One weekend about a month ago, on MSNBC’s weekend roundtable show “Up with Steve Kornacki”, Mr. Kornacki interviewed former liberal Representative from Massachusetts Barney Frank. They were discussing the difference between the liberal “Occupy” movement vs. the conservative “Tea Party” movement and their affect on Washington. During the discussion Rep. Frank stated something I found profound:
“The Left march, the Right votes.”
This statement shook me because I have never voted. I feel that no politician has yet to earn my vote. Both the Democrats and the GOP offer no real, meaningful solutions to our societal problems. They do not offer serious proposals for change, such as addressing the state of inequality between the rich and poor here in the U.S. and around the globe, or the problem of minority discrimination, or general issues of injustice. They are identical in this problem.
So what to do? The Tea Party has had success in affecting change within the narrow confines of power between two extremely similar ideologies in Washington. But so what? Should we then just take what we can and vote for Democratic candidates?
Today I want to propose the first Sparking The Left poll for our readers to participate in and we would love to read your comments on the issue, too: Should we vote for liberal candidates or not at all until a real voice for change can bare a real chance at winning office?
According to an article in the Washington Post this week, the Tea Party will be making its “last stand” in the June 3rd Mississippi Senate primary. It’s not really a last stand but the match-up between longtime Senator Thad Cochran and Tea Party favorite Chris McDaniel is drawing a lot of attention and, more importantly, money from Tea Party groups looking to salvage what has been a poor showing thus far in 2014’s primary season.
But why, after some success in recent elections, has the Tea Party done so badly this time around. The answer: the Republicans they haven’t already beaten in a primary are too similar to Tea Party candidates.
To illustrate this point, let’s take a closer look at four candidates and their issue positions taken directly from their websites: Cochran, McDaniel, Mitch McConnell, and his defeated opponent, Tea Partier Matt Bevin.
Cochran: “Thad continues to fight against Obamacare. He has voted to oppose, defund or repeal Obamacare’s overreach 102 times on the Senate.” (Thanks for using the Senate’s time and taxpayers dollars so well…)
McDaniel: “Obamacare is a train wreck and must be repealed immediately. Chris was a leading opponent of Obamcare in Mississippi, volunteering his free time as lead counsel in a suit against Obamacare.”
McConnell: “Mitch McConnell has given over 100 speeches against Obamacare on the Senate floor.” (See previous parenthetical message.)
Bevin: “Obamacare isn’t even fully implemented, and it is already a disaster…We need to defund Obamacare immediately and repeal Obamacare as quickly as legislatively possible.”
So, which ones are the establishment Republicans and which are the Tea Partiers? Exactly.
Cochran: “In fact, he is one of three Senators in history to vote against every comprehensive immigration reform bill that sought to provide amnesty…Thad believes that the United States needs to improve its legal immigration policies and consistently enforce laws already on the books so that we remain globally competitive.
McDaniel: “Chris opposes amnesty and believes we most enforce the laws on the books.”
McConnell: “Mitch McConnell has voted to secure the border and has opposed amnesty.”
Bevin: “An effective plan that stops the failed cycle of amnesty would include immediate enforcement of all the laws on the books.”
McConnell doesn’t have an “enforce the laws on the books” under his issue position page. What a lefty!!
Cochran: “The National Rifle Association gives Thad an “A+” rating. Thad believes that the Second Amendment right of the American people to keep and bear arms is not negotiable.”
McDaniel: “Chris is a proud supporter of our Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms and will oppose all efforts to undermine this crucial right.”
McConnell: “Mitch McConnell is ‘A’ rated by the NRA for his support of Second Amendment rights.”
Bevin: “Matt is a proud conceal carry gun owner and he believes the Second Amendment is the lynchpin of the Bill of Rights, as it was designed to protect all of the other Amendments.”
Bevin apparently would have proudly carried his gun to the Senate chamber and made sure he got his way (not really). Because if there is one thing the Founding Fathers loved, it was ruling people using weapons.
Cochran: “Thad is pro-life and helped launch the Hyde Amendment to bar the use of certain federal funds to pay for abortions…The National Right to Life Committee strongly supports this legislation and gives Thad a 100% rating for voting to protect unborn children.”
McDaniel: “Chris is unabashedly pro-life and believes we have a responsibility to protect innocent unborn life.”
McConnell: “Since 1998, Mitch McConnell has a 100% pro-life rating by National Right to Life…co-sponsored the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act to ban federal funding for most abortions.”
Bevin: “Matt is pro-life and believes we have a duty to protect unborn human life…In the U.S. Senate, Matt will vote against any bill that contains federal funding or other material support for abortions.”
Remember folks, abortions in any case are unacceptable. People getting killed through lax gun control laws, malnutrition overseas, or unnecessary wars is totally fine.
Cochran: “Thad also is a cosponsor of the Marriage and Religious Freedom Act, which would bar the federal government from discriminating against individuals and organizations based upon their faith-founded belief that marriage is the union of one man and one woman.”
McDaniel: “Chris believes marriage is between a man and a woman and will vote to protect traditional marriage.”
Bevin: “Matt supports marriage as traditionally defined between a man and a woman.”
Cochran’s is actually worded a little loosely (no pun intended) compared to the others but still pretty much the same. (I lied. Pun intended.)
The list could go on but two key factors should be noted. The first is the Tea Party was clearly successful in pushing the already right-of-center U.S. political elite (not the public) even further to the right in recent years and don’t have many areas where they can gain at this point. They have knocked out the easy ones to beat and are having a tougher time with the ones they can’t paint as moderates. While a similar list could be made with some Democrats in certain districts/states, the Tea party is trying to sell itself as a big change from the establishment when it really is not.
The second is the realization is now clearly hitting both the Republicans and Tea Partiers that their views are increasingly out-of-touch with younger generations and will one day be historically embarrassing. And that’s true without even mentioning the harsh reality of climate change and the destructive views of the right concerning it.
While the Post is wrong that June 3rd will be the last stand of the Tea Party, they are correct in suggesting a decline is coming and its political power might be irrelevant sooner than we think.
Senator and GOP Minority Leader Mitch McConnell seems to be on his way to a landslide victory against challenger and Tea Party favorite Matt Bevin today in the Republican Primary here in STL’s Old Kentucky Home.
How did he do it? According to this NYT article, the establishment GOP candidates across the nation in Senatorial Primary campaigns are sticking to three things in their efforts to crush their hardline opponents:
A really good article in The Atlantic that contrasts the liberal/progressive members of the Democratic Party and the GOP’s Tea Party. It explains how they play differing roles within each side of the aisle and includes other great analyses with neat graphs.
My only issue with this article is that they do not put forth a good definition of liberal/progressive members of the Democratic Party when the Tea Party Republicans have defined themselves so clearly. They need this definition to accompany the included graphs.
The full transcript of the testimony of the IRS manager in charge of the screening unit for 501 c 4 groups was released yesterday in two parts (part one here, part two here) against the wishes of House Oversight Committee Chairman and witch-hunter/fear-monger, Darrell Issa. The testimony speaks for itself so let’s have it do the talking.
(The “Q”s are the questions from the committee and the “A”s are the manager’s answers.)
From page 28, regarding the manager’s party affiliation:
Q What’s your party affiliation?
A I am a conservative Republican.
From page 61, regarding personal/political views coming into play in screening:
Q …was it your impression that (name withheld) flagged the case, the Tea Party case for you on February 25th, 2010, because of his disagreement with their political views of the group?
A We…never discussed…any political…personal aspirations whatsoever. His determination of the case was that…we needed additional information that was not complete and that the fact that he recognized that it had been something that had been in the media, that we may want it to make sure that…EO Technical didn’t believe this was…warranting a high profile decision.
Q Did you decide to elevate the case…because you disagreed with the political views of the Tea Party organization in the application?
A No, I did not.
From page 75, regarding pulling certain cases based on name of group:
A So, in answer to your question, no, I did not instruct that if you had “Tea Party” in a case that it would automatically go to another group for screening…
Q You wouldn’t instruct your screeners to pull out all of the cases just because they had “Tea Party” in their name?
A Not to my knowledge.
From page 79, regarding searching for certain criteria:
Q So is being in the Tea Party movement or being a Tea Party organization part of the criteria used to identify similar cases to the February 25th case identified?
A There was no criteria. Each case is again reviewed and the determination is made on the facts and circumstances within that case.
Q You stated previously you didn’t tell anyone to do a search. How did you expect your screeners to identify similar cases?
A …if a screener has…the ability to do a search, I really was not able to control their thought pattern or their initiative…
Q You didn’t give the specific instruction?
A I did not say go out and search.
In other words, even if the targeting was political by an individual screener, the order was not given from his superior.
From page 103, again regarding whether a criteria-based order was given to single out cases for review:
A It was not a criteria-based anything. It was…what issues are you finding.
From page 105, regarding what the screeners could do with cases in terms of follow-up on a regular basis:
Q What does secondary screening mean?
A Secondary screening would be looking at a case that hopefully we could merit closed, and we would send it to secondary screening for someone to take a look at who had more time than my initial screeners…So because my screeners were not in a position of even picking up the phone to verify an issue, it was sent on in many instances in other areas to secondary screening.
In other words, the people initially picking the cases out for further review had little to do with what happened next so the idea they could successfully target groups politically and know what was going to happen after that is very slim. The screeners had no control over whether a group definitively received more scrutiny but could recommend a further review for potential followup.
From page 108, regarding manager meetings on political targeting:
Q Do you recall ever discussing in this early time period from February 2010 to May 2010 the Tea Party cases at these manager level meetings?
A I do not.
From pages 110-111, regarding the manager’s responsibility of screening the cases:
A My function, again, was to look at these initial cases within a span of a few days and put them in the proper bucket and just go on with my work. Whatever went on after I bucketed these cases, it was what it was. I was not intimately involved in any of that.
Not only did the screeners have no control over the extended review process and whether it really happened, neither did the manager. In other words, with the checks and balances in place in the IRS, even if political targeting went on at the initial phase, it could easily be stamped out going into the next step which would also not be the last needed to send out the questionnaires some groups received.
From pages 140-141, regarding whether the manager believed the White House was involved:
Q In your opinion, was the decision to screen and centralize the review of Tea Party cases the targeting of the President’s political enemies?
A I do not believe that the screening of the cases had anything to do other that consistency and identifying issues that needed to have further development….
Q Do you have any reason to believe that anyone in the White House was involved in the decision to screen Tea Party cases?
A I have no reason to believe that.
Q Do you have any reason to believe that anyone in the White House was involved in the decision to centralize the review of Tea Party cases?
A I have no reason to believe that.
Finally, from page 176, after being asked about the “criteria” referencing Tea Party, Patriots, or 9/12 Project:
A This…is not my criteria. I have said before I asked the three senior agents in my group, when they reviewed cases, what would they look for for a potential auto revocation case. (Emphasis added)
In other words, the words used for the criteria did not come from above but actually came from below the manager, further reinforcing the fact the White House had nothing to with it and was not doing this to target political enemies.
As I’ve said before, the IRS picked a bad way to select cases for a period of time and it has been corrected. But this was never at any point politically motivated. End of story.
A great article in the NYT on True the Vote, a national group focused on voter fraud, and their actions in many minority voting districts in swing states. It also covers how True the Vote and similar groups have no proof of the massive voter fraud they claim is rampant across the nation. They are just their to prevent and intimidate the minority vote.
I’ve always thought one of the most interesting factors to watch play out with the Tea Party would be their position on pork barrel spending and how it would affect elections moving forward. These activists have been adamant about cutting that spending it puts some candidates in the following bind: How do you get elected then represent your district by bringing nothing back home in federal dollars? An added question would be how do you tell the long serving representatives in your own party you want to cut the funding to their districts?
This article shows that problem coming to the forefront in one Illinois’ district because of the new census redistricting pitting incumbents from the same party against each other. As is shown here, there are Republican voters who want that pork coming back to their area and are asking these candidates to bring home those federal dollars. So which part of the base does a candidate cater to knowing it could then affect them negatively in the general election?
How will the Tea Party cope with this issue in the long run? In my opinion, it won’t and this is a big part of what will cause the eventual fading away of this group. The self interest of the voter will eventually loom to large for these candidates to ignore. As people see the things they now take for granted begin to diminish and disappear, such as the roads and bridges one voter was concerned about in this article, the Tea Party’s platform will be exposed to all and most will turn their noses to those positions. It’s kind of like the poor guy at the town hall meeting now infamous for wanting the government to keep its hands off his Medicare. Someone should ask him if he knows who wants to do away with that Medicare. The answer, sir: the Tea Party candidates you are voting for.