Although the tea party’s influence is “undeniable,” it is not inevitable — and it must be crushed for the good of the nation, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) argued in a long political speech on Thursday.”They’ve won elections, stymied Democratic priorities and taken a sledgehammer to programs that are important to tens of millions of Americans,” he complained.Among other recommendations, Schumer suggested an IRS crackdown on funding for tea party groups. “We have to look at electoral reform,” he said.”Our very electoral structure has been rigged to favor tea party candidates in Republican primaries, even when the district or the state may not be that red.”

Schumer said “the tea party machine” has a particularly strong influence on Republican primaries, partly because the far right turns out to vote; and partly because of gerrymandering — “where Republicans have learned to capture state legislatures and then use innovative technology to draw districts where a Democrat could never be elected.