Mailvox: on the Tea Party

TF writes in regarding his perceptions of the movement:

I am a Viet Nam veteran that came home in Dec. 1970 with a burning question in my mind? “Who is running our country?” About 1975 I started on my quest to answer that question. I can’t tell you how many hours I have spent in libraries trying to find information about various subjects. I have read excerpts out of the Congressional Record of the United States, I have read volumes of books, etc etc etc. At the risk of sounding like a big mouth I am very well read and understand more then most. I have attended several Tea Party rallies in the state I live in and found that most of the people there were there for answers. They saw enough about what was going on in the Government to make them scared. Some were more informed then others but ALL OF THEM had their eyes and ears open like no group I have been around since I started on my quest in 1975. To me that’s the big deal. A lot of people now know enough to know that they need to find out more and that it’s time to really stand up and do something before it’s too late. I disagree with you that the Tea Party played no part in the recent election. How much of a part I won’t try and portray because usually any event was a combination of several factors that caused a change but I can say the Tea Party has played a part and the people now have their eyes open. I just hope they stay that way.

I do too. And I think it is entirely correct to say that the Tea Party had a powerful effect concerning which Republicans were nominated and subsequently elected, but it defies both belief and electoral history to argue that it made any difference regarding the size of the Republican victory. That was entirely a function of Democratic missteps and subsequent unpopularity, in fact, one can even reasonably argue that the Tea Party cost the Republicans a few seats such as the Nevada Senate seat. But it is totally nonsensical to attempt to argue that the Tea Party matters because a) it elected “good” Republicans who nevertheless b) vote with the exactly same results as the previous “bad” Republicans.

PD doesn’t assert that I am wrong, she merely hopes that I am. So do I, for that matter:

Thank you for your bold article. I have considered myself a Tea Party Patriot from the first day. I fully admit I am no Mensa member, but I would like to point out that many of us Tea Party folks, as homey as we are, have been calling on our representatives to defund ALL foreign giving – even Israel, under Jeffersonian and common sense principles. I fully agree that all foreign wars should cease and desist immediately, foreign bases should be closed and our military funded to secure our national borders and prepare for attacks on Americans at home. I disagree with the US being the policeman of the world and if a country needs our help they should hire it. We could use the extra income from wealthy countries like S. Korea. I have called for the abolition of unconstitutional programs such as Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security starting in generations like mine that have time to plan for that eventuality. These ideas are not foreign to the Tea Party people, but we do know that they are foreign concepts to those in DC and there is a great mistrust of even those we sent to DC. I hope you are wrong that this grassroots movement will die like so many others. I hope that it is the rudder that turns the ship of US destruction as it sails toward DEMOCRACY (if it has not already arrived), then on to socialism (where I fear we already are) and onto the final destination of Communism. I say Heaven Help US, for there is not other help that can effect a true change.

I think her mistrust is well-placed. And we should find out if Tea Party optimism will survive to live another day or if Vox Day cynicism will score a first-round knock-out relatively soon, as the Tea Party has now laid down a direct challenge to Republicans who are flirting with raising the debt ceiling.

The largest tea party group in America has come out forcefully in opposition to raising the debt limit, adding more pressure to House Republicans who can kill plans to permit continued borrowing by the federal government and thus mandate the most dramatic government cuts in spending in decades. Mark Meckler and Jenny Beth Martin, co-founders of the Tea Party Patriots, said in a statement, “Republican credibility as fiscally responsible managers of public resources is on the line” with the issue of the debt limit.

“In a matter of weeks, Congress will vote on whether to raise the nation’s debt ceiling,” they wrote. “The American people are united in saying ‘no,’ with recent polls indicating almost 70 percent of the American people opposed to this reckless action. Once again, congressional Republicans will have the opportunity to demonstrate to the American people that they are serious about bringing fiscal responsibility to Washington. Tea Party Patriots will be watching.”

This speaks well for the seriousness of the Tea Party regarding its core issue. It also sets the stage for a real test of the hypothesis that the Tea Party is capable of becoming a significant force in governing politics as well as mere electioneering. My assumption is that the Republicans will show about as much concern for the will of the people who elected them as they did when 70% of the American people opposed the banking bailouts of 2008.