The TEA Party as a Third Party?
In the immortal words of Kinky Friedman; “Why the hell not?”
Lately a lot of people are talking about the TEA Party, it’s potential to affect changes in the 2010 elections, and more specifically, in the 2012 elections. Also a HOT BOTTON TOPIC is the question of whether the TEA Party may or could possibly become a viable Third Party.
The very issue of a Third Party stirs the emotions of Americans, of all political tilts.
There are some good points made in the blockquote below by Thomas Friedman, but be warned, Friedman appears to be an Obama fan. Read the next paragraphs with an open mind and try to put his obvious Obama favoritism aside.
There is a revolution brewing in the country, and it is not just on the right wing but in the radical center. I know of at least two serious groups, one on the East Coast and one on the West Coast, developing “third parties” to challenge our stagnating two-party duopoly that has been presiding over our nation’s steady incremental decline.
Obama probably did the best he could do, and that’s the point. The best our current two parties can produce today — in the wake of the worst existential crisis in our economy and environment in a century — is suboptimal, even when one party had a huge majority. Suboptimal is O.K. for ordinary times, but these are not ordinary times. We need to stop waiting for Superman and start building a superconsensus to do the superhard stuff we must do now. Pretty good is not even close to good enough today.
“We basically have two bankrupt parties bankrupting the country,” said the Stanford University political scientist Larry Diamond. Indeed, our two-party system is ossified; it lacks integrity and creativity and any sense of courage or high-aspiration in confronting our problems.
“If competition is good for our economy,” asks Diamond, “why isn’t it good for our politics?” We need a third party on the stage of the next presidential debate to look Americans in the eye and say: “These two parties are lying to you. They can’t tell you the truth because they are each trapped in decades of special interests. I am not going to tell you what you want to hear. I am going to tell you what you need to hear if we want to be the world’s leaders, not the new Romans.” SOURCE
I know the immediate response that some will have regarding a Third Party, we’ve heard it for a long time, “A third party only splits the vote…” And my response is, “Yeah…so?”
Assuming such a candidate truly exists, what does a Third Party accomplish if they can find and run a candidate of outstanding character, impeccable background, solid education, with experience and unquestionable moral and social standing?
That would be a winning candidate and the 2 major parties would be standing on the sidelines shaking their heads and wondering what just happened.
I have to wonder if the TEA Party, in it’s grass roots mode, could actually muster such a well rounded candidate. Grass roots is a wonderful place to start, but it will only take you so far in the big picture part of the equation.
This is from Libertarian Lew Rockwell, and speaking for myself, clearly defines exactly why I can’t, and won’t wear the title of Libertarian.
You might as well know right now, however, that the Tea Party, no matter how successful it is at the polls in November, will certainly betray the party of liberty. There are several reasons for this, but the fundamental one is intellectual. The Tea Party does not have a coherent view of liberty. Its activists tend to be good on specific economic issues like taxes, spending, stimulus, and healthcare. They worry about government intervention in these areas and can talk a good game.
But just as with old-time conservatives, there are many issues on which the Tea Party tends toward inconsistency. The military and the issue of war is a major one. Many have bought into the line that the greatest threat this country faces domestically is the influx of adherents of Islam; in international politics, they tend to favor belligerence toward any regime that is not a captive of US political control.
On immigration, the Tea Party ethos favors national IDs and draconian impositions on businesses rather than market solutions like cutting welfare. On social and cultural issues, they can be as confused as the Christian Right, believing that it is the job of government to right all wrongs and punish sin.
This doesn’t describe them all. A poll taken last spring divides the activists into two camps: Palin and Paul. Both groups are mad as heck at the mainstream Republican Party, but only the Paul camp has broadened that anger to the government generally. SOURCE
When Rockwell says “the Tea Party, no matter how successful it is at the polls in November, will certainly betray the party of liberty”, the party of liberty is the Libertarians.
Rockwell is a well known disciple of Ron Paul. I know that Ron Paul is a 9-11 Truther, I don’t if Rockwell is, but Rockwell borders, in MY opinion, on being an anarchist.
Nowhere have I ever seen or heard anyone within the TEA Party claim that it was the duty of the government to right all wrongs and punish sin.
There are some excellent points in the Libertarian platform, there are some that are not so well received by Conservatives.
The reason I bring Rockwell into this post is because many in the TEA Party do lean to the side of the Libertarian Party. I personally have been described as a Conservative libertarian. That’s a big *C* Conservative and little *l* libertarian.
There are many hard core Libertarians that believe it’s nearly impossible to be a Conservative libertarian, just as I believe it’s nearly impossible to be a Conservative Democrat.
Again I reference back to Thomas Friedman;
The Tea Party that has gotten all the attention, the amorphous, self-generated protest against the growth in government and the deficit, is what I’d actually call the “Tea Kettle movement” — because all it’s doing is letting off steam.
That is not to say that the energy behind it is not authentic (it clearly is) or that it won’t be electorally impactful (it clearly might be). But affecting elections and affecting America’s future are two different things. Based on all I’ve heard from this movement, it feels to me like it’s all steam and no engine. It has no plan to restore America to greatness.
The Tea Kettle movement can’t have a positive impact on the country because it has both misdiagnosed America’s main problem and hasn’t even offered a credible solution for the problem it has identified. How can you take a movement seriously that says it wants to cut government spending by billions of dollars but won’t identify the specific defense programs, Social Security, Medicare or other services it’s ready to cut — let alone explain how this will make us more competitive and grow the economy?
And how can you take seriously a movement that sat largely silent while the Bush administration launched two wars and a new entitlement, Medicare prescription drugs — while cutting taxes — but is now, suddenly, mad as hell about the deficit and won’t take it anymore from President Obama? Say what? Where were you folks for eight years? SOURCE
Apparently Mr. Friedman didn’t read MY blog when Bush was taking us into Iraq. I had Republicans and Conservatives all over America blasting me for my views of what I still consider to be a highly ill-advised effort.
But, I digress.
The TEA Party has a plethora of detractors, as many detractors as it has supporters it seems.
The crux of the matter is this; the TEA Party could very well become a viable Third Party, but they will never do so as long as they adhere to a grass roots style of being. To become a player on the national front, to effectively influence elections on the national scale, you have to be an organized power. The TEA Party does not have that power or position.
If the TEA Party were to become a national power they would have to work diligently to assure that they weren’t co-opted by ANY party, be it GOP, Dems or Libertarian.
The TEA Party must stand as a beacon of truth, hope and honesty, and stand for the America 1st patriotism that other parties have cast by the wayside. The TEA Party must stand, unwavering, for it’s Core Values, Uphold the U.S. Constitution, Limited Government, Fiscal Responsibility and Free Markets.
If the TEA Party could do all of those things and maintain a level of integrity that has long been gone from the American political scene, the TEA Party could very well BE that viable force that is needed to bring REAL change to America, change for the better. Not the *Hope and Change* that has become the grandest example of *Epic Fail* in American history.