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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Tea Parties at the Crossroads

Following the coming out party for the tea parties (no pun intended) in February, the liberals and Democrats mocked. President Obama was still wildly popular. There were just under 20 different cities with a few hundred attendees in each city. It was a passing fad. After all the president was popular and everyone expected him to remain so for an indefinite future. At the time, the conventional wisdom was the permanent and sustained electoral change to the Democrats. People were figuring out how quickly the country would move from center right to center left and how far left it would.

Then, the tea parties protested on April 15th again. Now, they were in near 1000 cities and the numbers ranged for a few dozen to twenty thousand in Atlanta. The totals numbered somewhere in the neighborhood of one million. Still people mocked. Sure, the tea parties could protest but what would it lead to. On the 4th of July, the tea parties protested again. Their numbers were similar to that of April 15th. Still, it seemed as though it was going to be nothing more than protests.

Then, the August recess hit. The same folks that attended the tea parties started finding town hall debates everywhere and they began challenging politicians over the health care debate. Suddenly, what was once a calm exchange of a few dozen citizens quietly speaking to their representatives turned into a full political force and story. The month of August was dominated by citizens challenging their politicians over the health care debate. While the Democrats struggle to pass health care reform to this day, one thing is certain. The health care proposal, if passed, will not only be unpopular but wildly unpopular and that was finished off by the citizen revolt in August.

All movements must, at some point, turn into an electoral force. That's what the tea parties are attempting to do now. They made their first stand in New York's 23rd District, and it was a total and miserable failure. Worse than that, most of the movement refuses to acknowledge it for what it is. Most folks believe they won. They seem to think that by losing they won.

Doug Hoffman was the perfect tea party candidate. He was an outsider. He was a consistent conservative. He believed in lower taxes, less government, less regulation, and free markets. He was against the bailouts, the stimulus, and the health care reform package. Furthermore, he was running in a district held by a Republican since the Civil War. Furthermore, he had almost every important conservative politician behind him: Fred Thompson, Sarah Palin, Tim Pawlenty, etc.

Yet, he lost. He lost because he became a theoretical politician. He became a symbolic politician. He was the sort of politician the tea parties wanted in the Republican party. Meanwhile, Dede Scozzafava was the sort of politician that the tea parties saw the Republican turning into without their revolt. They pitted Hoffman against Scozzafava and the Democrat won.

The Democrat, Bill Owens, spoke to issues important to his constituents: jobs, health care, education. Doug Hoffman spoke about how he's the true conservative. That's the thing about purists. They think everyone is like them. Most people just don't care that much. They want problem solvers. They want people that will help them feed their kids, get good health care, get a good education, etc. They don't care if it's a conservative or a liberal. Running as the consistent conservative will get the purists but it won't win. New York 23 proved that.

Yet, the tea parties seem to think they've won. They ran Scozzafava out of the race and their guy almost won. That's as delusional as it absurd. If this is the way it will go, they'll hand the Democrats a victory everywhere they take a stand. The tea parties are aiming at Florida next. There, the popular, but moderate, governor Charlie Crist is running against the consistent conservative but totally unknown Marco Rubio. They're ready to make another stand. Crist isn't nearly conservative enough for them. So, they're going full force to beat him in the primary. They may even win though Rubio will almost certainly then lose in the general election.

See, in the primary, the true and consistent conservative is important. In the general election, it means absolutely nothing. For the tea parties to be successful, they must move from the theoretical to the practical. No one, but them, cares who is most conservative. People care about getting problems solved. Conservatives seem to think that simply talking about conservatism is enough. If it were, Doug Hoffman would be the new Congressman from New York 23. He isn't because ultimately no one cares all that much.

Many times movements like this wind up doing more harm than good. That's where the tea parties are on the verge of going. They'll challenge each and every moderate in the primaries. Those moderates will lose. Then, their consistent conservative will trot out in the general election and talk about how they're the consistent conservative and they'll lose each and every time. All the tea parties will really do is make sure all sorts of liberals wind up in Congress.


Jason Gillman said...

November 4th only comes once a year.

30 days turned Hoffman into a near win.
Lessons learned? YES.
Total loss? NO

As I said before, it was a RESOUNDING NO to scozzafava that was the win, whether Hoffman won or not. Given the few percent who vote party no matter what.. not surprising. (Though I had better hopes..)

The big win? Her own GOP said "step down.. you endorsed the Democrat."

Today, the SC GOP told Lindsey Graham to shut up. Do you think it would have happened without the pressure of tea parties and the underlying organizations that are QUITE active right now? Now a chance in hell. Further, we would be a hell of a lot further towards this administration's goals of total domination were it not for those of us who have traveled at a moments notice to protest.

You didn't even mention the over 1 million people who went to Washington on 9-12, or the even more recent 40-60K. I was in Washington.. those weren't made up numbers.

We shall see next November Tuesday first how accurate your assessment is, but frankly given the missing optimism in this post, your glass is too half empty.

mike volpe said...

I didn't mention every protest because the audience gets the idea. The tea parties went from getting a few thousand to a million. That's just overkill.

Killing off Scozzafava isn't a win if it means a Democrat then beats your guy. That you continue to think it was is more troubling than the loss itself. If tea parties get their way in ever primary only to lose every general election that's a resounding loss.

Jason Gillman said...

OK so you only left out two of the most recent and influential ones.. my bad.

As for assuming the scozzafava situation would be played out every time, you miss the point.


Had there been a primary, Hoffman (or perhaps another) would have been able to oust scozzafava easily. That does two things.. It allows the think nots who pull the lever based on the party designation alone to actually vote for someone who is running.

The 23rd WAS a win.

If Dede scozzafava would have won as a Republican, the brand would have endured even more damage than it already has. The fact that so many "republican" representatives have a tendency to vote for things that were once a part of the communist plank suggests a little perspective correction is needed.

I would think a Libertarian of all folks would see that.

mike volpe said...

Yes, instead of Scozzafava it's a Democrat. What a victory?

Again, I showed how the protests grew. I wasn't going to talk about every protest organized by the tea parties. I don't know why you are fixated with that.

You also want to have this both ways. If Hoffman was an unknown with no chance of winning, why did you expect the party to choose him? He had the entire conservative movement behind him and lost.

This is a loss plain and simple. You can't claim that beating the RINO to have the Democrat win is a win. That's absurd and silly.

FourMartins said...

"Killing off Scozzafava isn't a win if it means a Democrat then beats your guy."

Well it's definitely not a loss.

If Scozzafava hadn't been challenged, BEST case scenario, she would have won. And what Republican would have run against her when she's up for reelection?

Let's assume another Hoffman would step up - we'd repeat the cycle. The GOP puppet masters would throw their support behind the incumbent. How many times would this cycle repeat, before she was either defeated by a Democrat, or didn't run for reelection? Instead, NY only has to wait out a single year until they can put forth another conservative Republican.

This won't be a clear victory, or defeat, until we see what happens in the next regular election cycle. If the puppetmasters offer up another so-called moderate, it's defeat for the Tea Party movement et al. If NY gets an opportunity to vote on a true conservative candidate, it will be a victory - and well worth the effort of this year.

It does illustrate, however, that 3rd party doesn't work.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of crushing defeats spun as victories, going after Lindsey Graham is the political equivalent of spitballs at a freight train.

You're never going to get to Graham. He thinks you people are wackos. And for the foreseeable future, a majority of both Americans and South Carolinians agree with him. HE IS NOT AFRAID OF YOU, JASON GILLMAN.

Anonymous said...

"This won't be a clear victory, or defeat, until we see what happens in the next regular election cycle."

Well technically Owens was around just long enough to vote for Health Care Reform, so yeah, that's a pretty clear defeat.

Jack McHugh said...

"More often than not the most important effect of an election is who gets defeated, not who gets elected. When a politician loses for 'doing the wrong thing' the incentives change for all of them."
Mackinac Center "Tea Party Activist Toolbox"

We're never going to “throw them all out” and replace them with virtuous paragons immune to the same incentives, so changing those incentives is the key. Doing so means sometimes just taking one one out and shooting him (or her) as an example to the rest. Figuratively speaking, of course.

DeDe's having a much greater impact on the system out of office than she ever would in office.

Jason Gillman said...

Anon 2:16 PM,

Glad you commented. In the very post that you boldly point out my name as someone who Lindsey Graham will not be afraid of... You kind of prove my point.

You insist an absolute, yet have not the courage to back it up with your own name. You have no "skin in the game" be it a real participation, or just simply putting words in your own mouth by making a statement attached to you permanently.

Lindsey Graham will not be afraid of me, but the drumbeat of conservatism is making a difference. I place my name on every measured hit towards that end, and in the end claim partial ownership to all victories or minor defeats, all the while operating from a set of conservative standards or principles.

You will own nothing. You don't even have enough faith in your own words to sign them.

mike volpe said...

That's the point, Jason. At least, it's my point. What if the tea parties succeed and they remove Graham. Then what. It's proven to be effective with the base and not effective with the general population. So, you'll remove Graham and then have the replacement lose to the Dem. What exactly does that accomplish.

You aren't getting it. The general population isn't liking the message as much as you seem to think they do. Or better yet, you don't care what the general population thinks. As such, you will remake the Republican party into your image and that party won't win any elections.

Jason Gillman said...

LOL I'm not sure the Republican party would ever be in my image Mike.

in 1975, Ronald Reagan called for a revitalized Republican Party, "raising a banner of no pale pastels, but bold colors which make it unmistakably clear where we stand on all of the issues troubling the people."

The problem as the perception of what is Right or Left consistently moves further into the left those "moderates" who would capitulate rather than educate dull the edges of difference.

I want the best for our country as do most who would comment here or elsewhere. My argument is that the progressive policies of the left have no place in the votes of the Republicans.

If our economy or society tanks, let it rest squarely on the shoulders of those who craft such garbage as HR3962, or Cap and Trade legislation. But Republicans should not be counted as supporters, for if they are, then the distinctions will cause greater losses later.

The U.S. needs an alternative, and a third party is obviously not the way to go, so the infusion of REAL conservative principles back into the party needs to happen, and now IS happening. in the process we lose a couple of folks who ought not be carrying the banner anyhow, as they are frauds.

I am a Republican, and I want my team to win, but I also want it to win for a reason.

mike volpe said...

Jason, that's a lot of speechifying but you seem not to recognize reality.

What you want to do is purge the Republican party of anyone that disagrees with you. You, yourself, may not have any power, but the tea parties do, and it appears their goals are about the same as yours. They have plenty of power within the Republican party and so far have shown to have no power in a general election.

So, your plan is to purge all so called RINO's and replace them with Democrats. That's a strategy for a permanent minority.

Jason Gillman said...

And we come full circle..

November 4th only comes once a year. (or rather the first Tuesday in November)

How many races have been held? You were as wrong as I was about the results of this last. But to keep denying the reality of ALL things that played in the 23rd to support your thesis is missing the point still.

I want Republicans to win as much as the next guy.(Republican guy) Why? Because I want the policies that I think will work to be implemented. Because I want the constitution to be followed.

If my Republican wins, and does things contrary to what I want.. what is the point of electing that Rep in the first place? Why and HOW would/could I continue to support them? What would be the point if electing them is to move my agenda forward?

So we lose a seat and threaten a majority of the lead eaters for a term.. meh..

the NEXT time, perhaps the actions of those lead eaters bring about the realization that they in fact are solely responsible for the predicament we are in..

With the Republicans doing the same as the lead eaters, the line is blurred, and then people say the R's are the same as the D's... And you as a Libertarian, (at least that is what you have said)are most certainly aware THAT is one of the major beefs the Libertarians have had with the "two party" system."

My "goal" is to educate so that they DO agree with me.. (or with the Tea Party folks) Either by shaming those who are looking to stray with constitutional FACT, or getting them out of the party if they don't vote like Republicans.

To do it your way would be like allowing Jimmy Carter to join the Republican party to speak for it.. Does that seem even remotely proper?

mike volpe said...

I understand that elections are once a year but you need to understand that in the only one you lost. If the movement doesn't recognize that you'll have the same thing happen.

Republicans swept everywhere but where the tea parties made a stand. That's a problem. I called the election wrong. That's not tragic. The tea parties made the election into a referendum on who is the most conservative and that will never work. Until people understand this you'll purge all moderates and replace them all with Democrats.

Jason Gillman said...

Mike have you been following the 23rd controversy?

this is ONE small story..

Suffice it to say if there is indeed fraud, our arguments one way or the other really mean little.

We are simply screwed.

mike volpe said...

Last I checked, Hoffman was about 3k behind with 5k left uncounted. I'd say the odds are long. If that changes, let me know.