Third Party Tea Party: Dump the Duopoly

A Washington Post article on today's 'Tax Payer' march on Washington D.C. highlights the Republican Party's awkward relationship with the tea party movement: "'Taxpayer March Attracts Party Leaders, but Some are Wary."
The groups behind the protests include a broad array of self-described libertarians, independents and other factions, who have emerged as a force largely independent of GOP leaders in Washington. Some of that is by design: Leading activists among the conservative groups say they remain suspicious of a party that endorsed runaway deficits, a Wall Street bailout and other Bush-era policies they found objectionable.
However, the GOP's attempted hijacking of the movement is now fully operational:
In addition to Pence, Thursday's kickoff rally featured House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (Ohio), Minority Whip Eric Cantor (Va.) and other top House Republicans. Pence, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) and several other lawmakers are to speak at Saturday's event. Republican officials will be distributing literature and collecting e-mail addresses in hopes of attracting more supporters to the GOP.
Clearly, party officials fear the prospect of an opposition which maintains its independence from the Democratic-Republican duopoly system of political representation:
"It's hard to tell if this will help the Republican Party win," said Rep. Mark Souder (R-Ind.), who said he expects a primary challenge from a "tea party" activist. "What it's done is energize people. The question is what will happen with the energized people: Are we going to maintain an effective two-party system or are some of them going to split off?" [Emphasis added.]
The difficulty of addressing this latter question stems from the array of false premises on which it is based. It presupposes at least: 1) that the two-party system is effective, and 2) that it should be maintained for that very reason. But what is an "effective two-party system"? Without question, the two-party system effects the disenfranchisement and alienation of huge swaths of the public, as evidenced by the massive protests against both the Bush and Obama administrations. To maintain the two-party system is to reproduce this disenfranchisement and alienation of the people, election after election, and ensure the continued concentration of power within the hands of the interests represented by the duopoly parties, which stand in diametrical opposition to the public interest. Dump the duopoly.


Liberal Arts Dude said...

I am observing with great interest what those in the Tea Party movement have as an answer to the question "OK what is that disgruntled citizens have to do to "fix the System" if it is so terribly broken. If the best answer they can give is "Vote a Republican into office" in the next elections I will be highly amused and disappointed at all this hubbub over what ends up as business as usual in American politics.

d.eris said...

Agreed, LAD. I think the tea party folks would be greatly advantaged by studying the trajectory of the anti-war movement during the Bush administration, which was organized by third party and independent groups and then effectively hijacked by the Democratic Party and quickly sold down the river. I've been following the internal debates among tea party activists to some extent for the last few months, and there is definitely a non-trivial amount of resistance to the duopoly charade. (See third party tea party posts.) We shall see.

Michael said...

The Tea Party people are at an obvious crossroads... and some of them know it. My overlap with the local Tea Party in my effort came accidentally. The Tea Party has masterfully tapped into the discontent of the electorate, no question. But their dilemma is now a question of how to harness that discontent beyond conducting rallies and translate it into tangible results. From my own experience at some of their events, I find myself asking, "so what are you going to do about it?" You can rail against almost anything but unless you ultimately take action, you're wasting your time in large part. I believe that the next logical step is for the Tea Party to find and run candidates of their own, or support those that support their message. It might be a Republican. It might be a Democrat. It can be whoever. They will simply have to do their homework on who they choose to support. In my case, we stumbled upon each other unexpectedly - neither actively sought out the other. But it quickly became evident what each of us could provide for the other while striving toward a common objective. It has to start somewhere - and it will involve taking a little risk - but support of candidates is the only logical next move for the Tea Party. If they become too concerned with a hijacking and never act, they will quickly become irrelevant. Thankfully, my experience is testament to the fact they can provide vital support while remaining completely autonomous...we don't need to hijack anybody...we went out and created our own structure with 4 viable candidates...the No New Tax Party. Start thinking local and you can make it happen.

d.eris said...

"the next logical step is for the Tea Party to find and run candidates of their own, or support those that support their message. It might be a Republican. It might be a Democrat."

As you might imagine, I think the next logical step is simply to stop supporting Republicans and Democrats, no matter what they say they support when they're pandering for votes and monetary contributions. imo, it would be extremely naive for tea party activists to throw their support to representatives of either of the duopoly parties on any basis whatsoever, thinking that this time things will be different. The only logical step is to step up against the duopoly system and run candidates against the bipoligarchy. The very existence of the No New Tax Party, for instance, proves this is a viable option.

Michael said...

I agree, Damon. I intended to make the point (and I'm about to try it again poorly) that as voters (or organizations like the Tea Party) that the labels shouldn't necessarily matter. We've simply got to find and support the "best" candidates. I don't think that should exclude someone because they are registered to a party. The reality is that we're probably still on the evolution to a true third party and that might involve currently registered Democrats or Republicans (like the situation I find myself in). In no way did I mean to imply that the Tea Party should get behind one or the other as their vehicle. But until these groups can "grow" their own candidates, it's likely to involve people like me. In the end, I don't believe in endorsements of any kind period. The only endorsement a candidate should be seeking is that of the people.