Posts Tagged ‘Tea Parties’
December 22nd, 2009 at 1:07 pm
Freedom’s on the March in the Bluegrass State
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I’ve been arguing in this space that one of the keys to a Republican resurgence will be tapping into the slightly libertarian, anti-government energy of the Tea Party movement. This strategy has the twin virtues of aligning with where the public is at right now and getting the GOP back to first principles after nearly a decade of intellectual drift.

For that reason, it’s encouraging to see that the new Public Policy Polling results in Kentucky show Dr. Rand Paul (Ron Paul’s son) with a commanding lead against the establishment candidate in the Republican primary.

While it’s as yet unclear to me whether Dr. Paul shares his father’s isolationist views on foreign policy (based on his campaign website, Rand seems ever-so-slightly more mainstream), his candidacy should be embraced on the right even if he does. Like Peter Schiff (who is running for the Republican nomination in Connecticut), Paul is a true believer in limited government, personal freedom, and Austrian economics. Having a few new U.S. Senators cut from that cloth would be more than worth the tradeoff on defense issues.

December 8th, 2009 at 12:26 am
Creating a Party of Freedom
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A new Rasmussen Reports poll out today shows that if the Tea Party movement was an organized political party it would poll second nationally (at 23%, 13 points behind the Democrats).  Many reports on the numbers play up the growing influence of this grassroots force on the right, but that may miss the bigger point: Republicans came in third in the poll, with only 18% supporting the GOP.

Read those numbers closely; with Republicans and Tea Partiers divided, Democrats win (a lesson learned in the congressional race in the New York 23rd).  Thus, if the right hopes to regain political traction it’s going to have to create a fusionist project between the mainstream GOP and the “mad as hell and not going to take it any more” Tea Party movement.

A possible prescription for this kind of Republican renaissance improbably shows up this week’s edition of Newsweek, courtesy of Howard Fineman, whose columns usually tend toward EZ-Bake liberalism.  However, in a piece entitled “Is There a Doctor in the House?”, Fineman perceptively notes that the GOP could do a lot worse than straightening its spine through Ron Paul’s example:

… The GOP needs to study Ron Paul, and learn. No one has better captured the sense of Main Street outrage over secret insider deals and Wall Street bonuses. No one has been more consistent about sticking to core conservative values—including the one that says the government shouldn’t spend more money than it takes in. If the GOP is going to appeal to independent voters, it has to confront its own corporate allies. “Republicans need to find a populist edge again,” says Craig Shirley, the author of Rendezvous With Destiny, a new account of Ronald Reagan’s 1980 campaign. “Reagan spoke to the guy who thought he was being screwed by big business, by big government, by the big media.” The good doctor, of all people, is showing Republicans the way. What they need is a candidate who embodies the spirit of Ron Paul. Just so long as it isn’t Ron Paul.

There’s a lot of sense in Fineman’s diagnostic (along with this, a sign of the apocalypse).  On foreign policy, Paul is still peddling ideas long ago discredited by Charles Lindbergh and Bob Taft.  But on the domestic side, his compass is truer than most of the GOP.  When the Republican Party isn’t rooted in notions of small government and individual liberty, it tends towards existential drift.  And we all know where that leads.

October 21st, 2009 at 11:12 pm
A Pox on Both Their Houses
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Jonah Goldberg has a great op-ed today about the populist mood currently gripping the nation’s electorate. The money passage:

The tea-party protesters are in large part the heirs of Perotism, and they are being subjected to the same insults. Liberal commentators are deaf to the tea partiers’ disdain for both political parties, preferring to cast the protesters as a deranged band of birthers and racists or hired guns of a Republican “AstroTurf” campaign.

If the media had any interest in listening to the Tea Party crowd rather than just mocking them, this would be obvious. Look at the New Jersey governor’s race and the special election for the House seat in New York’s 23rd district and you’ll see that Republicans are underperforming not because of Democrats but because of perceptions that they’re insufficiently conservative (NY-23) or insufficiently reformist (New Jersey). The new zeitgeist is libertarian, populist, and reform-minded. It’s also extremely angry (there’s a reason that the Boston Tea Party is the symbol of choice).

Republicans (many of whom deeply disappointed the tea party crowd during the Bush years) can’t win back this disaffected crowd just by being the second-ugliest girl in the room. Until there’s a party that’s legitimately committed to smaller government and more freedom, the ranks of unaffiliated and irascible voters will only swell.