Phil Russo, a libertarian-leaning, self-described "Goldwater Republican," was one of the earliest supporters of the tea party. But now, in an op-ed published in the Grio on Tuesday, he proclaims that the conservative movement is dead, killed off by members of the "political and religious right" who have poisoned it with toxic strands of hypocrisy and racism.
Russo, who was active in the tea party for some time as a radio host and campaign consultant in Florida, writes that he joined the movement in hopes of broadening the GOP's reach. He believed the tea party would call out hypocritical areas of the party's platform on social issues, and draw in independent voters "genuinely angry about the bank bailouts" in the wake of the financial crisis.
It was working, Russo writes, until moneyed interests "hijacked" the tea party, allowing it to turn into the "religious right in tri-corner hats" sometime after the Republican wave elections in 2010. Since then, it's gotten worse, Russo says.