Tag Archives: Tea Party

Sarah Palin Speech

Saying Goodbye To The Tea Party

The Republican party is returning to fight for the centre which will return them to power, and Sarah Palin will not be a mistake they will seek to repeat.

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Sarah Palin Speech

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Last week the most internationally mocked American politician was gracelessly tossed out by Fox News, a network under which she had once developed huge popularity as the right-wing’s female star of Obama-bashing and main-stream-media-attacking. Sarah Palin (best known around the world for her portrayals by Tina Fey in Saturday Night Live and Julianne Moore in the less-than-complimentary election film Game Change) has fallen from her heights of media stardom and a doomed campaign to be the first American female vice-president.

However this is not some isolated event of the fall from grace of a single politician, it is part of a wider political shift of the past year in US politics. This shift is the popular collapse of the once powerful Tea Party movement. What had begun with a slow slide in popularity has become a widespread abandonment of the movement and its rejection from the Republican Party within which it once held so much influence. Where only three years ago almost a quarter of voters affiliated themselves with the movement, now less than one in ten do. Where over half of voters once supported it, now just as many see it negatively and support has fallen to under a third. The 2012 presidential election killed the Tea Party, and it is a sign of much larger changes to come.

Three years is extremely fast for a country-spanning ideological movement to collapse, but the Tea Party’s rise was just as spectacular. Emerging in 2007 in the “Boston TeaParty07” event for Ron Paul’s presidential campaign, the Tea Party movement only really began to gather pace in 2009, after the response to the financial crisis became the most important political issue in the Western world. Rick Santelli’s rant in response to the bailout of the collapsing financial institutions of the time created the new movement as he called for a “Chicago Tea Party”. The result was instant. Protests against the bailouts and rising taxes erupted across the United States, rallies which were noticed across the world as the most significant opposition to President Obama’s handling of the financial crisis.

The Tea Party movement reached it’s peak in 2010, over half of the Republican vote was members and the vast majority of Republican politicians owed the fever-pitch opposition to Obama to its grassroots drive. But what did this grassroots owe their support to? Largely big-business and individual billionaire investors with libertarian leanings. Unfortunately this initially very powerful combination between the anti-tax grassroots and their allies in politics and business opened cracks which would break the movement.

This break began shortly after the Tea Party movement began. Raised in the face of Obama’s landslide election victory and his big-government response to the financial crisis the Tea Party was unprepared to face a series of bloody losses to the Obama administration. First the big-bank bailouts and financial stimulus. Then the auto bailouts. Then the healthcare bill. The Tea Party was (and is) not only getting an absolute mauling in national politics but was also losing to successful policies. No matter how huge the airtime dedicated to the “grassroots” movement, funded by big-money donations to media organisations, there was no fighting the tide of goodwill the Democrats faced between 2010 and 2012 as the economy drove towards recovery.

Nor was Obama’s political success the only problem. Tea Party candidates were an increasing embarrassment to the Republican Party. Attempts to run inexperienced grassroots campaigners against experienced Democratic politicians was not as effective as the GOP had expected. Continuous gaffs from Tea Party favourites such as Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann destroyed both candidate’s hopes in 2012 and could be ill-afforded as the Christian-right joined them in self-immolation on women’s rights.

The 2012 elections were the last gasp of an already struggling political movement. In an attempt to secure their vote anti-tax politician Paul Ryan was nominated as Vice President. However not only did securing the Tea Party vote fail to galvanise support and overturn Obama’s huge 2008 majority, it actively damaged the Republican vote. In trying to capture the radical-right during the primaries Republican presidential candidates had completely alienated themselves from the centre, the place where all elections are won and where the vital swing-states lie. After months of predictions of Republican victory the right-wing were stunned to watch Obama waltz to an easy victory spurred by the women, industrial working class, racial minorities and LGBT that the Republicans had offended time and time again in their attempts to spur Tea Party-like activism in the radical right.

Now, with Obama yet again sworn into office, the Republicans are cutting the anchor lines to the Tea Party, Christian evangelist and anti-immigrant right wing which lost them the election they seemed so set to win. The sacking of Palin by Fox News is not just a symptom of the collapse of the Tea Party, but of the entire GOP radical right. The Republican party is returning to fight for the centre which will return them to power, and Sarah Palin will not be a mistake they will seek to repeat.

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Photo Credit: sskennel

buddy roemer (1)

Buddy Roemer: The Best Candidate You’ve Never Heard Of

Accepting Mr. Roemer’s diagnosis of the American political system is accepting that American democracy is not only sick, it has stage IV cancer.

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[dropcap]I[/dropcap]n the recent history of American Presidential elections, apart from the two major party candidates there’s been a tradition of the scrappy third-party candidate with no shot of winning the race (or even a single electoral vote) but with the ability to shake things up and perhaps add to the conversation. In 1992 Ross Perot, running on the Reform Party ticket, took close to 19% of the popular vote. In 1996 Mr. Perot again made a, much smaller, dent with almost 8.5% of the popular vote. Perhaps most infamously, in the 2000 election Ralph Nader took only 2.7% of the popular vote nationally, but 97,388 votes in Florida. Votes that many contend would have gone to Vice-President Al Gore had Mr Nader not been in the race, changing the outcome of the race in George Bush’s favour. In 2004 and 2008 third party candidates dropped off the map, arguably because of Mr Nader’s 2000 impact, registering miniscule numbers in both elections.

Here we are in 2012, enter Buddy Roemer. Mr. Roemer is a former member of the United States House of Representatives and former Governor of Louisiana. This election cycle he ran unsuccessfully for the Republican nomination, finishing last in the Iowa Caucus (behind ‘No Preference’) and has been denied space at every Republican debate. He is now running independently without the endorsement of a third-party.

Mr. Roemer believes his campaign can find common ground between the two biggest American political movements of the last four years, the Tea Party and Occupy. The overlap, he claims, is the role that money plays in politics. In theory this appeals to the Tea Party because corporations lobby for laws that favour them; this makes government bigger, and it appeals to Occupy because it limits the influence of corporations in politics.

This above all has been his campaign’s main focus and thus far they’ve practiced what they preach. The Roemer campaign accepts no money from PACs, does not have a Super PAC, and does not accept individual donations over $100. He is running on a platform which pushes for full disclosure of every campaign contribution, real-time electronic reporting of campaign contributions, elimination of Super PACs, limiting PAC donations to the same as individual donations, prohibiting lobbyists from participating in fundraising, and criminalizing violations to campaign finance laws.

On other issues Mr. Roemer comes down as center-right. He would support a repeal of Obamacare but keep the coverage for pre-existing conditions. He would have a flat income tax of 17% with a $50,000 exemption and close tax loopholes for corporations. On national security he supports the use of drones and questions the productivity of a cash-based foreign policy. This is not exhaustive and you can view his full platform on his campaign’s website.

The other thing about Mr. Roemer is that he is surprisingly of the ‘establishment’. He holds a BA and an MBA from Harvard and he has held State and national office, as both a Democrat and a Republican. He is in everyway middle of the road, and his major issue, money in politics, is something that would unquestionably benefit the average voter by making government accountable to people, not to special interest. When you hear him speak with his Louisiana twang, you get riled up, you get angry, he brings you in, and he’s speaking directly to you.

So why is he totally and completely unelectable?

Fundamentally I think it’s this, accepting Mr. Roemer’s diagnosis of the American political system is accepting that American democracy, which one is taught to think is exceptional, is not only sick, it has stage IV cancer. You have to accept that under the current circumstances your vote, your advocacy, and your voice are meaningless; you are powerless. The leaders that you ‘elect’, no matter how much they talk about ‘hope’, ‘change’, or their belief in America, are really bought and paid for.

This is a bitter pill to swallow but it’s time America wakes up and gets some treatment.