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Tea Party, Glen Beck and related matters
Topic: Tea Party, Glen Beck and related matters (Read 33036 times)
WSJ: The Tea PArty Battles to Come
Reply #450 on:
November 01, 2013, 11:50:51 PM »
The Tea Party Battles to Come
Three unrepentant veterans of the shutdown brawl say they're eager for primary election fights with a goal of remaking the GOP.
By Stephen Moore
Nov. 1, 2013 6:57 p.m. ET
Only three weeks have passed since the end of the tea party-inspired government shutdown, yet already the group's citizen activists find themselves in the eye of another political storm. Republican-oriented business groups like the Chamber of Commerce and the National Retail Federation are now threatening to challenge tea party-favored primary candidates, especially if they appear to be in the Ted Cruz scorched-earth political mold.
These business interests and a growing number of GOP insiders are fed up with tea party tactics that they believe have become a negative political force for a Republican Party that is now suffering record-low approval ratings. One business leader recently compared its influence to the Occupy Wall Street crowd taking control of the Democratic Party.
The tea party's answer to the GOP establishment threats: Bring it on—we aren't backing down. That's the message I gleaned from recent interviews with three of the movement's most prominent leaders: Matt Kibbe of FreedomWorks, Amy Kremer of Tea Party Express and Jenny Beth Martin of Tea Party Patriots.
After 20 years working behind the scenes in Washington, Mr. Kibbe is well-seasoned in political warfare. Ms. Martin, a former computer programmer and Home Depot manager, and Ms. Kremer, a former Delta flight attendant, are relatively new to such conflict. The two women are both mothers living in Georgia—one of the states where the tea party first took root four years ago—and they reflect the group's typical profile: white, middle class, well educated, sick of politics as usual and driven by a conviction that America must be rescued from impending ruin caused by Washington's profligacy.
These three don't always agree on tactics, and they often compete for money and media attention. But they share an overall assessment of what is wrong with Washington and what needs to be done. Like many local tea party activists I have spoken with, they generally view the government shutdown not as a tactical blunder but as an example of weak-kneed Republicans muffing an opportunity to roll back ObamaCare.
"I don't have any regrets," says Ms. Kremer, who attended the original meeting in August when Sen. Mike Lee of Utah unveiled the plan to defund ObamaCare. Mr. Kibbe is similarly unrepentant. Asked what went wrong, he replies: "We just didn't anticipate the Republican circular firing squad in the Senate or the vicious attacks directed at Mike Lee and Ted Cruz." He still thinks the GOP could have won.
Ms. Martin expresses sheer frustration with the final outcome: "What would you expect? This was the ruling elite"—Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid —"negotiating with the ruling elite"—Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. Neither she nor Mr. Kibbe nor Ms. Martin acknowledges even the possibility that the government shutdown was a doomed strategy from the start. The tea party's public-approval rating in the immediate aftermath of the government shutdown has plummeted to 14% in some polls, but these leaders seem unfazed.
Were their members demoralized by the GOP cave-in? No, Mr. Kibbe says, they're "energized." He says FreedomWorks' fundraising has soared in recent weeks, and he expects that the group will raise up to $20 million this year. Other tea party organizations report similar surges in contributions.
Ms. Martin says her troops are also fired up. "I have never seen our members so angry at the elected Republicans—especially Sens. McConnell and [John] McCain. " There is more than a hint in these interviews that tea party groups will redouble their efforts to unseat Republicans who they think waved a white flag during the shutdown. "Taking on incumbent Republicans is part of our job," Ms. Martin says.
Critics say the tea party seems to think that the other part of its job is replacing incumbents with candidates who are hapless neophytes—not-ready-for-primetime candidates like Sharron Angle in Nevada, Todd Akin in Missouri and Richard Mourdock in Indiana. Republicans blame their defeats for preventing a GOP takeover of the Senate in 2010 and 2012. Don't tell that to the tea party. Its members are adamant that they aren't an appendage of the Republican Party. "How do these critics think Republicans won their landslide election in 2010?" Mr. Kibbe says. "It was because of us."
He believes it is a "false choice to say that Republicans can't win a governing majority by picking principled free-market candidates." And he shows me an election spread sheet purporting to show that in 2012, tea party candidates fared better than those handpicked by the Republican establishment. "Almost all our tea party candidates won in 2010," he says, while the big losers in 2012 were uninspiring moderate Republicans in states like North Dakota, Montana and New Mexico.
But Mr. Kibbe does admit: "OK, Indiana and Richard Mourdock"—who defeated longtime GOP incumbent Richard Lugar and then lost in the general election—"you can blame on us."
Ms. Kremer says, "It doesn't do us any good to have more Republicans if they don't stand for our principles. Our goal isn't to just elect more, but better Republicans."
She points to the election to the Senate in recent years of Rand Paul, Pat Toomey, Ron Johnson, Marco Rubio and Mike Lee, all of whom were aided by tea party backing. She adds that when George W. Bush was president and Republicans controlled Congress, Washington's big-spending ways never changed. Just electing politicians with an "R" next to their name, she says, won't bring the kind of seismic change that's needed.
But it wasn't until the Obama administration took over, with an unprecedented spending spree—including the $830 billion "stimulus" and plans for a fantastically expensive health-care overhaul—that millions of Americans were galvanized to take political action.
Many on the left and right hoped that the tea party movement would fizzle, but its influence, especially inside the GOP, seems to have increased. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz acknowledges that the defund ObamaCare and government-shutdown power play simply wouldn't have happened without the organizing efforts of activists across the country. Tea Party Express, Tea Party Patriots and FreedomWorks led this mobilization. They have combined annual budgets of more than $30 million and claim between six million and 12 million active members.
What's next on their agenda? Beyond still vowing to roll back ObamaCare—how, precisely, isn't clear— Ms. Kreme says "one of our immediate priorities is to enforce the budget caps and sequester." Even the defense cuts, which many military hawks think could endanger national defense? "With a $17 trillion debt," she says, "everything has to be cut."
Unlike Reagan-era conservatives, who supported rising budgets for the Pentagon to ensure military superiority in the Cold War, the tea party sees the federal debt itself as the main threat to national security.
Mr. Kibbe identifies balancing the budget as the paramount goal for his members. Are they so obsessed with eliminating deficits that they would accept tax increases to get there? No way: "There's a definite supply-side strain within the tea party," he says, smiling. "They want revenues, yes, but through growth and tax reform."
It's a mistake, though, to assume that the tea party is a single-issue movement. The focus on federal spending reflects a general distrust of almost everything that happens in Washington. A theme that emerges in talking with tea party leaders and activists is that under President Obama the federal government has increasingly intruded on basic constitutional rights. It's easy to discount this as black-helicopter paranoia, but Ms. Martin pointedly notes that Tea Party Patriots and allied groups were the subject of IRS targeting and audits.
One typical and unfair criticism of the tea party, as expressed once by Nancy Pelosi, is that this is an "astro-turf," manufactured movement, not a genuine localized grass roots uprising. Nonsense. All one has to do is attend a tea party rally to see that the activists are bus drivers, construction workers, home makers, small business owners and grandparents who have a patriotic concern about the consequences of trillion-dollar deficits and bailout nation. As one activist told me, "All we want from our government is less of it."
Now that the activists are facing friendly fire from mainstream Republicans, the temptation to start a third party might seem tempting, but Mr. Kibbe quickly dismisses the idea. "Third parties are a political disaster," he says, citing the Bull Moose Party a century ago, which split the GOP and helped put the liberal Democrat Woodrow Wilson in the White House. More recently, Ross Perot took votes from George H.W. Bush and helped to elect Bill Clinton.
Mr. Kibbe says the tea party's goal is to "move the center of gravity of the Republican party toward an agenda of freedom and limited government." He cites as a model the modern-day progressive left's takeover of the Democratic Party, gaining enough liberal influence to make Nancy Pelosi the House Speaker and using a grass-roots strategy to nominate Barack Obama over the establishment favorite, Hillary Clinton.
The animus from the business wing of the GOP doesn't scare the tea party leaders. Ms. Martin scoffs: "We're not surprised big businesses are opposing us. These are mostly crony capitalists who want something from government."
Mr. Kibbe is similarly disdainful: "I used to work at the Chamber of Commerce. The chamber supported the original version of HillaryCare back in 1993 and the precursor to ObamaCare. They supported the bank bailouts and the Obama stimulus. We are not for any of that." As for the prospect of business backing candidates specifically to challenge tea party choices, Ms. Kremer says: "If it's business money versus tea party grass-roots activists, I like our chances."
This us-against-the-world mentality turns off many people regarding the tea party and may prevent it from gaining enough traction with a big tent of voters to realize its goals. Conservative pollster Whit Ayres says of the tea party, "I wish they would remember the Reagan rule, if someone is with me 70% of the time in politics, they are my friend."
Not the tea party. If you're 30% not with them, that can be a deal breaker. "I would hope the business groups would understand that money alone doesn't buy elections," Ms. Martin says. "The business groups need to work with the tea party, not against it."
If these three activists are any guide, and I think they are, then the GOP is headed for an internal brawl in 2014, and perhaps beyond. In the recent debt-ceiling wrangle, the tea party seems not to have realized where that fight would lead. Before letting the clash with establishment Republicans escalate into all-out war, the tea party should step back and consider an uncomfortable fact. In the end, only one person will win that war. Her name is Hillary Clinton.
Mr. Moore is a member of the Journal's editorial board.
Sowell: TP at the Crossroads
Reply #451 on:
November 12, 2013, 04:52:47 PM »
Sowell: Tea Party at the Crossroads
By Thomas Sowell November 12, 2013 6:55 am
Third parties have had an unbroken record of failure in American presidential politics. So it was refreshing to see in the Tea Party an insurgent movement, mainly of people who were not professional politicians, but who nevertheless had the good sense to see that their only chance of getting their ideals enacted into public policies was within one of the two major parties.
More important, the Tea Party was an insurgent movement that was not trying to impose some untried Utopia, but to restore the lost heritage of America that had been eroded, undermined or just plain sold out by professional politicians.
What the Tea Party was attempting was conservative, but it was also insurgent -- if not radical -- in the sense of opposing the root assumptions behind the dominant political trends of our times. Since those trends have included the erosion, if not the dismantling, of the Constitutional safeguards of American freedom, what the Tea Party was attempting was long overdue.
ObamaCare epitomized those trends, since its fundamental premise was that the federal government had the right to order individual Americans to buy what the government wanted them to buy, whether they wanted to or not, based on the assumption that Washington elites know what is good for us better than we know ourselves.
The Tea Party's principles were clear. But their tactics can only be judged by the consequences.
Since the Tea Party sees itself as the conservative wing of the Republican Party, its supporters might want to consider what was said by an iconic conservative figure of the past, Edmund Burke: "Preserving my principles unshaken, I reserve my activity for rational endeavours."
Fundamentally, "rational" means the ability to make a ratio -- that is, to weigh one thing against another. Burke makes a key distinction between believing in a principle and weighing the likely consequences of taking a particular action to advance that principle.
There is no question that the principles of anyone who believes in the freedom of American citizens from arbitrary government dictates like ObamaCare -- unauthorized by anything in the Constitution and forbidden by the 10th Amendment -- must oppose this quantum leap forward in the expansion of the power of government.
There is nothing ambiguous about the principle. The only question is about the tactics, the Tea Party's attempt to defund ObamaCare. The principle would justify repealing ObamaCare. So the only reason for the Tea Partyers' limiting themselves to trying to defund this year was a recognition that repealing it was not within their power.
The only question then is: was defunding ObamaCare within their power? Most people outside the Tea Party recognized that defunding ObamaCare was also beyond their power -- and events confirmed that.
It was virtually inconceivable from the outset that the Tea Party could force the Democrats who controlled the Senate to pass the defunding bill, even if the Tea Party had the complete support of all Republican Senators -- much less pass it with a majority large enough to override President Obama's certain veto.
Therefore was the Tea Party-led attempt to defund ObamaCare something that met Burke's standard of a "rational endeavour"?
With the chances of making a dent in ObamaCare by trying to defund it being virtually zero, and the Republican Party's chances of gaining power in either the 2014 or 2016 elections being reduced by the public's backlash against that futile attempt, there was virtually nothing to gain politically and much to lose.
However difficult it might be to repeal ObamaCare after it gets up and running, the odds against repeal, after the 2014 and 2016 elections, are certainly no worse than the odds against defunding it in 2013. Winning those elections would improve the odds.
If the Tea Party made a tactical mistake, that is not necessarily fatal in politics. People can even learn from their mistakes -- but only if they admit to themselves that they were mistaken. Whether the Tea Party can do that may determine not only its fate but the fate of an America that still needs the principles that brought Tea Party members together in the first place.
Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305. His website is
. To find out more about Thomas Sowell and read features by other Creators Syndicate columnists and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at
Thomas Sowell: Tea Party at the Crossroads: Part II
Reply #452 on:
November 14, 2013, 12:44:51 PM »
Crafty posted the first part above in the thread, the link to part 2 follows my comment.
Words I have never before written, Thomas Sowell, I think you have this wrong. The concept is right. Choosing our battles, policies, tactics and candidates to support and oppose are all crucial to tea party success. The de-fund strategy was judged a failure. However, it did NOT cause the shutdown, the opponents did that by refusing to negotiate with the House - on ObamaCare. The rest was all funded by the House. The 'shutdown' was a 16 day, 17%, non-essential services, paid vacation. Other than giving ammunition to an already hateful mainstream media, almost no one can point to real damage done. On the plus side, it was made abundantly clear to everyone (again) that the Republicans oppose this train wreck and have at least a part of a backbone, and that Democrats were exposed as forcing their rule at all costs, on record refusing to negotiate and willing to close it all to get their prize possession. Now they own it. Immediate reactions are one thing, the tea party lost in the polls, but in one month following the generic party vote in one poll has swung back 11 points, from -8 to +3 R. That doesn't happen when people blame both parties. The so-called tea party took a stand, failed, and America lost out as a consequence. Now we at least we know where everyone stands.
The Blaze has more visitors than healthcare.gov
Reply #453 on:
December 04, 2013, 12:32:47 PM »
After the Obama administration bragged of the traffic the new and improved website is handling, Glenn Beck pointed out that The Blaze has more visitors in that period of time than healthcare.gov.
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