The Pie Party
posted at 9:55 am on November 8, 2010 by Karl
No, it’s not some lame, lefty response like the Coffee Party, but it could be the next step for the Tea Party. Allahpundit is busy aggregating the news each day, so he gets to drop gems like this only in passing:
The more I watch tea party honchos rant against government spending and big government, the more frustrated I am that, for all their ardor, only very rarely do they squarely address the problem of entitlements and what aging Baby Boomers will mean for it. Even the tea party’s “Contract from America” doesn’t touch the third rail: It dances around it, demanding a balanced budget and tax reform, calling for a statutory cap on spending, and proposing a task force on fiscal responsibility, but never are any of the old entitlements specifically targeted. (By contrast, the Contract explicitly calls for repealing ObamaCare and rejecting cap-and-trade.) The greatest thing the tea party could do for fiscal responsibility is to simply start talking about this; doing so won’t land entitlement reform on the national agenda immediately, but putting the idea in people’s heads will at least prepare the ground for it. And the ground does need to be prepared, urgently…
In fairness, given how quickly Democrats were moving in the opposite direction, it made complete sense for the Tea Party to focus on applying the brakes with the election of a GOP majority in the House. But as anyone who has studied the Democrats’ infrastructure — i.e., the labor movement — will tell you, it’s not enough to agitate and organize; you also must educate. That project can help keep wind in the sails of those just elected and further broaden the Tea Party’s appeal for 2012.
A good starting point might be to study the case of H. Ross Perot, who managed to put the deficit and debt at the top of the national agenda a generation ago (before revealing himself to be — to put it kindly — a mite eccentric. There’s a lesson there about candidate selection, but I’ll let others hash that one out for now). What Perot had going for him was: (1) good visuals, in the form of simple pie charts and bar graphs, explaining the scope of the problem; (2) the ability to turn a phrase; (3) a national platform (being a favored guest of Tim Russert’s Meet The Press and others); and (4) money to burn.
The Tea Party, unlike Perot’s Reform Party, is the opposite of a top-down organization. However, unlike the America of 1992, the Tea Party has the Internet as a low-cost national media platform, as well as low-cost software for producing potentially compelling content. The same decentralized network that generated ideas and action for organizing can be used to generate that content. I would suggest a video or videos outlining the scope of our public debt problem — larger than all the money in the world — that would be a cross between those Perot-esque pie charts and political campaign ads. Perhaps a group like FreedomWorks could be induced to sponsor something like an X Prize for such a project.
Of course, in the spirit of the Tea Party, I acknowledge that the marketplace of ideas might come up with a better proposal. However, after a wave of Tea, a healthy helping of Pie might be the next best course.