Spoiling for a Fight: Don't Get Fooled Again II

Tea party activists across the country continue to be confronted with the question of whether to infiltrate the duopoly parties or to maintain their independence from the two-party political status quo. In the LSU Daily Reveille, Nate Monroe reports on the state of the debate in Louisiana:
What’s notable about the tea party protesters, [poli-sci professor] Hogan said, is their willingness to take on Democrats and Republicans — the party with which many conservative protesters have historically associated.

 A late-September Gallup poll indicates approval ratings of both parties in the U.S. Congress are at record-low levels, 36 percent for Democrats and 27 percent for Republicans . . . “We’re willing to take on any party,” said Robin Harris Edwards, former president and current member of the Baton Rouge Tea Party. “We’re willing to hold anyone responsible for what the people want.”

Hogan said the big unknown question is whether this dissatisfaction with both parties will lead to the rise of a third party. "[Republicans] are leaderless — there’s no spokesperson for the party that sticks out, and there’s now a vacuum there,” Hogan said. “If you’re a minor party or libertarian candidate, you’re thinking maybe they’ll gravitate to my candidacy.” . . .

Edwards was quick to point out there is much debate within the tea party movement about where to go next. Some, like her, advocate working with, rather than against, the Republican Party. “It’s unwise strategically to form all these extra parties and split votes,” she said. Others disagree with Edwards and prefer looking for ways to branch out from the Republican Party, like forming a third-party. 

Edwards said one of the reasons she stepped down as president of the Baton Rouge Tea Party was because of a rumor she was too loyal to the Republican Party for the movement to succeed independently — something she categorically says is untrue. [Emphasis added.] “I’m just trying to make changes within the party and bring the Republican Party back to being the beacon of conservative values,” she said. “That should be our cause.”
Sounds like they were right to force her out of the position: "I'm not too loyal to the party, I just believe that it is the fount of liberty, justice and the conservative way." The false premise underlying Edwards' position here is, of course, that the Republican Party has at some point supported "conservative values" with anything other than sound bites and slogans. Their conservatism is purely rhetorical in nature: the Republican Party is Republican-in-name-only. Like the Democrats, the "values" with which the right wing of the Democratic-Republican duopoly machine is primarily concerned are those on checks cut by lobbyists and on the balance statements of their campaign funds accounts. These are the only "checks and balances" of note among the functionaries and representatives of the reigning two-party state.

This basic fact is intuitively grasped by an increasingly large percentage of the population. In an article for the Washington Times on the upcoming special election in New York's 23rd congressional district, Kara Rowland considers the "prospect of a tea-party effect" in the three-way race between Republican Dede Scozzafava, Democrat Bill Owens and Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman. Via The Thirds:
Mr. Hoffman's message is simple: no more bailouts, no more tax increases and no more trillion-dollar deficits. "People are fed up with the two major parties, and they want someone who's going to take some action," said Hoffman spokesman Rob Ryan. He says "anger, anger and anger" over both parties is giving the Conservative Party candidate legs and double-digit polling numbers. Mrs. Scozzafava's camp dismisses criticism of her conservative credentials as largely irrelevant, stressing that the bottom line is that she can win [emphasis added] . . .

Mark Barie, founder of the local Upstate New York Tea Party, said "there's a great deal of concern, and it cuts across party lines." "This message of less taxes and less government and less spending resonates widely, especially with the seniors, especially with young families," Mr. Barie said. "They're scared out of their mind that by the time they're going to retire there's nothing left." Mr. Barie's group, which formed about three weeks ago, held a candidates forum this past weekend that drew 200 people. Mrs. Scozzafava and Mr. Hoffman were there; Mr. Owens' campaign canceled at the last minute, citing a scheduling conflict. While the tea-party group is not endorsing a candidate in the race, Mr. Barie said he personally prefers Mr. Hoffman's positions on the issues.
The GOP and their preferred candidate's campaign thus explicitly admit that Scozzafava's lack of conservative credentials is "largely irrelevant," and are willing to accept the risk of spoiling the chances of electing an avowed staunch conservative on the basis of nothing more than partisan loyalty. I am reminded here of a proposition recently put forward by Stacey McCain at The Other McCain apropos of Democratic voters, but the point holds for the Republican dittohead as well: "people with unfortunate sexual habits are kind of like people who keep voting for Democrats no matter how badly the Democrats screw them over."

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