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WHAT THE TEA PARTY WROUGHT

November 23, 2010 - Ray Hall (Archive)
Benched by my Doctor since Halloween I sat on the sidelines without the supposed benefit of watching television talking heads give their assessments of the mid-term election results. My mishap turned out to be of great worth because it allowed me to clearly see the beginning of the end of our two party political system.

In the run up to election day political prognosticators declared the mid-terms a referendum on President Obama to a rejection of Nancy Polosi to a popular national uprising of an electorate tired of public corruption and out of work and fearful of government spending. All of the above might have played a pivotal role in the elections, but I believe the back story—the story that went unreported—was how our nation’s two major political parties split at the seams.

Democrats and Republicans boast of having a “Big Tent” , a tent big enough to accommodate a variety of opinions and ideologies, but post Vietnam both parties have struggled with the “Big Tent” theory. Republicans became too liberal and Democrats became too conservative.

Barry Goldwater planted the possibility of a Conservative majority within the ranks of the Republican Party by asserting there was no room in the party for Nelson Rockefeller. His efforts culminated in the election of Ronald Reagan, but it took the Tea Party to give the GOP a political colonic.

Republican leaders, especially Republican Congressional leaders, miscalculated by assuming newly elected Tea Party representatives could easily be co-opted or folded into status-quo Republicanism. That miscalculation was evidenced by Mitch McConnell’s stunning turn around on earmarks and the elevation of a Tea Party freshman to a newly created position of leadership in the House.

In New York a loose coalition of Tea Party activists and Conservatives wrested the Republican nomination for Governor away from a GOP favorite and gave it to a man whose lack of political experience caused him to immediately be dubbed a radical extremist and a thug.

Mr. Paladino did not fit the Republican mold in New York and despite a feeble attempt at unity enough Republicans across the state were embarrassed by his candidacy that his effort suffered a fatal wound. Tea Party candidates prevented Republicans from knocking off Harry Reid in Nevada and electing a Republican Senator from Delaware.

On the Democratic side more than half of conservative Democrats—the “Blue Dogs—were defeated and although in the minority Democrats in Congress as a group are trending more toward progressive liberalism.

That doesn’t mean the GOP or the Democrats will wither and die, both will continue to play dominate roles. However, what the Tea Party has demonstrated is that there is a need in this country for more stand alone political parties. If the Tea Party does not become New York’s version of the Conservative Party, a mutation of the Republican Party, more political parties could emerge.

Imagine if only a few independent party representatives, twenty or thirty, were elected to Congress or three or four to the State Senate in Albany the center of power would shift and coalitions would develop that would allow more people to be better represented. Proportional representation is not a bad idea.

 
 

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