Friday, October 29, 2010

The Political Class Meets the People

2010 is indisputably "the Tea Party election." Who they are and why they've been able to turn politics on its head  has received many answers. I have offered a few myself.

In this column, "Bringing Down the Political Class," I summarize the point that pollsters Scott Rasmussen and Douglas Schoen make in their book Mad As Hell: How the Tea Party Movement Is Fundamentally Remaking Our Two Party System

According to the authors, the Tea Party has been a spontaneous, principled, and yet passionate response to a politically unhealthy divide in the country. That divide is not fundamentally between Democrats and Republicans or between liberals and conservatives but between what they call the American mainstream and the political class. ...Fundamentally, Tea Partiers are moved by the view that “the federal government has become a special-interest group that looks out primarily for its own interests.”

The Republican establishment opposed Ronald Reagan in 1980 because he was an outsider. Despite having been governor of California, he was not part of the political class, and by conviction as well as temperament would never be. Reagan was not an Ivy Leaguer. He went to Eureka College in Illinois. (Notice that you have to say “in Illinois.”) The establishment in general hates Sarah Palin for the same reason. The authors observe that, "the mainstream media and the political class seemed not even to attempt to understand what her appeal might be.” Instead, she “set off a trip wire within the political class regarding access to power: she didn’t meet their standards and they felt threatened by her” (p.98).

Rasmussen and Schoen explore many aspects of this divide, including the shrinking middle class and thus the growing gap between the rich-and-getting-richer and the poor-and-getting-poorer in this country, something that Republicans don't like to talk about, and that Democrats can't talk about without calling in the government to punish.

Shelby Steele has an interesting take on the Tea Party toward the end of his Wall Street Journal op-ed yesterday, "A Referendum on the Redeemer."

When bad faith is your framework (Michelle Obama never being proud of her country until it supported her husband), then you become more a national scold than a real leader. You lead out of a feeling that your opposition is really only the latest incarnation of that old characterological evil that you always knew was there. Thus the tea party—despite all the evidence to the contrary—is seen as racist and bigoted.

But isn't the tea party, on some level, a reaction to a president who seems not to fully trust the fundamental decency of the American people? Doesn't the tea party fill a void left open by Mr. Obama's ethos of bad faith? Aren't tea partiers, and their many fellow travelers, simply saying that American exceptionalism isn't racism? And if the mainstream media see tea partiers as bumpkins and racists, isn't this just more bad faith—characterizing people as ignorant or evil so as to dismiss them?

Peggy Noonan has had a couple of good columns too: "Why It's Time for the Tea Party" and "Tea Party to the Rescue." I'm sorry, but I have found all the critics on the left (Krugman, Rich, Friedman, Wallis) to be hysterical and just blind. Chuck Colson's criticism in "Channeling the Populist Rage" is neither hysterical nor blind but misplaced just the same, I think.

1 comment:

joetote said...

This is the most important election of my time. As I say below, our country's very survival depends on the electorate to come to their senses and stop this mad march to soviet style socialism.

I want to address the past primaries and the future of our country in general. It is apparent beyond all doubt that the establishment on both sides are deathly afraid of the so called Tea Party (and thus the electorate in general) and they well should be! For those of you who prefer to live in a cave, the Tea Party from my view is not just about returning to conservative principles. The people who are aligning themselves behind this movement are looking for so much more. We are looking for men and women of principle! We want representatives that obey the will of the people, not their leaders or their own power lust! We want a return to the bedrock principles this country was founded on! We sure as hell do not want to be told we are racists, hate mongers or all the other names we are called just because we disagree with the direction this country is being taken. We believe in free speech, not "Obama says you will think and say as I want".

The Tea Party movement is many things to many people. To those in power, it is a threat. To those who believe in the hard core Marxist principles being espoused by this administration, it is a threat! For those who believe our country needs to subvert itself to the whims of Islamic Fanatics, or Euro Socialism or whatever else, it is a threat!

As such, there are way too many people who do not remotely understand what is happening here. Our fighting men and women, our forefathers who gave their blood and lives for this country, they understand! Unfortunately, the folks that have either had everything handed to them or instead have chosen to ride on the back of others instead of being responsible for themselves combined with the elected morons who realize keeping people reliant on government insures their power, they do not understand!

The Tea Party movement is not a fight for the heart and soul of the Republican party! A co-opted media led by a hard core left wing wanna be dictatorship government would want you to believe that it is in fact all about the Republicans. And they would be dead wrong! The Tea Party movement is a fight for the heart and soul of our country! It is a fight to return us to what made us the greatest country in the world! How sad that entrenched politicians on the right along with the garbage on the left cannot or refuse to understand such a basic tenet!