Misguided Anger

22 Jun

To the extent that any given, nominal “tea party” candidate has a platform or ideology, it can be summed up by, “angry” and “anti-Obama”. Naturally, those two platform planks work best with outsiders, so anti-incumbency is folded into that.

Carl Paladino, for instance, has a few policy proposals that are as facile as they are unlikely to occur, but that’s not why his campaign gets attention. He gets attention because he’s “mad as hell”.

The candidates in 2010 who express anger in that way will definitely attract the disaffected McCain voter, which is in essence who makes up the overwhelming majority of the so-called “tea party” alleged “movement”. But what about independent voters? What about swing voters? These people may be unhappy with the administration’s weak economic stimulus or the watered-down health care reform bill, or the oil spill – but is anger enough to motivate them to vote for a tea partier? Hell, if they want better action from Obama, elect more Democrats. Especially to the Senate.

Because most Americans – the overwhelming majority of them – aren’t partisan ideologues on either side of the spectrum. They’re pretty middle-of-the-road. And those voters aren’t going to be swayed by anger alone. David Frum explains in the Daily Telegraph that the Tea Party has shot the domestic political right in its own foot in Kentucky and Nevada – and even in Pennsylvania. Whereas Harry Reid was vulnerable this cycle, the Republican Party nominated a tea party candidate so nutty that she’s been forbidden by the state party to speaking with the press for the foreseeable future. Likewise, while Rand Paul announced that the tea party had spoken the night he won the Republican primary for US Senate from Kentucky, his mainstream opponent, incumbent Jim Bunning, held a 30-point lead against the Democrat, Jack Conway. Rand Paul is such a carbon copy of his father, Ron, that he now holds only a 6-point lead against Conway.

New Yorkers are among the most taxed people in the nation. Not for nothing former Governor Spitzer referred to upstate’s generations-long malaise as having turned it into “Appalachia”. We’re all angry. But Carl Paladino’s “I’m angry, too” campaign isn’t going to do anything more than siphon off votes from Rick Lazio.

It’s difficult for a political party to think strategically after a political defeat as severe as 2008’s. But the Tea Party elevated the inability to think strategically into a fundamental conservative principle. Its militants denounce those Republicans who have resisted the movement as ideological traitors: “Republicans in name only” or even (charmingly) as “Vichy Republicans”. In fact, the unthinking rejectionism of the Tea Party has strengthened Obama’s political position. Now it threatens to deplete Republican strength in Congress, losing races that could have been won.

David Cameron’s Conservatism responds to local British conditions. It’s not an export product. But there is at least one big lesson that Americans could learn from him when the Tea Party finally ends: yes, a party must champion the values of the voters it already has. But it must also speak to the voters it still needs to win.

Carl Paladino might as well be on the Cuomo payroll.

HT Andrew Sullivan

11 Responses to “Misguided Anger”

  1. Rogue Editor June 22, 2010 at 9:01 am #

    “…[Rand Paul’s] mainstream opponent, incumbent Jim Bunning, held a 30-point lead against the Democrat, Jack Conway.”

    It’s utterly amazing how wrong this statement his – and in how many ways! Please consider doing some basic fact-checking in the future.

  2. Rob June 22, 2010 at 9:30 am #

    Rand Paul held a 25 point lead over Jack Conway just after winning the Republican primary, before foolishly revealing his true feelings about the Civil Rights Act on Rachel Maddow’s show.

  3. jesseInEA June 22, 2010 at 10:03 am #

    For someone who spends a lot of time writing about the tea party movement, complete with scare quotes, you spend a lot of time trying to dismiss them and their concerns.

  4. jesseInEA June 22, 2010 at 10:07 am #

    I also think it’s a little early to be predicting what’s going to happen in November, particularly because the whole “tea party only showed up because Obama got elected” ignores the timeline pretty seriously.

    Any discussion of what tea party types want that doesn’t include any mention of ridiculous overspending by governments at all levels is missing the point.

    SOMETHING stirred up the hornet’s nest.  Ripping all tea party types as idiots is only fanning their flames.  Ignoring the causes and trying to blame racism is only fanning their flames.

  5. Peter A Reese June 22, 2010 at 11:04 am #

    Why not ask the Tea Baggers what they really want? Why do they get a free ride? See:http://www.newsweek.com/blogs/the-gaggle/2010/06/21/why-doesn-t-the-media-interrogate-tea-partiers-beliefs.html#

  6. Mike In WNY June 22, 2010 at 8:01 pm #

    To the extent that any given, nominal “tea party” candidate has a platform or ideology, it can be summed up by, “angry” and “anti-Obama”.

    Your introductory premise is an over-simplification and inaccurate. Washington has been on the wrong course for many, many years and now the pendulum is starting to swing back in the correct direction. Many people, including an increasing number of liberals, are realizing that Obama is an evil extension of Bush, who also was reviled by many tea-party people. The voices may be getting louder than when Bush was in office, however they were always there and following the pattern of any shift of ideology.

    • Eric Saldanha June 22, 2010 at 11:41 pm #

      Many people, including an increasing number of liberals, are realizing that Obama is an evil extension of Bush, who also was reviled by many tea-party people. The voices may be getting louder than when Bush was in office, however they were always there and following the pattern of any shift of ideology.

      Mike – you are fond of accusing others of “over-simplification,” ….so, I ask you, simply:

      1) who are the liberals turning against Obama?
      2) how was Bush “reviled” by the Tea Partiers, exactly? Where were the marches on Capitol Hill in the years 2001-2008? Oh yeah…they were folks marching against the war. Not Tea Partiers.
      3) “The voices may be getting louder than when Bush was in office….” Gee. What do you think may have given those “true patriots” the voice they needed?

  7. hank June 23, 2010 at 5:56 am #

    When your popularity ratings go from the high 60’s to the low 40’s in a year and a half, It shows strongly that a large segment of people who voted for Barry the Golfer/Vacationer are having buyer’s remorse.
    Did you get your card from Obama? —-Gay Marriage???? NOPE===BUT THANKS FOR YOUR VOTE!!! CLOSE GTMO—-NOPE, BUT THANKS FOR YOUR VOTE!!!! You got suckered and now refuse to accept it.

    • Bbill June 23, 2010 at 8:58 am #

      People earning less than 500k annually who vote based on what Rush ordered are the real suckers and everyone knows that.

      The best way to STFU teabaggers is ask them for specific policy proposals.

  8. Max June 24, 2010 at 7:45 am #

    It’s evident to me that the tea-baggers’ anger handicaps their abilty to practice the art of compromise which is what politics is all about; they’re doing little more than providing a channel for the great groundswells of discontent now present in the country and unless they articulate some solutions, the movement will go by the way of the Whigs. That would be a pity as both of the major parties have morphed into fund raising schemes and whoring for the special interests.

  9. Rob June 24, 2010 at 3:50 pm #

    You can today (6/24) read a press release from Staunch Enemy of the Political Class Jim Ostrowski on – Joe Illuzzi’s site.

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