05.31.2010 0

Times Check: Tea Party Movement Connects with Candidates on the Basis of Ideas, Not Party

  • On: 06/08/2010 21:39:43
  • In: Conservative Movement
  • Tea Party Movement Connects with Candidates on the Basis of Ideas, Not Party

    By Kevin Mooney

    Contrary to what has been widely circulated in the New York Times and elsewhere, the Tea Party movement presents both parties with challenges and liabilities. The recent Democratic victory in Pennsylvania’s special House election shows that a small government message transcends party labels.

    Running against unpopular figures in the other party is insufficient and must be married in with a positive agenda that seizes upon top public concerns, according to a New York Times report that explores the tenuous relationship Republican strategist have with Tea Party activists.

    This report invokes some meaningful and thoughtful questions, even as it sidesteps the widespread, rising appeal of constitutional restraints among average Americans. Party leaders should draw up specific proposals that would give voters a stake in their victory just as Republicans were able to connect with new constituents on the basis of the “Contract with America” in 1994, the report suggests.

    The analysis here is spot on in that voters are not in love with Republicans even as they have soured on the Democratic agenda. Moreover, conservatives and libertarians maintain a jaundiced view of the GOP establishment that abandoned the “Contract’s” small government principles. The special House race in Pennsylvania that went against Republicans shows that public opposition toward President Obama’s national agenda does not necessarily translate into local victory. That’s fair enough to point out.

    However, The Times neglects to mention that the Democrat in Pennsylvania’s 12th district who ran as an ardent conservative against a Republican who failed to capitalize on the public’s firm unease with Big Government schemes.

    Here are some of the central questions raised in the report that are worth repeating:
    “Should the party, for example, seek to nationalize the election? Should it direct candidates to demonize Mr. Obama or Speaker Nancy Pelosi the way Democrats demonized former President George W. Bush in 2006, or the way some Tea Party leaders are demonizing Mr. Obama? Will the legislative achievements of Democrats in recent months — the health care measure and presumably a financial regulation bill — permit Democrats to argue that Washington can get something done, or will the substance of the legislation provide a target for those who argue against the expansion of government?”

    There’s some good analysis at work here but the antagonism toward the Tea Party does come through in the opening paragraphs. The “anti-government ideology” and “anti-government bent” of the Tea Party is replete with rough edges that could be a liability for the GOP, The Times informs readers.

    In reality, the “cap and trade” bill that has been reintroduced in the Senate and the government takeover schemes of President Obama are overflowing with rough edges that the public has consistently rejected in local and state elections since last year. It is worth noting that the Democrat who won in Pennsylvania opposed both.

    A few additional questions are in order.

    If the GOP risks alienating Independents by way of supporting the Tea Party movement, how is it harmful to Republican prospects to oppose the legislative priorities of Democratic leaders that have alienated those same independents?

    Why can’t Democratic candidates seize upon Tea Party energy? This movement is about ideas, not party labels. There is a renewed interest in the founding period and this means trouble for the Big Government figures that remain active in both parties.

    Kevin Mooney is the Executive Editor of TimesCheck.com.

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