Tea Party Activism and Two-Party Ideology

When the tea party movement began gaining steam last spring, the Democratic response was to tie it as quickly as possible to the Republican Party, in order to discredit it among liberals and progressives. Ironically, however, Republicans also sought to bind themselves to the movement, in order to regain credit among grassroots conservative activists. It is no coincidence that both Democrats and Republicans sought and still seek to reign in this movement by demanding that it be neatly fit within the two-party paradigm of the reigning duopoly system. But there is resistance in the movement. At The Bellingham Tea Party, Kimberly Fletcher writes that Rush Limbaugh is wrong to assume that tea party activists are simply "fed up with Democrats and the Democrat president":
I completely agree with Rush that this is a conservative movement, but he is equating Republican with conservative as if they are synonymous – and they are not. Rush insists the two parties are not the same, and while I agree that the platforms of the parties are dramatically different, the people serving in office are not. The Republican Party looks great on paper, but the people who call themselves Republicans (but for a few exceptions) either have no idea what the Party stands for or they just don't care.

The tea parties are not protesting a party; they are protesting an oppressive, out-of-control government, and both parties are guilty.

It wasn't the Democrats who pushed No Child Left Behind or the massive expansions to Medicare. It wasn't the Democrats who pushed through the $700 billion TARP. It wasn't a Democrat president who threw the Constitution out the window and expanded the powers of government well beyond the Constitution with the Patriot Act and Homeland Security. It wasn't a Democrat president that tried to legalize millions of illegal aliens and basically called the American people stupid and uncaring for fighting against it. This fight did not begin with President Obama, his taking office just escalated it.

The reason Barack Obama was elected was because of the two-party system. The people of America didn't know where else to go. How can you be heard when you are told you only have two choices and they both stink? In 2006, voters came out in mass numbers and voted Democrat down the ticket to "teach Republicans a lesson." Not only did that strategy not work, it totally backfired. In 2008, the people bought into the "Change" theme because that is what we all wanted – change in Washington. But the change we got was not what we were promised. We have taken the easy way out for too long. There is no accountability in Washington. There is no transparency. And the only way we are going to get it is to vote both parties out
Interestingly, rather than arguing for a third party option, Fletcher essentially makes a strong case against parties as such and for independent political activism:
Voting "third party" simply for the sake of change will only exacerbate the problem. We've already tried the changing of the guard, and it doesn't work. The answer is not to vote third party; the answer is to vote NO party! We need to stop voting by letters the way preschoolers color by numbers. It's time we take all the letters away and stop taking the easy way out. We need to vote people not parties, and issues not politics. That is what these tea parties and protests are about – taking the government back into our own hands where it was always meant to be. But if we allow Rush Limbaugh to convince us we are protesting a party and this whole thing comes down to Republicans versus Democrats, the movement will come to a screeching halt and we will lose all the ground we have gained.

6 comments:

Samuel Wilson said...

Contra Fletcher, it remains unclear whether the tea parties are essentially "conservative" or "libertarian." If the partiers hope to retain any independence, they should resist the "conservative" label, since the ideological demands of the Bipolarchy will inevitably pressure any avowed conservative to ally with the Republicans to defeat "liberalism" embodied in the Democratic party. "Conservatism" is hopeless as an independent rallying point unless the independents divorce their understanding of conservatism from any automatic antipathy toward Democratic proposals or anything labelled "liberal." And while I just said the tea parties are more libertarian than conservative, that doesn't mean that the Libertarian party is any perfect match for them. If the partiers really want to be independent, this is the moment for them to formulate their own platform and give it a name of their own rather than concede the semantic game to any existing party.

d.eris said...

I think one aspect of the ideological development here is that the very notion of 'conservatism' is being (re)negotiated, and potentially even redefined by the very existence of the tea party folks as a political force and many may be libertarian without even realizing it. With respect to the pressures of duopoly, many of the tea party conservatives are also reacting against the perceived 'liberalism' of the Republican Party as well as the Democratic Party, ex. interventionist foreign policy, Bush's bailouts of Wall St. being the most obvious examples, so the question might be whether they are willing to settle once again for the lesser of two evils. I think though many could be coming to the realization/conclusion that the duopoly parties are twin evils. It is also noteworthy that many of the prominent independents out there these days are former Republicans, Bloomberg, Chafee and Daggett spring to mind here.

Brittanicus said...

E-verify could become a very significant immigration enforcement weapon, as it’s shown to work extremely well? Opponents have used the courts in erroneous lawsuits as a delaying factor but failed to impress a Maryland federal judge. This application discloses unauthorized immigrants in the workplace, being continually modified in its operation as spreads into the business world. It now has been unleashed on government contractors and subcontractors to locate illegal foreign labor. We should reward those government public servants who have battled outside special interest groups for American workers. But denying elected office to those who tried to kill or weaken its capabilities. Americans should harass their politicians to enact E-Verify permanently and prepare its operational program offering many uses in the incessant law enforcement fight.

In credit practices it could determine a person’s right to buy any vehicle, if in the United Statesillegally. It could also disrupt radical organizations like ACORN that was instrumental in assisting foreign nationals buying house mortgages, which had a major impact in the real estate collapse. E-Verify should also be installed in financial institutions, to stop fraudulent transactions using bogus SS # or IRS ITIN loan identification numbers. E-Verify could help emergency rooms identify illegal immigrants using forged documents and enable law enforcement to track the employer. That business should be forced to pay for the person’s injury or treatment instead of the proverbial taxpayers. Schools, colleges could check new student admittances for their immigration status. The E-Verification identification system could accomplish numerous other extraction processes, in determining a person’s right to government benefits. In addition, I'm for Health Reform and public option for some family members. Illegal immigrants should be exempt, except for emergency hospital access.

DON'T LET E-VERIFY EXPIRE ON SEPTEMBER 30? CALL YOUR LAWMAKER AT 202-224-3121 AND DEMAND OTHER USES. E-VERIFY COULD HAVE A MAJOR IMPACT, IN THE ILLEGAL INVASION OF OUR COUNTRY. CUT-OFF ALL BENEFITS. INSIST ON RESCINDING THE BIRTHRIGHT LAW, APPLICABLE TO ILLEGAL IMMIGRANT MOTHERS. WE NEED NO NEW AMNESTY. E-VERIFY COULD SAVE BILLIONS OF DOLLARS THAT IS BEING PAID OUT TO ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS IN SANCTUARY CITIES AND STATES. IN ADDITION SAY--NO--TO FOREIGN NATIONALS BEING COUNTED IN THE 2010 CENSUS. GOOGLE-- NUMBERSUSA, JUDICIAL WATCH & CAPSWEB FOR FACTS ON YOUR DOLLARS, STATISTICS, OVERPOPULATION, FAILING INFRASTRUCTURE AND CORRUPTION IN WASHINGTON.

d.eris said...

Sounds like another big waste of $$ to justify the existence of DHS.

Liberal Arts Dude said...

This blog post describing the Precinct Project seems to indicate one direction of what practical form Tea Party activism will take (or is taking already). Strangely enough, most conservative commentators I've seen who advocate this strategy say the last politician who employed it to great effect was Barack Obama!

d.eris said...

Interesting. (Actually, I just saw that via your link at Folk Politics.) A similar strategy (the formation of neighborhood councils) was also proposed recently by Paul Rosenberg at Open Left, which I mentioned the other day.

 
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