Disruptive Politics

For the latest I've written on the UK elections, its posted over on Alternet. I came across one of the more interesting articles I've read about the Tea Party, by Medea Benjamin, Many in the Tea Party Crowd Have Little Appetite for War and Empire. Through Code Pink, she interviewed about 50 Tea Partiers at a recent gathering, and shared the findings.

There's a part of the Democratic partisans that are obsessed with creating the meme that all Tea Partiers are racist ignorant idiots. Its about as shallow thinking as displayed by the partisan tools propping up the Bush era, that clubbed together all of the netroots as unpatriotic anti-american elites. Both represent a sort of knee-jerk viewpoint of partisanship as the equivalent to ideology.

Its a poor strategic move by Democratic activists to focus on the Tea Party with negative branding. At the end of the day, there will be a few places where the Tea Party makes a difference, and that will be in places like Kentucky and Utah, deep within the Republican primary. Come post-Labour Day, they'll fold back into the Republican Party for the most part, and all the idiotic things such as infiltration of the Tea Party will have been wasted on something that isn't there at the end of the day.

The Tea Party is a fleeting phenomenon. Its attracting all sorts of people that are glued together by mobilization of mass media tactics and voices against the status quo of power. The energy is coming from the conservatives now, similar in development with how the netroots was coming out of a more progressive voice in the '00's.

The common the desire for a bit of disruption in their politics. I'd like to think that Medea correct, in laying out how "How libertarians and social progressives can make common cause against expansive -- and expensive -- empire.' But as she points out, its been smoothed over as a difference in the Tea Party following; and within the Democratic Party, Obama has bought the military empire a few more years of occupation time with his bait, switches, and broken promises.

The parallel I'm drawing from the sort of disruptive politics that are happening right now in the UK, is that very likely, we'll see it back here again in Presidential politics, sooner than you think too.

Tags: 2010, 2012 (all tags)



I completely

agree that these attempts to make the Tea Party into some sort of terrorist group iare more than self-destructive.  At the end of the day the vast majority are very misguided, very conservative people. 

We have nothing in common with them and the notion that there is some coalition to be formed with them is beyond silly, though.

by fladem 2010-04-21 09:53AM | 1 recs
RE: I completely

We do share some basic views of empire with Ron Paul, that's not something to be dismissed. Jerome's right. But I don't think that's enough to fire up a movement when so many other issues dominate headlines... we need more agreement, and shared values...

by Nathan Empsall 2010-04-21 10:04AM | 0 recs
RE: I completely

It depends how the question is asked, other than the neo-cons few Americans are actually in favor of "war and empire". But the rub is, where were these guys when Bush was invading Iraq? They sat at home, cheered him on and bashed liberals as "not supporting the troops". And the continue to support both him and the neo-cons.

The Tea-parties are an extension of the GOP, that much is evident from the fact that Dick Amery is their principal organizer.

by vecky 2010-04-21 11:57AM | 0 recs
RE: I completely

"The Tea-parties are an extension of the GOP, that much is evident from the fact that Dick Amery is their principal organizer." 

I think that was much more true during the August recess than it is now. I do believe that Armey succeeded in creating what has morphed into a new media grassroots movement. The grass grew because a professional farmer planted seeds, but grass is grass once it sprouts.

by Nathan Empsall 2010-04-21 12:00PM | 0 recs
RE: I completely

It's still GOP Grass. These are the Republican grass-roots. They'll die once the GOP is in power, until then they'll be harvested by them, not us.

You know when a couple of prominent Republican Governors went around glorifying the confederacy and secession, where were the Tea-Party protests? How come we have no problems labeling the GOP the party that appeals to ignorant america hating racists, but can't say the same about the tea-partiers, who follow the same exact ideology?

by vecky 2010-04-21 12:11PM | 0 recs
RE: I completely

I'll say it and I've said it. There are many respectable folks in the GOP and even a few in the tea party movement (which is not an organized party), but I've made many posts highlighting their hateful rhetoric and signs. That rhetoric is not universal to all tea partiers, but it is a present element and a dangerous one.

Small government is not anti-American or racist. I don't like that ideology, but it's hardly a xenophobic one. It is, however, the ideology held by many xenophobes. A respectable person can want to be "left alone," but a "militaman" or racist almost guaranteed will. And I think the left has said that a lot. Not sure what left you with the impression that the left denies the hatred of the tea parties?

by Nathan Empsall 2010-04-21 12:54PM | 0 recs
RE: I completely

Yes, every fringe group has a few "respectable/not quite as bad by comparison" members. 

But your not going to find either agreement or shared values from the Tea-parties.

Many refused to even talk to us, calling us communists, leftists and idiots. One woman spat at me and shouted, "Don't you know that Muslims are trying to take over the world? If it weren't for our military fighting in Afghanistan you wouldn't be standing here asking those stupid questions." Another woman got so hysterical about the question on aid to Israel that she tore up the survey. A few Vietnam vets followed us around screaming "Code Stink, Code Stink"--their breath reeking of booze. They got so aggressive that we had to call the police.

Here's a thought. If the tea-partiers really cared about ending the war & empire they would have sought out code-pink. Maybe even invited a few from the anti-war movement to speak at their rallies. But they didn't.

by vecky 2010-04-21 01:08PM | 0 recs
RE: I completely

What a fabricated black and white reality you've created for yourself. You see 80-90, and don't realize that the 10% is what wins elections one way or the other.

In '06 and '08, the ones wanting out of Iraq were backing the Dems; are you aware of the amount of Indy's that showed up for Obama in Iowa in the '08 primary?

by Jerome Armstrong 2010-04-21 12:16PM | 0 recs
RE: I completely

What, you now think the tea-party is the anti-war movement? I must have missed that, I'll have to review their protest signs and zone out their cheering of liz cheney.

Ron Paul for House Speaker!


by vecky 2010-04-21 12:24PM | 1 recs
RE: I completely

Please, stop wasting our time.

by Jerome Armstrong 2010-04-21 12:35PM | 0 recs
RE: I completely

Going to the tea-party rally to find support for democratic causes sounds like a waste of time to me.

by vecky 2010-04-21 01:03PM | 0 recs
You think those people are the tea party now?

Jeez, with every diary, you push further the boundaries of crazy. 

by ND22 2010-04-21 02:24PM | 0 recs
RE: I completely

Vecky is simply missing your point; that there is a theoretical common ground between libertarians and progressives on the specific topic of American militarism.

Claiming she is "wasting your time" downthread simply because she does not get your assertion seems, with all due respect, rather rude, especially since the point you are (and have been) trying to make is rather specious.

Despite overlap on this one issue, I feel you are putting on your code pink blinders. Democrats and libertarians have very little else in common, making for a very shaky alliance.

In '06 and '08, the ones wanting out of Iraq were backing the Dems; are you aware of the amount of Indy's that showed up for Obama in Iowa in the '08 primary?

I feel your tunnerl vision causes you to conflate Afghanistan and Iraq in your quote, above, as well as Independents and opposition to the war.

As you know, many, including democrats such as myself, fervently protested the Iraq War and simultaneously supported the Afghanistan war under Bush. Moreover, I have seen no polling numbers on Independents who voted for Obama and how they now feel about the War in Afghanistan. So Afghanistan is not Iraq, and we have no data on those Independents.

Polling on Afghanistan in March was spilt even, while Presidential support is fairly positive. And the alternative to Afghanistan remains shear political suicide regardless.

by NoFortunateSon 2010-04-21 06:01PM | 2 recs
RE: I completely

Actually I got his point and I also read the article, which made it pretty clear that the tea-partiers have no interest in aligning with the anti-war movement over anything. And if the tea-partiers want to break away join the anti-war movement, they can do so. It's not like we don't have an open invitation.

by vecky 2010-04-21 06:48PM | 0 recs

We're talking about the "keep your gubmint out of my medicare" crowd.  Other than hatred of Barack Obama, "progressives" have nothing in common with them.

by johnsonlong 2010-04-21 10:34AM | 2 recs
RE: I completely

Well, I think there are about 10-15% of them whom are open to voting for a Democrat. And even there, its probably not one kind of Democrat, but over a number of issues (getting the military out of the ME, less corporateDems, handling the deficit.. )... we can't win a majority by the sort of alienating tactics on display.

by Jerome Armstrong 2010-04-21 11:04AM | 0 recs
RE: I completely

What about their alienating tactics? Why should we be the ones to bend over and take it all the time?

by vecky 2010-04-21 11:59AM | 0 recs
Oh for crying out loud

These people will NOT vote Democratic if we pull out of the middle east for adopt some socialist system, I mean what world are you living in? These are the same people marching around screaming about big government and not nuking the middle east.

Stop using the tea party as a cover for your own problems with the current administration. Just because you can't find any movement that supports your position doesn't mean you have to try to tie to the tea party to give yourself some relevance. Jeez. 

by ND22 2010-04-21 02:21PM | 2 recs
RE: Disruptive Politics

I'm not so sure the tea parties will just fold away. They're not so much a subset of the GOP as they are the same group we see in the UK - folks sick of both parties. Only they're coming from the right, not the Lib Dem left. Many times when various friends and acquantainces attack Obama and I bring up a Palin or Steele, they'll shriek "Who said I'm a Republican????" I think the appeal of Ron Paul speaks to this.

But since they're coming from the right and not the left, if they do have any affect at all, it will indeed be on GOP turnout and primaries (which do matter, especially the latter), but not in a sweeping, decisivie Democrat vs. Republican way.

As far as a new, disruptive third party goes, where would it come from? The Lib Dems are a long-existing, established party with a number of MPs. There's no equivalent here. We've got the Greens and the Libertarians, but they have no national toehold.

If the GOP nominates RomneyCare, I could see a Paul or even a Roy Moore starting a third party movement. On the left, we'll be more or less out of Iraq and starting to wind down in Afghanistan, so I have a hard time seeing enough outrage for a new, sustainable movement. The center has the numbers, but not the energy or the cohesion. Yes, there's united anger against empire, but that's just one issue; can you form a party and an electoral group around one issue for more than one cycle?

I agree that Americans are hungry for disruptive change and the tea party, among other things, speaks to that, but - and maybe I'm just being a negative Nancy status quoer here, I grant that - I just don't see where/how that movement could get its start. But then again, I guess it only took one cycle for the Republicans to get settled in 1860.

by Nathan Empsall 2010-04-21 10:03AM | 0 recs
RE: Disruptive Politics

Agreed, I don't mean the people are going away, just the loose organization of them as a Tea Party. Most likely, we are going to have some sort of Independent candidate in '12 or '16 that sucks up the energy of the need for disruptive change. Its too far away to speculate on the why or how, but its likley to happen.

by Jerome Armstrong 2010-04-21 11:08AM | 0 recs
Jerome, the last primary was 22 months ago...

Ya gotta let it go, man.

by Thaddeus 2010-04-21 11:07AM | 2 recs
RE: Jerome, the last primary was 22 months ago...

I get a laugh out of you. There are primaries every couple of months for those of us that actually do work....

by Jerome Armstrong 2010-04-21 12:13PM | 1 recs
The lesser known presidencies and party affiliations

We always remember George Washington, etc. but we sometimes fail to remember that the first 10 presidents showed the developmental arc of a party system.


Clearly, Obama is showing the development of the Democratic party - as a party of smart government.


The Tea Party is rapidly becoming the necessary, and counterbalancing force of conservatism - and libertarianism. Libertarians are very , very good for government. Like any system, it has a tendency to become out of control. Clearly, the Republicans are not standing up for conservative principles anymore - the last fully republican house, senate, white house, and supreme court - ended up spending more money than any administration , ever preceding.


The GOP was only alive because the neo cons brought it back to life after Nixon - and then the Theocons put it on emergency life support under the Bush Republicans, but the Bush Republicans completely killed the party with wars of convenience, unbridled spending, and evangelism.

Government is no place for a liberal evangelist. The libertarians in the Tea Party are doing a really good thing: stop and think for a minute if you really want government in every aspect of your life, non transparent, invasive - 


It may very well be that the Tea Party will become the next great political party for the United States.


The Danger now, is that in that interim - the Democratic party will become the most powerful party in the US - and the lobbyists know it - and so they will pour money into the Democratic party to corrupt it during the intervening years. If the Tea party , however, really starts to grow exponentially - paradoxically the lobbyists will also try to shut it down. They want a weak GOP so that they can fund the other side of the aisle and put up token resistance to the initiatives they're trying to pass.


My money says, if you look and see who's getting paid off these days ... its going to be the democratics.


The silence around Alan Grayson's bill. Is deafening.


by Trey Rentz 2010-04-21 11:40AM | 0 recs
RE: The lesser known presidencies and party affiliations

PS Its not disruptive change. If you look at the story told by the list of the first ten presidents, and their political philosophies (While the two party system was trying to reach its current form) you will find that the changes that were posted there were good. Balancing federal power against states rights, etc... all good for the country. Clearly the Tea party people are wanting to make government smaller.  With the huge money sent into wall street. how can we argue against them? They are going to be right on some issues. Wrong on others. But definitely a viable party alternative - don't forget H. Ross Perot took almost 16 percent of the popular vote, running as an independent. It can happen.



by Trey Rentz 2010-04-21 11:42AM | 0 recs
RE: The lesser known presidencies and party affiliations

"Clearly the Tea party people are wanting to make government smaller."

Ummmm, no. What do they want to cut - Medicare? Social Secuirty? Defense?

Nah, the only thing they want to cut are taxes. For the rich.

by vecky 2010-04-21 12:03PM | 0 recs
RE: The lesser known presidencies and party affiliations

Actually, yeah, many do want to cut Social Security.

by Nathan Empsall 2010-04-21 12:57PM | 0 recs
RE: The lesser known presidencies and party affiliations

Well, didn't make it into their policy plank.


by vecky 2010-04-21 01:18PM | 0 recs
RE: The lesser known presidencies and party affiliations

Their policy plank? The tea parties don't HAVE a policy plank. They're a disorganized movement scattered around the country, and anyone claiming to speak as the unified leader or as a central policy committee or convention can't be trusted.

by Nathan Empsall 2010-04-21 01:20PM | 0 recs
RE: The lesser known presidencies and party affiliations


A disorganized movement with no policy goals is not something I'd waste much time on. But that's not what the tea-party is, they do obviously have some level of organization.




by vecky 2010-04-21 01:38PM | 0 recs
RE: The lesser known presidencies and party affiliations

Echoing Nathan's comment a bit, I guess you could call the contract a "platform" or "plank" but of the people I've talked who identify themselves with the tea party, they haven't actually even heard of this so called contract.  Maybe that's just the people I've had brief conversations with, maybe not.

by Chuckie Corra 2010-04-21 04:11PM | 0 recs
RE: The lesser known presidencies and party affiliations

But that's neither here nor there. I'll bet 90% of democrats haven't actual read or heard about the Democratic policy plank beyond the generics. So I wouldn't expect the oppo to be any different.

The point is the tea-party is not some group of widely divergent ideologies coming together by chance or circumstance, rather it's a strong representation of the conservative base of the GOP. I'm all for reaching out and finding common ground, but the tea-partiers aren't interested in such.

by vecky 2010-04-21 04:24PM | 0 recs
RE: The lesser known presidencies and party affiliations

I like how the tea party movement was described on NPR.


a "state of mind rather than an organized rallying around a person or platform"

by Chuckie Corra 2010-04-21 11:10PM | 0 recs
RE: The lesser known presidencies and party affiliations

Nothing is wrong with disruption-- Jefferson saw it as quite a good force needed in Democracy. Agreed though, that the problem is the Wall St money, and Dems relying upon it will be our downfall.

by Jerome Armstrong 2010-04-21 12:19PM | 0 recs
Disruptive politics

It's a shame there isn't more of it on the left.  We don't have any of the strength of movement that existed during the 1930s and the different response from Government shows.

The main thing, it seems to me, driving the tea partiers other than GOP money is fear and anger, which can be a pretty toxic brew.  But, lets face it, most people in this country have a lot of reason to be scared and angry.  The tea party folks aim it in the wrong direction because, to a large extent, that's where the propaganda machine that passes for journalism tells them to aim it.  

And it's not entirely the GOP or FOX news.  The Democrats unfortunately are dominated by neoliberals who care more about Wall Street profits than jobs (just look at Obama's first year economic policies for proof of that).  Take the President's Deficit Commission - you can bet "entitlements" will be part of the problem the Commission focuses on, if not the only focus.  And the effort to make sure that's what the Commission finds is already under way by the elite in the form of the Pete Peterson "deficit summit" the day after the President's Deficit Commission meets.  

Trying to practice a little disruptive politics - in this case disrupting the elite's media narrative terrifying the populace about deficits and "entitlements" - there's going to be a Fiscal Sustainability Teach-In and Counter-Conference at The George Washington University the same day as Peterson's summit.  It's a small step, but we need to start building a counter-narrative and intellectual framework that will explain to all the angry, scared people exactly what has happened in this country under the neoliberal/classical economic theory and why we need to replace that theory with something focuses on a public purpose and jobs, not profit growth for large corporations.  Fighting over how much Social Security should be cut is a losing battle.  We should be seeking to replace the economics that has failed 98% of Americans, of both parties, for the past 40 years with an economics that will benefit all Americans.  

by BDB 2010-04-24 09:10AM | 0 recs
RE: Disruptive politics

Great points & agree with it all; and the post, gonna frontpage that, thanks.

by Jerome Armstrong 2010-04-24 12:46PM | 0 recs
RE: Disruptive politics

(just look at Obama's first year economic policies for proof of that)

You mean the ARRA?

I found this a pretty accurate description of the Tea parties:

The Tea Party movement creates the conditions in which the activist base of the GOP can feel like it is part of the game again. They can forget Bush-era betrayals, swallow their doubts, and vote Republican this November. The next Reagan is coming, the next Contract With America will work, the next Republican nominee will be one of us. All it takes is for someone to appreciate the anger—and it doesn’t matter that she supported the bailouts that enraged them or the candidate who forsook their ideas and support.
Former GOP staffer Scott Gallupo comments, "I don’t deny the Tea Partyers’ sincerity. But anyone who doesn’t see the reality of the Dougherty scenario is simply being painfully naive.


by vecky 2010-04-24 06:46PM | 0 recs


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