Social conservatives rising in France

There is talk of a “French tea party,” as citizens alarmed at abortion, gay marriage, and other social issues are mobilizing politically and taking to the streets.  Something similar is happening in other European countries.  The movement is one of  social conservatism, not necessarily other kinds of conservatism, with the protesters often being fine with big government and controlled economics.  But still. . . [Read more...]

Lessons for Conservatives

Republicans won big in the 2010 elections on a conservative wave.  But there are also lessons conservatives could take away from their victory.

They have a genuine popular movement in the Tea Party.  But Tea Partiers must remember that they have to field good candidates.  A person who just has the right beliefs or even the person who leads the local organization is not necessarily going to be a good candidate or an effective office-holder.  The Tea Party brought some new blood into the political scene, and some of their candidates–I think of Marco Rubio–are quite talented and have bright futures.  But when the Tea Parties fielded candidates whose only qualification was their zeal, they lost.

What are some other lessons conservatives can learn from the elections?

The Tea Party insurgency

Peggy Noonan, no fan of Sarah Palin,  nevertheless sees something happening here with the Tea Parties:

The past few years, a lot of people in politics have wondered about the possibility of a third party. Would it be possible to organize one? While they were wondering, a virtual third party was being born. And nobody organized it.

Here is Jonathan Rauch in National Journal on the tea party’s innovative, broad-based network: “In the expansive dominion of the Tea Party Patriots, which extends to thousands of local groups and literally countless activists,” there is no chain of command, no hierarchy. Individuals “move the movement.” Popular issues gain traction and are emphasized, unpopular ones die. “In American politics, radical decentralization has never been tried on such a large scale.”

Here are pollsters Scott Rasmussen and Doug Schoen in the Washington Examiner: “The Tea Party has become one of the most powerful and extraordinary movements in American political history.” “It is as popular as both the Democratic and Republican parties.” “Over half of the electorate now say they favor the Tea Party movement, around 35 percent say they support the movement, 20 to 25 percent self-identify as members of the movement.”

So far, the tea party is not a wing of the GOP but a critique of it. This was demonstrated in spectacular fashion when GOP operatives dismissed tea party-backed Christine O’Donnell in Delaware. The Republican establishment is “the reason we even have the Tea Party movement,” shot back columnist and tea party enthusiast Andrea Tantaros in the New York Daily News. It was the Bush administration that “ran up deficits” and gave us “open borders” and “Medicare Part D and busted budgets.”

Everyone has an explanation for the tea party that is actually not an explanation but a description. They’re “angry.” They’re “antiestablishment,” “populist,” “anti-elite.” All to varying degrees true. But as a network television executive said this week, “They should be fed up. Our institutions have failed.”

via Peggy Noonan: Why It’s Time for the Tea Party – WSJ.com.

From the Left, Slate’s Jacob Weisberg sees the Tea Partiers as doing what the New Left tried to do.  From The Right’s New Left :

What’s new and most distinctive about the Tea Party is its streak of anarchism—its antagonism toward any authority, its belligerent style of self-expression, and its lack of any coherent program or alternative to the policies it condemns. In this sense, you might think of the Tea Party as the Right’s version of the 1960s New Left. It’s an unorganized and unorganizable community of people coming together to assert their individualism and subvert the established order.

And now, a tea party of the left

What conservative populists are doing to the Republican party, liberal populists are starting to do to Democrats:

A political rebellion is brewing inside an old funeral home near the state Capitol here. Frustrated liberals and labor organizers are taking aim at the Democratic Party, rushing to gather enough signatures to start a third party that they believe could help oust three Democratic congressmen.

Now, some of Obama’s supporters are mounting a defiant strike against the president’s party. The nascent third party, North Carolina First, could endanger the Democratic congressional majority by siphoning votes from incumbent Democrats in November’s midterm election, potentially enabling Republican challengers to pick up the seats.

Organizers say they are so fed up with Democrats who did not support health-care reform that they simply do not care.

“Our whole agenda is to turn that apple cart around and say, ‘No more are we going to blindly support you because you're a Democrat,’” said Dana S. Cope, executive director of the 55,000-member State Employees Association of North Carolina (SEANC), which is leading the effort. “We’re going to support you because you’re right on the issues and if you’re not right on the issues, we’re going to remove you from office.”

via North Carolina Democrats’ votes against health care push labor to form party.

It appears that NO ONE approves of the political parties and incumbent politicians. Maybe this could be the basis for a national unity movement.

Why such a visceral reaction to the health care law?

Why do so many Americans have such a visceral reaction against the new health care law?   It seems to me like a bad law, poorly thought through and terrifyingly expensive, especially given our present deficits.  But I’m thinking that even if it were not so expensive and were not such a Rube Goldberg chain of complexities, that many of us would still be angry about the thing.

Is it that a  government-designed health care system makes us feel like wards of the state, dependent on the government for our health and thus our very lives?  Many of us don’t begrudge welfare to the truly needy, but recoil at the thought of being on welfare ourselves.  Does this new system put us, on some level, all on welfare?

Or is it that we don’t trust the government’s ability to run things effectively, and so are panicked at the thought that the government is now going to be in charge of our health?

Or is it that the health care law, perhaps coupled with the financial bailouts,  represents a repudiation of all that free market, new morning in America policy associated with the Reagan Revolution?  Are we perceiving this as a counter-revolution back to the welfare state ideology of LBJ and other Democratic social engineers?

Or what?  I know you can say something like “all of the above,” but I would find it helpful to know not just what you are thinking but what you are feeling, down in your gut.  I’m not looking for policy analysis but psychoanalysis.  (Not that you are psychos. . . You know what I mean!)  I would welcome hearing from tea partiers and also those of you who are all for the bill, whether this makes you feel better about America, or better about reversing the culture of conservatism that has reigned since Reagan, or whatever.

And now, tea parties of the left

From Dana Milbank, who covers politics for the Washington Post:

Tea parties — they aren't just for conservatives anymore.

Liberals are turning against President Obama with an energy that until now has been reserved for Fox News viewers who wear tri-corner hats and wave yellow "Don't Tread on Me" flags:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), in a news conference Wednesday, declares that she won't ask House members to support Obama's Afghanistan troop increase in a January vote. "The president's going to have to make his case," she says, calling it a "vote of conscience."

About the same time, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) holds a news conference to denounce Obama's renomination of Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke. "When the people voted for change in 2008," he says, "they did not vote to have one of the key architects of the Bush economy be reappointed."

Howard Dean goes on the radio and says of the Senate health-care bill, which Obama is fighting mightily to pass: "The best thing to do right now is kill the Senate bill."

MoveOn.org calls a protest outside the White House to demand that "the president to stand up to Joe Lieberman and fight for the health care reform principles he campaigned on."

Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.), who gained fame by saying Republicans think Americans should "die quickly," holds a news conference to denounce Obama's Afghanistan policy and reads a petition on the House floor asking members to vote against sending more troops.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-Mich.), in a series of outbursts, criticizes Obama over Afghanistan, health-care reform and the handling of the Guantanamo Bay prison.

Where does this put President Obama? Where does this put the Democratic party?

I know where it puts me. I can hardly wait to torment my arch-Democrat brother over the holiday season. I’ll come out praising Obama, telling my brother that he was right to be such a big fan. I’ll say how much I appreciate Obama for embracing George W. Bush’s policies. In fact, I’ll say, he has even pushed them farther than Bush ever dreamed of. Bush gave us one war; Obama gives us two, complete with an emulation of the last administration’s “surge.” Bush practiced deficit spending, but Obama outdoes him multitudinous times over. Bush bailed out the banks and big corporations, but Obama bails them out even more. And then Obama gives us original policies that carry out the Republican fantasies more than Bush ever dared to: A health care plan that enriches the insurance companies! etc., etc. I’ll keep pushing it (beyond what I believe, of course), saying that the Republicans should nominate Obama themselves to form a national unity ticket. Oh, how my brother will squirm, get defensive, and get indignant. The more he will complain, the more I will praise President Obama. And if he should criticize the president, I’ll act shocked and gently accuse him of racism. The very thought of getting together with family during this happy season fills my heart with a holiday glow.


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