Third Party Tea Party

The liberal critique of the tea party protests held on tax day rests on the claim that, contrary to the opinion that it is a grassroots movement of everyday Americans, they are rather the result of a coordinated Republican astro-turfing campaign, a point which is now being parroted by Democratic leaders in the House. However, this position is undermined by the fact that the said Republican astro-turfing campaign arguably arose in response to the groundswell of support for the actions among grassroots organizers. Jane Hamsher's 'Brief History of Tea-Bagging' could even be said to support this idea. The second entry in her timeline reads: "December 16, 2007, Ron Paul supporters have the first anti-tax Tea Party, reinact dumping of tea into Boston Harbor by tossing banners into a box." Ron Paul and his many supporters are, of course, to a great extent reviled by mainstream Republicans, and can hardly be considered corporate shills. In addition, Hamsher also fails to mention the founding of a new libertarian political party, significantly named the Boston Tea Party, in 2006.

Moreover, though Republican operatives were likely involved in the tea party protests at all levels, and even spoke at some events, many organizers in fact turned down bids by prominent Republicans to speak at their events. Republicans have thus redoubled their efforts to capture this movement for their own electoral advantage, proving that they are not yet the owners of it, despite their efforts and their cheerleaders in the corporate media. None other than Karl Rove writes in the WSJ:
the open question is whether Republicans will be boosted by the nascent tea-party movement . . . to tap into that constituency Republicans will have to link lower taxes to money in voters' pockets, and economic growth and jobs. They must explain why the GOP approach will lead to greater prosperity. Such arguments are not self-executing. (Emphasis added.)
On the other hand, local tea party organizers themselves have been vocal in their rejection of both the Republican and Democratic parties in addition to duopoly-style partisan politics. More evidence of the latter continues to surface. Dashiell at Some Wicked:
The protesters were not protesting Obama, they were protesting the bullshit that is the two party system . . . hopefully, these TEA parties will evolve into other real parties, the Libertarian Party has a great opportunity here, but knowing them they’ll probably blow it. They ain’t getting media coverage either, so… The thing that has to happen is the protesters have to get away from any kind of associations with the two party system that is in bed with each other. Big Business and Government are in bed, and the mass media are their cheerleaders.
Kenny's Sideshow likely echoes the views of many others who attended the rallies:
I was disappointed that none of the speakers came right out and called the two party system a sham. I did hear some calls from the crowd for independent candidates. My feel is that there are many who don't trust any politician of any party. No one called the politicians by their rightful name.....criminals.
Jason at the Western Experience also draws attention to this facet of the internal debate in calling attention to the fact that many participants . . .
argue that in order for it be successful the movement itself must lead the change in politics and not the other way around. To work outside of the two party system and lead them back to sensibility or make them obsolete.
It should come as no surprise to readers here that both Republican strategists and operatives as well as their liberal Democratic 'opponents' and critics share a common program, namely to tie this movement as quickly as possible into the fabric of the two-party system. The Democrats did their duty to the duopoly by co-opting the strength, message and momentum of anti-war movement via the Obama campaign. Now the Republicans are seeking to do their part to maintain the political status quo. All should be opposed at every turn.


kenny's sideshow said...

"All should be opposed at every turn."

I hope that's the main message that comes from all of this.

d.eris said...

It's a difficult message to get across, many people literally cannot comprehend the idea. Hillary Clinton, for instance.

Michael said...

It's easy to understand why the Republicans see the TEA movement as a natural fit - Republicans have typically been the champions of tax cuts and this is an easy way to capitalize on the grassroots momentum to solidify their own power.

The problem I see for the TEA people is that as simple as their message may appear, their actual agendas are very complicated. I know firsthand how hard it is to maintain people's motivation to a cause and the complicated agenda will hinder actual success on the simple message.

Real progress will come from smaller offshoots that simplify the approach, in my opinion.