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It's time for Democrats to find their own little Tea Party within.
Where's the Democratic Tea Party anyway?
Their policy makes no sense, (The Tea Party that is) and is really is more of an objection to everything than a real comprehensive package for solving America's big problems. Democrats, whether you agree or disagree with them, have big ideas and are pursuing those ideas. The Tea Partyers basically go by the old Republican model of Bushonomics with a few tweaks - just a relentless irrational fear of all things Muslim, a super religious Christian component where Bible verses should replace constitutional amendments, and an unprecedented lack of trust for all things government, even when a degree of government is obviously necessary. We need an FAA, we need FEMA, an FDA, Social Security, Medicare, police, firefighters, and good teachers. But these guys - You gotta' give them credit. They want to cut it all. They're insane, but they're standing their ground no matter what.
So I'm not suggesting Democrats turn more insane in policy. I believe most Americans, even Republicans, if you go line by line would agree with a lot of Democratic policy. We may have slight disagreements in approach when it comes to the tit for tat details, but ultimately I think we all want a universally prosperous nation. We all want to feel safe buying food, walking down the street, getting on an airplane and feel the assurance that our military has the capacity to protect ourselves at home and overseas. If we get so paranoid about debt, we're not going to have money to fund these things, and if we let the super rich continue to dodge their fair share of the tax burden, the working class Americans not only get saddled with taxes, but with indirect taxes in the form of lost services. Sure a wealthy Republican family doesn't care about public school improvement when their kids go to a fancy private one. Of course police don't matter when you have your own private security. Sure, social security is a joke when you've got your own stock nest egg in the millions. But, the people backing this movement aren't even the super rich. The super rich tend to like Romney, a guy who they feel can maximize their business returns. The Tea party is a raucous revolution mob of sorts, and they don't mind symbolically tarring and feathering anyone, including their own once they start to stray from the party standard. Note that many Tea Party members hate Romney as much as Obama, maybe more. "Obamneycare" as they call it. Nothing like reduced cost health care to get you angry in the morning. To them, Romney's a Democrat in disguise, where at least Obama is what he is. They hate him for it, But they know and get what he stands for, at least to some degree. He also gave them the tax cuts for the wealthy they wanted and surprise surprise, it didn't really spur jobs. But of course, now, it can't be that, it has to be the Obama-created debt. Yes! That's it! His debt is doing this, even though the vast majority of debt was created under a big spendin' Texan, which exactly what the party's looking to go back to. There are some major memory issues going on over in that party.
I think what Democrats fail at it, is the game of PR. They're the artists, the intellectuals, the professorial (especially Obama is a great example of that) elites. There's a cynical attitude about America, and a pragmatic but often demotivating vision for the future. Going line by line to discuss complex policy may be the way to do things behind the scenes, but it's not the face you present to your constituents. Kerry's infamous technical "I voted for before voting against it" type talk. You energize a movement through emotion. We've had Democrats who have done that and they've been shot down miserably by the party. Howard Dean for instance, was a passionate, capable, intellectual and completely unapologetic guy who went straight for the jugular, but went down in the history books because he went a few decibels too high in his Iowa Speech. Placing third in Iowa was already pretty problematic for him though, so while the press tore him to shreds, he was already not in the greatest of standing by the fact that Edwards beat him and Kerry won that caucus by a noteworthy amount.
Howard Dean would have given Bush a run for his money, and his thin resume wouldn't have mattered in the slightest. Bush himself didn't have a particularly amazing resume on his way into office. People vote on ideals, and a sense that a politician is honest. Kerry wasn't able to convince Americans of that, especially after that whole creepy botox/tanning fiasco. What happened there anyway? We never hear much about "Botoxgate."
So when it came to picking a candidate, Democrats and their cold strategic thinking overtook passionate thinking. Then Kerry, continuing in that vein selected a VP nomination he thought could snag him some southern states, the now revealed to be hideously immoral and dishonest John Edwards. What a blemish he is in the history of party nominations.
I would place Edwards somewhere high on the list of immoral, lying sleazebags to enter the Democratic Party, and I put Lieberman close behind. Lieberman, not because he is an immoral guy necessarily, but an amoral one. How can you devote an entire life to a political philosophy only to go and turn around and endorse McCain, the most diametrically opposed candidate you can find just because you're friends. Now friendship is a great thing, but it should not be the defining factor of how we shape our politics. We need politicians who stand by consistent beliefs, and let that guide them in their decision making. Not who they can crack the most jokes with after a session of congressional hearings.
I think Obama actually in his own weird way is the original Tea Party type candidate in recent years. The first guy to really start an enthusiastic movement, powered by massive dissatisfaction with the establishment and an unwavering commitment to make real changes. I think he lost that momentum when he went from a Senator to an executive, wanting to prove he had the chops to be Presidential, but at the expense of all the momentum that got him there in the first place. An excited party, energized and ready to go wanted Obama to give us the new JFK "Ask not what you're country can do for you" speech, but instead we got a weird, cold, dismal report on just how terrible everything was. Just how much Bush had hurt us, and just how long it would take to get us out of this ditch he referred to us being stuck in. It doesn't exactly make you jump up and feel enthusiastic when your leader's rhetoric refers to buses stuck in ditches. Loved that bus stuck in ditch speech. Really moved me. Hope, change, opportunity, audacity. Words like that kind of strike a chord. But, President Obama and candidate Obama are not the same people, we all learned.
So then Palin, and the Republicans waited a bit, let Obama lose his momentum of revolutionary leadership, they took a massive tactic right from his playbook. They took, what I think is the Obama campaigning approach and integrated it, not only into their campaign strategy but all the way into their governing approach. It's an insane approach, mixing Democratic style optimism with Republican rage.
The Tea Party policy isn't sustainable and versions of it have been proven by history to be failures. We know now from experience that these huge tax cuts don't really do much to create jobs. Just more money floating in the pockets of the wealthy doesn't trickle down and if it does, it's just pennies to the dollar, so you don't see the widespread economic growth that injecting money into infrastructure projects are capable of doing.
Obama is in my mind not a terrible politician, but he is showing himself to be a mediocre candidate. He isn't promoting his policies, he isn't making the case, and he's trying to have it both when sometimes you need to be willing to take a chance even if it means alienating people. Say what you think, don't just negotiate for the sake of looking reasonable. Democrats, and all politicians should be reasonable and work with the other side, but there's a line between being willing to negotiate and being willing to sell all that you ever believed in. Unfortunately, I think as we're seeing again, this country really has yet to have a true liberal party.
It's time for Democrats to find their own little Tea Party within. They need to stop trying to look so official and impressive, and mature and just reach out to real people. I think if Democrats do that, they will win, not just in 2012, but in a deeper sense by even lessening the intensity of the opposition. Our world is clearly too modern, too fast-paced for outdated 1700s style politics, but if the reasonable voices in this country don't speak out, don't be surprised if we stop funding the auto industry and go back to horse and buggy in the near future. I guess at least that's probably more eco-friendly, right?
Matt Sky, Activism Editor: Matt Sky is a journalist, commentator, tech expert, comedic personality and performance artist. He has interviewed some of the most influential newsmakers in the world such as former President Jimmy Carter, Arianna Huffington, Russell Simmons and Larry King. He has appeared as a commentator on HuffPo Live, Sirius XM and has been a guest on a number of radio programs and podcasts. Matt’s areas of expertise include technology, public policy, foreign policy and philanthropy. Matt Sky can be... (more...)