Thursday, February 11, 2010

Making Sense of Tea

The Tea Party movement is all over the place these days. First, the convention last week. Then an article in Real Clear Politics. Today, ABC News issued poll results centered around Palin and the Tea Party. And, the recent revelation that an Anti-Tea Party movement is starting on K Street to fight back.
First off, the Tea Party Movement is fueled by Internet penetration into the homes of people over 40 who have never spoken out about government before in their lives. It is social networking used to inform people like no other generation in history.

Think of it. We spent our lives watching Dan Rather, only to find out that Dan had an agenda. Now we can read a pdf of an indictment, watch the entire news conference…or congressional hearing…or a committee meeting, read as much detail as we’d like about a study or research the money behind any organization. That’s a lot more information than 30 seconds on a topic sliced and diced by NBC. What’s more, we get to analyze what we’re seeing.

And Obama realizes he is losing control of the message. He’s tried to shut out news groups like Fox, belittled talk show hosts, launched schemes to have people report negative information to the White House, sought equal time for bloggers on the Internet…and come off like Hugo Chavez as a result.

And his Saul Alinski tactics are exposed along the way, making him seem devious as well as frightened.

Since the State of the Union address and the loss in Massachusetts, Obama has tried to co-opt the message of the Tea Party, but co-opting requires some Obama supporters within the Party, and frankly, they are sparse indeed. Obama exemplifies big government.

That co-opting effort takes the form of commiserating with our dissatisfaction with politicians and the power games they play. As Obama said after the Scott Brown victory, "Here's my assessment of not just the vote in Massachusetts, but the mood around the country: the same thing that swept Scott Brown into office swept me into office.

"People are angry and they are frustrated. Not just because of what's happened in the last year or two years, but what's happened over the last eight years." ~ Barack Obama, January 20, 2010

Whenever Obama talks about voter dissatisfaction, he can’t help turning it into a chorus of that old tune, “Blame Bush.”

Mark Davis at Real Clear Politics comments that the Tea Party has support from various groups with their own hot-button issues (mine’s Immigration) but at the core is the size and scope of government. There’s room for pro-lifers, anti-Federal Reserve activists, anti-Obamacare groups, Gun Rights activists, Traditional Marriage defenders… “The people drifting toward the Tea Party movement are not extreme. They are, in fact, fighting extremism - the extremism that has brought us a government that takes far too much, spends far too much and runs our lives far too much. At long last, people who might disagree on a number of other things are uniting in a fight for strong but limited government, run responsibly and frugally.”

(Davis can be read here: )

Now, the ABC poll taken this month measures the Tea Party popularity as well as Palin’s.

When local anchor Alan Krashesky delivered the poll results, he said the Tea Party had “only” 35% support, as though that were something to be ashamed of. Clearly he doesn’t realize what a feat that was, starting from nothing on April 15th of last year!

Ross Perot got 19% of the vote after two years of campaigning and millions of dollars of his own money. 35% is extraordinary progress for a movement.

Like most, Krashesky makes the mistake of thinking it is a third party. We certainly hope not. And he’d like to bet the whole thing on the success or failure of Sarah Palin. That’s not true either.

The Tea Party will flock to candidates like Scott Brown. And Randy Hultgren. And anyone else with a platform of shrinking government. And we’ll bring our 35% of like-minded voters with us.

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