A liberal tea party?

Liberals are afflicted with tea party envy.  According to leftist political theory, populist movements–grassroot uprisings of the masses–are supposed to advance the agenda of the left.  But in America most populist movements lean right.   So Democrats are trying to organize a tea party of their own:

At last weekend’s Netroots Nation gathering in Minneapolis, liberal activists expressed frustration that they lacked the political power or media focus given to the conservative tea-party movement. Former White House environmental official Van Jones is hoping to change that with a new political effort dubbed “The American Dream Movement.”

Organizers are hoping to emulate the the success of the tea party, which became a significant force in the 2010 midterms, uniting like-minded people across the country who were previously uninvolved in politics or participating locally but not at the national level.

They hope to motivate unemployed veterans, struggling homeowners and other alienated Americans who are angry at Republicans’ desire to drastically cut government spending in Washington and collective bargaining rights for state employees in places like Wisconsin. And to lure those people simply struggling to find a job while worried about their unemployment benefits ending.

“We think we can do what the tea party did,” Jones said in an interview with The Fix. “They stepped forward under a common banner, and everybody took them seriously. Polls suggest there are more people out there who have a different view of the economy, but who have not stepped forward yet under a common banner.”

Jones is a former Obama environmental adviser who resigned from the White House in 2009 amid controversy over his past activism. But he’s lauded in liberal circles for his charisma and organizing abilities.

“There’s a lot of organizational muscle behind the initiative, and Van is one of the most inspiring figures in the progressive movement, so I’m looking forward to these efforts, and they certainly come at a time when Republican overreach has primed progressives to take action” said Markos Moulitas, the founder of the liberal blog network Daily Kos.

Jones’ “Dream” movement will launch Thursday night with a rally in New York City. The Roots are performing; MoveOn.org, a well known liberal advocacy group, is co-sponsoring the gathering.

via Can liberals start their own tea party? – The Fix – The Washington Post.

Populist movements organized from the top and funded by billionaires are kind of a contradiction in terms.  Still, do you think the American Dream movement will catch on?

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Eric Brown

    It won’t catch on because of it’s target audience — the unemployed, the disgruntled vets, etc. Those are all small, minority groups. You don’t make a massive grass roots movement when you appeal only to 10 percent of the population. Those who don’t have don’t get politically motivated – those who have and fear that the government might take things away — they will be motivated.

  • Eric Brown

    It won’t catch on because of it’s target audience — the unemployed, the disgruntled vets, etc. Those are all small, minority groups. You don’t make a massive grass roots movement when you appeal only to 10 percent of the population. Those who don’t have don’t get politically motivated – those who have and fear that the government might take things away — they will be motivated.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    I am skeptical. It is much easier to motivate the oppressed than the lazy. Many of these progressive groups mischaracterize these people as struggling when plenty of them are not exactly that determined to succeed. They may be willing to riot for handouts and show up to shakedown targeted businesses but they aren’t really competent enough to take advantage of opportunities. A leader like Jones is a necessary but not sufficient condition for them to be a movement. They simply cannot and will not organize themselves like the middle class can and will. Middle class folks have to be at least sort of competent or they can’t stay middle class.

    “Populist movements organized from the top and funded by billionaires are kind of a contradiction in terms.”

    Astro turf

    “Still, do you think the American Dream movement will catch on?”

    It will catch on with the media.

    They will cover it favorably and incessantly like they do gay issues. The media managed to create the impression in the minds of Americans that gays are 25% of the population, so they can probably create the impression that these folks are 60%. They are in the business of creating reality and manufacturing consent.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    I am skeptical. It is much easier to motivate the oppressed than the lazy. Many of these progressive groups mischaracterize these people as struggling when plenty of them are not exactly that determined to succeed. They may be willing to riot for handouts and show up to shakedown targeted businesses but they aren’t really competent enough to take advantage of opportunities. A leader like Jones is a necessary but not sufficient condition for them to be a movement. They simply cannot and will not organize themselves like the middle class can and will. Middle class folks have to be at least sort of competent or they can’t stay middle class.

    “Populist movements organized from the top and funded by billionaires are kind of a contradiction in terms.”

    Astro turf

    “Still, do you think the American Dream movement will catch on?”

    It will catch on with the media.

    They will cover it favorably and incessantly like they do gay issues. The media managed to create the impression in the minds of Americans that gays are 25% of the population, so they can probably create the impression that these folks are 60%. They are in the business of creating reality and manufacturing consent.

  • helen

    The “unemployed” are said to be 10% although the government has no incentive to make an accurate estimate.
    (They don’t count the people who have given up looking for work.) There are also the underemployed, or those working out of their field for drastically less wages. There are those employed but seeing their duties multiply as colleagues are laid off or retire without replacement; those whose wages are frozen or cut; those who are watching their saving dwindle under an interest rate less than inflation.
    Those who wonder why Wall Street should get obscene bonuses for bankrupting the country while the pain of it all falls a lot lower down are more than 10%. Those who watch CEO’s get raises in excess of 20% … for laying people off and increasing the work load…for cutting benefits,,, are more than 10%.
    There are plenty of potentional members! The question after three years is whether they believe the Democrats will do more for them if they take to the streets.

    [I think the Democratic party as well as the Republicans are bought and paid for.]

    The “Tea Party” is a successful hoax; those people benefit the very rich who provide the financing.
    They want to think they are among the “haves” but most of them don’t have all that much. In the effort to keep what they do have they provide a line of defense and a cover for a good many who should be indicted for false dealing.

  • helen

    The “unemployed” are said to be 10% although the government has no incentive to make an accurate estimate.
    (They don’t count the people who have given up looking for work.) There are also the underemployed, or those working out of their field for drastically less wages. There are those employed but seeing their duties multiply as colleagues are laid off or retire without replacement; those whose wages are frozen or cut; those who are watching their saving dwindle under an interest rate less than inflation.
    Those who wonder why Wall Street should get obscene bonuses for bankrupting the country while the pain of it all falls a lot lower down are more than 10%. Those who watch CEO’s get raises in excess of 20% … for laying people off and increasing the work load…for cutting benefits,,, are more than 10%.
    There are plenty of potentional members! The question after three years is whether they believe the Democrats will do more for them if they take to the streets.

    [I think the Democratic party as well as the Republicans are bought and paid for.]

    The “Tea Party” is a successful hoax; those people benefit the very rich who provide the financing.
    They want to think they are among the “haves” but most of them don’t have all that much. In the effort to keep what they do have they provide a line of defense and a cover for a good many who should be indicted for false dealing.

  • Deborah

    It should be popular with the communists in the US and their buddies in the mainstream media. Otherwise, meh.

  • Deborah

    It should be popular with the communists in the US and their buddies in the mainstream media. Otherwise, meh.

  • Joe

    This sentence is just great: “Jones is a former Obama environmental adviser who resigned from the White House in 2009 amid controversy over his past activism. ”

    It is accurate but it seems like the Post trying to rehabilitate Jones. Jones resigned because he was a member of STORM – an openly communist organization that claims Mao Zedong as their ideological leader – and because he signed a Truther petition saying the Bush administration allowed 9-11 to happen. (initially he said he did not read it before he signed it, later he claimed he didn’t sign it. The group eventually took his name of the petition).

  • Joe

    This sentence is just great: “Jones is a former Obama environmental adviser who resigned from the White House in 2009 amid controversy over his past activism. ”

    It is accurate but it seems like the Post trying to rehabilitate Jones. Jones resigned because he was a member of STORM – an openly communist organization that claims Mao Zedong as their ideological leader – and because he signed a Truther petition saying the Bush administration allowed 9-11 to happen. (initially he said he did not read it before he signed it, later he claimed he didn’t sign it. The group eventually took his name of the petition).

  • Lou

    Joe, wow! That is what really turns me off with all this political posturing. There is always some 8,000 lb. elephant in the room that nobody wants to talk about. What is the political ideology that is driving the power brokers?

    But also, as Helen said, there are multinational corporations pulling the pursestrings behind all of it too. The potential pool of Americans driven by the issue of employment inequality is enormous. More than 10% to be sure. I wonder though, is it more than 50%? Probably, but I certainly don’t want a Mao sympathizer taking advantage of that sentiment.

    What to do?

  • Lou

    Joe, wow! That is what really turns me off with all this political posturing. There is always some 8,000 lb. elephant in the room that nobody wants to talk about. What is the political ideology that is driving the power brokers?

    But also, as Helen said, there are multinational corporations pulling the pursestrings behind all of it too. The potential pool of Americans driven by the issue of employment inequality is enormous. More than 10% to be sure. I wonder though, is it more than 50%? Probably, but I certainly don’t want a Mao sympathizer taking advantage of that sentiment.

    What to do?

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Tea Party instigator in my mind was Rick Santelli.

    “if we really want to subsidize the losers mortgages”

    “President Obama, are you listening?”

    “you could go down to -2% [mortgage rate] they can’t afford the house”

    “we’re thinking of having a Chicago tea party in July”

    “we’re gonna be dumping some derivative securities”

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Tea Party instigator in my mind was Rick Santelli.

    “if we really want to subsidize the losers mortgages”

    “President Obama, are you listening?”

    “you could go down to -2% [mortgage rate] they can’t afford the house”

    “we’re thinking of having a Chicago tea party in July”

    “we’re gonna be dumping some derivative securities”

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “The potential pool of Americans driven by the issue of employment inequality is enormous.”

    Key word in the sentence is driven. That is the whole point. They are ‘driven’ to do anything productive. It is hard to motivate the lazy. I mean really hard. Why do you think slavery still exists around the world even today? Are they oppressed or exploited? Probably some of both, but I would argue more the latter.
    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=modern-slavery

    Some have noted that profits from cheap, labor whether from abroad or illegals here in the US, end up privatized at the top, but the costs are socialized to the top half of workers who are taxed higher because their income is taxed unlike the top who make their money taxed at the lower rate of capital gains.

    Helen also hints at the zero marginal productive employee situation.

    http://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2011/01/scott-sumner-on-zero-mp-workers.html

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “The potential pool of Americans driven by the issue of employment inequality is enormous.”

    Key word in the sentence is driven. That is the whole point. They are ‘driven’ to do anything productive. It is hard to motivate the lazy. I mean really hard. Why do you think slavery still exists around the world even today? Are they oppressed or exploited? Probably some of both, but I would argue more the latter.
    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=modern-slavery

    Some have noted that profits from cheap, labor whether from abroad or illegals here in the US, end up privatized at the top, but the costs are socialized to the top half of workers who are taxed higher because their income is taxed unlike the top who make their money taxed at the lower rate of capital gains.

    Helen also hints at the zero marginal productive employee situation.

    http://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2011/01/scott-sumner-on-zero-mp-workers.html

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “What is the political ideology that is driving the power brokers?”

    Divide and conquer. Pit the middle against the bottom.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “What is the political ideology that is driving the power brokers?”

    Divide and conquer. Pit the middle against the bottom.

  • Cincinnatus

    Oops, it seems I forgot my tinfoil hat.

    Lou: What do you mean by “employment inequality”? That is a politically correct-sounding term that even I, unfortunately perched upon the bleeding edge of political correctness, have not heard.

  • Cincinnatus

    Oops, it seems I forgot my tinfoil hat.

    Lou: What do you mean by “employment inequality”? That is a politically correct-sounding term that even I, unfortunately perched upon the bleeding edge of political correctness, have not heard.

  • Lou

    Hi Cincinnatus.
    I’m not a politician or up on the politically-correct ways of saying anything, so please don’t think that I’ve taken my cue from a talking head or anything. I just used the best term that I could come up with at the moment – one that I thought described the trajectory of our contemporary middle class (maybe a better term would be”nouveau poor” hmm I like that one). I thought Helen at 8:59 am did a pretty good job describing many manifestations of who these ppl are. My neighbors, my coworkers, my family members.

    In my hometown alone, more than seven manufacturing based plants have closed in the last five years that employed more than 25,000 people. The local politicians couldn’t care less. The university bought two of the plants for R&D facilities (all taxpayer funded and not paying taxes). One of the other plants is going to be converted to a green energy facility that will be subsidized by millions of state tax money, while state workers are being laid off and having their salaries cut. All across this country, the list just goes on and on and on. Stories of outsourcing, getting rid of manufacturing, laying people off, cutting wages, cutting benefits, cutting pensions. The middle class has just about disappeared around here, while the fat cats just keep getting fatter.

    So, all of that to say, that I don’t what the best phrase to use is, but I do think it is epidemic. I am convinced the largest problem we face as a country right now boils down to the employment problem. imho. Thanks.

  • Lou

    Hi Cincinnatus.
    I’m not a politician or up on the politically-correct ways of saying anything, so please don’t think that I’ve taken my cue from a talking head or anything. I just used the best term that I could come up with at the moment – one that I thought described the trajectory of our contemporary middle class (maybe a better term would be”nouveau poor” hmm I like that one). I thought Helen at 8:59 am did a pretty good job describing many manifestations of who these ppl are. My neighbors, my coworkers, my family members.

    In my hometown alone, more than seven manufacturing based plants have closed in the last five years that employed more than 25,000 people. The local politicians couldn’t care less. The university bought two of the plants for R&D facilities (all taxpayer funded and not paying taxes). One of the other plants is going to be converted to a green energy facility that will be subsidized by millions of state tax money, while state workers are being laid off and having their salaries cut. All across this country, the list just goes on and on and on. Stories of outsourcing, getting rid of manufacturing, laying people off, cutting wages, cutting benefits, cutting pensions. The middle class has just about disappeared around here, while the fat cats just keep getting fatter.

    So, all of that to say, that I don’t what the best phrase to use is, but I do think it is epidemic. I am convinced the largest problem we face as a country right now boils down to the employment problem. imho. Thanks.

  • DonS

    They already tried the “Coffee Party” in 2010. That flopped massively.

    The problem with the left is that they don’t have a unifying and inspiring political philosophy. The Founders were inspired and eloquent, and those in the tea party movement want us to remember what our forefathers fought and died for. Individual rights, guaranteed by our Creator, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. They want us to understand that the only way government can act is coercively — that even when it is ostensibly helping you it is stealing some of your liberty through regulations, by coercion. Anything you receive from the government was taken from someone else.

    What would be the American Dream Movement’s inspirational message? “We gotta get our’s”? Not too moving.

  • DonS

    They already tried the “Coffee Party” in 2010. That flopped massively.

    The problem with the left is that they don’t have a unifying and inspiring political philosophy. The Founders were inspired and eloquent, and those in the tea party movement want us to remember what our forefathers fought and died for. Individual rights, guaranteed by our Creator, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. They want us to understand that the only way government can act is coercively — that even when it is ostensibly helping you it is stealing some of your liberty through regulations, by coercion. Anything you receive from the government was taken from someone else.

    What would be the American Dream Movement’s inspirational message? “We gotta get our’s”? Not too moving.

  • http://theoldadam.wordpress.com Steve Martin

    Education, career government, unions, news media, entertainment media.

    Seems like they have been ‘liberal tea-partying for quite some time now.

  • http://theoldadam.wordpress.com Steve Martin

    Education, career government, unions, news media, entertainment media.

    Seems like they have been ‘liberal tea-partying for quite some time now.

  • DonS

    “(They don’t count the people who have given up looking for work.)”

    Helen, if they’ve given up looking for work, the foundation of our existence on earth, I don’t think they are going to show up for the American Dream rallies.

    In my hometown alone, more than seven manufacturing based plants have closed in the last five years that employed more than 25,000 people. The local politicians couldn’t care less.

    I think Lou hit it right on the head. A successful American Dream movement would go after the fat cats in the establishment, especially government regulators, union goons, and environmentalists, who have priced and regulated manufacturing out of America and forced it overseas. Nobody wanted a dirty factory in their hometowns, until they all closed. Maybe we’ve wised up now?

  • DonS

    “(They don’t count the people who have given up looking for work.)”

    Helen, if they’ve given up looking for work, the foundation of our existence on earth, I don’t think they are going to show up for the American Dream rallies.

    In my hometown alone, more than seven manufacturing based plants have closed in the last five years that employed more than 25,000 people. The local politicians couldn’t care less.

    I think Lou hit it right on the head. A successful American Dream movement would go after the fat cats in the establishment, especially government regulators, union goons, and environmentalists, who have priced and regulated manufacturing out of America and forced it overseas. Nobody wanted a dirty factory in their hometowns, until they all closed. Maybe we’ve wised up now?

  • helen

    sg @9
    July 6, 2011 at 9:54 am
    “What is the political ideology that is driving the power brokers?”

    Divide and conquer. Pit the middle against the bottom.

    Exactly. Let them destroy each other, while the perps sit on their moneybags, “above it all”. Someday, when they have nothing left to lose, the middle and bottom together will turn on the top, a la the French revolution.

    [I think sometimes that the erosion of civil liberties under the "Homeland Security Act" and "executive orders" are meant less to control "terrorists" and more to control fed up American citizens.]

    And that’s my dose of “conspiracy theory” for today.

  • helen

    sg @9
    July 6, 2011 at 9:54 am
    “What is the political ideology that is driving the power brokers?”

    Divide and conquer. Pit the middle against the bottom.

    Exactly. Let them destroy each other, while the perps sit on their moneybags, “above it all”. Someday, when they have nothing left to lose, the middle and bottom together will turn on the top, a la the French revolution.

    [I think sometimes that the erosion of civil liberties under the "Homeland Security Act" and "executive orders" are meant less to control "terrorists" and more to control fed up American citizens.]

    And that’s my dose of “conspiracy theory” for today.

  • steve

    What Steve Martin said.

  • steve

    What Steve Martin said.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Allow me to applaud “conservatives’” ability at managing cognitive dissonance.

    Q: When will a “conservative” believe what the liberal (i.e. “lame-stream”) media says?
    A: When it suits their purposes. In this case, when it serves the greater end of painting liberals as copycat wannabes.

    I mean, to buy into the conceit of this article, one must also buy into its explicit claim that liberals “lack the political power or media focus given to the conservative tea-party movement“. But that runs counter to nearly every claim I’ve ever read from “conservatives” whining about the media! In the “conservative” framing of it, the media is always — Always! Monolithically! — ignoring “conservatives”, except for the times when they pay attention to them by unfairly criticizing them.

    And yet, here we are told that “liberal activists” only wish they could have such “political power” and “media focus” as the tea-party movement has. Which of these claims am I supposed to believe?

    Also, as to Dr. Vieth’s note that

    Populist movements organized from the top and funded by billionaires are kind of a contradiction in terms.

    Ahem. CoughTeaPartycough. Ahem. Sorry, I had some irony caught in my throat.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Allow me to applaud “conservatives’” ability at managing cognitive dissonance.

    Q: When will a “conservative” believe what the liberal (i.e. “lame-stream”) media says?
    A: When it suits their purposes. In this case, when it serves the greater end of painting liberals as copycat wannabes.

    I mean, to buy into the conceit of this article, one must also buy into its explicit claim that liberals “lack the political power or media focus given to the conservative tea-party movement“. But that runs counter to nearly every claim I’ve ever read from “conservatives” whining about the media! In the “conservative” framing of it, the media is always — Always! Monolithically! — ignoring “conservatives”, except for the times when they pay attention to them by unfairly criticizing them.

    And yet, here we are told that “liberal activists” only wish they could have such “political power” and “media focus” as the tea-party movement has. Which of these claims am I supposed to believe?

    Also, as to Dr. Vieth’s note that

    Populist movements organized from the top and funded by billionaires are kind of a contradiction in terms.

    Ahem. CoughTeaPartycough. Ahem. Sorry, I had some irony caught in my throat.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    DonS said (@12):

    The problem with the left is that they don’t have a unifying and inspiring political philosophy.

    Oh, do tell. What, exactly, is the “unifying and inspiring political philosophy” to which all on the right subscribe, again?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    DonS said (@12):

    The problem with the left is that they don’t have a unifying and inspiring political philosophy.

    Oh, do tell. What, exactly, is the “unifying and inspiring political philosophy” to which all on the right subscribe, again?

  • DonS

    tODD @ 18: So, you read my comment @ 12, and yet you have no idea what that unifying and inspiring political philosophy is?

    That explains a lot about the gulf between the left and the right.

  • DonS

    tODD @ 18: So, you read my comment @ 12, and yet you have no idea what that unifying and inspiring political philosophy is?

    That explains a lot about the gulf between the left and the right.

  • Chips

    The Tea Party is a genuine populist movement. The American Dream is a faux movement of a leftist, booted, humorously, from the Obama administration as a radical, patently pretending to be populist. Americans not being fools know the difference.

  • Chips

    The Tea Party is a genuine populist movement. The American Dream is a faux movement of a leftist, booted, humorously, from the Obama administration as a radical, patently pretending to be populist. Americans not being fools know the difference.

  • Jonathan

    @12 “They want us to understand that the only way government can act is coercively — that even when it is ostensibly helping you it is stealing some of your liberty through regulations, by coercion. Anything you receive from the government was taken from someone else.”

    This nonsense is precisely what the Tea Partiers loudly disavow whenever its opponents accuse them of espousing it.

  • Jonathan

    @12 “They want us to understand that the only way government can act is coercively — that even when it is ostensibly helping you it is stealing some of your liberty through regulations, by coercion. Anything you receive from the government was taken from someone else.”

    This nonsense is precisely what the Tea Partiers loudly disavow whenever its opponents accuse them of espousing it.

  • DonS

    Jonathan @ 21: “This nonsense”? Explain, please, how the government can act in a way that is not coercive? It can act only through regulation. By definition, regulations require people to do things whether they want to or not, and if they do not a penalty is required. That reduces liberty, necessarily. Also, government generates nothing — its resources are solely obtained by taxing (and thereby diminishing) the private economy. Economics 101.

    So, also, please substantiate who in the Tea Party “loudly disavows” this fact?

  • DonS

    Jonathan @ 21: “This nonsense”? Explain, please, how the government can act in a way that is not coercive? It can act only through regulation. By definition, regulations require people to do things whether they want to or not, and if they do not a penalty is required. That reduces liberty, necessarily. Also, government generates nothing — its resources are solely obtained by taxing (and thereby diminishing) the private economy. Economics 101.

    So, also, please substantiate who in the Tea Party “loudly disavows” this fact?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    DonS (@19), so you just want me to guess because you can’t be bothered to copy and paste the particular answer to my question? And you choose to frame this inability to directly answer my question as indicative of Something Important?

    Okay, fine, I’ll speak for you, since you apparently won’t. This appears to be your intended summary of the “unifying and inspiring political philosophy” of those on the right:

    Individual rights, guaranteed by our Creator, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

    Of course, I could equally claim that phrase — vague as it is — as the “unifying and inspiring political philosophy” of those on the left. Tada! Again, because it’s so vague, it’s easily interpreted to mean pretty much whatever you want it to.

    So, some further questions on what this supposedly “unifying and inspiring” statement means:
    1. “Individual rights”. What about them? What are they? Belief in rights is meaningless if you can’t enumerate them.
    2. “Guaranteed by our Creator”. Does this mean that no one can be a member of the right unless they believe in a Creator, and that said Creator guarantees said (so-far unenumerated) rights? Seems like you just lopped off (rather than unifying) a good chunk of the actual right-wing coalition there.
    3. “Liberty”. Mm-hmm. And how does “liberty” play out vis-a-vis the DHS, TSA, and the Patriot Act, among other things? That’s something everyone on the right is all unified and inspired about, is it?
    4. “Pursuit of happiness”. Does that include any or all recreational drug use? Everyone on the right all unified about that? What if that happiness involves sexual activity? What if it involves homosexual activity? Still unified?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    DonS (@19), so you just want me to guess because you can’t be bothered to copy and paste the particular answer to my question? And you choose to frame this inability to directly answer my question as indicative of Something Important?

    Okay, fine, I’ll speak for you, since you apparently won’t. This appears to be your intended summary of the “unifying and inspiring political philosophy” of those on the right:

    Individual rights, guaranteed by our Creator, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

    Of course, I could equally claim that phrase — vague as it is — as the “unifying and inspiring political philosophy” of those on the left. Tada! Again, because it’s so vague, it’s easily interpreted to mean pretty much whatever you want it to.

    So, some further questions on what this supposedly “unifying and inspiring” statement means:
    1. “Individual rights”. What about them? What are they? Belief in rights is meaningless if you can’t enumerate them.
    2. “Guaranteed by our Creator”. Does this mean that no one can be a member of the right unless they believe in a Creator, and that said Creator guarantees said (so-far unenumerated) rights? Seems like you just lopped off (rather than unifying) a good chunk of the actual right-wing coalition there.
    3. “Liberty”. Mm-hmm. And how does “liberty” play out vis-a-vis the DHS, TSA, and the Patriot Act, among other things? That’s something everyone on the right is all unified and inspired about, is it?
    4. “Pursuit of happiness”. Does that include any or all recreational drug use? Everyone on the right all unified about that? What if that happiness involves sexual activity? What if it involves homosexual activity? Still unified?

  • Jonathan

    DonS@22, You answer can be found in the document from which you quote @12, the Declaration. There, Jefferson gave a reason why “governments [which you claim ONLY act coercively and generate NOTHING] are instituted among men.”

  • Jonathan

    DonS@22, You answer can be found in the document from which you quote @12, the Declaration. There, Jefferson gave a reason why “governments [which you claim ONLY act coercively and generate NOTHING] are instituted among men.”

  • DonS

    tODD @ 23: I think you’re missing the point. We’re not talking about what inspires you. We’re talking about what inspires the people who identify with the tea party movement. It is those very words, as applied generally against the current establishment philosophy of bigger and more intrusive government — government as the first responder to every crisis and problem — that inspire.

    Sure, you can take those same phrases and words and apply them to whatever leftist activity suits those in the “American Dream” movement. But it won’t fly. Because those words don’t actually inspire or have meaning for the vast majority of the coalition which forms the left. The left is an amalgam of people who feel oppressed and want the government to act to equalize outcomes for them, whether they be unionists, government workers (usually the same folks nowadays), the poor, racial minorities, feminists, illegal immigrant activists, or gays. The rest of the left comprise environmentalists, who also want an activist government, and wealthy urban whites who feel guilty and also want the government to equalize outcomes, for whatever reasons they have. The bottom line is that it is a conglomeration of special interests, who have joined together because they all want something from government. Not the same thing, though. Not much room for unifying inspiration there.

  • DonS

    tODD @ 23: I think you’re missing the point. We’re not talking about what inspires you. We’re talking about what inspires the people who identify with the tea party movement. It is those very words, as applied generally against the current establishment philosophy of bigger and more intrusive government — government as the first responder to every crisis and problem — that inspire.

    Sure, you can take those same phrases and words and apply them to whatever leftist activity suits those in the “American Dream” movement. But it won’t fly. Because those words don’t actually inspire or have meaning for the vast majority of the coalition which forms the left. The left is an amalgam of people who feel oppressed and want the government to act to equalize outcomes for them, whether they be unionists, government workers (usually the same folks nowadays), the poor, racial minorities, feminists, illegal immigrant activists, or gays. The rest of the left comprise environmentalists, who also want an activist government, and wealthy urban whites who feel guilty and also want the government to equalize outcomes, for whatever reasons they have. The bottom line is that it is a conglomeration of special interests, who have joined together because they all want something from government. Not the same thing, though. Not much room for unifying inspiration there.

  • DonS

    Jonathan @ 24: Huh? Because governments are instituted by men, as you say, they do not act coercively? Try disobeying a regulation, sir.

  • DonS

    Jonathan @ 24: Huh? Because governments are instituted by men, as you say, they do not act coercively? Try disobeying a regulation, sir.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    DonS (@25) said:

    We’re talking about what inspires the people who identify with the tea party movement.

    Nope, try again. I specifically asked you (@18, once more, with emphasis):

    What, exactly, is the “unifying and inspiring political philosophy” to which all on the right subscribe, again?

    Note: not just the tea-party movement, but “all on the right”. I asked you this in light of your criticism (@18) that:

    The problem with the left is that they don’t have a unifying and inspiring political philosophy.

    So what you’ve done is come back to me with a philosophy that only applies to a small sliver of those on the right. Which would appear to demonstrate that the right, likewise, lacks a unifying political philosophy. Making your criticism of the left, for that same thing, somewhat shallow.

    The tea-party movement is, itself, just one part of a conglomeration of special interests on the right. To the degree that it forgets this and believes itself to be the Only True Group on the Right (as your comments seem to indicate), they only heighten the lack of unity on the right.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    DonS (@25) said:

    We’re talking about what inspires the people who identify with the tea party movement.

    Nope, try again. I specifically asked you (@18, once more, with emphasis):

    What, exactly, is the “unifying and inspiring political philosophy” to which all on the right subscribe, again?

    Note: not just the tea-party movement, but “all on the right”. I asked you this in light of your criticism (@18) that:

    The problem with the left is that they don’t have a unifying and inspiring political philosophy.

    So what you’ve done is come back to me with a philosophy that only applies to a small sliver of those on the right. Which would appear to demonstrate that the right, likewise, lacks a unifying political philosophy. Making your criticism of the left, for that same thing, somewhat shallow.

    The tea-party movement is, itself, just one part of a conglomeration of special interests on the right. To the degree that it forgets this and believes itself to be the Only True Group on the Right (as your comments seem to indicate), they only heighten the lack of unity on the right.

  • Jonathan

    No,@26, I’m suggesting you read that portion of the document in which Jefferson provides the reason for why governments are instituted. What he wrote tends to contradict you @22 “Explain, please, how the government can act in a way that is not coercive? It can act only through regulation. By definition, regulations require people to do things whether they want to or not, and if they do not a penalty is required. That reduces liberty, necessarily.”

  • Jonathan

    No,@26, I’m suggesting you read that portion of the document in which Jefferson provides the reason for why governments are instituted. What he wrote tends to contradict you @22 “Explain, please, how the government can act in a way that is not coercive? It can act only through regulation. By definition, regulations require people to do things whether they want to or not, and if they do not a penalty is required. That reduces liberty, necessarily.”

  • Lou

    I tend to agree with DonS about the lack of a unifying vision from the left. Being of a populist bent myself, I find that I’m always let down by the Democratic Party’s inability to get past pandering to the special interests. The Rep’s have plenty of issues, I know.

    The perfect example of why liberals probably won’t produce a real populist movement is embodied in Obama during his presidential campaign, when he gave his famous “Bitter Pennsylvanians” speech when he was talking to his base. Remember? “So it’s not surprising then that they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”

    Ultimately, both parties are probably just too elitist in mindset to be truly populist, but I think the stretch is just to far for blue-state liberals.

  • Lou

    I tend to agree with DonS about the lack of a unifying vision from the left. Being of a populist bent myself, I find that I’m always let down by the Democratic Party’s inability to get past pandering to the special interests. The Rep’s have plenty of issues, I know.

    The perfect example of why liberals probably won’t produce a real populist movement is embodied in Obama during his presidential campaign, when he gave his famous “Bitter Pennsylvanians” speech when he was talking to his base. Remember? “So it’s not surprising then that they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”

    Ultimately, both parties are probably just too elitist in mindset to be truly populist, but I think the stretch is just to far for blue-state liberals.

  • Cincinnatus

    tODD@27: You make some great points in this thread, especially insofar as you note that neither the American left nor the American right present united fronts, much less cohesively articulable political philosophies.

    Moreover, I am generally opposed to populist movements, precisely because they are almost always children of the (more or less radical) left. The very thought of populism is likely to strike horror into the hearts of sensible Europeans and Latin Americans (most of the quasi-Marxist regimes of South American began as populist movements, and Mao was perhaps the most successful populist of all times). Even in the United States, populism has generally presented a leftist face–think of the Granger movement and other quasi-socialist “homegrown” movements that have sought the intervention of “big government” to correct the abuses of business, etc., on the understanding, of course, that Big Government is Democratic Government, by and for the People. FDR even captured this rhetoric in his early election campaigns.

    But I must confess to developing a taste for the resurgence of nativist, small-government populist movements, aligning themselves with the right, that have emerged in both American and Europe of late (no Hitler jokes, please).

    Thus, tODD, this statement of yours strikes me as odd:

    “The tea-party movement is, itself, just one part of a conglomeration of special interests on the right. ”

    Huh? The Tea Party is, at best, a fractious group. It is decentralized. It possesses no funds of its own, and it has no lawyers on its non-existent staff. If I can recall correctly all the way back to 2008, the movement actually began as a genuinely organic outburst in response to a Republican administration–the bailouts, etc. To be sure, since then, the brand itself has been co-opted and astro-turfed by various big-money groups (including Fox News and Sarah Palin) to advance a generally Republican vision. But it was and still, to some extent, remains an authentically populist movements. I have my problems with the Tea Party, but an organized special interest it is not. At “worst,” various freshman congressmen recognized the Tea Party as a fairly large voting bloc and acted accordingly. Are you using indie/hipster logic? Anything that goes remotely mainstream has “sold out”?

  • Cincinnatus

    tODD@27: You make some great points in this thread, especially insofar as you note that neither the American left nor the American right present united fronts, much less cohesively articulable political philosophies.

    Moreover, I am generally opposed to populist movements, precisely because they are almost always children of the (more or less radical) left. The very thought of populism is likely to strike horror into the hearts of sensible Europeans and Latin Americans (most of the quasi-Marxist regimes of South American began as populist movements, and Mao was perhaps the most successful populist of all times). Even in the United States, populism has generally presented a leftist face–think of the Granger movement and other quasi-socialist “homegrown” movements that have sought the intervention of “big government” to correct the abuses of business, etc., on the understanding, of course, that Big Government is Democratic Government, by and for the People. FDR even captured this rhetoric in his early election campaigns.

    But I must confess to developing a taste for the resurgence of nativist, small-government populist movements, aligning themselves with the right, that have emerged in both American and Europe of late (no Hitler jokes, please).

    Thus, tODD, this statement of yours strikes me as odd:

    “The tea-party movement is, itself, just one part of a conglomeration of special interests on the right. ”

    Huh? The Tea Party is, at best, a fractious group. It is decentralized. It possesses no funds of its own, and it has no lawyers on its non-existent staff. If I can recall correctly all the way back to 2008, the movement actually began as a genuinely organic outburst in response to a Republican administration–the bailouts, etc. To be sure, since then, the brand itself has been co-opted and astro-turfed by various big-money groups (including Fox News and Sarah Palin) to advance a generally Republican vision. But it was and still, to some extent, remains an authentically populist movements. I have my problems with the Tea Party, but an organized special interest it is not. At “worst,” various freshman congressmen recognized the Tea Party as a fairly large voting bloc and acted accordingly. Are you using indie/hipster logic? Anything that goes remotely mainstream has “sold out”?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Cincinnatus (@30), fine, I went a bit too far in my parallelism, in part because the phrase “special interests” typically has a particular, loaded meaning these days — as denoted by your references to funding and lawyers.

    What if I had merely said, instead: “The tea-party movement is, itself, just one part of a conglomeration of differently-focused groups on the right”? I’m not particularly interested in hammering out the differences between said groups and “special interests”, even if I would claim that, technically, the tea-party movement, to the degree that it is anything, has a few pet issues (e.g. taxation) that it focuses on to the exclusion of other issues.

    Of course, the complete inability of anyone to definitively delineate what the tea party is or isn’t means that it’s whatever you want it to be, including a centralized, non-fractious group with funds and lawyers, even. (cf. Tea Party Express, Our Country Deserves Better PAC, FreedomWorks, etc.)

    But maybe I’m just distracted by the thought that I’ve apparently missed an opportunity to make Hitler jokes. You know how we hipsters are. We love Hitler jokes.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Cincinnatus (@30), fine, I went a bit too far in my parallelism, in part because the phrase “special interests” typically has a particular, loaded meaning these days — as denoted by your references to funding and lawyers.

    What if I had merely said, instead: “The tea-party movement is, itself, just one part of a conglomeration of differently-focused groups on the right”? I’m not particularly interested in hammering out the differences between said groups and “special interests”, even if I would claim that, technically, the tea-party movement, to the degree that it is anything, has a few pet issues (e.g. taxation) that it focuses on to the exclusion of other issues.

    Of course, the complete inability of anyone to definitively delineate what the tea party is or isn’t means that it’s whatever you want it to be, including a centralized, non-fractious group with funds and lawyers, even. (cf. Tea Party Express, Our Country Deserves Better PAC, FreedomWorks, etc.)

    But maybe I’m just distracted by the thought that I’ve apparently missed an opportunity to make Hitler jokes. You know how we hipsters are. We love Hitler jokes.

  • Jimmy Veith

    “The American Dream Movement” sounds like a good idea to me. Sign me up!

  • Jimmy Veith

    “The American Dream Movement” sounds like a good idea to me. Sign me up!

  • DonS

    Jonathan @ 28: I don’t understand the point that you are trying to make. Sorry.

  • DonS

    Jonathan @ 28: I don’t understand the point that you are trying to make. Sorry.

  • DonS

    tODD @ 27: Hmm. I guess the right is comprised of a conglomeration of special interests if you regard taxpayers as special interests. But my definition of special interests are people or groups of people who want to secure some kind of government benefit for themselves — in the form of a transfer payment, special tax break, favorable laws or regulations, special status, etc. Those affiliating with the tea party movement, on the other hand, simply want to be left alone — to have the government stay more out of their lives and out of their pockets. That is quite a difference. And when your goal is for government to leave you alone, and to stay in its confined and delineated sphere of influence, then it’s easy to have common ground with other folks similarly situated, no matter how different your station in life and your interests are otherwise. And to be inspired by the notion of a country founded for the purpose of assuring you of those freedoms from government tyranny.

    Oh, sure, there are all sorts of people on the political right, just as there are all sorts on the left. But the core of the right — the activists — are taxpayers looking for freedom. The core of the left are groups looking for advantage. That’s the difference, and why a group seeking to inspire the left, particularly when, in left-like fashion, it is a top-down effort, won’t succeed. And, as I mentioned earlier, it has already been tried, in the form of the Coffee Party. Utter failure.

    If you believe those on the right who sympathize with the aspirations of the tea party movement, whether or not they identify with it, are a “small sliver”, you are sadly mistaken. That philosophy is, without a doubt, the core of the political right today.

  • DonS

    tODD @ 27: Hmm. I guess the right is comprised of a conglomeration of special interests if you regard taxpayers as special interests. But my definition of special interests are people or groups of people who want to secure some kind of government benefit for themselves — in the form of a transfer payment, special tax break, favorable laws or regulations, special status, etc. Those affiliating with the tea party movement, on the other hand, simply want to be left alone — to have the government stay more out of their lives and out of their pockets. That is quite a difference. And when your goal is for government to leave you alone, and to stay in its confined and delineated sphere of influence, then it’s easy to have common ground with other folks similarly situated, no matter how different your station in life and your interests are otherwise. And to be inspired by the notion of a country founded for the purpose of assuring you of those freedoms from government tyranny.

    Oh, sure, there are all sorts of people on the political right, just as there are all sorts on the left. But the core of the right — the activists — are taxpayers looking for freedom. The core of the left are groups looking for advantage. That’s the difference, and why a group seeking to inspire the left, particularly when, in left-like fashion, it is a top-down effort, won’t succeed. And, as I mentioned earlier, it has already been tried, in the form of the Coffee Party. Utter failure.

    If you believe those on the right who sympathize with the aspirations of the tea party movement, whether or not they identify with it, are a “small sliver”, you are sadly mistaken. That philosophy is, without a doubt, the core of the political right today.

  • Jonathan

    I’ll given you enough hints and will take you no further; you’ll have to read the document you quoted from. You’ll see that @12 couldn’t be more at odds w/the Founders, however loosely that term is used.

  • Jonathan

    I’ll given you enough hints and will take you no further; you’ll have to read the document you quoted from. You’ll see that @12 couldn’t be more at odds w/the Founders, however loosely that term is used.

  • DonS

    Well, Jonathan @ 35, that’s fine with me. I don’t want to go any farther with someone who won’t come right out and say what they mean.

  • DonS

    Well, Jonathan @ 35, that’s fine with me. I don’t want to go any farther with someone who won’t come right out and say what they mean.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    DonS (@34), I see how it works.

    You claim that the “problem with the left is that they don’t have a unifying and inspiring political philosophy”, but when pressed on what the right’s supposedly unifying philosophy is, you dodge and parry and come back with what “the core of the right — the activists” are doing. And then proceed to lay out for me what the “core of the left” is doing, even as you claim that they don’t have a “unifying and inspiring philosophy”. Here’s the thing: if you can only talk about what “the core” is doing, then you’re not talking about a unified group, which necessarily includes more than “the core”.

    It all appears to boil down to nothing more than: you don’t find the left’s “core” idea, as spelled out by you, to be all that inspiring. Even though you, pretty much by definition, wouldn’t be inspired by it regardless of what it was.

    In keeping with the reductionism of the tea-party movement, you’ve attempted to make it all about taxes, but this is my point: that not everyone on the right really buys into this reductionism. You may have noticed that Republican politicians have, on occasion, failed to institute a flat tax, or significantly reduce tax burdens, or even may have raised taxes. And they — and those who vote for them — are quite often at odds with various people’s definitions of “freedom” (again, cf. DHS, TSA, Patriot Act). But no matter. Try to make it all about taxes. See if you can get everyone on board.

    But, as Cincinnatus notes, there’s a reason that the tea party was a reaction against those also on the right — because they don’t all agree, nor do they all share a simple, common philosophy. But maybe, if you clap hard enough, all the others who disagree with you will just disappear?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    DonS (@34), I see how it works.

    You claim that the “problem with the left is that they don’t have a unifying and inspiring political philosophy”, but when pressed on what the right’s supposedly unifying philosophy is, you dodge and parry and come back with what “the core of the right — the activists” are doing. And then proceed to lay out for me what the “core of the left” is doing, even as you claim that they don’t have a “unifying and inspiring philosophy”. Here’s the thing: if you can only talk about what “the core” is doing, then you’re not talking about a unified group, which necessarily includes more than “the core”.

    It all appears to boil down to nothing more than: you don’t find the left’s “core” idea, as spelled out by you, to be all that inspiring. Even though you, pretty much by definition, wouldn’t be inspired by it regardless of what it was.

    In keeping with the reductionism of the tea-party movement, you’ve attempted to make it all about taxes, but this is my point: that not everyone on the right really buys into this reductionism. You may have noticed that Republican politicians have, on occasion, failed to institute a flat tax, or significantly reduce tax burdens, or even may have raised taxes. And they — and those who vote for them — are quite often at odds with various people’s definitions of “freedom” (again, cf. DHS, TSA, Patriot Act). But no matter. Try to make it all about taxes. See if you can get everyone on board.

    But, as Cincinnatus notes, there’s a reason that the tea party was a reaction against those also on the right — because they don’t all agree, nor do they all share a simple, common philosophy. But maybe, if you clap hard enough, all the others who disagree with you will just disappear?

  • Cincinnatus

    Jonathan: What on earth are you on about? Essential to the very definition of modern government is coercion. Everything the government properly does is coercive (otherwise it would not be an effective government). The Founders were not averse to this notion. Universal coercion within a particular geographical territory is really the only thing that distinguishes a government from other types of human association. The word “coercion” isn’t pejorative, though it stands to reason that any coercive action or power is, definitionally, a diminution of liberty. This is why, after all, the Constitution carefully provides for a limited government. You know, to preserve liberty and stuff.

  • Cincinnatus

    Jonathan: What on earth are you on about? Essential to the very definition of modern government is coercion. Everything the government properly does is coercive (otherwise it would not be an effective government). The Founders were not averse to this notion. Universal coercion within a particular geographical territory is really the only thing that distinguishes a government from other types of human association. The word “coercion” isn’t pejorative, though it stands to reason that any coercive action or power is, definitionally, a diminution of liberty. This is why, after all, the Constitution carefully provides for a limited government. You know, to preserve liberty and stuff.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    DonS (@36) said, “I don’t want to go any farther with someone who won’t come right out and say what they mean.”

    Oh, well, clearly. I can see how that would annoy you (cf. @18, 19, 23). :roll:

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    DonS (@36) said, “I don’t want to go any farther with someone who won’t come right out and say what they mean.”

    Oh, well, clearly. I can see how that would annoy you (cf. @18, 19, 23). :roll:

  • Cincinnatus

    As for the “American Dream Movement,” I can’t see it taking off, regardless of how many millions MoveOn.org throws its way (though it would be worth it just to see Glenn Beck roll out the whiteboard to “expose” the secret funding sources of the movement).

    Even in Wisconsin, referenced in the article, it’s unions (a minority) vs. the rest of the taxpayers (a majority). That’s not exactly a winning proposition, especially when we recognize that the chants boil down merely to getting a piece of a dwindling monetary pie. The Tea Party chants for liberty, however inadequately they might understand it; the American Dream movement would chant for…more government handouts? More unemployment benefits? Free stuff from already-broke state and federal governments? Higher taxes? While I would expect such demands to be heard resounding through the spoiled streets of Quebec City, I don’t think it has traction in the United States. No excitement, no allure, no aura of nobility.

    Not to mention that its roots are so blatantly partisan and connected to elite funding sources. Populism doesn’t work that way.

  • Cincinnatus

    As for the “American Dream Movement,” I can’t see it taking off, regardless of how many millions MoveOn.org throws its way (though it would be worth it just to see Glenn Beck roll out the whiteboard to “expose” the secret funding sources of the movement).

    Even in Wisconsin, referenced in the article, it’s unions (a minority) vs. the rest of the taxpayers (a majority). That’s not exactly a winning proposition, especially when we recognize that the chants boil down merely to getting a piece of a dwindling monetary pie. The Tea Party chants for liberty, however inadequately they might understand it; the American Dream movement would chant for…more government handouts? More unemployment benefits? Free stuff from already-broke state and federal governments? Higher taxes? While I would expect such demands to be heard resounding through the spoiled streets of Quebec City, I don’t think it has traction in the United States. No excitement, no allure, no aura of nobility.

    Not to mention that its roots are so blatantly partisan and connected to elite funding sources. Populism doesn’t work that way.

  • DonS

    tODD @ 37: So, let me see if I’ve got this straight. You re-characterized my initial statement as a claim that every single person having right-leaning political views has the identical philosophy. Then, you required me to set forth a statement of that philosophy, which applies to every single right-leaning person. Failing that, in your mind, my point is entirely invalid. Now, there’s a straw man worth celebrating!

    The purpose of organizing a political group is to exert political power. If you cannot elucidate a unifying and inspirational theme as a mission statement for that group, it isn’t going to work to exert that power. Obviously, you don’t need every single person of a particular political persuasion to be influential, but you need a working core, sufficient in number to influence elections and politicians. The tea party movement has accomplished that, beyond wildest expectations. You cannot help but acknowledge that. And, for the reasons I’ve stated above, I cannot see this effort at an orchestrated top-down organizing effort for the purpose of duplicating what happened spontaneously with the tea party movement as having any chance of success.

    And, by the way, this has nothing to do with the Republican party. Sure, those identifying with the tea party movement are largely historically Republicans, because only that party gives even lip service to the notion of caring about and protecting the hard working taxpayer. But the Republican party, historically, has been almost as big a failure as the Democratic party. It’s just that there is at least some hope for change in the Republican party which is not at all visible on the Democratic side, which doesn’t even seem to grasp that we are in a crisis. And there is a solid core of Republican politicians who do get it. The hopeful thing is that they are the younger ones.

    It’s not just about taxes. It’s about regulatory freedom as well. I’m not a tea partier, per se, having never attended a meeting, rally, given a dime, written a letter, or anything else that would identify you as one, though I sympathize with their ideals and goals. There is no question it is a movement borne of desperation — there are many who believe the American way of life is in great peril — that big government and its profligacy has brought us to the brink of fundamental societal change, and possible economic collapse (I’m sure this is another unifying factor not important on the left).

    You can argue with me about this all you want. But it would be more instructive for you to prove me wrong, by elucidating a similar inspirational mission statement for the proposed left-leaning “grassroots” group, rather than just playing the cynic, demeaning my explanations, while providing none of your own and ignoring the undeniable success of the tea party movement.

  • DonS

    tODD @ 37: So, let me see if I’ve got this straight. You re-characterized my initial statement as a claim that every single person having right-leaning political views has the identical philosophy. Then, you required me to set forth a statement of that philosophy, which applies to every single right-leaning person. Failing that, in your mind, my point is entirely invalid. Now, there’s a straw man worth celebrating!

    The purpose of organizing a political group is to exert political power. If you cannot elucidate a unifying and inspirational theme as a mission statement for that group, it isn’t going to work to exert that power. Obviously, you don’t need every single person of a particular political persuasion to be influential, but you need a working core, sufficient in number to influence elections and politicians. The tea party movement has accomplished that, beyond wildest expectations. You cannot help but acknowledge that. And, for the reasons I’ve stated above, I cannot see this effort at an orchestrated top-down organizing effort for the purpose of duplicating what happened spontaneously with the tea party movement as having any chance of success.

    And, by the way, this has nothing to do with the Republican party. Sure, those identifying with the tea party movement are largely historically Republicans, because only that party gives even lip service to the notion of caring about and protecting the hard working taxpayer. But the Republican party, historically, has been almost as big a failure as the Democratic party. It’s just that there is at least some hope for change in the Republican party which is not at all visible on the Democratic side, which doesn’t even seem to grasp that we are in a crisis. And there is a solid core of Republican politicians who do get it. The hopeful thing is that they are the younger ones.

    It’s not just about taxes. It’s about regulatory freedom as well. I’m not a tea partier, per se, having never attended a meeting, rally, given a dime, written a letter, or anything else that would identify you as one, though I sympathize with their ideals and goals. There is no question it is a movement borne of desperation — there are many who believe the American way of life is in great peril — that big government and its profligacy has brought us to the brink of fundamental societal change, and possible economic collapse (I’m sure this is another unifying factor not important on the left).

    You can argue with me about this all you want. But it would be more instructive for you to prove me wrong, by elucidating a similar inspirational mission statement for the proposed left-leaning “grassroots” group, rather than just playing the cynic, demeaning my explanations, while providing none of your own and ignoring the undeniable success of the tea party movement.

  • DonS

    Let me put it another way, though much in line with what Cincinnatus has been saying. The tea party movement has succeeded beyond anyone’s wildest dreams because it is of the grass roots, those inspired by the notion that our country has forgotten its roots as a government founded for the purpose of promoting and abetting individual liberty. In contrast, the proposed left-leaning group is yet another top-down artifice, organized by leaders of the left desperate to counter the damage to their cause created by the tea party. That is why it will fail, miserably, as the Coffee Party did before it.

  • DonS

    Let me put it another way, though much in line with what Cincinnatus has been saying. The tea party movement has succeeded beyond anyone’s wildest dreams because it is of the grass roots, those inspired by the notion that our country has forgotten its roots as a government founded for the purpose of promoting and abetting individual liberty. In contrast, the proposed left-leaning group is yet another top-down artifice, organized by leaders of the left desperate to counter the damage to their cause created by the tea party. That is why it will fail, miserably, as the Coffee Party did before it.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com bike bubba

    Regarding the movement, it’s simply proceeding from a different point than the Tea Parties and other successful grassroots movements. No amount of outside funding (say from George Soros) can cover up the point that liberals simply don’t have a good answer for “how’d you like to pay for that program you’d like to have? Keep in mind that ‘the rich’ simply don’t have enough to cover what you’d like.”

    That said, I do fear that inertia may keep a lot of wasteful spending going, wasteful spending that we simply cannot afford. Put gently, if our republic is to be preserved, someone needs to get the point across that each 1% in interest on the national debt costs each U.S. family $1000 per year. When the bond market gets tired of the Fed’s inflationary policies, there will be Hell to pay, fiscally speaking.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com bike bubba

    Regarding the movement, it’s simply proceeding from a different point than the Tea Parties and other successful grassroots movements. No amount of outside funding (say from George Soros) can cover up the point that liberals simply don’t have a good answer for “how’d you like to pay for that program you’d like to have? Keep in mind that ‘the rich’ simply don’t have enough to cover what you’d like.”

    That said, I do fear that inertia may keep a lot of wasteful spending going, wasteful spending that we simply cannot afford. Put gently, if our republic is to be preserved, someone needs to get the point across that each 1% in interest on the national debt costs each U.S. family $1000 per year. When the bond market gets tired of the Fed’s inflationary policies, there will be Hell to pay, fiscally speaking.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    DonS (@41), come on, this isn’t hard. Once again, your original claim here was (@18) that:

    The problem with the left is that they don’t have a unifying and inspiring political philosophy.

    From your complaints about my “re-characterization” of your comments and your general inability to answer my questions here, it seems clear to me that exact same problem exists with the right: they don’t have a unifying and inspiring political philosophy. But you appear to refuse to concede that. Instead, you talk about some issues (taxes … oh, and “regulatory freedom”!) that might be unifying for a “core” of people on the right. Um, right.

    Again, the right is a fractured and prone to in-fighting as is the left. The tea party is merely a manifestation of this truth. There is no unifying philosophy for the entire right wing of politics. If there is, then why do you bristle at my asking you what it is? But if there isn’t, why do you only seem to think that’s a problem for the left?

    Anyhow, you tell me that the tea party “has nothing to do with the Republican party”, but then you tell me the tea party has “influenced elections and politicians … beyond wildest expectations.” Tell me, whom did they elect? “It’s just that there is at least some hope for change in the Republican party which is not at all visible on the Democratic side.” Yeah … it has everything to do with the Republican party, sorry. The tea party is only judged successful by the number of Republicans it elects — as you yourself have shown. To the degree that it takes votes away from Republicans and leads to Democratic victories, it is judged as having failed. As such, it is just another Republican group. But then, since the “tea party” is near impossible to define, how do we know, exactly, which elections they influenced? What, exactly, is the metric for their (whoever they are) “undeniable success”?

    You say you’ve never “attended a meeting, rally, given a dime”, but if you did, who, exactly, would be organizing these meetings or rallies? To whom, exactly, would you give your money?

    It all seems so familiar to me, a mirror of what the left did when Bush was in power. Back then, there was lots of talk about grassroots movements, with the war protests, protesting terrorism responses, and so on. It was the right that was jealous of the activism then, being the entrenched party in power. I could pick a few of those themes and claim they were important for “the core” of the left, but the thing is, having won congressional elections in 2006 and 2008, and the White House in 2008, most of those holding the supposed “core issues” kinda got quiet. Because, of course, the people who got elected weren’t actually so keen about ending war or lessening their own (“anti-terrorism”) powers, but nor were all those protesters keen to protest their own once they were in power. And hey, guess what? My prediction is: the same thing will happen on the right! The two parties will co-opt what they want to the degree that it’s useful. But let’s talk a year or two after a Republican next takes the White House, and see how core this opposition to government profligacy really is for everyone the “tea party” apparently swept to power.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    DonS (@41), come on, this isn’t hard. Once again, your original claim here was (@18) that:

    The problem with the left is that they don’t have a unifying and inspiring political philosophy.

    From your complaints about my “re-characterization” of your comments and your general inability to answer my questions here, it seems clear to me that exact same problem exists with the right: they don’t have a unifying and inspiring political philosophy. But you appear to refuse to concede that. Instead, you talk about some issues (taxes … oh, and “regulatory freedom”!) that might be unifying for a “core” of people on the right. Um, right.

    Again, the right is a fractured and prone to in-fighting as is the left. The tea party is merely a manifestation of this truth. There is no unifying philosophy for the entire right wing of politics. If there is, then why do you bristle at my asking you what it is? But if there isn’t, why do you only seem to think that’s a problem for the left?

    Anyhow, you tell me that the tea party “has nothing to do with the Republican party”, but then you tell me the tea party has “influenced elections and politicians … beyond wildest expectations.” Tell me, whom did they elect? “It’s just that there is at least some hope for change in the Republican party which is not at all visible on the Democratic side.” Yeah … it has everything to do with the Republican party, sorry. The tea party is only judged successful by the number of Republicans it elects — as you yourself have shown. To the degree that it takes votes away from Republicans and leads to Democratic victories, it is judged as having failed. As such, it is just another Republican group. But then, since the “tea party” is near impossible to define, how do we know, exactly, which elections they influenced? What, exactly, is the metric for their (whoever they are) “undeniable success”?

    You say you’ve never “attended a meeting, rally, given a dime”, but if you did, who, exactly, would be organizing these meetings or rallies? To whom, exactly, would you give your money?

    It all seems so familiar to me, a mirror of what the left did when Bush was in power. Back then, there was lots of talk about grassroots movements, with the war protests, protesting terrorism responses, and so on. It was the right that was jealous of the activism then, being the entrenched party in power. I could pick a few of those themes and claim they were important for “the core” of the left, but the thing is, having won congressional elections in 2006 and 2008, and the White House in 2008, most of those holding the supposed “core issues” kinda got quiet. Because, of course, the people who got elected weren’t actually so keen about ending war or lessening their own (“anti-terrorism”) powers, but nor were all those protesters keen to protest their own once they were in power. And hey, guess what? My prediction is: the same thing will happen on the right! The two parties will co-opt what they want to the degree that it’s useful. But let’s talk a year or two after a Republican next takes the White House, and see how core this opposition to government profligacy really is for everyone the “tea party” apparently swept to power.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    And DonS (@42), is it as telling as it seems that the only previous example you can think of is “the Coffee Party”, which I’m not even sure I’ve heard of? Really, you can’t be bothered to remember MoveOn, or whatever those other anti-Bush groups were? You don’t think they had any success in, say, 2006? And maybe 2008?

    Regardless, when it comes to government spending, Don, you sound an awful lot like the chicken-little environmental types you deride. Why shouldn’t I just adopt your (environmental) response and say that I don’t think all the data’s in quite yet on how bad things are? Or, even if they are, is there really anything that can be done to avoid the inevitable, at this point? Maybe trying to make all those drastic changes would only make things worse at this point?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    And DonS (@42), is it as telling as it seems that the only previous example you can think of is “the Coffee Party”, which I’m not even sure I’ve heard of? Really, you can’t be bothered to remember MoveOn, or whatever those other anti-Bush groups were? You don’t think they had any success in, say, 2006? And maybe 2008?

    Regardless, when it comes to government spending, Don, you sound an awful lot like the chicken-little environmental types you deride. Why shouldn’t I just adopt your (environmental) response and say that I don’t think all the data’s in quite yet on how bad things are? Or, even if they are, is there really anything that can be done to avoid the inevitable, at this point? Maybe trying to make all those drastic changes would only make things worse at this point?

  • DonS

    tODD @ 44 & 45: I don’t think you are very engaged in this topic, but are just looking to inject a bit of cynicism into the discussion. The giveaway is your claim that you know nothing of the Coffee Party. Obviously, you couldn’t be bothered to do even the minimal research necessary to discover that it is (was) exactly the same concept as is being discussed in this post — a reactionary copy of the tea party movement. See here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coffee_Party_USA, if you even care enough to do so.

    I didn’t cite Moveon because I don’t think it is a parallel to the tea party movement. It is a political action committee, and is largely funded by major donors, not grass roots. At least, that’s how it appears to the public. It is top-down, run by a board. There is no such thing in the tea party movement, though a couple of groups, like Tea Party Express, have attempted to glom onto the success of the grass roots movement by adopting the name “tea party”. It’s a free country, still.

    You keep talking about the right being just like the left, and not having an inspiring and unifying political philosophy, and insisting that I tell you what the Right’s philosophy is. I already have — you just don’t accept it. The motivating philosophy of the tea party movement, as I understand it, is to restore sense to government, particularly federal government, by having it respect the taxpayer and limit its expenditures to its revenues. Very simple. Also, the federal government should return to a respect for the principles of the founding fathers — that of limited central government, confined to its constitutionally defined roles, with an utmost duty to protect the rights and liberties of each American.

    We are a two-party country. That is a fact. The tea party movement has largely supported Republican office holders and candidates who have pledged to support and further tea party ideals. I believe true small government conservatives who hold federal office as Republicans are still a minority of all of the Republicans in office, but it is a growing minority, thanks to the tea party movement. Hopefully, before it is too late, a large majority of Republicans will understand the importance of these issues. I have no such hope, unfortunately, for Democratic officeholders, who are too enslaved to their tax-eating constituencies to ever acknowledge fiscal realities.

  • DonS

    tODD @ 44 & 45: I don’t think you are very engaged in this topic, but are just looking to inject a bit of cynicism into the discussion. The giveaway is your claim that you know nothing of the Coffee Party. Obviously, you couldn’t be bothered to do even the minimal research necessary to discover that it is (was) exactly the same concept as is being discussed in this post — a reactionary copy of the tea party movement. See here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coffee_Party_USA, if you even care enough to do so.

    I didn’t cite Moveon because I don’t think it is a parallel to the tea party movement. It is a political action committee, and is largely funded by major donors, not grass roots. At least, that’s how it appears to the public. It is top-down, run by a board. There is no such thing in the tea party movement, though a couple of groups, like Tea Party Express, have attempted to glom onto the success of the grass roots movement by adopting the name “tea party”. It’s a free country, still.

    You keep talking about the right being just like the left, and not having an inspiring and unifying political philosophy, and insisting that I tell you what the Right’s philosophy is. I already have — you just don’t accept it. The motivating philosophy of the tea party movement, as I understand it, is to restore sense to government, particularly federal government, by having it respect the taxpayer and limit its expenditures to its revenues. Very simple. Also, the federal government should return to a respect for the principles of the founding fathers — that of limited central government, confined to its constitutionally defined roles, with an utmost duty to protect the rights and liberties of each American.

    We are a two-party country. That is a fact. The tea party movement has largely supported Republican office holders and candidates who have pledged to support and further tea party ideals. I believe true small government conservatives who hold federal office as Republicans are still a minority of all of the Republicans in office, but it is a growing minority, thanks to the tea party movement. Hopefully, before it is too late, a large majority of Republicans will understand the importance of these issues. I have no such hope, unfortunately, for Democratic officeholders, who are too enslaved to their tax-eating constituencies to ever acknowledge fiscal realities.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    DonS (@46), thank goodness! I was worried this conversation wouldn’t degenerate into ad hominems fueled by idle speculation! I am no longer worried.

    The question isn’t whether I could be bothered to look up the Coffee Party. The question was why you insist that they are the only proper comparison, and not the obviously more successful MoveOn. Given as I am to merely injecting cynicism into discussions (and not actually thinking like you do; I’m not a “conservative”, after all), one might note your inherent predilection for predicting failure for any left-wing group. So sure, pick some group that’s obscure enough that even its theoretical audience is ignorant of it, and claim that that’s the only comparison that works. Sure.

    Of course, here we go again with what the tea party is: basically, it’s definition is what it isn’t. It isn’t the Republican party, it isn’t Tea Party Express, it isn’t Our Country Deserves Better PAC, it isn’t FreedomWorks, and, to be sure, none of those groups have contributed to any of the Rebublican electoral victories which “tea party” fans point to as evidence of success.

    So, again, what is the tea party? Well it’s not anything that you can name, apparently. The tea party is an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us, penetrates us, and binds the galaxy together.

    You keep talking about the right being just like the left, and not having an inspiring and unifying political philosophy, and insisting that I tell you what the Right’s philosophy is. I already have — you just don’t accept it. The motivating philosophy of the tea party movement…

    Don, why is it that every time you answer my question about what the unifying philosophy for the right is, you limit it only to what the tea-party movement supposedly thinks?

    You claim to have already told me what “the Right’s philosophy is”, but you also explicitly refuse to express this philosophy for the whole of the Right, reserving it only for “the core” and/or the tea-party movement. You even admit that

    true small government conservatives who hold federal office as Republicans are still a minority of all of the Republicans in office, but it is a growing minority, thanks to the tea party movement

    Which only further proves that the philosophy you keep telling me about isn’t for all or even most of the right, at least when it comes to political office holders (again, those to whom you point for evidence of tea party “success”).

    It seems to me that you can’t (or won’t) distinguish between the tea party, on the one hand, and the Right, on the other. It seems to me that you very much want them to be equivalent, even though they’re not.

    But hey, I’m not smart like you. I’m just here to dish out cynicism.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    DonS (@46), thank goodness! I was worried this conversation wouldn’t degenerate into ad hominems fueled by idle speculation! I am no longer worried.

    The question isn’t whether I could be bothered to look up the Coffee Party. The question was why you insist that they are the only proper comparison, and not the obviously more successful MoveOn. Given as I am to merely injecting cynicism into discussions (and not actually thinking like you do; I’m not a “conservative”, after all), one might note your inherent predilection for predicting failure for any left-wing group. So sure, pick some group that’s obscure enough that even its theoretical audience is ignorant of it, and claim that that’s the only comparison that works. Sure.

    Of course, here we go again with what the tea party is: basically, it’s definition is what it isn’t. It isn’t the Republican party, it isn’t Tea Party Express, it isn’t Our Country Deserves Better PAC, it isn’t FreedomWorks, and, to be sure, none of those groups have contributed to any of the Rebublican electoral victories which “tea party” fans point to as evidence of success.

    So, again, what is the tea party? Well it’s not anything that you can name, apparently. The tea party is an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us, penetrates us, and binds the galaxy together.

    You keep talking about the right being just like the left, and not having an inspiring and unifying political philosophy, and insisting that I tell you what the Right’s philosophy is. I already have — you just don’t accept it. The motivating philosophy of the tea party movement…

    Don, why is it that every time you answer my question about what the unifying philosophy for the right is, you limit it only to what the tea-party movement supposedly thinks?

    You claim to have already told me what “the Right’s philosophy is”, but you also explicitly refuse to express this philosophy for the whole of the Right, reserving it only for “the core” and/or the tea-party movement. You even admit that

    true small government conservatives who hold federal office as Republicans are still a minority of all of the Republicans in office, but it is a growing minority, thanks to the tea party movement

    Which only further proves that the philosophy you keep telling me about isn’t for all or even most of the right, at least when it comes to political office holders (again, those to whom you point for evidence of tea party “success”).

    It seems to me that you can’t (or won’t) distinguish between the tea party, on the one hand, and the Right, on the other. It seems to me that you very much want them to be equivalent, even though they’re not.

    But hey, I’m not smart like you. I’m just here to dish out cynicism.

  • Lou

    Drats. I knew I should have disagreed with you guys. :-)

  • Lou

    Drats. I knew I should have disagreed with you guys. :-)

  • DonS

    All right, tODD. Apologies for the “injecting cynicism” comment. That was undeserved.

    The tea party movement, at its core, is grassroots, in the classical sense. Usually, it centers around local groups in various cities and counties, who engage in local activism, related to core objective of limited and fiscally responsible government. For example, there is a woman who chairs a group in our city, and a man who chairs a group in the adjacent city, that I am aware of. There are a plethora of facebook and other social media pages, from which various local events are organized. These groups are not organized PACS or political advocacy groups of any kind, do not collect donations, and do not financially contribute to candidates, though members do contribute both time and money. PAC’S have grown out of this movement which adopt the name, but as I said above, that is not the core of the movement, but rather an outgrowth inevitable when something is successful.

    I will submit that if this movement were not both unique and successful, or if it were just an equivalent of MoveOn or such political action corporations, Van Johnson and other leaders on the left would not be seeking to emulate it.

    To me, the rising of this movement is akin to the scene from the film Network. A bunch of taxpayers are saying, with firmness, that “I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!”

    That is why I don’t believe this attempt by the left will be successful. The purpose of those who have, at long last, risen up against the longstanding assault on the taxpayer by government and its sponsors is to restore it to its historical limited role. There is no parallel passion or unity on the left.

  • DonS

    All right, tODD. Apologies for the “injecting cynicism” comment. That was undeserved.

    The tea party movement, at its core, is grassroots, in the classical sense. Usually, it centers around local groups in various cities and counties, who engage in local activism, related to core objective of limited and fiscally responsible government. For example, there is a woman who chairs a group in our city, and a man who chairs a group in the adjacent city, that I am aware of. There are a plethora of facebook and other social media pages, from which various local events are organized. These groups are not organized PACS or political advocacy groups of any kind, do not collect donations, and do not financially contribute to candidates, though members do contribute both time and money. PAC’S have grown out of this movement which adopt the name, but as I said above, that is not the core of the movement, but rather an outgrowth inevitable when something is successful.

    I will submit that if this movement were not both unique and successful, or if it were just an equivalent of MoveOn or such political action corporations, Van Johnson and other leaders on the left would not be seeking to emulate it.

    To me, the rising of this movement is akin to the scene from the film Network. A bunch of taxpayers are saying, with firmness, that “I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!”

    That is why I don’t believe this attempt by the left will be successful. The purpose of those who have, at long last, risen up against the longstanding assault on the taxpayer by government and its sponsors is to restore it to its historical limited role. There is no parallel passion or unity on the left.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    In keeping with the reductionism of the tea-party movement, you’ve attempted to make it all about taxes, but this is my point: that not everyone on the right really buys into this reductionism. You may have noticed that Republican politicians have, on occasion, failed to institute a flat tax, or significantly reduce tax burdens, or even may have raised taxes.

    Exactly.

    Tea Partiers are not really Republicans, and Republicans are not tea partiers but they want to get votes from those people. So, they pretend to agree, and probably a very few actually do agree, but by and large they ignore the central theme of the tea party:

    STOP SPENDING!!!!

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    In keeping with the reductionism of the tea-party movement, you’ve attempted to make it all about taxes, but this is my point: that not everyone on the right really buys into this reductionism. You may have noticed that Republican politicians have, on occasion, failed to institute a flat tax, or significantly reduce tax burdens, or even may have raised taxes.

    Exactly.

    Tea Partiers are not really Republicans, and Republicans are not tea partiers but they want to get votes from those people. So, they pretend to agree, and probably a very few actually do agree, but by and large they ignore the central theme of the tea party:

    STOP SPENDING!!!!

  • JG

    A liberal tea party will not work. Recreations of originals never work, especially in politics. More on my blog at http://www.jasongriffin.net/blog/2011/7/19/the-liberal-tea-party-movement-it-wont-work.html

  • JG

    A liberal tea party will not work. Recreations of originals never work, especially in politics. More on my blog at http://www.jasongriffin.net/blog/2011/7/19/the-liberal-tea-party-movement-it-wont-work.html

  • Cincinnatus

    Wow. Moderator?

  • Cincinnatus

    Wow. Moderator?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Yes, Cincinnatus (@52)?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Yes, Cincinnatus (@52)?

  • Cincinnatus

    Oh, nothing. I’m just receiving phantom troll emails from Cranach again.

  • Cincinnatus

    Oh, nothing. I’m just receiving phantom troll emails from Cranach again.


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