FrontPage’s Person of the Year: The Tea Party

FrontPage’s Person of the Year: The Tea Party

Posted By Nichole Hungerford On December 31, 2010 @ 12:50 am In FrontPage

Over the past few years, while atrophy of the welfare state system has spurred violent protests in Western Europe, the United States has experienced a parallel, but remarkably distinct phenomenon. In early 2009, desperate Greeks rioted in the streets to demand that their overextended government do more for them in the face of financial crisis. Americans, at the same time, rallied across the nation for their government to do less. More than any one individual alone in 2010, this movement, the Tea Party movement, wrought tremendous change over the political landscape, realizing a historic election and revitalizing the American zeitgeist. The title of FrontPage Magazine’s Person of the Year, therefore, must be bestowed collectively on these individuals, the formidable torchbearers of our beloved liberty and prosperity.

Two days after the newly-elected President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (the stimulus bill) into law February 19th, the Tea Party movement found its voice — in the unlikeliest of places. A little-known CNBC analyst, Rick Santelli, embarked on a spontaneous rant while delivering a market forecast live on air. His harangue was precipitated by the federal government’s decision to stem the 2009 housing and financial crisis with a series of unprecedented “bailouts” for Wall Street and the banking industry, financed by taxpayer revenue. “How many of you people want to pay for your neighbor’s mortgage, that has an extra bathroom and can’t pay their bills?” Santelli wailed, turning to the gallery of traders on the floor of the Chicago Board of Trade. The crowd jeered. “President Obama, are you listening?” Apparently, he was not. Santelli proceeded to flippantly claim he was considering organizing a “Chicago Tea Party” to protest government spending and the apparent collectivization of wealth.

The clip was immediately picked up by the Drudge Report, a highly influential driver of conservative discourse. (For nostalgia’s sake, Santelli’s video clip is here [1].) Prior to this incident, there had been several large conservative-oriented rallies held around the country, some of which were publicized by conservative journalist and blogger Michelle Malkin. To our best reckoning, however, the “Tea Party” moniker had not been applied to this growing brand of conservative activism until after the Santelli clip “went viral.” Within hours of the rant’s debut, a number of “Tea Party” websites went live.

The notion of a Tea Party protest following the 2008-2009 financial crisis was completely felicitous at the time. It encapsulated at just the right moment, in just the right way, an ambient sense of unease, not just among steadfast Republicans, but among individuals erstwhile unengaged in the political process. By the time the Obama administration incestuously “bailed out” the auto-industry in March of the president’s inaugural year — or more precisely, bailed out the his union patrons — followed by the effective ousting of the presiding General Motors president, the political die had already been cast. President Obama’s throng of support quickly evaporate into a haze of resentment from the now not-so-silent majority.

The rancid reaction of the Left to the Tea Party is well known and not worth treatment here. What is important is setting the record straight on what the Tea Party really is. This is no straightforward task, to be sure, as the term “Tea Party” is essentially an umbrella label for numerous regional and national conservative activism groups. Members are predominately Republican voters, many of whom are disaffected and work largely outside the GOP establishment. Only 54% of Tea Party supporters had a favorable view of the Republican Party, according to an April 2010 New York Times/CBS News poll [2]. Polls consistently show the movement’s single greatest unifying principle is fiscal conservatism, including a desire for a smaller government and a concern over the federal deficit.  Social issues are mixed and far less uniform. According to the same poll, slightly more people favored civil unions for homosexuals compared to those who believed gay couples should receive no legal recognition (41% to 40%) and 45% are pro-choice (believing abortion should be available, but with restrictions), while only 35% believe abortion should not be available.

The movement’s focus on the virtues of fiscal conservatism in an atmosphere of immense economic uncertainty proved to be a political powder keg. In the afterglow of Barack Obama’s presidential victory, with both chambers of Congress controlled by the Democratic Party and headed by far-left leadership, many left-wing commentators believed the Republican Party was on the wane. And in fact, perhaps they were right. A large portion of Tea Party supporters, almost 40%, did not like McCain and slightly more had an unfavorable view of the Republican Party. Glenn Beck was more well-liked than both McCain and President George W. Bush. The Left’s pronouncements may have been accurate with respect to the political clout of the Republican Party, but conservatism was — and is — still very much alive. As the Democratic Party moved farther and farther away from economic matters after the stimulus bill was passed, and as beleaguered Republicans stood by impotently, worried fiscal conservatives took the only avenue left.

Early portents of Tea Party power came in the form of Massachusetts junior senator Scott Brown, who assumed “liberal lion” Ted Kennedy’s seat in the January 2010 special election, and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, the first Republican governor to be elected in New Jersey in 12 years. Both enjoyed a wellspring of support from Tea Party activists within and outside their respective states. From this standpoint, the 2010 midterm election looked like it would be a good year for conservatives

Few predicted that the election would be as historic as it actually was, surpassing even the “Gingrich Revolution” of the 1990s. In terms of immediate political success, however, the impact of the Tea Party was a wild card in some cases. While candidates like Marco Rubio of Florida, Rand Paul of Kentucky, and Nikki Haley, governor-elect of South Carolina, were able to use Tea Party support to beat not only their liberal opponents in the election, but their Republican establishment opponents in the primaries, others, such as Christine O’Donnell of Delaware, Sharon Angle of Nevada, and Joe Miller of Alaska could not manage the same success. In these cases, personal foibles and eccentricities played a significant role in their defeat.

Although the Tea Party may have been an obstacle to conservative victory in select races, if the conservative voter “enthusiasm gap” can be identified with the Tea Party phenomenon, and indeed, conservative Tea Party supporters were by far the most enthusiastic voters in the midterm election, then the presence of the Tea Party was an overall boon to the Republican Party. The charge that “less electable” Tea Party candidates may have cost Republicans a few seats is unfortunate (if true), but it is overshadowed by a new competitiveness among conservative candidates and that, as conservatives say, makes us better.

The Tea Party has also helped bring much needed aesthetic diversity to the face of conservatism — and serious new political talent to the fore. The favored liberal characterization of the GOP, which was regrettably presented in excelsis by 2008 presidential contender John McCain, was “pale, stale, and male.” This image was shattered during the 2010 midterm election by a much more diverse stock of high profile candidates, either in gubernatorial or congressional races. Many of these individuals may have serious political futures ahead of them. South Carolina governor-elect Nikki Haley exacted a huge upset over not just her Democratic opponent, but also many in the SC Republican establishment. Haley faced serious opposition in the gubernatorial primary, but was a Tea Party favorite. Rising star Marco Rubio, the “un-Obama,” was largely supported by Tea Party forces, and made short work of both Obama-ally, incumbent Kendrick Meek and the (presumably) top Florida GOP leader, Governor Charles Crist. Rubio’s political gifts cannot be overstated, and the maturity of his political career will be fascinating to watch.

The 2010 election proved the Tea Party’s strength. In many ways, the movement has done enough to fall complacently back into slumber. So, what is on the horizon for the Tea Party? Does the it have the fortitude to face President Obama head on in 2012? Most of the front-runners for 2012 GOP presidential candidates — Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin — fall short of the adequate support needed to defeat Obama. Yet, recall the low opinion Tea Party supporters generally had of John McCain (and his party). If Tea Partiers can maintain movement enthusiasm, and if an actually inspiring candidate emerges, President Obama has every reason to be concerned. The battle for the presidency in 2012 will likely be very competitive.

Commentator Arthur Brooks has described the Tea Party as a new front of a culture war. “America [can] continue to be an exceptional nation organized around the principles of free enterprise — limited government, a reliance on entrepreneurship and rewards determined by market forces,” Brooks said in the Washington Post, “[or] America will move toward European-style statism grounded in expanding bureaucracies, a managed economy and large-scale income redistribution. These visions are not reconcilable. We must choose.” The problem is, the Tea Party notwithstanding, the outcome of this war is nowhere certain. Even under Republican leadership, the size and scope of government has increased every year. The government spends more, controls more, takes more. And to some extent, polls have shown, the populace is in favor of this direction. Can it be stopped? Or are we inevitably headed toward European decline? Perhaps most importantly, the Tea Party represents the hope that our fate of joining the other corpses of Westernism is not sealed — that we will always be a society that protests for the government to do less and not more. As recent events have shown, there is plenty of room for optimism


Article printed from FrontPage Magazine: http://frontpagemag.com

Calls for Steele’s resignation grow louder

Calls for Steele’s resignation grow louder

Rick Moran

The RNC chairman’s comments about Afghanistan were pretty clueless, but I think the growing chorus from GOP heavyweights for Michael Steele to step down is a cumulative effect of his verbal gaffes rather than this particular instance of idiocy.

Bill Kristol:

You are, I know, a patriot. So I ask you to consider, over this July 4 weekend, doing an act of service for the country you love: Resign as chairman of the Republican party.Your tenure has of course been marked by gaffes and embarrassments, but I for one have never paid much attention to them, and have never thought they would matter much to the success of the causes and principles we share. But now you have said, about the war in Afghanistan, speaking as RNC chairman at an RNC event, “Keep in mind again, federal candidates, this was a war of Obama’s choosing. This was not something that the United States had actively prosecuted or wanted to engage in.” And, “if [Obama] is such a student of history, has he not understood that you know that’s the one thing you don’t do, is engage in a land war in Afghanistan?”

Needless to say, the war in Afghanistan was not “a war of Obama’s choosing.” It has been prosecuted by the United States under Presidents Bush and Obama. Republicans have consistently supported the effort. Indeed, as the DNC Communications Director (of all people) has said, your statement “puts [you] at odds with about 100 percent of the Republican Party.”

I think he should have resigned after the fund raising scandals last spring, but GOP insiders thought differently. Now he has not only undercut his own party, but has shown himself to be out of touch with candidates for office who support our mission in Afghanistan.

Steele will likely force the GOP to fire him, knowing how bad it would look for the party to fire one of the few visible blacks in a leadership position. He has banked on this before, but it might not save him this time.

It’s the Media, Stupid!

It’s the Media, Stupid!

By Lloyd Marcus

After being interviewed as a guest on two radio programs back-to-back, I was angry and frustrated. I had to endure radio talk show hosts and callers who have never attended a tea party tell me how racist the rallies are. Not only will this false accusation of racism not go away, it appears to be growing stronger.

Angry callers said they saw racist signs on TV and shared stories from black friends who claimed to have experienced racism at tea parties. I told one caller, “Ma’am, with all due respect, your friend is a liar.” I am a black man who has attended well over two hundred tea parties across America traveling on three Tea Party Express tours. I know the tone of the rallies and the types of people who attend them.
The tea party attendees are moms, dads, kids, grandparents, and yes, mostly white, but they are not racist. Many even voted for Obama. They are decent, hardworking Americans who love their country and do not want it “transformed” into Europe. For the gazillionth time, I will state this truth: The tea parties are not about race!
So how has the “tea parties are racist” lie become so solidly branded into the minds of many? Then, it hit me: “It’s the media, stupid.” Last year I appeared on CNN fielding accusations that the tea parties are racist gatherings. During my interview, CNN showed the same sign of Obama as a witch doctor several times. Meanwhile, 99.9% of the signs on display at the rallies expressed opposition to Obama’s policies only.
The liberal mainstream media attempts to put and keep us tea party patriots on the defensive. They scream, “You should denounce those people carrying racist signs!” Well, who died and made the “agenda-driven” liberal mainstream media the final authority on what is racist? According to them, anything short of fawning approval of Obama is racist.
The liberal mainstream media’s hypocrisy is stunning. While chiding us to denounce questionable racist signs, they clearly favor and hide real hatred and violence coming from the left. A few years ago, after performing at a troop support rally in Washington,  D.C., I walked a few blocks away to witness a so-called “peace” rally by the left. At least 1,200 peace protesters marched down the street chanting, “F— George Bush, F— George Bush!” Their signs spewed hatred for Bush, our troops, and America. And yet, not one sign or any footage of the “peace rally” was featured in the liberal mainstream media.
More recently, signs at Arizona Immigration Law protest rallies which threatened to “shoot more police” and other hate-filled anti-America messages are ignored by the liberal mainstream media.
As I stated, I know the caliber of the patriots who attend the tea parties. If anyone displayed a truly racist sign or made a racist comment, that person would be verbally attacked by the crowd.
This is why I know the black Democrat senators who said they were called the “n” word while walking through a crowd of tea partiers were lying. Not to mention the fact that if the incident really happened, the video would be viral on YouTube.
Here are a few of my personal tea party experiences. Keep in mind I have performed at well over two hundred tea parties across America.
Before singing my “American Tea Party Anthem,” I say, “Hello, my fellow patriots! I am not an African-American! I am Lloyd Marcus, AMERICAN!” The crowds go wild. Many tearfully thank me. They say hyphenating divides us. Would racists make such a statement?
 I’ve seen numerous signs in the crowds which read “Lloyd Marcus for President.” Why didn’t CNN show any of those signs on TV during my interview?
At a tea party in Texas, a white cowboy approached me pushing a stroller with two black babies. The proud new dad said he and his wife, who was also white, asked God to give them babies who needed their love. They felt blessed to adopt two babies from Africa. Could this couple be classified as redneck racists protesting Obama because he is black?
An incident happened at a tea party in Traverse City, Michigan which ripped my heart out. A white woman in a wheelchair saw me approaching. She yelled, “Oh my gosh, it is Lloyd Marcus. I listen to your music. I read your columns. I love you. May I have a picture with you?”
The woman’s adult daughter confided to one of our staff members, “My mom is dying. She said all she wanted to do is meet Lloyd Marcus.” Wow! Now, do you understand why I am so outraged when the liberal mainstream media and ill-informed radio talk show callers attempt to portray the tea party folks as a bunch of racists?
On numerous occasions, I have been approached at tea parties by patriots who have emotionally thanked me for my participation in the movement. Because we share values and principles, they call me “brother.”
The “racist” accusation is an evil lie designed to control and shut up decent people who simply disagree with our president’s agenda. White racist skinheads do not care if you call them racist. They probably wear it as a badge of honor. But the decent white folks who attend the tea parties are devastated by such charges.
Partners with the liberal mainstream media spreading the lie about the tea parties are Hollywood and the liberal Democrats.
Here is a shameful misrepresentation of the tea party patriots by NAACP President Ben Jealous: “A group of White males wealthier than their peers called the Tea Party has risen up in the land. They say that they want to take the country back. And take it back they surely will. They will take it back to 1963 if we let them.”
Folks, ask yourself: Would white people who one year ago voted in record numbers for a black man to lead our country suddenly have a desire to “take America back to 1963″? Ridiculous. Jealous’s comments are hate-inspiring, manipulative, and evil.
As long as God gives me strength, I will keep shouting from the rooftops, “the Tea Party Movement is not racist!” God bless.
 – Lloyd Marcus, Proud Unhyphenated American!

lloydmarcus.com
Spokesperson/Entertainer of Tea Party Movement & Tea Party Express
The American Tea Party Anthem CD/album
Confessions of a Black Conservative, foreword by Michelle Malkin

Sarah Palin on Obama II: “It Sounds Like the Inner Circle He Has Are Some Chicago Thugs & That’s Not Doing Our Country Much Good” (Video)

 

Posted by Jim Hoft on Wednesday, June 9, 2010, 8:38 PM

Sarah Palin was at her best tonight on Hannity.
She dropped the “community organizer” tag and “Chicago thug” line all in the same answer .
It was music to the ears.

Sarah Palin on Obama’s Top Advisors:
“It sounds like the inner circle he has around him are some Chicago thugs… And, that’s not doing our country that much good.”
True.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CfoHcr2gDDo&feature=player_embedded

National Review: Palin’s ‘Mama Grizzlies’ Bite Back

National Review: Palin’s ‘Mama Grizzlies’ Bite Back

by Robert Costa

Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin and Nikki Haley
Enlarge Mary Ann Chastain/AP PhotoFormer Alaska Governor Sarah Palin waves to supporters after she endorses South Carolina gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley.

Mary Ann Chastain/AP PhotoFormer Alaska Governor Sarah Palin waves to supporters after she endorses South Carolina gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley.

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June 9, 2010

Oh, those “mama grizzlies, they rise up.” So says Sarah Palin, rightfully, and it bears repeating after two high-flying lady Republicans she championed swept to victory on Tuesday. In South Carolina, Nikki Haley outdistanced three rivals in the GOP gubernatorial primary (falling just short of a majority, but she is heavily favored to win the runoff on June 22), while in California, Carly Fiorina held off four Republicans in a crowded Senate primary. Their wins are Palin’s, too.

Haley and Fiorina are examples of what Palin last month called an “emerging, conservative, feminist identity” in the GOP. In other words, the rise of Palinistas: smart, pro-life conservative women who succeed with style — and a dash of controversy. The latter they address with a smile, and, Thatcher-like, with a quick quip or a swift kick.

Going rogue, of course, isn’t easy. Since Palin endorsed Haley in May, the former state representative has experienced her share of misadventure. First, a pair of Republican operatives, without proof, claimed to have slept with the married mother of two. Then Haley, whose Sikh parents emigrated from India, had to sidestep a “raghead” slur made by a state senator. With its tabloid-like media coverage, the unwelcome controversy mirrored Palin’s 2008 vice-presidential run, during which she was dogged by rumors and innuendo.

Haley, for her part, denied the allegations of adultery, though some feared the tawdry whispers would damage her fresh-faced reputation. They didn’t. In fact, with a little help from Palin, who seems to relish lowering a Facebook boom on foes, Haley weathered them with ease. On the social-networking website, the former Alaska governor laid into Haley’s haters and offered a glimpse into a Palinista’s world. “I warned her and her family that she would be targeted,” Palin wrote, that “she would be put through some hell. . . . As I said to Nikki this morning, ‘Hang in there. I’ve been there.'” Haley did, and she has kept her comfortable, double-digit lead in the polls.

Deftly playing victim, and punching back at sexed-up slime, may be politics as usual in South Carolina, but for national observers, it’s also Palin 101. As Walter Shapiro of Politics Daily put it, Haley mastered “boomerang politics — making every attack seem like a vindication of her conservative populist outrage.” That has been a favorite Palin technique since the days when nobody outside Alaska had heard of her.

Tangling with opponents, however, is not the only element of Palinista politics. Friendly debate with tea-party groups is another. Palin — an outsider to the GOP establishment before she was tapped as the veep nominee, and its pit bull once brought inside — remains a trusted tea-party favorite. Though she is close to the movement, it’s important to note that she’s not of the tea parties. She was around, and battling Obama, before tricorner hats began to pop up en masse.

That warm affinity and simultaneous lack of debt to the tea-party movement has enabled Palin to be independent, and surprisingly unpredictable, in whom she chooses to endorse. While Haley, a tea-party darling before she got Palin’s nod, was an easy, no-trouble pick, Palin’s endorsement in California’s GOP Senate primary caused a bit more tension on the right.

In early May, Palin posted a note to her Facebook followers about Fiorina, the former chief executive of Hewlett-Packard. “I’d like to tell you about a commonsense conservative,” she said, one who, like her, “grew up in a modest home with a schoolteacher dad, worked her way through several colleges, and then entered an arena where few women had tread.” While a “huge proponent of contested primaries,” Palin explained that she was backing Fiorina because her “fiscal conservatism is rooted in real-life experience.”

The uproar came fast. Thousands of conservatives commented in anger below the Facebook endorsement, scratching their heads about why Palin, of all people, would back Fiorina, whom they considered a RINO (Republican in Name Only). Chuck DeVore, considered by many, including Sen. Jim DeMint (R., S.C.), to be the most tea-party-aligned of the contenders, was left empty-handed. With Palin having endorsed her former running mate, Sen. John McCain, a moderate, in Arizona’s Senate primary months before, “that’s two strikes against you, little sister!” wrote one commenter. “One more and you’re done.” Shelby Baker, a leader of Tea Party Patriots, complained to Human Events that the “bloom’s off the rose,” dubbing Palin “a company girl . . . a Republican, and not in a good way.”

Palin eyed the online debate for a bit, and then jumped in with a Facebook update. Look, she typed, “some reaction right out of the chute calls for more information.” Fiorina, she argued, is “pro-life, pro-traditional marriage, pro-military, and pro-strict border security and against amnesty,” as well as being for repealing Obamacare and for supporting the Second Amendment. “That’s no RINO,” Palin mused, “that’s a winner.” Some still didn’t buy it, finding Fiorina to be, as the Telegraph explained, “insufficiently robust against abortion.”

Nevertheless, Palin’s willingness to mix it up with tea partiers will only help her should she decide to run for the GOP presidential nomination in 2012. For Palin, policy ideas and values are important. So, smartly, is winning — especially when it comes to electing her hand-picked crop of Palinistas. “No matter your gender or politics, you have to hand it to her: Palin is fearless,” says Mark McKinnon, a former adviser to Pres. George W. Bush.

Despite the complications, that’s good news for the GOP’s electoral chances. “Sarah Palin — feminist first, tea partyer second,” said one recent Christian Science Monitor headline. About that, we shouldn’t be too sure. For Palin, it seems, it’s about electing Republicans, just with a mama grizzly, please. From what we saw last night, her strategy is working.

Tea Party “Insurgent” Will Face Reid In Nevada

Tea Party “Insurgent” Will Face Reid In Nevada

June 9th, 2010 Posted By Pat Dollard.

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Las Vegas (AP) – – Nevada Republicans Tuesday picked tea party insurgent Sharron Angle to take on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, marking the start of an epic showdown between a king of Capitol Hill and a conservative renegade who wants to turn Washington on end.

The choices couldn’t be more different.

Reid, 70, is the bland, sometimes prickly Democratic powerhouse who tells Nevadans, “I’m just who I am.” Angle, 60, is a fiercely committed small-government, low-tax crusader, an outsider even in the GOP, who says, “I am the tea party.”

The former school teacher and legislator grabbed the nomination after a brutal primary in which her rivals depicted her as too extreme to appeal to independents who often cast the decisive votes in centrist Nevada. She benefited when one-time front-runner Sue Lowden was widely mocked for suggesting consumers use chickens to barter with doctors.

Unemployed freight worker Tina Immormino, 45, of Henderson, said she voted for Angle “because we definitely need change in government and Harry Reid has to go. Everyone in Washington has to go.”

Reid emerges as the prohibitive front-runner.

Democrats are already depicting Angle as a loopy fringe figure, more caricature than politician. With plenty of money on hand and deep-pocketed allies, Reid and his supporters are expected to use TV ads to quickly define Angle in the populous Las Vegas region — home to about two of every three state voters — where she is not well known.

‘Taking back America’
The Patriot Majority, funded in part by unions and run by Craig Varoga, a veteran Democratic operative who did a stint on Reid’s staff years ago, launched a website ridiculing Angle and calling her positions “completely out of step.” Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Robert Menendez said Angle “cares more about promoting a strict social doctrine than helping grow the state’s economy.”

With virtually all of the vote counted, Angle had 70,420 votes, or 40 percent, easily outdistancing Sue Lowden, who tallied 45,861, or 26 percent, according to unofficial returns.

Angle said the campaign “is about taking back America.”

“We are going to dump Harry Reid,” she told cheering supporters.

Angle wants to phase out Social Security for younger workers, eliminate the Education Department and once suggested that alcohol should be illegal. While in the Legislature, Angle wanted inmates to enter a drug rehabilitation program devised by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, an idea she still defends.

Reid breaks with her on a host of issues. In an interview, he called Social Security “the most important social program in the history of the world.” And while Reid blocked the proposed Yucca Mountain nuclear dump, Angle wants to expand the nuclear industry in Nevada.

With Nevada suffering with 13.7 percent unemployment, Reid said the campaign would focus on jobs, including green energy.

“Why shouldn’t the people of Nevada be concerned and upset. I’m as concerned and upset as they are,” Reid said. “We’ve got a lot of work to do.”

It’s not clear if the Republican establishment that Angle bucked throughout her legislative days will turn around and embrace her.

She needs money, quickly. And she will have to rapidly expand her campaign team; she ran her primary operation out of her home, with a brain trust of two other people: her husband Ted and press secretary Jerry Stacy.

“It looks like good news for Harry Reid,” said University of Nevada, Las Vegas, political scientist David DaMore. “She has pretty well defined herself as a niche candidate. How does she break out of that mold to a broader audience?”

In a statement, Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele promised that Angle would get the support from the national party she needs to win.

Reid knows the race won’t be a walkover — he’s been compared to former Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle, whose support for a liberal-leaning agenda in Washington cost him re-election in his conservative home state of South Dakota in 2004.

But he’s now running about even with any Republican nominee, polls have found. A string of earlier polls showed Reid losing to a lineup of possible Republican nominees, but he has benefited from missteps and infighting in the GOP field.

Reid has never been a beloved figure in his home state. But he has survived close elections before, and he is preparing for a bruising fight this year. The casino industry and labor unions are betting on him, he has a substantial list of Republican supporters, and he is on his way to raising an unprecedented $25 million for the race.

In the state’s U.S. House races, Democratic Rep. Shelley Berkleywill defend her seat in November against Republican Kenneth Wegner in Las Vegas’ 1st District, and Democratic Rep. Dina Titus will face Republican Joe Heck in November in the 3rd District. Republicans nominated Rep. Dean Heller in the 2nd District, but Democrats Nancy Price and Ken McKenna were in a tight contest for the Democratic nomination.

The Roots of the Tea Parties

The Roots of the Tea Parties

Posted by David Boaz

The sight of middle-class Americans rallying to protest overtaxing, overspending, Wall Street bailouts, and government-directed health care scares the bejeezus out of a lot of people. The elite media are full of stories declaring the Tea Partiers to be racists, John Birchers, Glenn Beck zombies, and God knows what. So it’s a relief to read a sensible discussion (subscription required) by John Judis, the decidedly leftist but serious journalist-historian at the New Republic. Once the managing editor the journal Socialist Revolution, Judis went on to write a biography of William F. Buckley Jr. and other books, so he knows something about ideological movements in the United States. Judis isn’t happy about the Tea Party movement, but he warns liberals not to dismiss it as fringe, AstroTurf, or a front group for the GOP:

But the Tea Party movement is not inauthentic, and—contrary to the impression its rallies give off—it isn’t a fringe faction either. It is a genuine popular movement, one that has managed to unite a number of ideological strains from U.S. history—some recent, some older. These strains can be described as many things, but they cannot be dismissed as passing phenomena. Much as liberals would like to believe otherwise, there is good reason to think the Tea Party movement could exercise considerable influence over our politics in the coming years.

Judis identifies three strains of American thinking that help to define the Tea Party movement:

The first is an obsession with decline. This idea, which traces back to the outlook of New England Puritans during the seventeenth century, consists of a belief that a golden age occurred some time ago; that we are now in a period of severe social, economic, or moral decay; that evil forces and individuals are the cause of this situation; that the goal of politics is to restore the earlier period; and that the key to doing so is heeding a special text that can serve as a guidebook for the journey backward.

I’ve offered a dissent from the common libertarian perception that we have declined from a golden age of liberty, but declinism is certainly a strong theme in conservative thought. (Not to mention in Club of Rome environmentalist thought.) Judis suggests that declinism often takes conspiratorial form and wonders “how could a movement that cultivates such crazy, conspiratorial views be regarded favorably by as much as 40 percent of the electorate?”

That is where the Tea Party movement’s second link to early U.S. history comes in. The Tea Partiers may share the Puritans’ fear of decline, but it is what they share with Thomas Jefferson that has far broader appeal: a staunch anti-statism.

And the final historical strain that Judis identifies:

They are part of a tradition of producerism that dates to Andrew Jackson. Jacksonian Democrats believed that workers should enjoy the fruits of what they produce and not have to share them with the merchants and bankers who didn’t actually create anything….

During the 1970s, conservatives began invoking producerism to justify their attacks on the welfare state, and it was at the core of the conservative tax revolt…. 

Like the attack against “big government,” this conservative producerism has most deeply resonated during economic downturns. And the Tea Parties have clearly built their movement around it.Producerism was at the heart of Santelli’s rant against government forcing the responsible middle class to subsidize those who bought homes they couldn’t afford…. Speaking to cheers at the April 15 rally in Washington, Armey denounced the progressive income tax in the same terms. “I can’t steal your money and give it to this guy,” he declared. “Therefore, I shouldn’t use the power of the state to steal your money and give it to this guy.”

Judis could have cited Ayn Rand’s analysis of “producers” and “looters” in influencing this strain of Tea Party thought. Not to mention a much older classical liberal version of class analysis, one that predated Marx’s theory, which focused on “conflict between producers, no matter their station, and the parasitic political classes, both inside and outside the formal state,” or “between the tax-payers and tax-eaters.”

Judis concludes on a note of despair:

their core appeal on government and spending will continue to resonate as long as the economy sputters. None of this is what liberals want to hear, but we might as well face reality: The Tea Party movement—firmly grounded in a number of durable U.S. political traditions and well-positioned for a time of economic uncertainty—could be around for a while.

There’s plenty for libertarians to argue with in Judis’s essay. But it’s an encouraging report for those who think it’s a good thing that millions of Americans are rallying to the cause of smaller government and lower spending. And certainly it’s the smartest, most historically grounded analysis of the Tea Party movement I’ve seen in the mainstream liberal media.

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