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Tea Party or tea party?

posted at 3:32 pm on February 14, 2010 by

The logical next step for the tea party movement?

Sun columnist Jon Ralston is reporting that the Tea Party has qualified as a third party in Nevada and will have a candidate in the Senate race to battle for the seat held by Majority Leader Harry Reid.

The party has filed a Certificate of Existence but needs to get 1 percent of the electorate to vote for its candidate in November to permanently qualify, according to the report.

Ralston reported that Jon Ashjian will be the Tea Party’s U.S. Senate candidate on the November ballot. Ashjian still must declare his candidacy.

The tea party movement has had phenomenal success in joining like-minded people together to protest current government policies and advocate for a return to the country’s foundational principles. The tea party movement is a collective realization on the part of a great number of people that the government has no intention of reigning in spending and that continuing on our current fiscal course will lead to future disaster. Although I agree with the sentiments and beliefs of the tea party movement, I think moving from ‘tea party’ to ‘Tea Party’ is a mistake.

As Bill Whittle argues in his latest ‘Afterburner,’ third party movements rarely succeed. For better or for worse, we are a two-party country and third parties will always be at an electoral disadvantage.

The best way to change the direction of the country is to replace big-spending incumbents with advocates of small government and fiscal responsibility. If the purpose of the tea party movement is to work toward change, creating advantageous electoral scenarios for incumbents is not the way to achieve that goal. The beliefs of the two front-runners in the Nevada GOP primary seem to align with those of the tea party movement. Running a third candidate who has the potential to siphon votes from one of those challengers and give Harry Reid the re-election he does not deserve is an unwise use of time and resources.

This doesn’t mean the GOP incumbent should simply take the votes of tea partiers for granted. If that incumbent has voted to increase spending, or taken action to increase the size of government, they should be challenged in a primary. The GOP has to return to first principles and getting rid of big-government Republicans is an important step in that process.

However, the tea party movement should resist the temptation to run its own candidates and create three-way races. Unless the Tea Party movement wants to be known as the group that kept a lot of incumbent Democrats in power by splitting the conservative/independent vote, it needs to have a more strategic approach to choosing candidates and winning elections.

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I agree completely. This is just a bad idea. The Nevada GOP already has a strong fiscal conservative running in Sue Lowden, and if she wins the primary, she’s almost certain to beat Reid. Why create any possibility, however remote, of a 92-style split on the Right?

Primary challenges and working from within will be much more effective.

irishspy on February 14, 2010 at 3:47 PM

Whether a Tea Party party is a good or bad idea depends entirely how it operates. If it helps to discipline wayward Republicans, it’s a good thing. If it destroys candidacies of people superior to the eventual winners, then it’s a bad thing. Just because the party exists and puts forward a candidate doesn’t mean that it can’t in the end join forces with and endorse a major party candidate.

Additionally, protecting the movement against interlopers, well-meaning and otherwise, will remain difficult as long as there is no “real” Tea Party. The best argument for forming a party is precisely so it can prevent others from hijacking the name for the sake of counterproductive efforts, electoral and otherwise. If there was already a real Tea Party in Nevada, it could make a responsible decision about whether running against the R candidate was the right thing to do.

CK MacLeod on February 14, 2010 at 4:50 PM

Though I agree that the Tea party should make every effort to avoid becoming the ‘Green Party’ for the Republicans, I must disagree that only GOP incumbents need to take heed. Just because you have an ‘R’ behind your name doesn’t mean you are a better choice. If the Republicans can’t be bothered to court the Tea Party voters then they deserve to lose- even if that means allowing the socialists get the seat.

If we were really serious about reforming Washington we’d change the first past the post voting method so that we wouldn’t be a “two party country- for better or worse”. The founders didn’t find themselves confined by precedent when they revolted against the mother country and established a new nation, and a republic at that. Why should we feel restricted to keep a broken voting system just because “that’s the way it is”? Following that line of thinking, we might as well appoint a king. Our ancestors were monarchists after all.

Browncoatone on February 14, 2010 at 5:21 PM

I agree. The tea party must work from within the Republican party. I would hed Reagan’ss words about remaking the GOP instead of starting a third party movement

EliTheBean on February 14, 2010 at 5:28 PM

The Tea Partiers across the country are new at this ‘game’.

They/We will all learn in time. No need to freak out.

With all of the mistakes, we will still have both parties shaking in their boots. All is good.

bridgetown on February 14, 2010 at 5:33 PM

Ralph Nader and Pat Paulson never have pulled enough votes from either the Pubs or Dems to matter much in the outcome. Ross Perot was a spoiler, effectively putting Clinton in office. And Mickey Mouse is written into the ballots of most states every four years without much effect.

As stated previously on this site, the tea party currently is a mind set. Hopefully it will influence the nature of candidates for office for the better of the country. As a separate ticket on the ballot we would wind up with another Perot situation. Then ACORN wins. And the country starts looking more like the movie Idiocracy than anything else.

Maybe in 2012 we won’t have what amounted to an American Idol outcome, but a more well thought out approach to problem solving by a real leader. Where’s Schwartzkauf when you need him?

Robert17 on February 14, 2010 at 7:00 PM

Pick ‘em. The elections of the Presidents have shown multiple parties throughout history. Many parties have come and gone and have possibly morphed into their opposing ideologies over the decades. It is only the signs of the times to see additional parties surface. Maybe the Republican Party needs a good cleaning out. Maybe it needs to clean itself of all that it isn’t. And maybe go away. And what is it about Reagan Republicanism that applies today and really worked back then?

Before you suggest I’m a troll, I loathe socialism and the Democratic Party equally and I press the Republican party line button in the voting booth. What I read more and more of is Republicans writing about people leaving a glass house and complaining by throwing cows of the historical past into the yards of those that want to protect Conservative morality and fiscal responsibility. You can’t show me that the Republicans in office today have any conservative or fiscally respectable values among them.

I live in Texas and I have to choose between the most despicable to the least despicable Republican and the so-called Tea Party candidates for governor. It is just an uncomfortable thing that in the truth table I subscribe to the incumbent is my best choice.

ericdijon on February 14, 2010 at 7:56 PM

The best argument for forming a party is precisely so it can prevent others from hijacking the name for the sake of counterproductive efforts, electoral and otherwise.

Forming a 3rd party wont accomplish that – it will then argue about which of its candidates are pure enough.

YehuditTX on February 14, 2010 at 8:29 PM

One thing I have heard at tea parties is the frustration of having to vote for the lesser of two evils. It is true that 3rd parties have not worked well in the past. It is also true that a (R) is sitting in Teh Lush’s Senate seat — a practically unthinkable outcome and driven by tea party assistance.

My dad has long been involved in local politics and also says the system cannot be changed. I say if not now, then when? When things get worse than they are now? Maybe the stakes are too high to try for a 3rd party at this time, but if the Pubs cannot be reformed then they must be replaced, and soon. Hoffman almost won in NY23 as a 3rd party candidate; he was stopped by exceptional Pub treachery. So blanket statements about ’3rd party bad’ just do not hold up. Each election seat race is a unique event with differing dynamics. Some will be well served by a 3rd candidate. If enough ‘Tea Party’ candidates begin to win, a national party will be born.

GnuBreed on February 14, 2010 at 8:55 PM

LOL …..like minded people …..not hardly. I have been to several Tea Parties and never have I seen such a mish mash of differing issues under one roof ( in a manner of speaking ) Everything from gun rights to lower taxes to illegal immigration to Constitutional issues of all sort, to the bail outs, to the stimulus, to states rights, to abortion but one thing they all have in common is the belief no one in Washington is listening or cares and just view us as coin dispensers. I listen to the liberal mouth pieces and laugh at how we are portrayed and think to myself the people I saw at those rallies are those who build and support a nation, the grease as it were of the cogs of society. And they are PISSED….no we are PISSED

Aggie95 on February 15, 2010 at 12:10 AM

The best argument for forming a party is precisely so it can prevent others from hijacking the name for the sake of counterproductive efforts, electoral and otherwise.

Forming a 3rd party wont accomplish that – it will then argue about which of its candidates are pure enough.

YehuditTX on February 14, 2010 at 8:29 PM

Merely the act of forming a 3rd party wouldn’t accomplish anything – but an organized group, whether or not it fielded candidates of its own, would be able to make a credible case that it represented the authentic voice of the Tea Party, not by “arguing,” but by delivering results – numbers at demonstrations, funds, votes, and so on.

In the meantime that someone can launch a candidacy under the Tea Party name may not amount to much, but it will to some extent distract and dilute the force of the movement while confusing potential supporters, just as having Tea Party purists of different types feuding with others, as around around the TPN, exposes the movement as unfocused and politically immature.

Eventually, those impressive public opinion poll numbers for the Tea Party will likely disappear if splinter groups, feuds, and embarrassing impostors spread (and are given ample publicity by the left and the mass media), as the major parties co-opt more Tea Party issues for their own purposes, and as mere anger either dissipates or seeks a more effective outlet.

If I were running those anti-Tea Party union groups, I’d think about continually finding ways to bring forward the nuttiest, ugliest, and stupidest Tea Partiers and making them the face of the movement.

CK MacLeod on February 15, 2010 at 1:00 AM

Ralph Nader and Pat Paulson never have pulled enough votes from either the Pubs or Dems to matter much in the outcome.

Nader did help Bush win in 2000.

jgapinoy on February 15, 2010 at 11:24 AM

While in most cases the Tea Party movement should not form a third party, unless the THREAT of doing so is real, the GOP will continue to push us left of center, taking its conservative base for granted and trying to be the big tent. We cannot allow that to happen again.

Christian Conservative on February 15, 2010 at 11:32 AM

Ralph Nader and Pat Paulson never have pulled enough votes from either the Pubs or Dems to matter much in the outcome.

Nader did help Bush win in 2000.

jgapinoy on February 15, 2010 at 11:24 AM

Didn’t Ross Perot effect the outcome of the ’96 elecction?

Yakko77 on February 15, 2010 at 11:35 AM

I thought capitalization was a grammatical question. I would probably walk away from the local tea party if it started putting up candidates.

Cindy Munford on February 15, 2010 at 11:43 AM

There is a way for the tea party to gain control without forming a third party. The primaries are not a two party system and fewer people vote in them than in the general election. It should be easier for a well organized group to dominate there. And, if tea partiers were to decide to run candidates in the primaries it would eliminate the issue of splitting the conservative vote in November. It may take more organization to take over via the primaries, but if the tea partiers really want it then that is the way to do it. The bonus is that once you have taken over the R or D Party then you have that organization at your fingertips.

Choose_Freedom on February 15, 2010 at 11:44 AM

Tea Party Party? Stoopid.

darii on February 15, 2010 at 11:52 AM

I thought capitalization was a grammatical question.
Cindy Munford on February 15, 2010 at 11:43 AM

Based on whether it’s a proper name, like that of a political party, no?

darii on February 15, 2010 at 11:54 AM

Although I like the general idea that the threat of a 3rd-party TParty candidacy will bring GOP candidates to heel, NV’s Sue Lowden is already a great conservative candidate who WILL unseat Reid if our local tea party just keeps doing what they’ve been doing. I’ve spoken with Sue Lowden at local tea parties and pressed her on a few issues that concern me – she’s the real deal and deserves Tea Party support.

That said, I think the tea party movement could be very effective by incorporating into 50 state-level PACs, channeling funds and influence into local level candidates who meet their criteria on a state-by-state basis. I’m sure a tea party PAC in CT would look different from the one in NV, but hey, that’s a positive 10th-amendment attribute.

Fishoutofwater on February 15, 2010 at 11:54 AM

However, the tea party movement should resist the temptation to run its own candidates and create three-way races. Unless the Tea Party movement wants to be known as the group that kept a lot of incumbent Democrats in power by splitting the conservative/independent vote, it needs to have a more strategic approach to choosing candidates and winning elections

The premise is the Tea Party ‘movement’ has a mind of its own, and falls victim to temptation

The tea party movement is a group of disenfranchised voters, enraged at, and distrustful of both parties.

If either party offers enough of what this group needs, they will gain the votes. It is not up to the tea party ‘movement’ to behave properly, it is up to the current political parties to act intelligently and offer a candidate palatable to the general needs of the movement

The tea party members are not typicial party hacks, of the sort who weasel their way into precinct captain so they can pose with big shots and get their palms greased on the way. Tea partiers, as a group, are desperate people, either business types breathing their last gasps, or non business types watching their old age investment being stolen, or their american dream being trashed by the greed of others

If the tea party splits the vote, it will be because the GOP or the Blue Dog DEM were unwilling to accommodate the new and vocal voting bloc demands

A vacuum will be filled

I can already see the battle lines coming up, as failed GOP positions, and hardened GOP arrogance disses tea party anger, squeezing this group out, and then blaming this group for spoiling the election. The first signs were the cowardly run from the ‘conventions’ by everyone but Palin, and it is Palin who gained their loyalty, even as a GOP candidate

If tea party ‘usurpers’ move into the arena it is up to the GOP, local and national, to win this group back, and they do this by acknowledging the grievances, and running hard to fill the need that has boiled up into national rage.

Rage is not a person. Rage does not spoil elections. Stupidity in the parties spoils elections for the parties. The rage is a gift if the parties are not too stupid to use it.

Right now, the old blackmail game is starting up like a gol danged fester – join my party, accept what I dish out, or it is your fault America goes down the tubes. That game failed in the last Presidential and cost McCain what was left of his reputation. Here is my advice to the party POLyps already working the system: if there are enough tea partiers to bring down your election, then you need them, and you get them by accomodating their grievances; otherwise, any electoral failure is your fault, not theirs

entagor on February 15, 2010 at 11:54 AM

I don’t know why everyone is so excited here. Does anyone really believe that a Tea Party candidate in Nevada is going to somehow save Harry Reid?

Just because a candidate “registers” as a Tea Party candidate doesn’t mean that he’s going to get the Tea Party vote. It doesn’t work that way.

This is a bunch of excitement over nothing. The only thing this is going to do is force the GOP NOT to take the TP for granted.

And if you ask me – that’s a GOOD thing.

Now on to another example …

The Tea Party is supporting a GOP guy named Joe Tegerdine in Mississippi 4th. We’re trying to kick Blue Dog Gene Taylor out of that office.

However – we’re also battling the NATIONAL RIFLE ASSOCIATION – who have contributed Gene Taylor’s campaign. In spite of the fact that Republican Joe Tegerdine has been a member of the NRA forever and is 100 percent on gun rights.

And the NRA aren’t the only folks we’re fighting – we’re fighting labor unions, and corporations that are backing Gene Taylor. Taylor has about ten times the funding of Tegerdine.

WHERE’S THE GOP TO SUPPORT THEIR CANDIDATES HERE?? WHY IS IT THE TEA PARTY THAT ARE THE ONLY ONES TRYING TO KICK GENE TAYLOR OUT OF OFFICE?

It’s a race that gets abandoned by the GOP – but the Tea Party is in there fighting to get the GOP guy elected.

WHY DON’T WE SEE STORIES ABOUT THIS?

Instead – all we get is “pap” pieces about how the Tea Party is hurting the GOP.

Get real.

HondaV65 on February 15, 2010 at 11:58 AM

If either party offers enough of what this group needs, they will gain the votes. It is not up to the tea party ‘movement’ to behave properly, it is up to the current political parties to act intelligently and offer a candidate palatable to the general needs of the movement.

entagor on February 15, 2010 at 11:54 AM

Hello Democrat representatives.

darii on February 15, 2010 at 12:04 PM

Hello Democrat representatives.

darii on February 15, 2010 at 12:04 PM

Why does everyone conclude that because a couple of Tea Party candidates nationwide decide to mount a third party race that they will be spoilers? Hell – I doubt anyone in the TP will vote for the Nevada TP candidate.

Why does everyone get crazy over the lazy musing of bloggers? All they do is pick off the juicy news pieces that they get from the MSM that they constantly deride.

There’s no real investigative journalism. For every story like the Nevada Tea Party candidate there are a hundred other stories where the Tea Party is the only entity giving a Republican a hope for a win in November. I’ve just cited one – Tegerdine vs Taylor in Mississippi.

If Tegerdine wins – it’ll be because of the Tea Party – it won’t be because of the GOP – who’ve written this race off as unwinnable. It won’t be won with the help of the NRA – they’re helping Taylor.

Why don’t we get stories LIKE THIS … instead of Lazy rehash pieces from AP?

HondaV65 on February 15, 2010 at 12:10 PM

If the GOP were smart, they would align with any Tea Party candidate.

If the GOP were smart.

Kini on February 15, 2010 at 12:25 PM

If the GOP were smart.

Kini on February 15, 2010 at 12:25 PM

That’s a big IF.

Mirimichi on February 15, 2010 at 12:52 PM

If the Republicans can’t be bothered to court the Tea Party voters then they deserve to lose- even if that means allowing the socialists get the seat….

Browncoatone on February 14, 2010 at 5:21 PM

That sounds like the anti-McCain movement of 2008 – how well did THAT turn out?! WHY ON EARTH would you actually advocate even 1 more socialist to gain power? It has been pointed out by several that there is a REAL Conservative running against Dingy Harry in NV – why do what we seem to do best – snatch defeat from the jaws of victory??

rhbandsp on February 15, 2010 at 1:20 PM

Ralph Nader and Pat Paulson never have pulled enough votes from either the Pubs or Dems to matter much in the outcome.

Nader did help Bush win in 2000.

jgapinoy on February 15, 2010 at 11:24 AM

Didn’t Ross Perot effect the outcome of the ‘96 elecction?

Yakko77 on February 15, 2010 at 11:35 AM

Ralphie got 2.7% of the popular vote; Gore got 48.38%, Bush 47.87%. It was the electoral vote that Bush won; so even with the popular vote it’s questionable whether Nader tipped any cows. He was registered in 43 states plus DC. There was another 1.1% of the vote split between 4 other parties. Same argument.

So I kinda doubt there has been any real impact on outcomes other than Perot in recent memory.

Robert17 on February 15, 2010 at 1:47 PM