Did You Feel the Earth Move?

The earth is shifting under our feet, and the political class, both in elected officialdom and in the unelected punditocracy, appear to be oblivious. They still believe that there are only Democrats and Republicans, and anything else is a "fringe" group. In their view, Progressives and Tea Party members are equivalent in their impact on the major parties. Nothing could be more in error, and nothing works more in favor of the Progressives than having the electorate view them as such. 

The Tea Party convention this past weekend was a truly seismic event -- not in the sense that it will shake the establishment out of their rigid system of beliefs, but as a moment historians can point to when describing the sea change occurring in the terms of our national debate.

The ascendancy of the two major political parties has ended. It's over. Kaput. Oh, we may still use the labels "Democrat" and "Republican" for the sake of convenience, but they will be only the shells for a completely different set of political philosophies. In reality, the two contending belief systems are no longer "liberal" and "liberal light." 

The Democrats have been infiltrated by Progressives, morphing from "liberal benevolence" to "statist command and control." No longer is it enough to help the downtrodden or disadvantaged. No longer is true equality of opportunity the goal to be pursued. The new goal is the equality of result, with the power to define the result concentrated in Washington. In the past, Democrats supported the union movement as a way to allow the "common man" to join together in offsetting the power of huge corporations. Today, the unions control the Democrats with massive financial support. Since they're paying the piper, they're calling the tune. And the tune is to ensure that their agenda becomes legislation...legislation that cripples the corporations who are forced to hire only union members, pay well above competitive wages, and provide extraordinary fringe benefits, and who have no chance to fight for their demands on a level playing field. 

This same logical structure -- that is, using the force of government to shift the playing field to be more in favor of the "little guy" as the justification for using the government to completely unbalance the playing field -- is seen in the immense support for Democrats by trial lawyers. Of course, as with the unions, the trial lawyers provide huge amounts of cash to Democrat candidates, and those candidates essentially do what they're told. That's the simple reason why there is not one word about tort reform in any of the multiple versions of Obamacare.

The Democrats have almost monopolized the racial component of politics, even though they fought equal rights for over a century. Even I can remember the segment of the Democratic caucus called "Dixiecrats." This group fought long and hard to maintain the "separate but equal" philosophy of racial equality, and yet, Democrats have somehow convinced African-Americans, and now the Latino population, that they are the champions of equal rights. Having realized that the Dixiecrats were providing a losing election formula, and winning elections is what it's all about, Democrats began to provide massive financial support for these minorities in the Great Society bills of the 1960s. They have added to these financial handouts continuously since then. Like the unions, the trial lawyers and other supporting groups, the Democrats now apply the same rules to their beneficiaries. Our money means our rules. So you will vote for Democrats to keep the support flowing.

Because this has been a winning strategy for the Democrats, the Republican leadership has responded by becoming the "liberal light" brand. They no longer strongly support business, national defense, and the pocketbook of the ordinary taxpayer. The conservative element within the Republican party view almost all their political principles through the lens of social regulation. While Democrats want a "command and control" system to direct public activity such as the economy, education, and so on, the conservative element of the Republicans want the same "command and control" ability, but they want to apply it to more private activity, such as abortion, sex education, the rights of homosexuals of both genders, and so on. And in many election districts, this means that they are losing. Republicans have become identified with the conservative ideological positions, and many Americans believe that these positions are too extreme to win their vote.

All this sounds familiar, since we've been living with it for about fifty years. But this past weekend, it changed. It shattered. The Tea Parties have decided to crash the party.

The Tea Party movement has a libertarian basis. That's libertarian with a small "l," not Libertarian as in the political party. This is a movement based on the belief that on social issues, they can be liberal, while on public issues, they tend to be conservative. I worked out my own simple definition of libertarianism a few years ago: 

I really don't care what you do, as long as you don't hurt anyone. Just don't even think about asking me to pay for it. 

Right now a significant plurality of Americans finds this political philosophy attractive. Those folks in the Tea Party movement are highly energized. And a huge majority of Americans are disgusted with both parties. This creates a highly unstable political environment, and there are only three possible outcomes:


  • The Tea Party movement fizzles, and we go on as usual, periodically alternating Democrat and Republican control of the government, allowing Progressives in control of the Democrats to incrementally shift the country into a form that pleases them and satisfies their psychotic need to control everything and everyone in it.
  • The Tea Party movement forms an independent political party, splitting the non-union, non-minority electorate, forcing both themselves and the Republicans into the position of impotent minority parties.
  • The Tea Party takes a page from the Progressives and takes over the Republican party, and then moves to fight the Progressives.

I know that there has been some blather among the punditocracy that the Republicans will make use of the Tea Party movement, but I contend that such comments illustrate the idea that the political class is oblivious to the seismic shift in the country. As we move through the 2010 midterm elections, which will almost undoubtedly result in significant changes in the makeup of both the Senate and House, Liberals/Progressives/Democrats will get ever more desperate to retain control. Desperate people make strategically indefensible errors in judgment. Such errors will highlight the differences between Progressives and libertarians.

Republicans, having painted themselves into a corner as "liberal-light," cannot provide the libertarian (again, small "l") responses that will appeal to the return-to-basic-principles political philosophy that seems to resonate with today's electorate. Those ideas will find their source in the Tea Party movement, which will strongly influence the Republicans in the midterm elections, and in the general election in 2012.

So, the days of the Democrat versus the Republican are over. No more "liberal" versus "liberal-light." The labels may stay the same, but the true battles in the future will be Progressive versus libertarian. It will be a fight that will last for a generation at least, but when you look at the faces at Tea Parties, there are enough younger activists to ensure that they have the shock troops they need to fight the Progressive command-and-control mentality.
The earth is shifting under our feet, and the political class, both in elected officialdom and in the unelected punditocracy, appear to be oblivious. They still believe that there are only Democrats and Republicans, and anything else is a "fringe" group. In their view, Progressives and Tea Party members are equivalent in their impact on the major parties. Nothing could be more in error, and nothing works more in favor of the Progressives than having the electorate view them as such. 

The Tea Party convention this past weekend was a truly seismic event -- not in the sense that it will shake the establishment out of their rigid system of beliefs, but as a moment historians can point to when describing the sea change occurring in the terms of our national debate.

The ascendancy of the two major political parties has ended. It's over. Kaput. Oh, we may still use the labels "Democrat" and "Republican" for the sake of convenience, but they will be only the shells for a completely different set of political philosophies. In reality, the two contending belief systems are no longer "liberal" and "liberal light." 

The Democrats have been infiltrated by Progressives, morphing from "liberal benevolence" to "statist command and control." No longer is it enough to help the downtrodden or disadvantaged. No longer is true equality of opportunity the goal to be pursued. The new goal is the equality of result, with the power to define the result concentrated in Washington. In the past, Democrats supported the union movement as a way to allow the "common man" to join together in offsetting the power of huge corporations. Today, the unions control the Democrats with massive financial support. Since they're paying the piper, they're calling the tune. And the tune is to ensure that their agenda becomes legislation...legislation that cripples the corporations who are forced to hire only union members, pay well above competitive wages, and provide extraordinary fringe benefits, and who have no chance to fight for their demands on a level playing field. 

This same logical structure -- that is, using the force of government to shift the playing field to be more in favor of the "little guy" as the justification for using the government to completely unbalance the playing field -- is seen in the immense support for Democrats by trial lawyers. Of course, as with the unions, the trial lawyers provide huge amounts of cash to Democrat candidates, and those candidates essentially do what they're told. That's the simple reason why there is not one word about tort reform in any of the multiple versions of Obamacare.

The Democrats have almost monopolized the racial component of politics, even though they fought equal rights for over a century. Even I can remember the segment of the Democratic caucus called "Dixiecrats." This group fought long and hard to maintain the "separate but equal" philosophy of racial equality, and yet, Democrats have somehow convinced African-Americans, and now the Latino population, that they are the champions of equal rights. Having realized that the Dixiecrats were providing a losing election formula, and winning elections is what it's all about, Democrats began to provide massive financial support for these minorities in the Great Society bills of the 1960s. They have added to these financial handouts continuously since then. Like the unions, the trial lawyers and other supporting groups, the Democrats now apply the same rules to their beneficiaries. Our money means our rules. So you will vote for Democrats to keep the support flowing.

Because this has been a winning strategy for the Democrats, the Republican leadership has responded by becoming the "liberal light" brand. They no longer strongly support business, national defense, and the pocketbook of the ordinary taxpayer. The conservative element within the Republican party view almost all their political principles through the lens of social regulation. While Democrats want a "command and control" system to direct public activity such as the economy, education, and so on, the conservative element of the Republicans want the same "command and control" ability, but they want to apply it to more private activity, such as abortion, sex education, the rights of homosexuals of both genders, and so on. And in many election districts, this means that they are losing. Republicans have become identified with the conservative ideological positions, and many Americans believe that these positions are too extreme to win their vote.

All this sounds familiar, since we've been living with it for about fifty years. But this past weekend, it changed. It shattered. The Tea Parties have decided to crash the party.

The Tea Party movement has a libertarian basis. That's libertarian with a small "l," not Libertarian as in the political party. This is a movement based on the belief that on social issues, they can be liberal, while on public issues, they tend to be conservative. I worked out my own simple definition of libertarianism a few years ago: 

I really don't care what you do, as long as you don't hurt anyone. Just don't even think about asking me to pay for it. 

Right now a significant plurality of Americans finds this political philosophy attractive. Those folks in the Tea Party movement are highly energized. And a huge majority of Americans are disgusted with both parties. This creates a highly unstable political environment, and there are only three possible outcomes:


  • The Tea Party movement fizzles, and we go on as usual, periodically alternating Democrat and Republican control of the government, allowing Progressives in control of the Democrats to incrementally shift the country into a form that pleases them and satisfies their psychotic need to control everything and everyone in it.
  • The Tea Party movement forms an independent political party, splitting the non-union, non-minority electorate, forcing both themselves and the Republicans into the position of impotent minority parties.
  • The Tea Party takes a page from the Progressives and takes over the Republican party, and then moves to fight the Progressives.

I know that there has been some blather among the punditocracy that the Republicans will make use of the Tea Party movement, but I contend that such comments illustrate the idea that the political class is oblivious to the seismic shift in the country. As we move through the 2010 midterm elections, which will almost undoubtedly result in significant changes in the makeup of both the Senate and House, Liberals/Progressives/Democrats will get ever more desperate to retain control. Desperate people make strategically indefensible errors in judgment. Such errors will highlight the differences between Progressives and libertarians.

Republicans, having painted themselves into a corner as "liberal-light," cannot provide the libertarian (again, small "l") responses that will appeal to the return-to-basic-principles political philosophy that seems to resonate with today's electorate. Those ideas will find their source in the Tea Party movement, which will strongly influence the Republicans in the midterm elections, and in the general election in 2012.

So, the days of the Democrat versus the Republican are over. No more "liberal" versus "liberal-light." The labels may stay the same, but the true battles in the future will be Progressive versus libertarian. It will be a fight that will last for a generation at least, but when you look at the faces at Tea Parties, there are enough younger activists to ensure that they have the shock troops they need to fight the Progressive command-and-control mentality.

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