Tea Partisanship

The internal debate among tea party activists on the way forward following their first national mobilization on tax day can be split up into three distinct camps: 1) Republicans who argue that the current crop of GOP representatives need to be challenged in upcoming primaries; 2) independents who recognize that their interests are not served by either of the duopoly parties, but who have yet to break from the system as such, and could conceivably vote Republican, Democrat or even third party in future elections; 3) activists who have broken with the two party system, and advocate third party insurgent campaigns.

In the first group we find conservative apologists for the duopoly and advocates for lesser-of-two-evils voting such as John Hawkins at Right Wing News. He writes,
If you're conservative or even a libertarian who places a high priority on small government and restraining spending, there is no perfect option. All you can really do is try to get the Republicans back in power.
Paul Ibrahim argues in a remarkably similar vein: "Remember that our two-party system is by no means perfect, but it does give us a way to deal with such politicians: primary their a**. We always have more than two options if we act early enough."

In the second group, we find disaffected and disillusioned conservatives who have declared their independence from party politics as such. Capm's Blog makes the case:
I have left the Republican party, not for the Demo party, that could never happen, and not to the Libertarian party or Green or any other party. I have registered as an "Independent". It seemed that the media always referred to the independents, in the middle, as the voters that will make or break an election. So why not join them, they seem to have the power, don't they. And I propose to make this, becoming an "Independent", part of our Tea party movement.
Finally, Tom Mullen, in an article for the Daily Paul, argues for the fielding of candidates who are independent of the two party system, and hence not beholden to the duopoly machine:
We cannot continue to vote one political party out and vote the other one in and expect any substantive change. Instead of succumbing to voting for the lesser of two evils, I would suggest a third alternative. We can select representatives from among ourselves, affiliated with no political party and committed in writing to what most Americans truly want – a government that protects their life, liberty, and property and otherwise stays out of their lives.
Interestingly, since the 2008 election, Ron Paul's base have been actively supporting third party candidates across the political spectrum. In an article for OpEd News, Matt Reichel recounted his experiences running on the Green Party ticket for the congressional seat formerly held by Rahm Emmanuel, and reported that among his supporters "the majority of door-knockers and petitioners came from the Ron Paul movement." This group was undoubtedly also quite active in organizing local tax day tea party protests, and did so largely under the radar of the mainstream media and commentators on both sides of the duopoly divide. To win the internal debate, they are going to have to bring it out into the open.

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