Category Archives: headline

As This Chapter Ends…

Well, this chapter in the process is over. The House has passed the Senate bill. It is true that this 2,000+ page bill will create massive new entitlements, and in the end, it may even provide more protections to people and result in more people getting health coverage, which are good things.

But to accomplish the worthy goal, deals were struck that should embarrass everyone. Pundits and politicians alike assign them funny names, but what is not funny is that these provisions are costly, real and will likely endure. To garner the votes necessary to pass this legislation, billions of dollars in favors and special provisions were handed out. Provisions were included that while on their face have general applicability, truly only benefit one or two states. Provisions were adopted (or rejected) to mollify various political, religious, ethnic and gender constituencies. Promises were made to engage in actions that just a couple of years ago would have lead to catcalls about the imperial presidency (specifically the promise of an Executive Order than runs counter to the plain text of enacted legislation).

In the coming week(s), perhaps the Senate will adopt changes made in the House. Unfortunately, even if fully enacted (a tremendous if), only some of these provisions will be eliminated. And while I am no fan of the Senate bill as written, many of the changes made by the House make the bill more costly and less sustainable. Further, House leaders have already indicated that this Congress will pass additional measures that undercut essential cost cutting elements of this bill, further raising the cost of health care in future years.

When finally enacted, more people will have access to health care, but the cost to all Americans will likely far exceed what we are being told today. Legislating is often referred to as sausage making, and like sausage, the creation of this bill was disgusting to observe and may taste great now, but in the morning, will make us wonder why we ate it in the first place.

Written by Dan Shulman, an attorney in Washington, DC.

Tea Parties, Progressives and Liberty

In the past I have recommended the book Liberal Fascism by Jonah Goldberg as one of the most transformative books I have read in the past few years. Today I read a two page article that did a nice job of making a similar point all while tying in the phenomenon of Tea Parties as well. Party Like It’s 1773 by Richard Samuelson makes the case that the original tea party has some real connection to its modern version and that the common bond is a distrust of a governing elite.

What do today’s tea partiers want? According to the Christian Science Monitor, the movement “is about safeguarding individual liberty, cutting taxes, and ending bailouts for business while the American taxpayer gets burdened with more public debt. It is fueled by concern that the United States under Mr. Obama is becoming a European-style social democracy where individual initiative is sapped by the needs of the collective.” Broadly speaking, the tea parties reflect a growing anger in America that the government seems to be a closed circle, run by an elite in both parties. These elites, combined with a class of bureaucrats, lawyers, journalists and businessmen, use government power to serve their own ends, and not the public good.

Samuelson is the 2009-2010 Garwood Visiting Fellow at Princeton University’s James Madison Program, and an Assistant Professor of History at California State University so his opinion on matter historical bears listening to. That he can see a kinship between our Founding Fathers and a modern movement that many (including myself) find questionable is intriguing. He goes on to make the point that Goldberg made in his book: that the Progressive movement of the early twentieth century attempted to rewrite the social contract between the governement and the governed.

In the early twentieth century America’s leading intellectuals concluded that our constitution was out of date. Woodrow Wilson said quite bluntly that “we are in the presence of a new organization of society. Our life has broken away from the past.” The founders, he noted, “speak of the ‘checks and balances’ of the Constitution.” Such ideas were passe. By replacing checks and balances with a simplified administration, he would update and rationalize the American state. Wilson, we should recall, was our first and only PhD president. The social science PhD was a new invention in his day. Wilson believed that experts, armed with PhDs and law degrees, could make better choices than the common people and the politicians they elected. Armed with expertise, Progressive bureaucrats would rule effectively and fairly. Checks and balances, he thought, were no longer necessary.

This, in essence, is what makes  many Americans nervous about the Obama administration. I for one do not think he is an evil man, hatching devious plots in a backroom of the White House with plans to turn the U.S. into a 1950’s style U.S.S.R.. However, I do think he is a highly educated, well-intentioned man, who believes he knows better than the rest of us how make choices about our future. As a thought experiment let’s assume he is better than the rest of us and he really does know how to “remake” our country. There is a fatal flaw in this argument. Progressives want to take the power out of the people’s hands and place it in a benevolent dictator’s. Once that happens it is not a simple process to reverse. Inevitably, people who are not benevolent will rise to power and then we have a situation like the former U.S.S.R.. Some on the left today do not seem to realize this simple fact.

When Thomas Friedman, the voice of the establishment, declares that “one-party autocracy certainly has its drawbacks. But when it is led by a reasonably enlightened group of people, as China is today, it can also have great advantages,” he reflects the goal of Progressive politics since Wilson’s day. He also echoes the ideas of the Tories of the 1760s and 1770s. Like the Tories, today’s would-be elites claim that better training and education gives them the right to rule, although the Progressives and their children have largely dropped birth and wealth as criterion for rule.

In short, the modern Tea Party has it’s place in our national dialogue. Though some of what they say and do is uncomfortable or extreme, the core of their message is true. “When the government is unresponsive to the views of the people, and, beyond that, when our administrative and judicial branches restrict the scope of the people’s legislative rights, protest rises.” Those protests are the Tea Party.

Same Sex Marriage on Trial

In California a federal judge has just concluded an unusual trial.  The plaintiffs in the case of Perry v. Schwarzenegger seek to overturn California’s 2008 referendum banning same-sex marriage on the grounds that the ban violates the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.  The case has gained some unusual attention from the involvement of Ted Olson, a lion of the conservative legal movement.  Olson was Solicitor General under George W. Bush and the lead attorney in Bush v. Gore.  He is longtime member of the Federalist Society and a vociferous critic of judicial activism.  What’s remarkable about his involvement is that he has volunteered to take the plaintiffs’ case and is cooperating on it with his old opponent in Bush v. Gore, David Boies.

But there’s another twist that makes this case really interesting.  A constitutional challenge of this type usually receives a paper trial.  There is little testimony and most of that is submitted in written depositions.  The lawyers file their motions and make their oral arguments.  The judge evaluates their positions and renders a judgment which is promptly referred up to an appellate court so that the more interesting work can begin.

Judge Vaughn Walker, a Reagan appointee, has taken a different approach.  In a page right out of Inherit the Wind, he has held a full courtroom trial to explore all the aspects of this case.  The Judge’s efforts to have the trial televised were thwarted, but the transcripts of the trial were re-enacted each night and posted to YouTube.  This is not a dry recitation of constitutional theory.  Witnesses have been giving testimony on matters like:

– Is homosexuality a choice?

– What value does marriage have beyond procreation?

– How exactly would gay marriage damage heterosexuals?

– Does same-sex marriage harm children?

– Was California’s gay marriage ban motivated by hostility toward gays as a group?

The final legal outcome of the case is almost certain to be decided by the US Supreme Court, unless of course California reverses its ban prior to that point.  That is a real possibility.  But the trial itself is likely to hold a social significance independent of the final judgment.

There are many Americans like myself who are torn over the subject of gay marriage.  Many of us are troubled by the injustice of gay couples being unable to obtain the kind of basic legal protections available to married couples.  At the same time we are bothered by the idea of government re-inventing an entire social institution with the stroke of a Judge’s pen.

The trial in Perry v. Schwarzenegger offers a unique window into the myths and realities of gay marriage.  As details from the trial are distilled out into the public, it offers an opportunity for people to assess the question in a way that goes beyond emotion and bias.  Perhaps out of this trial and its long, upcoming appeal, the conservative movement in particular can develop a position on gay marriage that rises above the gay-baiting hysteria and honestly reflects our core values.

Liveblogging the 2010 State of the Union: The Complete Series

Travis Johnson liveblogged the President’s State of the Union Address earlier this evening. We’ve grouped several of his blog posts into one for people to read.

  • David Gregory just said “Republicans United.” Heh. It’s only modesty that makes me think he’s not talking about us. Modesty and a taste for reality.
  • I don’t care who’s sitting in the Oval Office the moment when the Sergeant at Arms announces the President is a pretty magical moment.
  • Apparently the GOP Caucus has been reminded to be courteous tonight. Odd that that’s necessary.
  • He’s invoking defeats in World War II, the Civil War and people being beaten during the Civil rights movement. Does not bode well…
  • “They’re tired of the partisanship, the shouting and the pettiness.” I wonder if Pelosi wonders if he’s talking about someone else…
  • Standing Ovation count:Â 1Â (Both sides)
  • Coming down on the banks (Stand O count – 3 D only)…He’s justifying the bailout, though and saying he supported the Bush Administration’s move. Nice to see that he he’s not just blaming them…Fee on bailed out banks. I’m not sure why our side is (o Count 4 – D only) is sitting this out. User fees are a good thing…O count 4 – D only
  • Does anyone know where the numbers come from when he says 2 million people have jobs who wouldn’t otherwise have them?…Frustrating to hear him talk about the benefits of the Stimulus Package based on anecdotal data without any reference to empirical data. I want stats.
  • 30 billion dollars for small business loans…Small business tax cuts? Eliminate small business capital gains taxes? Wow. Nice.
  • “I do not accept second place for the United States of America.”

    Got both sides on their feet for this. But it’s rhetoric. What does that mean?

    Here it comes..

    1. Financial Reform:Â (1) Ensure consumers are given infore mation to make good choices (2) Regulate reckless behavior
    2. Investment in Research:Â Clean nuclear energy! New drilling (Drill, Barack, drill!) Clean coal…cap and trade.
    3. (Very good point re clean energy: Even if you don’t believe in manmad glocal warming, it’s the way of the future. We should lead the industry)
    4. Double exports over 5 years which will mean 2 million jobs…
      • National Export Initiative – Aggressively seek new markets for our products (prediction:Â liberals will go nuts the first time we sign a deal with a “bad guy”)
    5. Investment in schools that are succeeding, no new funds for schools that fail.
  • Both sides stood up for Health Care Reform…This is something the GOP desperately needs to make clear: we are not against reform. We are against Pelosi/Reid’s Reform!…(Michele Obama just told Congress to sit down.)
  • Called out Republicans to bring forward our own Health Care plan. I say we call his bluff and barnstorm around the country on that plan!
  • John McCain just said it best: “Blaming Bush.”…One year later…that’s just tacky and disingenuous. At what point does he own this?
  • Paying off a trillion dollars:
    • Spending freeze for discretionary spending for three years.
    • Identified 20 billion dollars in cuts from the budget
    • Bipartisan fiscal commission…a specific set of solutions by a certain deadline. (why can’t he do that about health care? Answer: Because the unions know what they want)

    Republicans laughed at the spending til next year. An irritated Obama responds “that’s how budgeting works.” Yikes.

    And again he blames Bush. (“The last 8 years got us into this mess.” Uh, you were President for part of that…)

  • He just dissed the Supreme Court! In the State of the Union!

    Joe Wilson just applauded a call for earmark reform. I see you, Joe!! (A proposal to publish all earmark requests drew bipartisan applause.)

  • Best part of this speech:Â a bipartisan scolding for hyperpartisan politics.

    Okay…no. He tells the Democrats to use their majority power to pass their agenda. Then he calls the Republicans out for being “saying no.”  How can he rationalize that kind of cognitive dissonance?

  • I’m happy to see that foreign policy discussions and discussions of our military still gets bipartisan support.

    I’m unhappy to see Members of Congress on their Blackberries in the middle of the SotU. Classless.

  • End to Don’t Ask Don’t Tell by the end of this year. I, for one, thinks it’s about time. We can’t afford to lose anymore resources to a policy much of the military leadership doesn’t stand behind.
  • Now he’s doing what he does. This is where he speaks to the better angels of the political class’s nature and asks for them to follow the example of the American people and move this country forward even in the face of adversity. That was the Obama of 2008…
  • Well, it’s done.

    All in all, I think it was good. He gave Republicans things to support, and some things he knows we can’t or won’t. He called out our Party to step up to the plate and participate in legislation, and called out his own Party for what many liberals are calling cowardice.

    Our response to this can only be to fight back with ideas. Real ideas that address the needs of the American people, but do it in a way that is consistent with our beliefs: small, efficient, non-intrusive government.

The GOP Doesn’t Need Nutjob Politics to Win

It is hard to underestimate the significance of Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat being won by a Republican. Scott Brown’s victory in Massachusetts writes a new playbook for Republicans intent on building a stronger Party based on reasonable policies and a broad appeal.

Brown is a pro-choice Republican, who takes a refreshingly nuanced stance on the issue. He has avoided the lowest forms of red-meat politics, standard for the GOP in the Bush years, while still aligning himself with the right on issues of traditional values. He has opposed blanket amnesties for illegal aliens and gay marriage. But his campaign has steered clear of blathering tirades on the “liberal media,” the “gay agenda,” or a “socialist takeover.” In other words, he has run a Republican campaign for the reality-based community.

A narrative has emerged from the 2008 election that McCain lost because he failed to be “conservative” enough. The meaning behind the narrative is that McCain lost because he alienated fundamentalists and pulled back from the Party’s most obnoxious and divisive tactics. It was that narrative that fueled the humiliating spectacle of the Congressional Race in New York’s 23rd district, which the GOP lost last fall for the first time in over a century. The Party’s fundamentalist wing injected themselves into that contest in a rabid frenzy. It was suicide politics – if our candidate can’t win, we’ll take everybody down with us.

Brown has had the wisdom to maintain a careful distance from the Tea Party movement and keep the Party’s most radical noisemakers at arm’s length. All the while, in vintage-Reagan style, he has kept the door open to the farthest right wing of the Party.

There is a lesson here that can lead Republicans to dominance not just in the Northeast, but across the country. The Brown Strategy can work elsewhere and bring the Party back to relevance. Drop the Nutjob Politics, speak like a grown-up, embrace genuine respect of both the right and the left, and find a voice in which to defend traditional values without scapegoating. Of course, being good-looking and having a lousy opponent doesn’t hurt, but it wouldn’t have been enough without the wider strategy.

The short-sighted media buzz coming out of this win will be about the unpopularity of the Obama health proposal and the loss of the Democrat’s 60-vote majority in the Senate. In reality, this shift is likely to force some humility and reason on the Obama Administration. This will in all likelihood help them right their ship. It will provide cover for them to kill off the Frankenstein-monster of a health proposal they have built and let the President move on to other, more productive objectives.

The real story here, likely to be missed in the media, is the impact this win could have inside the GOP. John McCain’s loss in 2008 removed one of the last national Republican figures who could steer the Party out of the fundamentalist swamp. Soon we may have another. This is good news for Republicans and fantastic news for America.

Powerful Stuff from Ted Olson…

Ted Olson is no “RINO.” He’s the man who won Bush v Gore and was President Bush’s Solicitor General. He is a member of the Federalist Society and was on the board of the American Spectator. He is probably more Republican than you. And he is arguing FOR marriage equality…

Together with my good friend and occasional courtroom adversary David Boies, I am attempting to persuade a federal court to invalidate California’s Proposition 8—the voter-approved measure that overturned California’s constitutional right to marry a person of the same sex.

My involvement in this case has generated a certain degree of consternation among conservatives. How could a politically active, lifelong Republican, a veteran of the Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush administrations, challenge the “traditional” definition of marriage and press for an “activist” interpretation of the Constitution to create another “new” constitutional right?

My answer to this seeming conundrum rests on a lifetime of exposure to persons of different backgrounds, histories, viewpoints, and intrinsic characteristics, and on my rejection of what I see as superficially appealing but ultimately false perceptions about our Constitution and its protection of equality and fundamental rights.

Change YOu Can Actually Believe In

Last time I posted, I broke a rule I set for myself very early on in this whole blogging process: never post a criticism without posting a solution. Time to rectify that…

The revelations about Harry Reid (and Bill Clinton, for that matter) have presented the American political community (but largely Republicans) a once in a lifetime opportunity. As anyone who’s been reading this blog knows there has been a movement afoot to develop a litmus test by which every Republican is judged. Ten principles that every Republican is supposed to follow in order to be considered a REAL Republican.

Sure, I’ve written pretty strenuously against the litmus test. Very strenuously. But, let’s think about this for a moment. Perhaps adopting a litmus test wouldn’t be so bad if, in addition to real conservative principles like efficiency, and low taxes and strong national defense, we included a line that read something like:

“As a Republican, and more importantly, as an American, I believe in the Constitutional principle that all men, regardless of race, are created equally and I will disavow and rebuke anyone who represents this Party who acts and speaks out in a way that contradicts that principle.”

In one fell swoop, the Republican Party would establish itself as firmly against racism in all its forms, sending the message to any bigots or racists within or without the Party that they need to look elsewhere for a political home. How would that Democrats answer that kind of courage? Probably with derision first, but then, once they realized the American people admired a bold move, they’d answer with a similar statement. Then it would be up to us, the rank and file of the Party, to hold our membership to these ideals.

Does our Party have the kind of courage necessary to make this kind of move? I think we do.

Racism You Can Believe In

For years, ever since I announced that I was a Republican, people have asked me “how can you be a Republican?” Â In their words “Republicans are racist.”

Unable to universally deny the claim, because, let’s face it, there have been and are racist Republicans (certainly more than I’m happy with), my response was always been that “republicans hardly have the monopoly on racists.”
Let’s look at a few of the more famous examples:
  • Robert Byrd – former Ealted Cyclops of the Ku Klux Klan once wrote “Rather I should die a thousand times, and see Old Glory trampled in the dirt never to rise again, than to see this beloved land of ours become degraded by race mongrels, a throwback to the blackest specimen from the wilds.”  (Granted, he should get points for his colorful prose).
  • In January of ’84, Jesse Jackson referred to New York as “Hymietown” and then, after apologizing, went on to say the reason the Nixon administration never helped African-Americans was because the administration was run by German Jews.
  • Al Sharpton, former Democratic Presidential cand….idate (Sorry. Â Had a tough time typing that without laughing) incited people murder and burn down a store owned by a Jewish businessman who had the temerity to raise the rent on a black tenant.
  • Joe Biden expressed amazement at Barack Obama’s being “…the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy.”
  • Bill “The First Black President” Clinton dismissed Obama’s win in the South Carolina primary as expected since Jesse Jackson won there in ’84 and ’88.
Some high points from 60+ years of Democratic racism! Â And now, our latest example: we learn that Harry Reid, a man incapable of transforming a victory into a defeat, Â “praising” our President as a “light-skinned” African American “with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one.” Â High-praise indeed, Senator Reid!

As I said above, arguing that there is no racism in the Republican Party would be disingenuous. Â It would be about as disingenuous as condemning Republicans as racist, while leaving the Democrats unscathed. In fact, I’d argue that the Democratic form of racism is more insidious and more vile because it hides behind a veil of altruism. Â Racist conservatives tend not to make a secret of their views. Â Occasionally, you even see them express them on signs at political rallies, or express them on their talk radio shows. Â The left-wing’s racism is secretive. Â They privately make racist statement, like Reid, or Jackson, then expect everyone to forgive them once they get caught. Â Or, they’ll make their comments under the banner of “civil rights,” because they can’t possibly be racist when they’re “protecting” a minority! Â Or, they’ll fall back on their past as “the first Black President” to cover up their dismissive attitudes.

My favorite form of Democratic racism is their insistence that legislation is needed to ensure minorities can succeed. Â From their point of view, years of neglect and bigotry have so damaged minorities that the government must force businesses to hire people solely because of their ethnic background. Â They think that leveling the playing field means holding minority students to different standards than their majority contemporaries. Â This is what President George W. Bush called “the soft bigotry of low expectations.” Â I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather have someone say a few nasty things about me on talk radio than have them institutionalize a system based on the assumption that I, and everyone who looks like me, isn’t quite up to snuff.

So, next time the next time a black Democrat asks you how you can be a Republican, bring up these examples and ask him or her how they can justify being a Democrat.

Populist Conservatism is Not the Future

As we start this year a look at the political landscape for Republicans shows that despite calls of a Republican revolution, such a thing may not happen. Tea Party conservative and libertarian purists are running amok, demanding that those within the party who do not represent their absolute ideological views be politically destroyed and thrown out of the party. Moderate Republicans such as Mark Kirk in Illinois and Charlie Crist in Florida face a populist driven movement of conservatives from their right flank made up of all brands from social to libertarian in a similar fashion as to what happened in NY 23 last year. It is a movement that nevertheless is fractured at this point and even if it can be organized enough, will not lead to any solutions. It is a movement that is made up of those who are merely reactionary and peeved by the idea that they had lost in the last few previous elections and who sometimes even put forth grotesque dreams of revolution and secession.

This is a movement that I saw firsthand at the largest Tea Party event in the nation held in San Antonio in front of the Alamo last year. It was an incredible event to go to as it enlightened me of a movement that had just started to form and before it started to fracture among its many lines of thought or personalities. I had a keen interest in this group, as I had no idea what type of people and what kind of overall crowd would be present that day. First off, I will say that regardless of what some liberal commentators have said, this was a grassroots event and it was a movement. Some have come to believe that it was only formulated and planned by large companies and conservative groups, and while the actual grassroots may have had quite the assistance from such entities, one cannot simply perceive that those thousands that came marching did so only because they were ordered to by corporate entities. If its conception and basic organization was FOX news and Glenn Beck, the people were the real thing. To understand this movement, we as centrists cannot merely wave it off as a non-viable group of people that is falsely labeled as grassroots. No, this was the real thing and those people that day were the real and upset partakers in a Tea Party that chanted and held signs in visible discontent with Washington.

In establishing that this is a real movement one would be able to see that it has an energy that political strategists may see as opportunities to use as a source of momentum; a wave which they may be able to ride to political office. This I do not totally disagree with for to do so would ignore the feelings of discontent in some parts of the nation towards the current administration and how that could be used for political victory. But what needs to be taken into account is not whether it is a viable and continuing movement or one that will dissipate if the economy begins to recover or not. What needs to be taken into consideration is whether or not making a deal with this movement is the right thing to do, or will it merely be an act of selling ones soul for short term benefit.

In that day I was able to see up front what the Tea Parties believed in, and what they stood for and it was one that brought worry to me on that day in front of the Alamo. First, let’s get something straight: this movement is not a movement of new ideas. It is exactly the same old ideas that drove the conservative revolution in the latter half of the 20th century. There is nothing new with people and speakers believing that abortion should be outlawed and that God’s law be followed within government. There is nothing new with the idea that government is evil and inept and that inaction in a crisis is better than action. There is nothing new when science is generally regarded as a liberal plot and that Intelligent Design aka literal belief in a holy book as science, has actual real scientific backing and that global warming or even pollution are conspiracies for the government to tell the markets to make cleaner appliances and for vehicles to have slightly higher standards of efficiency, of which would be an infringement on their perceived rights and desire to do as they please regardless of the consequences to those around them and to our lands. There is nothing new with jingoistic and nativist sentiments that was dominant among the crowd and how the same sentiment towards the world that led to the neo-conservative foreign policy mishaps of the W. Bush administration were still present among these people who would say that they were so different from the prior administration. If anything other than the lack of spending vetoes they are every bit an embodiment not of W. Bush, but of the view of the nation and of the world that his administration implemented: arrogant unilateralism, general environmental policy negligence and denial, and a belief of government not as a tool to ensure balance and stability within the markets but as a hindrance to be left basically unused or without reform no matter the real world consequences. With most of these ideas, the Tea Party movement is one and the same.

As with most populist movements, it is by and large not made up of intellectuals or academics. In fact, these are the same people who believe that academics is elitism and that Sarah Palin with her hokey soundbites is better candidate for president than one that can actually present a nuanced view of policies. While I disagree with many conservative thinkers on their take on governance, at least they have given an actual amount of learned thinking to the process that led to their conclusions. Instead, this populist movement is based on sheer reactionary emotions towards how the political process panned out for their side. They simply did not like Obama from the start, and to a degree this is understandable. Their side had been blamed for symbolizing power or “the man” who was running the economy into the ground, creating an unnecessary war without finishing the correct one, and just being generally representative of a segment of the country that believes that God and guns is what we should be about while the rest of the nation became disconcerted enough to vote out their representatives in the Republican party twice. Now the Tea Party people like to tell how they are different from the Republican Party representatives, but in the end they actually agree with almost every aspect of the George W. Bush doctrine and his domestic views including the budget busting across the board, corporate aimed tax cuts. Now if only he had gotten rid of the Environmental Protection Agency and sold the national parks off to private owners to shrink the federal government. Then he would have started to gain real conservative/libertarian credentials. Whatever W. Bush has done was mostly within the realm of conservatism, and it is impressive to see those out there who actually want an even more hardline conservative take on government than what he has done. In the end, what is not reasonable is the absolute hatred towards the President that exists today within the Tea Party crowd.

By far and large there is no plan for America put forth by this movement that isn’t sheer idealism with a near complete lack of realistic thinking. It cannot see the problems that a complex world has brought and how it can’t be solved by merely chanting U.S.A and following a strict conservative ideology. It is a movement that was spearheaded by Glenn Beck and his misinformation and conspiratorial views. Only mere tub thumping that I had previously thought found only in protests based on the far-left was present that day as well. Most of the college students at the University of Texas at San Antonio by far and large did not participate, which will lead to another problem in having the Republican Party adopt this movement for its own. Most fit the description of white, middle aged and I would suppose at one time youthful members of the Reagan Revolution. It was interesting how many of them fit this bill, and how few minorities were present. I believe I could count the number of black people there on my fingers with the count being slightly higher with those of Hispanic origin. The average age of a Tea Party person was usually 40 with relatively few in the teens and twenties. Even 30 year olds seemed sparse. Confederate flags waved and secession/ states’ rights extremists were abundant. This is not some youth revolution: it is merely a disgruntled and aging echo of what happened in the 80’s.

This is a movement, but one that is a minority movement and not one that can be translated into a moderate or long term base of success. It a movement that only encases a small section of the white population and virtually none of the fast growing minority populations. It is a movement that is sheer emotion and one most clearly defined by unreasonable hate and vitriol and delusion by those that make up its members. Even if this was to bring short term success to the Republican party in the 2010 or even 2012 elections, it would fail to translate into a true winning strategy afterwards. This would mirror the same problems the democratic party experienced in the 1980’s with the then powerful liberal wing. Simply put, the Democratic party ended up realizing that despite their midterm wins during Reagan’s first term by going hard-left in their ideology, it was simply not the answer most Americans looked for in the long run of the late 20th century. Despite the current leaders of the party who say otherwise, the Tea Party and its Tea Baggers are not the logical future of the Republican Party and a Republican resurgence. The Tea Party is merely a wild forest fire that unfortunately for the Republican Party will hurt many in the short term, both those who support them and those brave enough to stand against them; but it will eventually burn itself out and as a wildfire show how non-enduring populist movements rooted in anti-intellectualism are. When that happens, we as Republicans do not want to be on that same burnt out field. As we start off the new year which looks to be very rough to centrist republicanism everywhere, take heed and don’t cave in and I hope everyone had a happy new year.

Brown's Rebellion?

In the run-up to the January 19 special election in Massachusetts to elect a replacement for the late Senator Ted Kennedy, all eyes were focused on the Democratic candidates with scant attention paid to Scott Brown the Republican nominee. After all, Massachusetts is the bluest of blue states and with no Republicans in the state delegation to Congress. This should be a cakewalk for the Democrats. And yet, Brown is nine points behind state attorney general Martha Coakley, the Democratic nominee.

So what is causing Brown to do so well? Rassumsen says it boils down to excitement and maybe the health care overhaul which is based on a plan passed in Massachusetts in 2006:

Special elections are typically decided by who shows up to vote and it is clear from the data that Brown’s supporters are more enthusiastic. In fact, among those who are absolutely certain they will vote, Brown pulls to within two points of Coakley. That suggests a very low turnout will help the Republican and a higher turnout is better for the Democrat.

In 2006, Massachusetts implemented its own statewide version of health care reform which has been cited as a model for the national plan. But just 32% of the state’s voters consider that reform a success. Thirty-six percent (36%) consider the plan a failure, and another 32% are not sure.

Despite the creation of a statewide health plan in part to address rising costs, most Massachusetts voters (54%) say cost is still the biggest problem with health care. Twenty-four percent (24%) cite a lack of universal coverage, while 11% say it’s the quality of care. Just three percent (3%) complain of the inconvenience of scheduling.

 A cursory look at Brown’s website shows that he is playing it pretty safe, staying away from red meat issues and at least presenting himself as a moderate conservative. What is also impressive is his use of social media (Ning, Facebook, Twitter, etc.).Â

Will Brown score an upset? I still think it is a long shot, however, if all the action on Brown’s Twitter and Facebook accounts translates into real votes, we could be seeing a Republican Senator from Massachusetts for the first time since Edward Brooke in the late 1970s.

What was going to be a sleeper race suddenly got interesting.