Civil Discourse Now

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Response to a defender of Paul Ogden's argument about the "tea party" and its role on Romney's loss, part 1.

Thank you, Bill Thompson, for the civil response to my blog. Let me respond, point-by-point.

   1) The origins of the "tea party" may go back to rallies held in 2007. Rick Santelli ranted on CNBC about bailouts of underwater mortgage holders. As The New York Times has written,:"The tea party agenda is not well defined, though it is anti-government, anti-spending, anti-immigration and anti-compromise politics."  (9/26/10) Given that several organizations claim to be "tea party" entities (Tea Party Patriots, Tea Party Express, Tea Party Nation amongst others), a somewhat diffuse message is not surprising. You say it has "a published platform." Okay, what one of the "tea parties" is it to which you refer? When you say the tea party has become the limited-government wing of the Republican Party, you do not mean a formal distinction has been made in that regard, do you? I did not read anything to the effect of a merger or acquisition such that the "tea party" has such a function in the GOP. Then one goes back to the Eighteenth Century event that gave the "tea party" its name. There are several stories about the original Boston Tea Party that contradict our modern version of what occurred. All of these factors feed the notion of vagueness.

   2) I argued the "tea party," in its embrace of anti-choice, anti-immigrant, and homophobic policies, cost Romney points. You said those three positions are the same as the Republican platform, therefore the "tea party" did not cost Romney the election. However, a lot of the pressure to include those planks came from people who identified with—the "tea party," vague as the concept is.

   3) As to the August, 2011, budget impasse, I argued the "tea party" showed its true colors when it refused to compromise. You countered with a reference to the Democrats’ promise of spending cuts under Bush I 20 years ago. I need to research your claim as to the Democrats more.

   4) As to the States, check U.S. News & World Report, 9/18/12.

   I will try to respond to the balance of your argument tomorrow. Right now, I have to get to the office.

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Comment by Paul K. Ogden on November 29, 2012 at 12:15pm

Mark, is certifiable. Republicans have been beating the Democrats at the polls with the abortion issue for more than three decades.  The pro-life position is a popular position, the majority position.  It is only when Republicans seek to fight the issue over the exceptions, does it become a minority position and a potential problem at the polls.

I highly doubt the position in support of traditional man-woman marriage cost the Republican Party anything at the polls.  I think down the road that issue could be a problem.  But it certainly wasn't what cost the Romney the election in 2012.  As far as immigration, I have long argued for comprehensive immigration reform.  While it is an important symbollic issue to Latinos, the polls show that is not one of the major issues they vote on.

Mark said the Republican Party has been pushed to adopt these issues by the Tea Party. Really?  Why then did the party platform contain these positions before the Tea Party? 

Krugman is a moron.  He has used his Nobel Prize on a very narrow issue of economics as a platform to become a spokesman on general issue.   The trouble is when he gets outside of that narrow area, he's a moron.

Comment by Bill Thompson on November 29, 2012 at 10:49am

Hi Mark,

1) Santelli's rant was the genesis of the Tea movement; it reminded me of Peter Finch's "mad as hell" rant in the movie Network, in that it caught people's attention - why are we bailing out the wealthy ? But the organization that grew from that spark (which I agree is nebulous) has gone beyond the original idea and to include a socially conservative angle.  In a multi-party country we might see the Tea Party types on the right, the Greens on the left, and a large centrist party ?  The Libertarians of course would still be on the outside with 0.1% of the vote, haha.

2) You raise a good distinction, how much are the social issue stances of the Republicans reinforced by the Tea Party ?  And did those stances cost Romney votes ?  What portion of Romney voters are 'energized' by those issues ?

I think Romney lost for multiple reasons - first, like every Republican presidential nominee since 1988, he is as exciting as vanilla ice milk.  Second, what do the Repubs stand for anyway ?  Third, Mr Obama triangulated the foreign policy issues effectively, by being more gung-ho in the Middle East than either Bush.

3) On the lack of compromise - I've read all over the place that the Tea Party types need to 'come to the center'.  Krugman and others say the government needs more revenue.  But why keep feeding the beast ?  Why is the Tea Party cast as intransigent, when the Democrats in the Senate can't pass a budget ?

4) OK.

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