Disenfranchisement and Deception
Opinion, Politics by Jeremy Sykes
The appeal of Tea Party rhetoric to ordinary people seems inestimable. It seems abundantly clear that elections are decided on the “gut” feelings that ordinary citizens have toward their politicians. They are not entirely wrong to think this way. After all, politicians hedge their bets and are intentionally mealy-mouthed about making pledges and promises. The appeal of party politics has always been that if you know where the party stands, and the party endorses the candidate, you are granted a degree of certainty in governance. After that, what else is there but personality?
But the people seem desperately unhappy with the parties. Or maybe, the allegiance individual politicians and their establishment contemporaries grant to the party’s base issues. A Democrat might be unhappy with the party because he feels that they haven’t defended their principles enough, a Republican might be unhappy because they feel the party is teetering on the brink of dividing into two entirely separate camps: fiscal conservatives v. the moral majority.
The Tea Party, a party fronted almost entirely by female faces, Palin and O’Donnell (and nearly identical faces at that) with exceptionally nebulous views that range from reducing the deficit to throwing every immigrant and migrant worker out of the country. At the same time, there are adherents who believe in social security, and in gay marriage. So it’s not the party that is appealing, because the party doesn’t really stand for anything but “different,” and “not establishment.”
So, here is a party, whose appeal is based entirely on personality and extra-partisianship. There’s no substance at all. Which is not to say that the various candidates haven’t espoused any substantive thoughts, merely that the parties inherent contradictions are too great to be made into a single platform.
The common vector with O’Donnell and Palin, espoused here in the New York Times after the O’Donnell debate, is ““She is someone I can relate to,” Ms. Gawel said, outside the debate hall in the late afternoon. “She’s not had everything handed to her.””
And that’s the ticket. This is a democracy, and people want to do more than vote, they want to do more than call pensioners on the weekend, or send checks to their candidates. They want, and I agree with them, power. And they feel they can’t have it. It’s a poor democracy if the average joe can’t achieve power for himself, not as an autocrat of course, but merely as his own proxy. That’s the whole point of democracy. There shouldn’t be a political class whose allegiance is first and foremost to the oligarchy they’ve established for selecting the next generation of leaders.
I was a page in the House of Representatives, for Chris Shays. Then I went to George Washington University, a mecca for the political underclass. That was the path, and had I walked it, I would have gotten an internship during my four years there, stayed in D.C. took a 25k position as a Representative’s aide. Worked on his campaigns, answered phone calls, then moved to a Senator. From there I would have became a “grass-roots” organizer, following that, an advisor on a policy issue, and then to chief of staff. There are supplementary steps too, become a lobbyist, work for a policy institute. Then go to law school, and then become a candidate.
The real issue here is that ordinary Americans cannot run for office. We don’t have the money, we don’t have the time to devote to the issues, and we don’t have the time to gladhand everyone in our district. There’s something wrong with that.
And that’s the appeal of the Tea Party and if it were true, it would be a transcendental movement.
But it’s a lie, dozens of articles have discussed how the party and it’s candidates have been funded by industrialists like the Koch brothers. Fox News has served up free publicity for every single event, and its headliner Glen Beck is himself the mascot of the entire movement. O’Donnell and Palin might be soccer moms at heart, but they’ve been entirely co-opted by the machinery. And why is it that there are no famous Tea Party men? I’ll tell you—men who speak like them are either Republicans or kooks, not the fierce lionesses we know and love, protecting their cubs.
And so things will go on, as they always have. The Tea Party will take Congress, and the people will have been hoodwinked again, particularly when the federal deficit continues to mount, zero jobs are created, and China’s economy overtakes the U.S. in all relevant categories.