Where does Crazy get you?

Posted on September 15, 2010 by

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The tea party has been criticized from both sides of the political spectrum for not being a “real” political party. Most of these criticisms have come from people who are threatened by the existence of a third party in our political system. One of the main complaints lodged against the tea party is that they have no real consensus on platform issues and that they are still very much a dune organization with different issues taking precedence in different areas. That accusation makes it sound like the Democrats and Republicans have managed to consolidate their party to follow a strict set of ideals, which we all know, is not true. People have been dissatisfied for years with the political machines created by our two party system. The rise in the number of independent voters can speak to this fact.  Perhaps we are seeing the emergence of a third party in American politics, or maybe this is really just the response to the “hopey, changey thing” that boosted President Obama into the White House.

Several races around the country suggest that the tea party is in fact gaining the strength that it needs to become a legitimate party. The Florida Senate race between democratic primary winner Kendrick Meek, the republican primary winner and tea party backed candidate Marco Rubio, and the supposed shoo-in candidate Charlie Crist has all three candidates vying very closely for the seat. The New York Times has labeled the state as a toss-up, with Crist currently as their choice to win the seat. The Alaska Senate race could face similar circumstances if incumbent Senator Lisa Murkowski decides to run a write in campaign, or take over the libertarian candidate on the ballot to challenge Joe Miller, who won her party’s nomination for the seat by 2,000 votes.  The recent upset in the Delaware primary has shown the power the tea party has, and it is starting to reveal the fractures within the GOP.

This election reminds me of the 2002 presidential election in France. France has a different political system in which there are multiple parties, but mainly two that dominate the national elections; the Socialist Party, and the RPR (Rally for the Repulic). In the 2002 election, the PS candidate did not make it past the initial election because the two men with the highest amount of votes were Chirac for the RPR, and Jean-Marie Le Pen from the National Front, a party with a striking resemblance to the tea party of American politics. The National Front is a hard line conservative party that wants to close its borders and send home immigrants, even those who are there legally, by shorting the amount of time allowed on visas. In the 2002 election, their anti-immigration stance was most likely what brought so many people to the polls in the initial election and won Le Pen a spot in the runoff election (On a side note, the anti-immigration fever in France just led to this).  Other platform issues include pulling out of the EU, banning homosexual marriage in the interest of preserving the family and lowering income taxes while raising import taxes to return to a more isolationist economic state. Sound familiar?

llegal Aliens Are Here illegally.
Pro-Domestic Employment Is Indispensable.
Stronger Military Is Essential.
Special Interests Eliminated.
Gun Ownership Is Sacred.
Government Must Be Downsized.
National Budget Must Be Balanced.
Deficit Spending Will End.
Bail-out And Stimulus Plans Are Illegal.
Reduce Personal Income Taxes A Must.
Reduce Business Income Taxes Is Mandatory.
Political Offices Available To Average Citizens.
Intrusive Government Stopped.
English As Core Language Is Required.
Traditional Family Values Are Encouraged.
Common Sense Constitutional
Conservative Self-Governance

(teaparty.org)

The lesson learned in that election is that people are afraid of crazy. Chirac won the presidency with 82% of the vote. In the initial election, people were ambivalent and took for granted that the two major parties would win, and then the runoff election would be the important one. The National Front was grossly underestimated as a political force, and managed to shock their way onto the ballot, only to be annihilated when the their policies and the repercussions of those policies were made clear to the French people. They voted for the moderate candidate in one of the biggest landslides in French history. Could we potentially see the same phenomenon in this election, even if it is not a presidential one?

I believe that we can and we will. The primaries are coming to a close, the hellfire and brimstone speeches that drove people to vote tea party candidates into GOP seats have started to wrap up, and what will be left is policy and ideas. People are tired of being treated like they are stupid and that the government is acting to protect them from themselves. Voters want to hear the ideas of their candidate so that they can make a decision for themselves. Part of the tea party’s energy comes from voters who feel disenfranchised from their elected officials. They feel as though they aren’t being heard. In order to have their voices heard in the election, they are going to be listening very carefully to what candidates are saying and deciding what they believe is best. When the tea party candidates like Miller and O’Donnell open their mouths, will people like what they hear?

Some inevitably will like what they hear, but if there is one thing the tea party has truly accomplished during this election cycle, its being polarizing. These tea party candidates are winning Republican primaries, not full elections. Delaware and Florida have closed primaries, so only registered Republicans were voting for tea party candidates. Out of independent and moderate democratic voters, the more conservative candidate will not likely pull many votes, though that is exactly who is running for the GOP in states like Florida, Alaska and Delaware. The primary season may have been about pulling from your ideological base, but Election Day is a whole different game, one that extreme right wing candidates will lose if they stick to their crazy.

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