Third Party Tea Party II

In Third Party Tea Party I, I highlighted grievances with the two party system articulated by participants in the tax day tea party protests, and argued that both Republican operatives within it and the Democratic critics of it shared a common program: "to tie this movement as quickly as possible into the fabric of the two-party system." It is striking how quickly the purveyors of duopolist ideology are capable of creating a working consensus when it suits their purposes. Of course, both sides have seized upon a perceived opportunity. Democrats seek to discredit the swell of activism by connecting it to well-connected Republicans, while Republicans seek to capitalize upon it by identifying themselves with good old fashioned grassroots organizing. Yet, as we know, for the duopolists 'opportunity' is another word for crisis. Their frenetic activity is arguably an effort to avert any potential destabilization of the two party system. Their worry is likely warranted, and their efforts have not been unsuccessful, but fortunately they do not control all of the debate all the time.

Many who were attracted to the idea of the tea party protests were propelled by a reasoned critique of the two-party system, which is now reflected in criticism of the protests themselves. Briggs Armstrong at the Mises Blog writes:
I couldn't help but feel a bit dirty when it was all over. The cognitive dissonance arose from the fact that the event was hosted by the College Republicans. The Auburn University Libertarians later joined them to co-host the event . . . The problem was that for the majority of the time when Republicans were speaking, I couldn't help but think "where were you for the last eight years?" My overall feeling of uncleanliness derived largely from the hypocrisy emanating from the Republicans.
Patrick Britton at The Daily Conservative more or less agrees:
At the core, the idea of an anti-tax rally is great. I was initially excited to see how much interest there was in the protests. My excitement was quickly dampened when neocons and their comrades began to take over the scene. It went from an anti-tax rally to a pro-Republican rally. We all know how foolish that is. The Republicans are fiscally conservative all of-a-sudden?
While Jeff at An Utter Waste of Time refused to attend on the very same grounds:
On the surface, the idea of organized protests against excessive taxation and the increasing government interference with our lives seems very worthwhile and something I would support. The reality, however, is that these protests had very little to do with reforming the tax code and everything to do with partisan politics and the pervasive "Us versus Them" mentality that exists in the two party system.
The surge of activism, awareness and political consciousness represented by the protests is a golden opportunity for third party organizing. Libertarians, among others, should not let the crisis go to waste.

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