Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Tea Party is Alive and Well

One of the benefits of being older (and I added another year to my total yesterday), is that rarely do you see something new.  The same is true in politics.  After every election comes the inevitable stories about how the results signal a demise of a political party or faction.   After every election the prognosticator is proven to be wrong.

This time the prediction is about the Tea Party.   Supposedly the May primary which featured establishment Republican congressional incumbents beating tea party challengers across the country, signals the end of the Tea Party.  Ha, ha.  That's a good one.

First, most of those that are willing to announce the demise of the Tea Party, simply do not understand what it is.  Particularly those on the left take the simplistic, albeit not surprising, view that "Tea Party Republican" is just another term for "Extreme Republican."  But at the core of the Tea Party is a message that is much more lunch-pail and blue collar than the GOP establishment.  The Tea Party believes that powerful politicians, including Republicans, have rigged the system so that their friends can become richer in our capitalist system.  Tea party people regularly denounce corporate welfare, i.e. crony capitalism  Indeed the Tea Party first rose up as a response to corporate bailouts of the last decade that featured Joe and Jill Taxpayer being required to bail out the wealthy and politically-connected who had made bad economic bets. 

Even things like privatization is criticized by Tea Party people.  Why? Because they know it will become an excuse for politicians to transfer money from individual taxpayers to corporate interests who have bought influence.

A second feature of the Tea Party is libertarianism.  Go to a Tea Party meeting and you will consistently hear criticism of the government taking away people's civil liberties.  They regularly denounce NSA spying on Americans, civil forfeiture, longer prison sentences for non-violent offenders, even the War on Drugs.

But what about the Establishment GOP?  Don't the election results show that status quo is the way to go, that the Republican Party should be about rigging the system so that the GOP corporate friends can make yet more money?

Certainly taking such a position is profitable in terms of political contributions.  Big corporate interests want to keep the economic system rigged and are willing to pay big bucks to keep it that way.  Incumbents who take this position are going to be well-funded.  But in the end, Republican politicians supporting corporate welfare is political death.   There are no votes there.  What are the future winning GOP positions?  Populism and libertarianism, the message of the Tea Party.

The notion that these concepts - populism and libertarianism - is losing luster in Republican ranks is, well, laughable.  Those movements, which are reflected in the Tea Party, are the future of the Republican Party.  They are where the energy and the votes are.

That the Tea Party failed to knock off incumbent members of Congress in a Republican primary is hardly a surprise.  Those members of Congress running for re-election enjoy every advantage imaginable.  But the fact that so many people were willing to engage on that quixotic adventure and had armies of people lined up to assist show the incredible strength of Tea Party populism and libertarianism.  No, the Tea Party is not dead.   Not by a long shot.


Anonymous said...

So the Tea Party Mantra is no corporate bailouts or favors, no privatization, protection of civil liberties, just sentencing guidelines, and paying less attention to big money corporate interests. Are you sure you guys aren’t just Democrats?

Flogger said...

Ralph Nader recently had an article on a Left-Right Alliance. As a person from Left I do believe on many issues we can agree on with the Right.

The Republicans and Democrats here in Marion County have formed the Republicrat Party. Crony-Capitalism and Corporate Welfare is repeatedly affirmed as a Valid Economic Plan.

The Democrats have been silent on the Profiteering by Eric Turner.

LamLawIndy said...

They would be what used to be called Bourbon Democrats.

Indy Rob said...

Tea-party is a term being used by established republicans and democrats as a bogeyman, with the deliberate intentions of staying rich and in power.

Not sure how to get these losers out of power.

Unknown said...

Happy Belated Birthday, Paul. You are catching up.

Richard Denning

Stephen R. Diamond said...

Why does the Tea Party oppose the downward redistribution of wealth? From where comes the dogma that a just distribution of wealth is whatever would be provided by the free market?

Huge wealth inequalities, moreover, are _bound_ to result in crony capitalism.

Blockade Master said...

The Tea Party is essentially a Constitutional philosophy, one of the style of the founding fathers. In NO way is it anything like the Democrats, who have for the last century enveloped themselves in Marxist progressivism. Often that also means they are not like Republicans, especially the Establishment variety.
If you wanted to compare the Tea Party (which is not a political party anyway...) to the Democrats, you'd have to go clear back to the kind that began to disappear in the early 1900's. Like George Wilder Cartwright, quoted in this post:
The Winter Chill Coming to Your Living Room

David Ford said...

That was the message of my campaign, David W. Ford for Congress-5th Congressional District. In Indiana, Republicans outnumber Democrats. In the 5th, it is the worst; 1-12 in Hamilton county, 1-7 in Grant, 1-1 in Madison, 1-8 in Tipton, 1-8 in Boone, 1-8 in Howard county outside of Kokomo city limits. My message was to build a coalition of Democrats, Libertarians, disgruntled Republicans, in addition to the ever important Independents. My message was that we did not have to agree on everything. And President John F. Kennedy's words of unity were to be the glue that held us together.

"Let us seek not the Republican answer nor the Democratic answer, but the right answer. Let us not seek to place blame, but to accept our own responsibility for the future." -Speech at Loyola College Alumni Banquet, Baltimore, Maryland, 18 February, 1958

Unfortunately, there are elements of the Democratic party that refuse to see the reality of the situation and would rather loose elections and be ideologically pure and in doing so drive away allies, that to tone down partisanship and build alliances. For Libertarians, disgruntled GOP such as the Tea Party, and Liberal Democrats to ally together was the natural, if unlikely, alliance to challenge the Republican political machine that dominates Indiana. It also had the novelty of never having been done in recent history. And the fact that these groups were unlikely to ally is what makes the establishment so contemptuous of the people. For them to ally would be the worst nightmare for Carl Rove and his acolytes.

Looking at the primary results of the 5th Congressional district is rather telling. Republican side, the turnout was worse than in 2012; 49,135 in 2014 compared to 104,123 in 2012. Half the Republican base stayed home. Democrat side, Mr. Denny won by just over 1,300. Over 3/4 of that margin of victory came from Marion county where the Ford campaign did not even contest. Madison county had the second largest margin of victory where Mr. Denny won by just 200 votes. It is also interesting to note that in Madison county, only 72% of the voters actually picked a congressional candidate while everywhere else, 94% of the votes cast pick one of the congressional candidates. The UAW 663 Union machine in Anderson and the Carson Family political machine in Indianapolis came out in direct support of Mr. Denny after the candidate's debate on May 27th. The political machine won the primary, but WILL loose the general election.