Third Party Tea Party

With the next national tea party mobilization planned for July 4th, Sean Haugh at Re-Tea Party calls on activists and organizers of the events to "reach out across the aisle" to liberals and progressives, while urging the latter to join in the demonstrations, on the basis of common interests. Haugh identifies a number of points of convergence between the left and right on various issues (opposition to the bailouts, anti-corporatism, social justice and individual liberty), arguing that they render the very distinction between right and left meaningless. He writes: "The dividing line is no longer between left and right. The division in our society is now between the robbers and the robbed." Of course, this division has been operative for some time, as the Thomas Nast cartoon on the left indicates, but there does indeed seem to be a new consciousness of its action and effects. Rasmussen Reports has even adopted new measures to gauge the depth of the division between what it calls the 'political class' and 'mainstream America.'

Nonetheless, it appears unlikely that many folks on the left or right will heed Haugh's call. Liberal Democrats have already constructed their own private master-narrative of the movement, according to which it is little more than a Republican astro-turfing campaign, while Republicans apparently aim to prove them right, and utilize the swell of discontent to re-consolidate the right within the confines of the GOP in the interests of short-term electoral gains. One tea party organizer marshals the usual list of duopolist arguments to discourage third party activism within the movement:
As Conservatives, Libertarians and Republicans we need to be united behind a National party next year. There simply is not enough time to go through the process of getting third party people on the various state ballots and elected. We simply don't have the resources to fight the Democrats as independents without splitting the Republican Party again and guaranteeing the Democrats a victory. That is what the Democrats are counting on. Divide and Conquer.
Given this scenario, it is likely already too late for many to "reach across the aisle" as Haugh would have it. And, in any case, is not such a gesture rendered moot by the recognition that the distinction between left and right is a false dichotomy? However, the fact that Republicans are still concerned about independent and third party campaigns arising out of the tea party protests is a sign that the tea partisanship debate has not yet been resolved in favor of the duopoly charade. The July 4th protests will thus be another opportunity for third party and independent activists to reach out to Republicans and the unaffiliated alike.


Samuel Wilson said...

The challenge involved in any effort by the Tea Partiers to reach "across the aisle" to their left is the aversion felt by people of "the left" to the perceived anti-government bias of the Tea Parties. From what I saw and heard of the first round, the default ideology of the Tea movement has "personal responsibility" as an essential component, but many Americans can't help but translate that as "every man for himself." The Tea people need to clarify their stance on government before they can hope to draw new supporters across the aisle to their camp.

d.eris said...

I don't think the 'tea people' really have a unified stance on government, which could be an asset if exploited correctly by groups interested in breaking open the duopoly order. But this has also left them open to hijacking by the Republican Party, and pigeon-holing by the Democrats. On a local, even personal level, however, efforts to bring in a wider section of the political spectrum may prove fruitful.