Two-party system under threat?

Wednesday, May 4th, 2011

This is a bit off topic for this blog, but it’s been on my mind lately…

Libertarians have a problem.  We are not taken seriously.   We don’t have the numbers, we’re seen as radical, and the two main parties are not going to permit any third party to even get close to threatening their cozy oligarchy.

There are certainly Democrats, Republicans, and especially independents who sympathize with libertarians on some issues, but when they vote, they tend to pick a candidate that represents their position on a broader spectrum of  issues, so they give their vote to one of the traditional mainstream party candidates.  And, the two parties are totally content with that situation.

The political status quo in the U.S. is ensured by the fact that voters have to pick between two political power groups and have almost no means to influence the government on any individual issue, which is why government can do what it pleases despite public sentiment.

This is where the Tea Party differs from tradition.  Yes, they are essentially a subdivision of the Republican Party, but their strategy of focusing on a single issue has magnified their power to the point where they can’t be ignored.  They have embarrassed the Republicans and done real injury to the arrogant foregone conclusion that the party is ruled from the top.

The Tea Party gave ordinary people a powerful voice on a single issue and it changed the course of both parties.  No small accomplishment.  It empowered freshmen Congressmen and set a precedent that the mainstream parties ruled by the old guard are vulnerable, something Libertarians have never been able to do.

So, just where the hell am I going with this?  What I’m wondering is whether the two party system will ultimately be subdued by single issue parties that each control enough votes to get the notice of the candidates of the mainstream parties.  Instead of a voter  belonging only to the Republican or Democratic parties, they could also belong to other parties each of which exists for the purpose of promoting a single issue.

As long as we have a political system with only two choices (which aren’t really that different from each other) we are going to continue to get the status quo.  And there is no way the two incumbent parties are ever going to permit a third party to grow into a real threat. What we need are a bunch of different grass-roots Tea Parties, each with a single focus that has the power of a  PAC or a lobbying group to advance the agenda of ending the drug war or the wars in Afghanistan and or balancing the budget or ending the death penalty or repealing laws against consensual “crime”.

Whether we like them or not, we may be seeing in the Tea Party, the beginning of the end of the two-party hegemony on political power in the U.S.   They commandeered a single issue and said to the world, we’re organized and we are really pissed off.  Ignore us at your peril.  And the key that makes it really attractive is that you don’t have to surrender your position on any other issue to be a member.  Add to that the power of the internet and it might not be as much of a fantasy as it might seem on the surface.

[Posted by Dave Krueger]

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44 Responses to “Two-party system under threat?”

  1. #1 |  JS | 

    Great post Dave! I knew some people that went to one of the tea parties here in Texas and they were nothing more than Sean Hannity conservatives that were pissed off because a democrat had won the white house. If the tea party dumbasses (and not all of them are) can be educated on such issues as the rule of law, the constitution, things like that, if they can grow up and get past the liberal/conservative false dichotomy pushed by foxnews and others, then maybe. I personally think history will vindicate the libertarians and condemn the liberal/conservatives but I really think the United States will break apart in a Soviet style implosion and I think it might happen pretty soon, sooner than anybody realizes, and before any party can do anything. The tea party will reflect on the good sense of some Americans who warned the rest of them, who went on with business as usual.

  2. #2 |  DarkEFang | 

    Generally in the US, whenever a third party begins to make waves, one of the parties steals its support by appropriating that party’s issues for itself. This makes it difficult for any new party to gain momentum.

  3. #3 |  Chris A | 

    I suppose that may depend on the staying power of something like the Tea Party. The anti-war movement seemed to be consistently growing through the Bush years only to almost totally dissolve after Obama, who, of course, did not end the wars, but started a new one. I’d love to see the sort of political denominationalism you mentioned happen, of course.

  4. #4 |  SJE | 

    With the structure of the voting system in the USA, smaller parties tend to get subsumed into larger groups. For example, the TP started as more independent and libertarian, but is being captured not so much by the GOP but by the Christian Conservatives. The CC are a traditional power base in the GOP that pushes the leadership to adopt their key issues, and so we are in more or less the same situation as the past few decades, with the moral issues holding sway over fiscal issues.

    I would like to see preference voting: you vote for your first, second, etc preference. Thus if you vote liberatarian, Green, or whatever minority party you have not automatically “thrown away” your vote: if your first pick is unsuccessful, your vote goes to the second pick. That way, people can take a risk, and register their dissent, without having a Balkanized system of minority parties. At some stage, the minority parties get enough votes to actually get seats in Congress.

  5. #5 |  Bob | 

    I have carefully considered your words, and while I think your approach is well thought out, I would approach the issue slightly differently. Now click on my random link loaded with internet ads…

    Heh.

    i like where you’re going with this, Dave. I notice that a lot of the “Tea Party” Congress Critters recently voted in seem to be cow towing to the Republican power structure instead of siding with Rand and saying “NO” to the Bloat-o-Budget. The general thrust of “a la carte party affiliation” seems like a really good idea.

    I wanna call it the “Salad Bar Party”.

  6. #6 |  Yizmo Gizmo | 

    I wanted to quote the George Carlin spiel on this idea:
    “Why do we only get two parties? We go to the supermarket
    we see 120 brands of breakfast cereal , 20 brands of toothpaste,
    why the hell do we only get 2 freakin political parties?”
    Anyway, I tried to look it up on youtube. Top match. Carlin.
    Dan Carlin, not George, on the futility of these two moronic sell-out parties.
    Different guy, same exact spiel–this must be a popular movement.
    Maybe there’s hope.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uWPlirZnO2E

  7. #7 |  James D | 

    Unfortunately, I don’t see this strategy working as well in say a Presidential election. The Tea Party works/worked well for Congress/local government elections … but when 2012 rolls around, people are still going to switch to the idea of “which turd from the 2 major parties is smaller”. As a ‘conserv-atarian’, I usually end up wincing and voting for the R over the D because most of the time the D will mess up my life at least a tad more than the R … but the 2 party system has forced us into this. I still don’t see the Tea Party or any group breaking that up when it comes to the Presidential election.

    Despite JS’s comments, most Tea Party people I’ve met are basically “beta libertarians” who joined mainly out of a desire to stop the size of government. Just cause more R’s tend to be ‘small government’ doesn’t mean all Tea Party people are Sean Hannity fans. Most libertarians want to legalize drugs, that doesn’t make them all liberal hippies, does it?

  8. #8 |  Cyto | 

    What I’m wondering is whether the two party system will ultimately be subdued by single issue parties that each control enough votes to get the notice of the candidates of the mainstream parties.

    no.

    Not as long as the electoral system here works as it does. Parliamentary systems are much more friendly to small constituency parties. That is one of their strengths – and one of their weaknesses. With no party attaining a majority a coalition government is required. Which means that some random single interest party can suddenly become much more powerful than the second most popular political party.

    The best chance for this scenario to play out here would be for a Tea Party Caucus to break off in the house or Senate. Better yet, a libertarian caucus…

    It would only take 5-10 senators breaking from their political parties (provided they placed both parties below 50% – better if they could also provide the 60th vote to both parties). The incentive for doing so could be great. On any issue which even partly divides the two major parties they’d wield absolute power. The barrier to this happening is the fact that they’d all have to jump together in the first 2 years in office to have any chance of staying the course – the major parties’ incentive to defeat the turncoats would be immense – requiring immense warchests to fend off.

  9. #9 |  Matt | 

    Well, the question is, does the two-party system end before, or after, it brings the country to financial ruin.

  10. #10 |  Cyto | 

    Well, the question is, does the two-party system end before, or after, it brings the country to financial ruin.

    Well…. lacking a time machine to travel back and end the two-party system in 2007…..

  11. #11 |  David McElroy | 

    The “tea party” movement will ultimately be no different from the “religious right” of 30 years ago in its effect on the political process, IMO. As long as you have a “winner take all” system, we will tend to have power concentrated in two groups. One-issue movements (or movements around specific ideas) will come and go, having differing amounts of effect on those two major parties. But the structure of the system we have is going to limit those movements to making small changes within existing groups rather than becoming third or fourth (or whatever) major players.

  12. #12 |  Chuchundra | 

    I’m curious, Dave. What “single issue” do you feel the Tea Party stands for and how have they advanced that agenda? As far as I can tell, the only single issue the Tea Party stands for is “no compromises with Democrats” or perhaps “no more RINOs”, which doesn’t seem like much of an issue to base your independent party on.

    More to the point, the Tea Party’s successes point out the soft spot in the USA’s political process, the primary system. That’s where their activism has borne fruit and it’s the basis for their political power. None of them are saying, like a lot of my stupid Democrat friends are, that they’ll sit out, stay home or vote third party because they’re unhappy with the GOP offering. They just go out and find a candidate they they like better and run him or her in the primary.

    While I don’t agree with anything the Tea Party does or stands for, I have to give them props for going out and working to implement the changes they want. They are remaking their party and purging the elected officials who don’t want to go along. They’re not just waiting until election day and then whining that they don’t like the choices offered.

    Parliamentary systems with single issue or narrow focus parties have a lot of drawbacks. Look at the damage the hardcore religious parties have done in Israel, for example. All in all, I prefer what we have here.

  13. #13 |  Rick | 

    I see the Tea Party as an infantile stage of a new party emerging. I’ve been to rallies, participate in meetings, etc of the Tea Party. Essentially I would describe myself as a Libertarian, but that platform has gotten nowhere. The assessment is correct that niche parties will develop and overlap to mount a political force. The Tea Party is a very specific issue oriented conglomeration of voters, many of them taking the Libertarian view, and many taking the staunch Christian view, and all united by the slogan “Taxed Enough Already”. Look closely, there is a huge overlap between libertarian view of law enforcement and the TEA view of don’t spend the money. Both accomplish the same thing, but the tax side is much easier to gather alliances. I see the Tea Party as growing and becoming dominant in the future….the reason….we have reached critical mass in tolerance of government intrusion and irresponsibility….

  14. #14 |  JS | 

    James D, I didn’t mean to imply that all tea party people were Sean Hannity fans, sorry if it came off that way. I was just referring to some people I know.

  15. #15 |  Moegerty | 

    As long as the electoral system is the way it is, this will always be a 2 party country. The system is set up for “winner take all” as opposed to a parliamentary proportional representative model.

    Since Congress is made up of a clear winner for each voting district, people will always maximize their vote, by voting for what they feel is the lesser of 2 evils. Because of this the republicrats and democans will stay in power, unless there is a single issue so compelling to actually split the party. There hasn’t been an issue like that since, well, the Republicans gained power over the slavery issue. We then went into one of the greatest loss of life during the Civil War, and the shock waves of that resounded for a hundred years later.

    There Republicans aren’t losing votes to the Tea Party, they just have a loud minority. Unless the Tea Party completely breaks with the Republicans, (which I doubt, they are too closely aligned on too many fronts), we will continue to have a the 2 incumbents. If they did split, all that would happen is that one of the parties would subsume the other. It’s the only way to remain competitive in elections where winner takes all.

    It would take a Constitutional amendment for proportional representation to actually make a change in this. You’d need to allow Congress to be made up of people who are voted in because X% of the population voted for some party. This is the way that Germany and Israel do it. It does lend itself to a lot of the “tail wagging the dog” scenarios, since coalition building becomes key.

  16. #16 |  Brian | 

    No. The Tea Party was taken over by the establishment wing of the Republican party long before it had the opportunity to do anything meaningful at the level of national government. I don’t know exactly which single issue it was that the Tea Party stood for in the last election cycle, other than “getting Republicans elected to Congress,” and I’ve not seen much progress on the various issues so many Tea Party candidates claimed made them different from the establishment candidates. But any other single-issue parties that crop up will be co-opted in the same way, by whichever of the two major parties claims that issue as part of its platform.

  17. #17 |  Don | 

    It’s not realistic to ask major party politicians to change sides. They don’t owe us anything.

    All the minor parties and wannabe minor parties should be demanding proportional representation, accomplished by multi-member districts and Single Transferable Vote instead of our usual first-past-the-post system. The only people disadvantaged by proportional representation would be incumbent politicians who can’t win except in jerrymandered districts, and political parties who know they are overrepresented in the legislature. Either position is indefensible.

  18. #18 |  cackalacka | 

    I would like to echo Chuchundra’s main point.

    As for their ‘single issue,’ if any of my tea party friends are any indication, their ‘single issue’ is accurately summarized as “Oh my God, oh my God, there is a black dude in the White House!!!11!!1!’

  19. #19 |  Legate Damar | 

    @#17: You’re right, the only reason that I decried the Bush spending explosion from 2002-2008 was that I hated the skin color of a future President who didn’t hold any office whatsoever for part of that time. Good thing you saw through my sham!

    I agree with many of the literate commenters here. The GOP’s “brand power” of selling limited government had become very dilute after they had overseen 7 years of massive government expansion. The grassroots rebelled and reminded the leadership that Team Red footsoldiers don’t believe that a nation can spend its way to prosperity. GOP leadership received this message loud and clear in the primaries and has co-opted (while mainstreaming/diluting) the budget-cutting theme ever since.

    Of course, the fact that the GOP isn’t REALLY trying to solve the problem will keep the hard-core (and only the hard-core) tea partiers agitating for some while into the future, but… the GOP is selling the IMAGE that it’s trying to solve the problem, and that will keep those annointed by the party higher-ups safe in the primaries in the short term until the TP runs out of steam. Then everything will be back to business as usual and the history books won’t even remember that such a thing ever happened.

  20. #20 |  Erin | 

    Ugh, Radley, these guest bloggers are awful. I don’t come to your blog to read poorly drafted drivel. Next time you go away, please just leave the blog without updates until you return. I’m removing it from my feed reader; hope to remember to subscribe again when you get back.

  21. #21 |  DarkEFang | 

    The “Tea Party” isn’t a true third party in the sense of the Libertarian Party, the Reform Party or the Green Party. The Tea Party has a lot more in common with what are termed the “clone parties” in Russia.

    Vladimir Putin essentially has the electoral system rigged to marginalize the Communist Party, which is the only real competition to United Russia, Putin’s unofficial party. What he’s done is fund a number of single-issue parties. Some clones are designed to draw votes from the Communist Party, by campaigning on issues popular with the Russian left. Even though they’re ideologically similar to the Communists, the Communist Party can never count on their support.

    Other clones are designed to bolster United Russia by campaigning on issues to the right of United Russia, which is technically a centrist party. They almost always support Putin and United Russia. If they don’t, their leaders tend to end up like Mikhail Khodorovsky, currently serving a second prison sentence on trumped up charges after attempting to undermine Putin’s influence in the Duma.

    This is similar to what happened in the US during the mid-terms. Many of the larger Tea Party organizations were funded by Republican operatives. Once they were elected, Tea Party candidates were expected to back establishment Republican policies.

    Of course, the Tea Party was a political party in name only. All its candidates ran under the Republican party banner.

  22. #22 |  Dave Krueger | 

    #2 DarkEFang

    Generally in the US, whenever a third party begins to make waves, one of the parties steals its support by appropriating that party’s issues for itself. This makes it difficult for any new party to gain momentum.

    I have to agree with this. While it can be said that this is proof that the third party is indeed influencing the other party, in the end the appropriated issue probably gets suppressed more than it gets supported. I think that’s what the mainstream Republicans wanted to do to the Tea Party’s budget cutting position (although it was a pretty sloppy attempt — and embarrassing).

  23. #23 |  Don | 

    In a PR+STV (proportional representation with Single Transferable Vote) system, it wouldn’t much matter whether the tea partiers were inside or outside of the Republican Party. They represent about 25% of the electorate (maybe a little less lately, with the defection of Republican labor union members), they would get 25% of the legislature in a properly proportional system, as they should.

    There’s no reason tea party candidates should have to fight their way through a Republican primary just for the privilege of being on the ballot in the general election. Same for left challengers to Democrats.

  24. #24 |  DarkEFang | 

    To those who want to see a true multi-party system in the US: Please provide some examples where this was successful on a long-term basis.

    Sadly, there aren’t any such examples. The only two examples that come to mind where this even happens is Italy and Belgium, and those are both total trainwrecks. Italy has had about 60 different governments since WWII, and Belgium is on the verge of splitting up into two different countries.

    In every other nation that has multiple political parties, two dominate voting while the others are relegated to the back benches. Occasionally, those marginal parties gain a bit of political power when one of the large parties is attempting to put together a supermajority.

    At the moment, the UK has three important political parties. We’ll see if that lasts.

    What’s particularly notable is the durability of American political parties. In most nations, there is an ebb and flow as some parties rise to power as others fall to obscurity. The US, on the other hand, has had the same two parties since the 1850s.

  25. #25 |  Dave Krueger | 

    #12 Chuchundra

    I’m curious, Dave. What “single issue” do you feel the Tea Party stands for and how have they advanced that agenda?

    I think the Tea Party’s original position was to bring a bunch of people together for the sole purpose of shrinking government and balancing the budget. At least that was supposed to be the theory. In an ideal world, they would have attracted more left leaning people who believe that government has become too bloated, but they started letting their other, more divergent, positions bubble up to the surface which scared away the broader support and even caused some infighting among their conservative members.

    I’m not putting up the Tea Party as a shining example of single mindedness and cooperation, but I think that was their original intent (or maybe I should say it was the way they wanted to be seen).

    The key point is that they developed quickly, gained a lot of popular support, and were actually able to generate worry among the Republicans and, later, the Democrats. They captured the headlines and held them longer than I ever thought they would.

    I’m not a Tea Party subscriber mainly because I don’t think they are willing to get really serious about the degree of cuts necessary to balance the budget. When you strip away the rhetoric, I’m afraid too any of them are really Republicans who support the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the drug war All of which need to be scrapped to balance the budget).

    In other words, there’s plenty of room for improvement, but they proved it could be done.

  26. #26 |  Dave Krueger | 

    #5 Bob

    I notice that a lot of the “Tea Party” Congress Critters recently voted in seem to be cow towing to the Republican power structure instead of siding with Rand and saying “NO” to the Bloat-o-Budget.

    Yes, that is unfortunate. I’m actually quite please with Rand Paul, though. By the time of the election I was already having second thoughts about him. He’s turned out to be pretty tough. I wish he had more support. He can’t do it alone.

    I wanna call it the “Salad Bar Party”.

    LOL! I definitely see a future for parties named after food items.

  27. #27 |  Dave Krueger | 

    #18 cackalacka

    As for their ‘single issue,’ if any of my tea party friends are any indication, their ‘single issue’ is accurately summarized as “Oh my God, oh my God, there is a black dude in the White House!!!11!!1!’

    Yeah, I think that pretty much summarizes the mood of the entire Republican party, which is pretty distressing considering the friggin’ bozo they elected eight years earlier.

  28. #28 |  Chad | 

    Libertarians gain no traction because Americans by and large don’t agree with Libertarian ideals. Americans only love freedom in theory. In practice, most Americans have no trouble with our authoritarian centrally controlled pet-like existence. If offered a choice between kibble and foraging, we take kibble every time.

  29. #29 |  Deoxy | 

    Yes, yes, it’s all about his skin color. Nevermind that Republicans could have elected Condoleeza Rice (had she been willing to run), or that Colin Powell was fairly popular as well (by the more “moderate”/left-leaning members, but still).

    Skin color matters little to none for most Republicans I’ve ever met – a black candidate would probably lose 10% of the Republican vote (in the primary) to racists, tops (and come out net-positive in the general election from blacks who vote by skin color). I still think Condoleeza Rice could have easily beaten Obama in the general election and probably won the primary, if she’d wanted to run.

    Certainly Obama couldn’t be unpopular with Republicans because he is a Democrat, or pushed through ObamaCare, or implemented a de facto drilling ban in the Gulf, or that his policies (including that one) has raised the price of gas, or that his monetary policy (summarized as “PRINT LOTS MORE MONEY”) has weakened the dollar and brought about massive inflation, or that his international policies have been completely bass-ackwards, etc, etc, etc.

    Thinking that we could only dislike him because he is black, when he has stuck his finger in the conservative/right-leaning eye in just about every way I can think of, THAT is the racist position, here.

  30. #30 |  Miko | 

    James D: Unfortunately, I don’t see this strategy working as well in say a Presidential election.

    The obvious modification there would be to do it at the level of electors. While state legislatures get to decide how to apportion electors, theoretically we’re not supposed to be voting for presidential candidates, but for the members of the electoral college (who then later vote for a presidential candidate), so it’s doable even if some policy change might be required on the state level first. But, what if people were to run as ‘unaffiliated electors’? They campaign on the issues they care about without pledging to vote for any candidate and, say, 10 or 20 get elected. Meanwhile, the rest of the country does their mindless standard 50% Democrat, 50% Republican split, and all of a sudden you’ve reduced the number of votes that will decide the election to a level small enough that the candidates actually have to care what they say.

    Ultimately, I don’t think this will be at all effective (for the same reasons that the Tea Party is ineffective at best and more likely a detriment to liberty), but I’d be interested in seeing it tried.

  31. #31 |  BillC | 

    Deoxy, I disagree.

    Please take the time to get to know the people you are talking about. Here is a very good resource I’ve found to get to know the Republican base: http://www.pwsnt.com/

  32. #32 |  stevelaudig | 

    a source of difficulty is the primitive democratic rules. when enough people regularly vote libertarian to change electoral outcomes under the old system while at the same time promoting structural changes [STV and the like] then the ossified old parties may come to their senses and agree to a change in voting rules. it is a long haul. I’m basically a democratic voter but I want more flexibility in outcomes.

  33. #33 |  Dave Krueger | 

    Regardless of whether a third party could ever succeed, I’d just like to see one election where the popular battle cry is to dump the incumbents. I’d love to see the state of shock that could cause, but the price of losing the few really decent members of Congress seems like too high a price to pay.

  34. #34 |  buzz | 

    “While I don’t agree with anything the Tea Party does or stands for”

    So you are for a huge government running all facets of your life and spending tons and tons of money. Ok, most people wouldnt admit to that.

    “As for their ‘single issue,’ if any of my tea party friends are any indication, their ‘single issue’ is accurately summarized as “Oh my God, oh my God, there is a black dude in the White House!!!11!!1!’”

    Then you clearly need to get out more. And how come these people are your friends?

    “Ugh, Radley, these guest bloggers are awful. I don’t come to your blog to read poorly drafted drivel. Next time you go away, please just leave the blog without updates until you return. ”

    Yes, radley, if you could clear it with Erin next time? Cause the rest of us only want to read what Erin deems acceptable. Thanks.

  35. #35 |  NSM | 

    The Tea Party movement is overwhelmingly populated by conservative Republicans who are not uncomfortable supporting — or being gulled by — the establishment Republican candidates.

    Tea Party supporters pick Mitt Romney as top choice for President in 2012, Palin ratings slip: polls
    http://liten.be//gPwfZ

    There’s no shortage of Tea Party stars considering presidential runs, including Sarah Palin and Rand Paul.

    But is the noisy grassroots movement’s favorite the relatively staid Mitt Romney?

    According to a surprising new poll, he is.

    For 24% of Tea Party backers, the former Massachusetts governor is the number one choice as a potential GOP presidential contender, a new Pew Research poll reveals.

    Romney beat out Tea Party favorites by double digits — Paul received 13% and Palin received 12%. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee garnered 19% of the Tea Partiers’ support, while former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich received 15%.

  36. #36 |  JS | 

    NSM “But is the noisy grassroots movement’s favorite the relatively staid Mitt Romney?

    According to a surprising new poll, he is.

    For 24% of Tea Party backers, the former Massachusetts governor is the number one choice as a potential GOP presidential contender, a new Pew Research poll reveals.”

    In other words the thing has degenerated into nothing more than “We have to find someone who can put team red back in power!” Very sad indeed.

  37. #37 |  colson | 

    The American political system (maybe most political systems) is driven on little more than pure, escapist idealism. So long as the incentives are not placed on making the right decisions that need to be made, and the incentives are placed on the popular appeal to the voter’s unconstrained idealism, we’ll be beholden to a two-party system that perpetually offers a free lunch every election cycle. The splinter groups will be glued back into their respective places between the two parties and life will go on.

    I also believe the Tea Party grew out of a bad election cycle. For the more “me too” supporters of Tea Party issues, they’re not going to get any immediate gratification from the election cycle and they’ll move on. All of those pocket Constitutions will be relegated to a corner or shelf, collected up with a pile of bills and stashed somewhere to collect dust. The kids might use it now and again to do something for some school project but it will end up stashed back into the dust-collecting place, just as it is in most people’s memories.

  38. #38 |  LibertarianBlue | 

    I don’t consider the Tea Party a serious threat to the “two” parties at all personally at least in my contact with them. During the Gubernatorial election in NY two candidates ran as a TP candidate; Carl Paladino for the Republicans and Warren Redlich who ran in the Republican primary but then went onto the Libertarian ticket. For those of you that dont know NY has a big problem with eminent domain abuse, especially in NYC. It was uncovered that Paladino heavily benefited from ED abuse and actually campaigned to use it to shut the down the Muslim community center in NYC. Apparently to most TPers ED abuse is ok when its against someone they dont like. Among locals that I have met, many are hostile to Ron Paul’s live and let live policy and getting our military out of other countries affairs.

    That was just local examples. If you want national examples look at the last PATRIOT Act vote. Many of tea party candidates voted in favor of the extensions with no other explanation than the “it keeps us safe” bullshit. The so-called conservative opposition to Libya just reeks of the token opposition to Clinton’s adventure in Europe; they’re not against murdering abroad, just murdering the wrong people abroad.

    Also look at the so-called Libertarians that in reality are just neocons with a new look; Neil Boortz, Wayne Allen Root, Eric Dondero, Glenn Beck, Roger Stone, Freedomworks/Dick Armey and the Atlas Society to name a few. It’s people like these who make the stereotype of Libertarians being Republican-lite true when in fact they don’t represent Libertarianism at all.

    Then there are the Paleocons; Buchanan, Baldwin, Wooldridge that 24.com blog guy among others whos opposition to the PATRIOT Act and our foreign policy is just a means to an end in my opinion. They’re just as statist as your run of the mill con and lib.

    Will the two-party oligarchy fall? Maybe, who knows but I definitely dont see the Tea Party becoming the ones who do it at least considering what has gone on so far.

  39. #39 |  Chris Hallquist | 

    @Dave:

    You write:

    “I’m not a Tea Party subscriber mainly because I don’t think they are willing to get really serious about the degree of cuts necessary to balance the budget. When you strip away the rhetoric, I’m afraid too any of them are really Republicans who support the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the drug war All of which need to be scrapped to balance the budget).”

    That’s my impression of them too. But what, then, did they accomplish? Sure, they got tons of attention for themselves, and may have even “generated worry” as you say, but the fact that they mostly weren’t series about cuts meant they didn’t give politicians to get serious about cuts. Zero policy impact, in the end.

  40. #40 |  Windy | 

    When the TEA Party first began it was all about the ever growing government and the ever increasing taxation being enacted to keep the governmetn growing ever bigger and more intrusive, the TEA stands for “Taxed Enough Already!” Initially it was mostly libertarian in flavor until people like Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachman started attending and thereby moving the party more toward mainstream (big government/corporatist) Republicans. That movement to the right brought out the heckling liberals and Dems which just moved it even further to the old line, mainstream GOP (and I do NOT mean Goldwater’s old line, mainstream GOP, which it really should have moved toward instead of the wrong direction it did take).

    As for the libertarian party, if everyone who claimed to be libertarian actually VOTED libertarian, the party would be a much greater force for change than it has been (which is not much).

  41. #41 |  Obama's dad | 

    Libertarians are such a joke. They rant and rave but it all boils down to we want our drugs and we want them now. Just a bunch of five year olds. No wonder no one takes them seriously.

  42. #42 |  Dave Krueger | 

    My point is not so much about what the Tea Party espouses, whether you agree with them, or whether they succeed in accomplishing their goals than It is about the simple fact that they were (supposedly) single issue oriented, emerged largely from the ranks, grew very quickly, and made a measurable impact on mainstream party activities.

    I agree that they have been and will continue to be co-opted by more traditional big government republicans like Palin, Bachmann, et al. I’m thinking of the Tea Party as a possible prototype for future grass roots uprisings. It’s easy to dismiss such a thought, but possibility of popular uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, and Libya may have been just as easily dismissed a year or two ago. I think people are underestimating the power of the internet to whip people into a frenzy in a very short time.

    Having said that, I think an uprising or spontaneous movement needs a significant trigger and we have a shortage of those.

  43. #43 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    The Reps/Dems are darn good at surviving. They’ll reinvent themselves in whatever way, shape, form to keep in power. I expect the Tea Party to be usurped as it is still about $$$ and people get bought out just like businesses. Possible that the Republican Party goes away and we have just TP/Dems. Hard to break up the trillion dollar racket in place.

    The TP was created mostly because Rep/Dems started hugging in public as they whipped the peasants. Before they usually left the motel in different cars after spending sexy-time together in the oily beanbag of love. Someone noticed an opportunity. I expect them to make that mistake again (their love is strong) but they will deal with grassroots smarter next time.

    I still believe Libertarian Party should be a policy influencer and not field candidates at all. Show politicians the business reasons why they should move toward libertarianism.

    Of course there’s always the hope for spontaneous citizen refusal to be governed like in Tunisia/Egypt. But jeesh…football season is just around the corner.

  44. #44 |  Jim | 

    The Anti-Saloon League achieved its (eventual) goal of a constitutional amendment to institute national prohibition of alcohol by being able to deliver a pivotal bloc of voters (especially but not only for state legislature races); those voters would reliably cast their ballot for the driest of the candidates, irrespective of the party. The third party approach (the Prohibition Party, still in existence) was not nearly as successful in effecting change.

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