Third party steeping in political brew
Published: Tuesday, January 11, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, January 11, 2011 11:01
There remains little doubt in the minds of the American people that the United States political system is rapidly changing.
Many factions in the United States seem to be grasping for power over the political reigns of our nation.
"The Tea Party," a loud conservative voice, has jumped to center stage in recent months. Out of the woodwork, it would seem, this new power emerged — one that is steeped in American history and has powerful goals for our future.
What started as a simple response to an "obesity tax," organized by Young Americans for Liberty in 2009, the Tea Party has grown into an organization that seemingly has the gravitas to elect persons to office.
In November, Republicans won 231 seats, and the Democrats similarly gained 189 seats in the House of Representatives. In the Senate, the margins were a bit tighter, with Democrats coming away with 51 seats, Independents winning two and Republicans grabbing 47. Many Republican victories have been attributed to the Tea Party, or at minimum, the coalition of support the Tea Party built.
Tea Party candidates who won their election bids include Rand Paul of Kentucky, Nikki Haley of South Carolina, Paul LePage of Maine, Christine O'Donnell of Delaware, and finally, Scott Brown, who won Ted Kennedy's Senate seat in Massachusetts during a special election in January 2010.
Not everyone agrees on the "third party" description. According to Gallop Editor in Chief Frank Newport, the movement is not a new political group, but merely a rebranding of traditional Republican candidates and policies.
I agree, but add that many Tea Party candidates I have interacted with prefer to call themselves "conservatives" rather than "Republicans." The case in point being newly elected Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who preferred to call himself a "conservative" when campaigning. Although eager to receive the party's support, he knew that he could broaden his electoral base if he stayed away from party labels.
Now that the midterm elections have concluded, all eyes turn to the 2012 presidential elections. Primary committees will begin to form this year. So what of the Tea Party?
Sarah Palin, the former Alaska governor and 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee, is a possible "Tea Partier" who may consider a presidential run. Whether or not her hopes will pan out has yet to be seen.
In the end, it seems that President Obama at the left and the Tea Party at the right seem to be fighting over control of the American political institution. It is up to the American people to sort through the rhetoric and demagoguery to emerge with an intelligent decision about who should be leading us and representing us in government. Candidates such as Paul and Rubio won because, among other reasons, they seemed like average Americans. That is what I perceive to be the goal of the Tea Party movement: to empower conservatives to band together and return the seat of political power back to the "the average citizen." Unfortunately, whether or not that is the reality of the movement is a topic up for debate.
On the other hand, President Obama will be hard-pressed for victory in 2012 if he continues to move far to the left on social issues. The key for Democratic victories is to continue to poke holes in the policies of the Tea Party while simultaneously conceding some small victories to the newly elected Republican majority in the House.
If the Democrats actually practice their slogan of message of bipartisanship, they may restore some lost confidence from forced health care.
No matter what the outcome of this year's midterm elections, both parties have some flaws. It is the job of the American people to decide which party has fewer of those flaws in the next two years.