Remember, Remember The 6th of November
The Day That we Cracked The Tea Pot?
The 2010 midterm elections marked a seismic shift, Republicans took advantage of a sluggish economy and fueled by corporate backed money took control of the US house and many state legislatures.
We've seen the results; obstruction with little in the way of alternatives, brinkmanship, and attacks on workers and women. They also, perhaps realizing that people are seeing what is going on, are making efforts to make it more difficult for those affected most by their policies, urban minorities, to exercise their right to vote.
Minorities now also may find themselves, literally, under the gun. "Stand your Ground" and Castle Doctrine laws, in a sense, give citizens a license to kill well beyond that of a police officer.
In light of the shutdown and near-default, Americans opinion of Congress and the Tea Party seems to be at a low. Can progressives take advantage of this and make some gains is the question.
For one, progressives need to deal with the short attention spans of the American Electorate. Since there is now a cable media outlet that reaches and speaks to progressives, MSNBC, the ability to remind and reinforce that the right has is now in the hands of progressives.
But progressives need to get those messages beyond their circles. The people need to be reminded who is was they nearly shut down the government.
The Big Question
One thing the Tea Party seems to be about is more personality than policy. They want to repeal Obama's agenda, but when pressed for solutions they seem to have none.
Putting Tea Party candidates on the spot with the simple question of "What's your alternative" may go a long way. The answer will most likley be the status quo or something designed to benefit some corporate contributor.
Of course, progressive candidates will need to have ideas of their own. 2012 victories in Massachusetts and the 2014 New York City Mayoral election show that a populist, %99-based campaign can work.
A Grand Alliance
Another strategy that progressive need to pursue may be to build a coalition of the outgroups. The groups that the Tea Party has demonized; women, organized labor, minorities, especially urban minorities, need to pool resources and volunteers.
Groups may need to put their own prejudices aside, labor and environmental groups, so often at odds need to realize that they face a common enemy, the "%1". The machismo that permeates the African-American and Latino community may make working with the homosexual community difficult, but their struggles may be the same.
There's a final complication as well. The Supreme Court will be making a decision on individual contributions to campaigns. There is the potential that individuals could have near unlimited power to influence a campaign. This would make building a strong ground team essential to counter the money that a few would be able to contribute.
Pushing Buttons is Not Enough
Progressives are going to need to take their work beyond clicking links. Groups like MoveOn and Change.org may have created a sort of "slacktivist". A person clicks on a petition and figures that is enough.
It can't be, progressives need to show a willingness to do the legwork. To go door to door, man the phone banks and editioralize.
If 2014 will be the year the Tea Party comes to an end, it will require the same work that won the 2008 and 2012 elections. Are progressives willing to step up?