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October 16, 2013
Brit Hume: The Tea Party Forced a Major Fight on the Budget and ObamaCare Precisely Because The Establishment Didn't
As you know, I go back and forth between siding with the Tea Party and the Establishment. Ask me three times in a week, and you might get three different answers.
But while I do think the Tea Party is sometimes wrongheaded in its theory of negotiation -- that staking out the most maximalist position leads, more or less inevitably, to a better political resolution for the side staking it out -- I do fault the Establishment for not re-calibrating its politics and realizing, The base is serious about these things.
I do get tired of establishment-leaning analysts and amateur pundits telling me that I don't understand the easiest pathway to electoral success. Of course I understand the easiest pathway to electoral success -- it's dead simple.
The easiest pathway to electoral success, for someone on the right, is to stake out a position that is 1% more to the right of one's Democratic opponent. (The easiest pathway to electoral success for someone on the left is to stake out a position 1% more to the left than one's political opponent.) This gives one the maximum number of potential voters.
But potential voters are not necessarily actual voters, not if a politics seems uninspiring or pointless.
I do know the easiest pathway to electoral success -- but I, and many other people, have decided, for various reasons, that the easiest pathway is no longer acceptable, because it yields so few rewards at the governance phase.
The Democrat Party is far more responsive to constituent will. For example, when the Democrat electorate became radicalized and very, very left-leaning after the disputed election of 2000 (and then even more after 9/11 and the GOP victory of 2002), the Democrat Party quickly began adapting itself to the New Political Reality that their base was much more extreme and unwilling to compromise than it had been.
The media seems not to have noticed this, but the Democrat Party had its own Purge of the Center by the Wing -- How about Joe Lieberman? Yeah, he got primaried out, didn't he?
The primary-challenge-from-the-wing is supposedly a tool of extremists... except when the media's own party, the Democrat Party, utilizes it. Then it's just People Powered Politics (TM).
But while the Democrat Party did resist this radicalization, in the end it did become the Progressive Party, and it only took them 2-3 years to adapt themselves to this way of thinking.
Anyone hear anything from the centrist-talking Democrat Leadership Council anymore? No, you don't. The Democrats purged most of its centrists, chiefly by staking out positions so far to the Left (such as voting for the monstrosity of ObamaCare) that all of its representatives from purple districts were kicked out of office in 2010.
The Republican Establishment is, as one might guess, conservative by temperament. It resists change, moreso than the the Democrat Establishment (which almost seemed eager to confess they were fully Men and Women of the Unreconstructed Left; they just needed an excuse to say so).
The only way this marriage can be saved -- if it can be at all -- is for the Establishment to stop fighting the Tea Party on everything, and instead begin plotting politically-savvy ways to forward the Tea Party's way of thinking.
Simply calling them "wacko birds" is not going to do it, Guys.
The Tea Party tends to talk in maximalist and uncompromising terms. I do not think most Tea Partiers are actually completely maximalist and uncompromising; I believe many talk this way to increase their negotiating position vis-a-vis the establishment.
So I think it's possible that there can be some kind of compromise reached here.
But that will require that the Establishment do some compromising of its own. And that will in turn require taking the Tea Party seriously, and not simply sneering at 20% of the population as "extreme" and "fringe" and "crazy" and "wacko bird" and "Hobbits."
I think the Establishment knows more about politicking than the Tea Party. But they don't know more about core beliefs than the Tea Party. Everyone is an absolute expert in his own core beliefs, after all.
So, if this marriage is to be saved, the Establishment must begin using its political savvy -- if it has such -- to advance important political goals favored by the base.
The base understands kabuki. They are not, as the Washington Post once slurred conservative voters, "poor, uneducated, and easily led."
The Establishment may wish they were these things but they're not.
They may not be experts on politicking and messaging, but they think they're experts on What America Is and Must Be, and I'm inclined to to agree with them on that, to a large extent.
The GOP already has two huge opponents -- the Democrat Party and the Democrat Media. It cannot add a third opponent to that list.
Political realities change, and so do political goals. The Tea Party has had it to the back of their teeth with small-government rhetoric. They do not want more small government rhetoric. They want smaller government.
And they would also like respect. Despite the Washington Post's slur, I would like to point out that Tea Partiers are in fact wealthier and better-educated than the average American. It's also quite clear that they are not-so-easily led at all.
They may be willing to be led, but they want to influence their leadership in turn.
Which is the way it used to be, all those years ago, in the years after America won its democratic republic in the Revolutionary War.
Yes, it's easier for the political class if they can just call all the shots and not bother explaining themselves to mere Citizens.
And we did that for a long time. After Americans became jaded about democracy, people began tuning out of the process -- not even bothering to vote, nevermind going to a Town Hall to engage in public discourse on American policy -- and left politics, chiefly, to the politicians, for oh, about 100 years.
But that's not the reality anymore. Don't fight the new reality; embrace it. This is going to be a more participatory process whether elected officials want it to be or not. That participation will either take place before elections, in a friendly manner, or it will take place during primary season or even general election season, in a hostile manner.
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