-to-door commitment for Congressman Scott Garrett, in order to focus its attentions on the apparently far more thrilling game of screw the conservative Republican. Why go after Pro-abortion, anti-Second Amendment liberal Democrat Josh Gottheimer when you can screw Pro-Life, Pro-gun, Pro-hunting conservative Republican Steve Oroho? It's priorities.
It has never been about policy for the Tea Party in Sussex County, but rather about individual envy, jealousy, covetousness, and the hatred these sins produce. Now, unfortunately, the ooze is making its way around the state, courtesy of Bill Spadea and others.
Update! While writing this column we've heard from another Sussex County Tea Party member (Skylands Tea Party) and candidate for the state legislature. He made this charming comment:
Now there's the kind of guy you want in the State Legislature, providing leadership, a role model for children. Go Tea Party!