And they Call it a Tea Party
I reemergence of freedom mongering
I was sifting through
Reuters News Service on Twitter today. I have come to do that as a habit for lack of interesting or even poignant questions on Hubpages to consider addressing. I found there, amongst the various tweets, an article giving credit to the Tea Party movement for current election results. I suppose I have heard of the Tea Party movement before but movements come and movements go. I have a habit of letting such things slip until they have survived long enough that they gain a certain amount of legitimacy.
Any Joe or Jane, Jose, Juanita, Janiqua, or Jatwan (hmm I suppose if I left some general names out. Someone will call me a racist one of these days and today maybe the day to test that by trying to be inclusive even if there are enough cultural names that someone is going to get left out sooner or later) who has seen a ballet can tell you that there are quite a few special parties that are at least acknowledged on various ballets even if they do nothing more politically then vie for federal campaign dollars to fund their continued existence.
Imagine my surprise then to find that The Tea Party, let alone any specialized group outside of the main two parties of any kind had actually managed to help their candidate win an election. When I did a little poking around I found that I could breath a sigh of relief. The world hadn't entirely changed while I wasn't looking and the elections that were won were primaries, nothing more. Even so, I had to admit it was impressive to see that seven primaries were decided in the Republican Caucus by voters across the nation and the Tea Party was given credit for the victories. The people that the Tea Party candidates beat weren't republican lightweights either. Most of the people who lost were long time career politicians.
I then wondered if the Tea Party was a single party phenomenon. It didn't take much digging to find out that while the vast majority of the Tea Party are conservatives, this has largely to do with the fact that when the Tea Party started building a platform based on a grass roots web site. The largest portion of the discontented who had a clear idea of what they wanted government to do were conservative or at least people who had ideals which are traditionally Republican stumping points.
The funny and interesting thing is that when the Tea Party took their gripes to congress they got push back from both sides of the isle. Due to another affiliated layman who had a way with words and websites, these gripes actually had a form and definition. The website requested suggestions from various Tea Party visitors on what the platform should be. I was able to pull the final list of ten out of over a thousand initial suggests from Wikipedia for your viewing pleasure.
1. Identify constitutionality of every new law: Require each bill to identify the specific provision of the Constitution that gives Congress the power to do what the bill does. (82.03%)
2. Reject emissions trading: Stop the "cap and trade" administrative approach used to control pollution by providing economic incentives for achieving reductions in the emissions of pollutants. (72.20%)
3. Demand a balanced federal budget: Begin the Constitutional amendment process to require a balanced budget with a two-thirds majority needed for any tax modification. (69.69%)
4. Simplify the tax system: Adopt a simple and fair single-rate tax system by scrapping the internal revenue code and replacing it with one that is no longer than 4,543 words – the length of the original Constitution. (64.9%)
5. Audit federal government agencies for constitutionality: Create a Blue Ribbon taskforce that engages in an audit of federal agencies and programs, assessing their Constitutionality, and identifying duplication, waste, ineffectiveness, and agencies and programs better left for the states or local authorities. (63.37%)
6. Limit annual growth in federal spending: Impose a statutory cap limiting the annual growth in total federal spending to the sum of the inflation rate plus the percentage of population growth. (56.57%)
7. Repeal the health care legislation passed on March 23, 2010: Defund, repeal and replace the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. (56.39%)
8. Pass an 'All-of-the-Above' Energy Policy: Authorize the exploration of additional energy reserves to reduce American dependence on foreign energy sources and reduce regulatory barriers to all other forms of energy creation. (55.5%)
9. Reduce Earmarks: Place a moratorium on all earmarks until the budget is balanced, and then requires a 2/3 majority to pass any earmark. (55.47%)
The percentages after each line item consists of the percentage of people who voted on the platform, which goes by the name "Contract from America," concerning their top ten picks to take to Washington. I am sure if you talk to enough Tea Party members you will get a few suggestions that aren't on this list but then I imagine that once these ten suggestions are complied with in congress the platform may change to include some of the ones that weren't as popular with the Tea Party crowd as these seem to be.
Anyhow, when the "Contract from America" was presented in Washington for signatures, the Democrats didn't like any of the planks of the Contract and refused to sign them and the Republicans decided that the issues raised issues which were too specific for them to want to sign on as a whole. The latter reaction could be translated as either cowardice or a very nebulous way of saying that the sitting Republican Party likes things the way they are as it were.
The Tea Party could have tried to start their own legitimate Caucus at that point. (I use Caucus to avoid the redundancy of saying 'party' a second time and have it mean something completely different) If they had, they might have succeeded but probably not. History would have given them little hope. Instead they decided to work within the two party oligarchy in order to make things happen. So far the only party they have been able to infiltrate has been the Republican Party. As I said before, they managed to knock out seven incumbents and or 'has been' party favorites so far. I am sure they are holding their breath and pushing for the ability to say that they actually put people who are committed to their cause in WashingtonD.C.
I am finding that even with the "Contract from America" on the table, like any party or activist group, they are sheep on the whole and in this case they are some very angry sheep with virulent local leadership and online shepherds. They may have different views separately but as a group they are a force to be reckoned with. Politicians had better reckon with them too. If the Tea Party is successful even in these small arenas and their chosen representatives are true to their word in pushing the "Contract from America," we may see that the movement will spread until its voice (even in the nebulous manner each state and or city promotes the Tea Party) will become the new boss of politics.
As current politics drives very swiftly into the ground people will start looking for any voices that have answers that haven't been tried yet. Right now The Tea Party is acting as the Conservative version of the Liberal Progressive Movement. It will be an interesting day when the Progressives and Tea Party are shouting at each other across the isle in congress. I imagine that it will be a more profound and entrenched fight then anything we have seen in congress since the days when slavery was being argued on the floors of Congress.
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