Tag Archives: GOP

The Tea Party is Almost Dead

I urge members of the Tea Party to actually read this before posting angry responses

Is there anything quite as fickle as public opinion?  It’s an unwieldy monster that ebbs and flows with tenacity at the slightest provocation, dangerous not for its volatility, but rather for its ability to substantively change our national agenda. The founders knew this.  It’s why they purposefully designed our three branches of government to be almost intolerably deliberative, requiring that everything one branch produces be able to pass litmus tests conducted (very slowly) by the other two branches.

Tea Party Rally

Courtesy of Politico

This designed institutional inconvenience was one of the wiser concepts implemented by our Founding Fathers.  They knew the potential dangers in getting carried away by our collective emotions.  I’m in the business of public relations.  No one knows better than I how powerful a motivator public opinion can be.

You often hear people criticize President Obama for his mild manner.  Detractors either wish he’d be more assertive and confrontational or believe that his coolness is really just a manifestation of incompetence or indecisiveness.  I’m in neither of those camps.  On the contrary, I believe that Obama’s propensity to be contemplative and even keeled is actually a shrewd political tactic.  It’s a tactic designed to allow him to outlast a political movement that many predicted would see to his political demise.  Instead, it was the inability of this movement to remain composed and contemplative that will soon lead to its eventual death; the death of the Tea Party.

Tea was so last year. Time to start a coffee party

The TEA Party, which stands for the Taxed Enough Already Party, is the manifestation of people’s shared anger, confusion and the want for resolve.  It was a group founded in response to a single issue: The Great Recession.  It has since evolved into another entity entirely that no one can seem to define, including the group itself.  Quarrelsome factions exist within its upper ranks because the party was conceived in a rush to judgment, with all of its members wanting a solution to their shared problem,  but with nobody knowing exactly how to solve it.

Under the moniker of “Taxed Enough Already,” some within the group have attempted to incorporate divisive social agendas into the party’s platform.  This has alienated the previously Independent members by forcing them to align with issues that kept them out of the Republican Party in the first place.  There is still a strong contingent of people within the party who only care about reforming our national fiscal policies and balancing the budget.  The idea of championing sweeping social reforms that are premised on significant religious undertones does not resonate with these people.  As a result, this faction has gradually shied away from the Tea Party label, wishing they’d never renounced their independence from organized political parties.

We Are Tea'd

Courtesy of "Brian Dennert here"

Roughly one year ago, when things looked bleakest for the Democrats, I remember standing in the kitchen with my father discussing the impact this new Tea Party would have on our politics.  Its rise to prominence had turned our conventional understanding of the political spectrum completely on its axis, and no one knew what the end result would be.  One thing was for sure: Democrats were scared.

The times, they are a changin

Tea Partiers were calling for a political genocide, which admittedly, they accomplished by effectively voting out some of Washington’s most tenured congressmen.  They took the position that the institution of government had been perverted over time, leading a grassroots initiative that resolved to restore integrity to the system.

The differences in how we view the role of government aside, this was a noble, honest endeavor.  However, the Tea Party of a year ago is not the same Tea Party that we see today. It hit the same roadblock that every third party inevitably runs into in a system that can only support two legitimate parties, that roadblock being staying power.

The Tea Party gobbled up everyone who was willing to defect from their political loyalties early in its grass roots campaign.  The unfortunate thing about a grassroots movement is that it starts out as a movement, an interesting and exciting thing to join, but as time goes on, it becomes an institution.  Institutions are much less appealing.  So unappealing, in fact, that we’ve limited ourselves to only two of them: the Democratic institution and the Republican institution.

The Tea Party will soon realize that in order to have a lasting impact, it’s going to have to succumb to the same fate as every third party before it.  It will have to allow itself to be absorbed into the GOP, hoping that in the best of scenarios, it can move the needle that dictates the Republican Party’s agenda slightly towards the position it aligned itself with on the political spectrum.

Tea Party Protesters

Courtesy of The Washington Independent

Hint: The answer to the poll question is no

Third parties cannot succeed if they target our two biggest parties by contending that they should be considered of equal status. It’s like having a six year old who made his first bologna sandwich last week say to a world class chef  “your cooking ain’t so great. You could learn a thing or two from me.”

What role will the Tea Party play in our national history?  Honestly, not much of one.  It will move the GOP base further to the right once it’s been completely absorbed, the same way the Green Party moved the needle slightly left when it was consumed by the Democratic Party.  Sure, it’ll survive– in name, mostly.  But it will never again be a real player.  Three years from now, no one will be talking about the Tea Party.

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Filed under National Politics, Public Relations, Tea Party

This Tea Party Isn’t Very Fun

Why District 23 Might Spell Doom for the GOP

Last Tuesday, conservatives across the nation rejoiced as Republicans Bob McDonnell of Virginia and Chris Christie of New Jersey won their respective state’s gubernatorial elections.  Despite these significant victories for the GOP, it was a Democrat Cinderella who captured the media’s attention and dominated the headlines.

In a special election, Bill Owens became the first Democrat elected to New York’s 23rd congressional district House seat in 140 years.  Owens, a once significant underdog, garnered momentum after the conservative-right opted to back third party candidate Doug Hoffman over the Republican nominee Dede Scozzafava.  Among those who threw their support to Hoffman were Sarah Palin, Fred Thompson, Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh–all heavy hitters from the far-right.

What prompted these political heavyweights to pick a dog in this amateur bout?  The congressional election in New York’s 23rd was a microcosm of a larger war that could, if promulgated across the country, threaten the GOP’s prospects in next year’s mid-term elections.

Toto, I don’t think we’re in Boston anymore

Described as “the insurgent tea party candidate,” by New York Times columnist Frank Rich, Hoffman became the rallying point of despondent conservatives unhappy with the GOP’s recent centrist tone.  This group represents a rapidly growing minority within the Republican Party that intends to bring its agenda back to traditional conservatism.  The rift is growing as this group continues to appeal to more and more conservatives who love their God and hate big government.

Health Overhaul Capitol Rumble

Tea Party Demonstrators(AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

Conservatives have registered the Tea Party as an official third-party in Florida

Most pundits have argued that the gubernatorial losses spell trouble for the Democrats in the upcoming 2010 elections, suggesting the public now favors conservative candidates.  While it may be true that more people are becoming frustrated within the Democratic ranks, even more are aggravated within the Republican Party.

McDonnell and Christie both won elections in states that voted for Obama in 2008.  While Virginia has a long history of voting against the party in power in the White House, McDonnell and Christie both won because they forsook conservative ideological stances and adopted fiscally conservative platforms.  They knew that conservative social stances against abortion, gay rights, and affirmative action are still largely unpopular with most of the electorate.

Palin, Beck and the other prominent tea partiers don’t seem to understand this concept, and threaten to drive us into a three party system.  This could set up 2010 and 2012 elections that eerily resemble this year’s New York contest.  Republicans may find themselves struggling to choose between the moderate majority or the trendy extremists, splitting the votes and leaving the Democrats with a sizable advantage.

GR_PR_091106_Huckabee

Palin, Romney and Huckabee

Bad news gets worse for the Republicans.  GOP pollster Bill McInturff has identified the three leading candidates for the 2012 presidential race: Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee, and Mitt Romney, all of whom have strong conservative social agendas.  The GOP has a great opportunity to take advantage of the economic crisis and advocate for conservative fiscal reforms.  These ideas are popular right now, and the public could well support a conservative economic agenda.  However, this is not the time to preach for social reform as the “tea party” does.

Christian Science monitor breaks down every U.S county into one of 12 distinctions.  Needless to say, it’s tough to key in on any specific group

Drinking and politics: Enjoy both in moderation

Conservatives need to realize that their social reform agenda is outdated and unpopular.  McDonnell and Christie understood this concept, and as a result, won the governorships of their states.  The Republican Party was most powerful when it unified in its fight against the Democrats (as I indicated in my first blog post), endorsing a unified message.  This is consistent with one of public relations most fundamental rules: always have a consistent message. Infighting threatens to tear the GOP apart, and as long as the Democrats can figure out a way to band together, they could be sitting pretty in 2010.

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Facebook Friend the GOP (Expect Request Confirmation in 6-8 Weeks)

Republicans dip their toes into social media, and still manage to drown

I’ve learned my first lesson as a blogger: a two-week hiatus is too long.  I’ve finally surfaced, having been bogged down by projects, PR campaigns and committee work.  Now, I’m playing catch up, reviewing the stories and controversies that came and went without my commentary.  I’ll have to let most of them slide, but there is one story that surfaced about two weeks ago that I’ve been chomping at the bit to tackle.

GOP 2.0 (still loading…)

Earlier this month, the GOP launched its redesigned Web site.  After seeing the role social media played in the Democrats success this past election, Republicans realized their campaign/communication strategies weren’t only outdated…they were artifacts.  With a focus on incorporating social media into their design, the Republicans took to the drawing board.

The GOP's redesigned Web page

So how did the launch go?  Just ask the Boston Globe, Christian Science Monitor and the Washington Post.  To use a term popularized by my social media brethren, the Web site was an “epic fail.”  Below is a list of the more egregious slip-ups:

  • The “Future Leaders” page was initially left blank.  In an effort to remedy the error, the site designers replaced the void with the word “You.”
  • Jackie Robinson is listed as a prominent Republican.  Too bad Robinson described himself as an Independent in his autobiography after he left the Republican Party when it failed to incorporate civil rights issues in its social agenda.

    Jackie Robinson

  • Chairman Michael Steele’s Gmail account login and password were accidentally posted on the New York State section of the site.  Administrative passwords and instructions for GOP.com were also posted on the page.
  • An achievement from 2004 is the most recent triumph the GOP lists on its achievements page (Bush was reelected in 2004 – this might have been intentional).
  • A Hispanic woman asked why the GOP did not offer a Spanish-translated page in the conference call section.  The respondent suggested she visit the White House Web site, informing her that they have translations there.
  • Michael Steele’s personal blog was initially called “What Up?”  Steele’s first post started with “The internet has been around for a while, now.”  Way to arrive late to the gravy train.  The blog has since been renamed to “Change the Game.”

 

Michael Steele on Meet the Press

Just how deep is that hole, Michael?

Excusing Steele’s apparent racial identity issues, the Web site’s problems transcend technical glitches.  The GOP has been two steps behind for a while now, and trying to catch up isn’t easy. The page actually crashed the day of its launch because of the influx of traffic from people visiting to make fun of the site.

I applaud the GOP for making the effort to become web-savvy, but find myself troubled that they were ever so far out of touch.  Steele’s acknowledgment that “the internet has been around for a while now” speaks volumes.  The party has been beleaguered by criticisms of being too set in its ways.  It has been accused of being the party of old white men.  While these claims are unfair, and for the most part untrue, more has to be done to break the stereotypes than giving us a malfunctioning Web site.  Championing Michael Steele, Bobby Jindal and Sarah Palin in an effort to diversify doesn’t help much either.

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Filed under National Politics