Tea Party Revolution Suffers Defeat at the Hands of Red-Coated Loyalists to the Two-Party State, Some Carry On the Work of Real Opposition

The National Tea Party Convention in Nashville, Tennessee represents the public hijacking and cooptation of the tea party movement by the Republican Party. If the attempt proves to be successful, the tea party movement is effectively dead, defeated and absorbed by the entrenched powers it once claimed to oppose. As the Wall Street Journal reports:
In Nashville, the prevailing view was that the Tea Party should not seek to build a third party movement but work within the confines of the two-party system. "I suspect the Tea Party strategy is to commandeer the Republican machine," said Roger Webb, a 65-year-old freelance photojournalist.
In one short year, the tea party movement has gone from being a source of opposition to the ruling parties and powers that be, to a relatively reliable source of support for the order that ensures the continued dominance of the Democratic-Republican duopoly system of government. As conservative Republican propagandists of the two-party state continue their assaults on third party and independent activism, their foot soldiers argue that the best way to fight the Democratic-Republican political establishment is to become a part of it. Consider these "words of advice" to tea party activists from Anthony Del Pellegrino:
Apply that organizational ability and activism into taking over the two Parties that exist. Make those Parties the political organization that represent what you want them to represent, not what the establishment political class wants it to stand for.
This is not a strategy for victory, it is a plan for capitulation. Self-styled tea party "revolutionaries" have proven incapable of maintaining their political independence and are now effectively taking their marching orders from red-coated crypto-communist loyalists of the Democratic-Republican Party. Perhaps the simplest explanation for this development lies in the left's unwillingness to become involved with the movement almost from the very beginning and thus the GOP came to be seen as the movement's "natural ally".

It should be noted here, however, that not all tea party activists are so naive as to believe that the solution to the problem represented by the Democratic-Republican two-party state is to be found by accommodating the Democratic-Republican two-party state. In two little noticed stories reported last week, tea party activists in Connecticut and New York have begun efforts which may well lead to the creation of real independent third party opposition groups in those states.

Update: Writing at a Nashville Post blog, Kleinheider observes:
The tea party movement is dead. The one I was familiar with anyway. Judson Phillips held it down and Sarah Palin drove a stake right through its heart live last night on C-Span in front of an unsuspecting audience . . .

The movement, that came to be officially recognized almost a year ago but whose roots go back further than that, has been snuffed out and replaced in the public mind. The movement that began as a people’s movement of angry independent, libertarians and conservatives will now be thought as the movement of people like Palin, Dick Armey, Judson Phillips, Mark Skoda, etc. Essentially, a wholly owned subsidiary of the “Official Conservative Movement” and the Republican Party.

This new tea party bears no resemblance to the one that began a year ago as a reaction to the collapse of our financial system and the subsequent bailout. That movement of ragtag and unorganized libertarians, independents and conservatives was something new and unique.


BuelahMan said...

I have been slow to throw the movement into the toilet, just because it was hijacked.

There are people that are truly Tea Partyists, and then there are those who hijacked the movement as you note.

Those that are true to the independent nature and original ideals of this movement should be commended. It is the idiots who are stealing it that should be reprimanded and denied any further megaphone to spew the hate.

d.eris said...

I think there is still potential for political independence within the tea party movement, but the ease with which is has been hijacked does not bode well for its future.

Amanda Read said...

Thank you for the thoughtful comment on my blog post, http://amandaread.com/?p=1405:

"“the rejection of the Two-Party system was contrary to American Government and History.”

Actually, third party and independent political organizations have been active in US politics from the very beginning of the republic, and there is virtually no point in our political history in which none were active. Arguably, it is the two-party system that is contrary to American government. The constitution does not mandate any “party system” whatsoever. To argue that a two-party state is necessary for government in the United States is to imply that the constitution does not in fact constitute a functional representative government."

Well if you put it that way, the Constitution intends for no political parties to exist whatsoever. President Washington didn't like the idea of any sort of factions. But since running for office in a federal republic involves competition, parties are inevitable. It's all about organizing the competition.

Of course third-parties have existed for a long time. But have they been successful venues for American political office? Rarely. Teddy Roosevelt's Bull Moose party was a flop, and so was Ross Perot's third-party attempt. Both merely divided voters and weakened one of the other established parties.

Although it might not be strictly Constitutional, the second-party system is very cultural.

An independent third party would be just as susceptible to corruption as any of the established ones. There is no way that you can organize any sort of team and force it to not seem controlled by a "machine". It's up to the individual voters to remain unshackled.


d.eris said...

Thanks for stopping by Amanda. I already responded back at your blog and then saw your comment here. But to reiterate - and elaborate -... Washington did indeed warn against precisely the sort of factional party system we have today, he called it a "frightful despotism." To accept the two-party system as the horizon of our politics is to capitulate to that despotism.

As Madison said, freedom is to faction what air is fire. Parties are inevitable simply on the basis of free association. But rule by the Democratic-Republican two-party state and duopoly system of government is not inevitable. But the Democratic and Republican Parties have rigged our system such that membership in the Democratic or Republican Party is effectively a qualification for political office; political association is therefore no longer free: it has been monopolized/duopolized by the ruling parties.

Third party and independent groups are obviously in no way immune to corruption. I never asserted that they are. But they are a primary means by which we can defeat the Democratic-Republican duopoly. You say: "It's up to the individual voters to remain unshackled." My point is that the Democratic and Republican Parties are political shackles. Political independence requires liberation from them.

Samuel Wilson said...

The Tea Party movement is doomed as an independent force as long as it embraces the conservative-vs-liberal paradigm. At least let's put it this way: unless the Tea Partiers are willing to tolerate longer Democratic control in order to build a truly representative movement or discipline the Republicans into adopting their views, they'll be stuck with a Republican party that can always intimidate them into settling for its course by threatening them with the liberal bogeyman.

Amanda Read said...

The two parties don't have to be shackles. They're currently the best platforms for reaching out to voters because they are familiar.

The Republican vs. Democrat divide is based on ideology - the basic conservative vs. liberal view points are part of the worldview of American political culture. Third-parties just split one of the two views in half, they don't offer any new views.

The irony of Washington's stance was that even he ended up with a party label - Federalist, which later became Whig (if I'm not mistaken), which later became Republican (which now interestingly shows some of the small-government States-rights views of the Jeffersonian Republicans, who were sort of Federalist rivals originally).


BuelahMan said...

Familiarity is no reason to continue the ravaging that these bogus "parties" perpetrate upon this country.

It is THAT very mindset that ping pongs us into devastation and I for one will be the first to call you (and every other person who makes these types of erroneous claims) on it, Amanda.

It is time to shuck that bogus mindset. It has done nothing to better this country. On the contrary.

d.eris said...

Sam, I just came across a text at the Constitution Party discussion forum making that exact point, arguing that independently minded conservatives have to overcome the "fear factor" of the "dreaded liberal".

d.eris said...

Amanda, well yes, the two major parties don't "have to" be shackles, but they are. And the reason they are is because they have rigged the system (via gerrymandering, ballot access restrictions etc.) to ensure their continued dominance over and control of all political process and elected offices in the country. Having to play along with the duopolist charade is not freedom.

I disagree strongly with your point that third parties don't "offer any new views." It is rather the Democratic and Republican Parties that don't offer any new views. Indeed, they only offer the same old discredited views, articulated by the same old discredited politicians and talking heads, in the interests of the same old entrenched powers.

In any election it is considered high voter turnout when 50% of the population casts a ballot. Which means that more often than not over 50% of the population cannot be bothered to support Democrats or Republicans. Low voter turnout is in the interests of the Democratic-Republican status quo. In such races, if a third party or independent candidate could garner the support of just 1 out of 2 registered voters who normally do not vote, that candidate would win the election in a landslide. Therefore, to win, third party and independent candidates don't need to split anything at all. Though ideally, a good candidate would draw in consistent non-voters while taking support away from both Republicans and Democrats.

You might be interested in my Ten Arguments against the Two-Party System.

Samuel Wilson said...

Thanks for that link, d. You've given me a blog topic.

d.eris said...

Ha. Great. I've been meaning to relay that link since I first saw it. I know you've made a similar point here in the past.

Amanda Read said...

No party offers any new views. There is nothing new under the sun.

(I didn't realize at first that you had responded to my comment here, but I decided to come back to leave it here too.)


icr said...

A two-party system-in a huge and diverse country like the US- cobbles together unnatural coalitions that have no other purpose other than defeating each other for public office. The two parties operate within the constraints of elite consensus and mainly differ rhetorically: