Mike Hassinger is a political consultant with Landmark Communications in Atlanta, Georgia. These views are his own.
The Tea Party movement has been ignored, mocked, dismissed, and cast as a collection of conspiracy kooks and racists. To become a genuine political force, this fledgling movement must face internal challenges of direction and leadership while under full assault from the statists on the left and their enabling lapdogs in the mainstream media. In one sense the Tea Party’s journey has been a compressed version of libertarianism -it took libertarians decades to become misunderstood and marginalized, whereas the Tea Partiers have done so in less than a year.
The Tea Party, as force in American electoral politics, stands at a crossroads –several crossroads, actually. Do they form their own political party, or back candidates from existing parties who support their views? Will they start small, with state and local races, or swing for the fences and jump into contested races in the house and Senate? The biggest question is going unasked: Will they co-opt, or be co-opted, and if they’re co-opted, who’s going to get them?
Podcast: Congressional Pay, Debra Medina & Glenn Beck, Tea Party Convention, DC Snow, Guests: Valerie Meyers & Luke Brady
A couple weeks ago I wrote a post about the term “Tea Party” and how it was meaningless because it represented such a wide range of views. In my opinion the term had come to represent such a broad range of views that, in essence, it no longer represented anything.
I received quite a bit of negative feedback from that post. What some readers fail to realize is that there are members of the Tea Party who are neo-conservative, paleo-conservative, paleo-conservative, libertarian, and “independents.” Hardly is there a consensus of what policy is desirable!
A great example of the difference of opinion in the tea party is a simple example I ran across. If you took everyone in the “Tea Party” and showed them a billboard with George W. Bush on it and the words “miss me yet?” what kind of response would you expect?
I can guarantee you that there would be many who would think it is the greatest thing ever. On the other hand you would have others who would think, “wrong message, Bush was not conservative and we need to move away from Bush.” Finally you would have many who just shake their head.
One thing we must keep in mind is that in our winner-take-all system, the natural movement is towards a two party system. It is inevitable and hard (though certainly not impossible) to change this movement. When there is only two major political parties there will naturally be fighting within the party about what the party platform should be.
I think it is nearly impossible to deny that the Republican party has shifted (however slightly) away from the neo-con agenda and closer to the libertarian agenda. This is consistent with the winner-take-all model as the Republican Party must appeal to the growing small government/libertarian sect so that their party can win the majority.
Rand Paul is the next Senator of Kentucky. The election is all but wrapped up.
Most people will immediately respond that it is way too early to make such a statement; how can we possibly know what will happen over the next nine to ten months? I will concede the point that we can never be sure how an election will turn out ten months before the vote, but all evidence points towards a Rand Paul win come November.
Rand has seen meteoric rise in the polls over the past five months. He went from losing 26-37 in August to establishment pick Trey Grayson, to leading Grayson 44-25 in December. Also, while he was picking up this lead there was an increasing number of undecided voters from 17% in August to 32% in December. The momentum is clearly on Rand Paul’s side.
From the beginning Rand has arguably run a stronger campaign. Despite never being elected to office in Kentucky, Paul had the advantage of being Congressman Ron Paul’s son. This allowed him to make his announcement on national television that he would be running for Senate. While Trey Grayson attacked this as an example of how Paul was an “outsider” to Kentucky, the famous comeback by Paul swung this war of words in his favor, “I’ve been a Kentuckian longer than Grayson’s been a Republican!”
In my opinion the term “Tea Party” or “Tea Party Candidate” and the whole “Tea Party Movement” is irrelevant. It means nothing! It hasn’t meant anything meaningful for a long time.
Perhaps this is too radical a statement for most people, but ask yourself this: Do Ron Paul and Sean Hannity have the same political views? The clear answer is no. Hannity supports supply-side economics, Paul Austrian. Hannity supports our current foreign policy (including Guantanamo Bay, torture, and our foreign presence in over 100 nations) while Paul supports a foreign policy of non-intervention. Hannity supports Bush regardless of the argument, while Paul will criticize both parties about their big-government policies. Hannity and Paul have completely different political ideologies when they are examined.
Here’s the problem: the tea parties were not entirely made up of libertarian uproar about BOTH parties, but instead have become a combination of libertarians, paleo-conservatives, and of course neo-cons. Ever since I saw Sean Hannity have a live show at a tea party and talk up the tea parties, I knew that there was a serious misinterpretation about what the tea party movement is and what the true identity is.
We can talk all day about how the “tea party” candidate Doug Hoffman was lifted up by conservatives across the nation. But now we have Scott Brown being lifted up as the “tea party” candidate. I have to give credit to The Humble Libertarian as they pointed out that Scott Brown might be against government controlled health care, but he most certainly is not a libertarian by any stretch of the imagination. Comparing Brown to the libertarian candidate Joe Kennedy:
It’s the last day of 2009. We made it through a crazy year that saw liberty put at risk on an all to regular basis. We decided the best way to recap the year was to take ten of 2009’s biggest stories and write a blurb about each one of them (we tried to keep it short and to the point).
Before you continue on, each of us here at UL want to thank you for a great 2009. We appreciate you reading. We’re planning for world domination in 2010 and hope that you’ll join in the fun.
So, here they are in no particular order, United Liberty’s Top 10 Stories from 2009.
Tea Party Movement (Brett Bittner): The wave of “hope” and “change” that swept Barack Obama into the Presidency of the United States closed out 2008 and opened the door to a new movement in American politics, the Tea Party movement. I believe that his election was merely a catalyst for many groups of a conservative nature and strong views on limited government to unite to form one voice to stand up to the political status quo, calling out Democrats and Republicans alike for their affinity to grow the size of government to a breaking point.
Last week, I had the opportunity to attend candidate forums for my upcoming local elections in Marietta, Georgia. To give you some background, I live in the county seat of one of the “reddest” counties in what would probably be the “reddest” state, if not for the ultra-“blue” Atlanta, in the nation. During the candidate forums for mayor, city council, and school board, nearly all of the candidates amazed me by saying nothing remotely “conservative” when it comes to the spending by the government in our community.
Though our mayor, city council, and school board are elected via non-partisan elections, I estimate that the vast majority of the candidates align themselves with the Republican Party. As I can attest from what I saw at the candidate forums, Republicans have learned nothing from their drubbings in the Congressional elections of 2006 and 2008, as they are STILL all too happy to spend other people’s money under the banner of the party who keeps promising to be one of limited government. As the Tea Party Movement develops, many establishment Republicans highlight their “libertarian streaks,” and the “progressive” wing of the Democrat Party dominates the Congressional agenda, these local aspiring politicians seem content to continue operating as the “compassionate conservatives” of the George W. Bush era, marginalized by being “more of the same.”
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” - Margaret Mead
The left leaning media outlets made much of the numbers at Wednesday’s Tea Parties. Keith Olbermann especially mocked some Tea Parties attended by less than recent sporting events. Understanding that Olbermann’s primary objective is not to inform (but rather to sell advertising), his observations (as well as those of his fellow travelers) avoid the important point.
Despite the assertions of most MSM outlets, the Tax Day Tea Parties were not Republican love-fests. Most who attended are just as angry at the ridiculous expanse of the federal government under the Bush administration as we are at Obama’s clear intent to continue what W started. This video is a clear example.
However, sources indicate that this may be just the beginning. Are you ready to attend meetings and rallies for your local RINO legislator and let him or her know how you feel about their voting record? Sounds like it’s time to turn up the heat.
A top adviser to President Barack Obama takes a dim view of last week’s anti-tax “tea parties,” promoted by organizers in the spirit of the Boston Tea Party.
“The thing that bewilders me is this president just cut taxes for 95 percent of the American people. So I think the tea bags should be directed elsewhere because he certainly understands the burden that people face,” David Axelrod said Sunday.
The rallies coincided with the deadline to file income taxes, and gave people a chance also to voice frustrations about government spending and corporate bailouts.
Axelrod was asked on CBS’ “Face the Nation” for his opinion on what the show’s host described as “this spreading and very public disaffection with not only the government, but especially the Obama administration.”