Tea Party Democrats

Rasmussen announced yesterday that Americans agree with the tenets of the Tea Party movement more than with President Obama “on most major issues” by 48%-44%.  Additionally, The Hill reports that 40% of Tea Partiers identify themselves as Democrats or Independents.

This is hardly surprising in the wake of the healthcare bill’s unpopularity, and it reminds one that there is something of a divide within the Democratic Party as well as the GOP.  Though most Conservative commentators will say otherwise, this leftist divide isn’t necessarily good for Republicans.

If the president is smart, he’ll take advantage of these Tea Party Democrats and Independents and give dissenters like them a voice in his administration.  Rather than enjoying a cabinet full of liberal ideologues who echo his own views, he should use moderate and disgruntled Democrats to his advantage by allowing them a place at his table.

As counter-intuitive as this sounds, it worked for Ronald Reagan, who was criticized for grouping moderate Republicans with movement conservatives in his own senior staff.    He explained the arrangement this way during a 1981 press conference:

QUESTION: There have been specific reports that your Secretary of State and Secretary of Defense are not getting along and that they argue in front of you.  Can you comment on these reports?

PRESIDENT REAGAN:  The whole Cabinet argues in front of me.  That was the system I wanted installed.

Presidencies have historically benefitted from internal dissensions—provided the divisions extend to those in leadership.  Reagan biographer Steven Hayward writes,

In a manner that eludes many historians, political scientists, and reporters, the most successful presidencies tend to be those that have factional disagreement within their inner councils, whereas sycophantic administrations tend to get in the most trouble.  Fractiousness in an administration is a sign of health: the Jefferson-Hamilton feud in Washington’s administration, the rivalry within Lincoln’s cabinet, and the odd combination of fervent New Dealers and conventional Democrats in FDR’s White House provided a dynamic tension that contributed to successful governance. (The Age of Reagan, p. 9)

Of course, the Democratic members of a single grassroots movement can hardly be expected to change the course of an entire political party—at least not at first.  These Tea Party converts, however, combined with the President’s plummeting popularity, do present him with an interesting opportunity.  If Hayward’s historical analysis is correct, President Obama might very well benefit from the Tea Parties by offering them his ear.

I doubt he will do so, and that may be just as well; as a conservative, I am eager to see him leave office.  If he even appears to shift to the Right, his approval ratings will probably increase.  I don’t want that to happen – and, for now, neither does much of the rest of America. ‘

Tea Party Pictures from Yorba Linda, CA

By Joi Weaver
Wednesday, reports came in from across the country of citizens gathering in crowds by the thousands, protesting increasing governmental intrusion into their lives, protesting the use of excessive tax to pay for wasteful programs created by representatives who no longer listen to the people they claim to stand for. I attended the tea party in Yorba Linda, California, and found it the scene of energetic, but peaceful, protest.
The large crowd stood in chilly spring winds, listening to the speakers.

We had a few costumed protestors as well: a man in colonial gear carrying a modified Gadsden flag, and another in Civil War garb, who spoke to the crowd at the end of the day. The latter is a historical re-enactor, and spoke of the necessity of learning from history.

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Party Like It’s 1773: A Report from a Tax Day Tea Party

Tax Day Tea Party

It’s not clear how many attended the hundreds of “Tax Day Tea Party” events held throughout the nation today. The estimates are pouring in, but we’ll never really know for sure how many showed up to protest. That’s the nature of a real grassroots movement, especially on the Right.
We do know, however, that thousands of those who did attend these events did so because they are fed up with… well, with a lot of things. It seems to me that the Tea Party movement isn’t as unified as it might appear – at least, the rally I attended wasn’t.
I spent the afternoon at one of the Orange County, CA rallies – in downtown Santa Ana. There I saw people protest such varied things as their tax rates, the supposed cover-up of President Obama’s Birth Certificate, Prop 1A, the recent DHS Report on “right wing extremist activity”, government “pork” spending (there were pig balloons everywhere!), and the recent California tax hikes. There were also some calling for the recall of CA Assemblyman Anthony Adams and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Here are a few shots of the crowd:

Continue reading Party Like It’s 1773: A Report from a Tax Day Tea Party

Not your average tea party

You’ve probably heard by now that tomorrow, April 15, thousands of activists will gather in meeting places all over the country to protest today’s quickly rising tax rates. I’ll be at one of these events, and will discuss it afterward live on Talk from the Heart with Rich Buhler around 4:00 p.m. or so. If you’re in Southern California, you can tune in on AM 740, call letters KBRT. Otherwise, you can listen to the live streaming here.

If you want to attend a Tea Party event but can’t, you can still participate – and it’ll only take you a minute. Text the word “Tea Party” to 74362 to sign a mobile petition that will be sent to your Representatives, and to have information about further events sent directly to your phone. (See here for more information.) ‘