Whatever Its Faults, the Tea Party Identified the Right Target

A look back on its development over the last five years.

It's been five years since Rick Santelli's CNBC "rant that shook the world" helped give rise to the Tea Party movement.

The first wave of anti-big-government protests began in the cities, and they were "about as libertarian as it gets," as political number-cruncher Nate Silver put it at the time: light on moralism, heavy on "fiscal responsibility, limited government, and free markets," per the "Tea Party Patriots" founding credo.

At the massive Sept. 12, 2009, Tea Party rally in Washington, Ron Paul's kids mixed with graying Gen X'ers and Baby Boomers; I snapped pictures of "What Would Mises Do?" signs and an erudite codger with a placard blaring: "Austrian Business Cycle Theory!" Could it be—some of us dared hope—that we were witnessing the birth of that unlikeliest of creatures: a libertarian mass-movement?

Half a decade later, that looks like a classic case of "irrational exuberance." No doubt there's a lot to be said for a movement that drives genial establishmentarians like Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, to paroxysms of rage: "These people are not conservatives!" Hatch howled on NPR in 2012, "they're radical libertarians and I'm doggone offended by it. I despise these people!" (Doggone!)

Still, I can relate to the fellow at Thursday's Capitol Hill Tea Party Patriots anniversary event, a former Ron Paul volunteer who volunteered to the Washington Post that he was "so frustrated talking to these neocons," he needed a pre-noon shot of Jameson.

Early on, Beltway hawks were terrified that the movement would exercise "the scariest kind of influence" on American foreign policy, shrinking defense budgets and ending America's globocop role. Yet "Tea Party Republicans hold about the same views as non-Tea Party Republicans about America's role in solving world problems," according to the Pew Research Center. And when polls show that "tea party supporters, by a nearly 2-to-1 margin, declared significant cuts to Social Security 'unacceptable,'" we're not talking about a particularly "radical" form of libertarianism.

More frustrating still, as Conor Friedersdorf has pointed out, too often, Tea Partiers have been suckers for "some of the most obviously irresponsible charlatans in American life." If you're a GOP pol who lacks the chops to become president of the U.S., Michael Brendan Dougherty observes, you may have "enough talent to become President of Conservatism." The responsibilities are minimal and the speaking fees are sweet.

Alas, these are the sorts of talents Tea Partiers swooned for in the 2012 primaries: Herman Cain, Donald Trump, Newt Gingrich—even Rick Santorum, a self-proclaimed enemy of libertarianism who was the opposite of everything the Tea Party was supposed to stand for.

Herman Cain, who's gone from the "9-9-9 plan" to promoting erectile dysfunction supplements, didn't have what it takes to become "President of Conservatism." But that title may go to new Tea Party fave Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas. Cruz has some Iowa trips planned, but his debate-camp-honed charisma had the Weekly Standard's Andy Ferguson wondering, during a car ride with Cruz, how many vertebrae he'd crack if he jumped out of the car and did "a tuck-and-roll onto the passing pavement."

The Tea Partiers' poor choice of banner carriers helps explain why their brand has suffered, and libertarian identification with the movement has waned over time. According to a recent poll by the Public Religion Research Institute, "a majority of libertarians (61 percent) say they do not consider themselves a part of the Tea Party movement."

Still whatever errors they've made along the way, the Tea Partiers identified the right target: our profligate political class. That class will continue to reign, unless and until they're confronted with a citizen movement that marries passion with sound judgment.

This column originally appeared in the Washington Examiner.

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  • The Late P Brooks||

    It's fake scandals, all the way down.

  • MartyKZ||

    Wrong, it's turtles.

  • Dave Kozlowski||

    No leadership. The tea party didn't adopt Cain, Trump, or Gingrich. It's the politicians who are the ones aligning themselves with the Tea Party for political expediency. And while the lack of leadership is part of the movement, it's also part of the problem. There's no "platform" so anybody with any belief--pro freedom or crazy religious right--can adopt the moniker.

  • anon||

    The tea party didn't adopt Cain, Trump, or Gingrich

    Lol'd at the latter two. Cain only failed because of a drive-by hitjob on his character.

  • Cletus Starfish||

    Well, that and the fact that he could barely form a coherent sentence about the U.S. intervention in Libya. I honestly think his general cluelessness had almost as much to do with his fall from popularity as did his personal scandals.

  • MartyKZ||

    It's because these stinkin' elitists look for a keen intellect in their leaders. They unfairly attacked the lame-brained Cain. There oughta be a law.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    And that has proven part of the problem. No, the Tea Party didn't adopt Cain, Trump or Gingrich (and CERTAINLY not Santorum, who announced suspicion of the Tea Parties when they were happening...until he declared himself the "Tea Party candidate"). But, inasmuch as there was no leadership, there was no one to call bullshit when these guys declared themselves Tea Party guys. Moreover, there was never anyone pushing Tea Partiers to consider the logical conclusions of their premises. Part of this is the fault of libertarians. Too many were all-too-ready to write the Tea Parties off as icky squares when there was a chance of actually influencing the movement.

  • Stormy Dragon||

    Except large numbers of self-declared Tea Party voters clearly were casting primary votes for Gingrich and Santorum. But instead of addressing that, we're going to play another round of the "No one is in the Tea Party" game.

  • John||

    Except large numbers of self-declared Tea Party voters clearly were casting primary votes for Gingrich and Santorum.

    That is an outright lie, especially with regard to Santorum. Santorum never got shit from the tea party.

  • robc||

    I would even say that anyone who voted for Santorum was, by definition, not a tea partier.

    Heck, anyone who voted for someone other than Ran Paul wasnt, as the tea party movement started as one of his fund raisers.

  • Nyarlarrythotep||

    A movement is defined by the people who identify with it, not by the subject matter it relates to at some point in time. So your definition lost, alas. You might have been right had you said this back when, but now, you're wrong.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    Look at the early results, John. TPs clearly voted for the likes of Santorum.

  • Cytotoxic||

    I think it is you that is playing 'everyone I want to call a TPer is one'.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    You mean the GOP mainstream was able to co-opt Tea Party voters by playing populist? I'm shocked, SHOCKED, I tell you. It's not like libertarians would have had a chance to act to prevent such thing, is it?

  • Loki||

    Except large numbers of self-declared Tea Party voters clearly were casting primary votes for Gingrich and Santorum.

    Define "Tea Party voter".

  • Mongo||

    The two t-bagz I know are way into Santorum.

  • John||

    But I bet they are because of he was the only populist in the field. Rand Paul will get a majority of the Tea Party vote in 2016 and people like you and Dragon will still be talking about Santorum.

    Look, some really uncool people that are part of a culture you despise and feel beneath you are starting to come over to your side. Get over it.

  • Mongo||

    One of them is my Moms.

  • Cytotoxic||

    Fair points but Cruz will probably beat Rand for the TP vote, and that is a black mark on the TP. Cruz is a step up but Rand is head and shoulders superior.

  • John||

    I am not so sure. I think it will be close. Cruz will get no more than 60% and Paul will get the rest.

    The other thing to remember is Paul is doing a tremendous job setting up a campaign. He is way ahead of the field in terms of organization and money. That is going to mean a lot. If Paul looks like the best horse, people will jump ship from Cruz and support Paul. I guarantee you Paul is the second choice amongst pretty much all of the Cruz voters.

  • Kevin47||

    I have a lot of Tea Party friends, and not one of them argued with my early endorsement of Rand Paul for president.

  • MartyKZ||

    Because they are anti-science, anti-reason, apocalyptic Christians.

  • sarcasmic||

    People who distrust power are having a difficult time finding strong leaders? Golly gee willikers!

  • Homple||

    A bit like the Libertarian political problem: it's difficult to organize people who want most of all to mind their own business.

  • sarcasmic||

    Yep.

  • anon||

    Meh, eventually those that meddle will go a step too far, provoking those that want to be left the fuck alone to take action. At least, that's what I keep telling myself to keep myself sane.

    Not sure if it's working though.

  • sarcasmic||

    The state police in Connecticut are confiscating rifles from people who failed to register them. If that doesn't provoke action, nothing will.

  • anon||

    The state police in Connecticut are confiscating rifles from people who failed to register them.

    Honest question: How, exactly, does that work? Are they just knocking on doors and asking "hey you got a rifle you didn't register? Awesome, hand it over. K thx bye."

  • PaulW||

    Some people tried to register but were "too late" according to the State. So now the State has knowledge of these late appliers and is confiscating their weapons.

  • anon||

    Wait, because they fucking applied late?!

    Holy shit, if someone doesn't shoot a cop over that, then we are doomed.

  • PaulW||

    I shit you not. True story.

  • sarcasmic||

    They go to gun shots and get records of who purchased what, then they go to those houses and ask all friendly-like if they can have a look around. If that doesn't work they get a warrant and bust down the door.

    Then the person is charged with a felony, and forever banned from voting or legally possessing firearms.

  • sarcasmic||

    *gun shops*

  • WTF||

    But if the state already has records of who purchased these guns, aren't they already registered?

  • sarcasmic||

    But if the state already has records of who purchased these guns, aren't they already registered?

    The state doesn't actually have those records. Gun shops do. The state can go and get those records from the gun shops, but all that gives them is who purchased the gun originally. That person could have sold it or given it away or lost it or buried it in the backyard or whatever.

    What the state wants is for the owners of these things to register whenever they move or the weapons changes hands.

    They want to know where the thing is at all times.

    For the children.

  • luvcats13||

    That sounds like a huge bunch of bull crap. Provide a link to a news article or STFU.

  • John C. Randolph||

    Seems to me that is a "taking" under the fifth amendment definition.

    -jcr

  • WTF||

    The courts have ruled it's not. Because FYTW.

  • BrooklynChick||

    People have a tendency to take a whole LOT of shit before they act. You can stomp on their faces and there'd still only be a 50% chance they'd do anything.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    Except that when they do make an attempt at organizing people, they pull shit like the TP candidate for McConnell's seat in KY.

  • MartyKZ||

    There oughta be a law against power.

  • Cytotoxic||

    Sort of related: what is happening with FreedomWorks? I remember hearing they were in trouble a while ago? Update?

  • Paul.||

    The Rent's too damned high.

  • ||

    The tea party's problems roughly summarized, and in no particular order:

    1. Weak focus on core message that escalated the importance of their fringe
    2. Co-opting by the GOP, further diluting the message, and
    3. Massive negative branding by the Democrats that was poorly countered and (unsurprisingly) met with little debunking by the media or themselves.

    All this within like the first 9-12 months. They were dead and possessed by foreign spirits before they ever hit the Congress.

  • John||

    Any reform movement is going to subject to massive negative branding. So, I view that as a good sign not a bad thing.

    And I don't see how they are dead. They have killed numerous big government Republicans and in doing so put the fear of God in the ones who remain. Thanks to the Tea Party, Bob Bennett, Mike Castle, Frank Lugar just to name a few no longer have political careers.

    I really can't see how anyone could see a downside to that.

  • anon||

    Too bad Boehner, McConnel, et al. aren't on that list.

  • John||

    McConnel might well be by the end of the year. And so should Pat Roberts from Kansas.

    They can't kill them all. But they are killing a good number of them. And that has an effect. Look at how much less of a crap weasel Orin Hatch has been since they got Bob Bennett.

  • robc||

    I think McConnell still wins, but Bevin is giving him much more of a run that I originally thought. Bevin might be a tea partier, but he aint Paul. He is running to the right of McC on both economic and social policy issues.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    To be fair, McConnell isn't Boehner. He's a smart enough politician to have taken a modestly more libertarian tack than he had prior to emergence of the Tea Parties. Still not going to say I trust the guy, but I'll take a hack willing to work on the side of what's right over a hack trying to suppress what's right.

  • anon||

    McTurtle is a head of the beast: Do not be fooled, he will backstab you at the first opportunity that avails itself.

  • Sunmonocle Backwards Tophat||

    Yep, I think that's right. They were able to animate conservatives and influence congressional elections, things most libertarians don't have the patience to do. Of the few things Congress has done that I approve of, nearly all were on the backs of Tea Party backed candidates. Of course, there were some mishaps. I still consider Reid's reelection to be the biggest letdown of 2010.

  • John||

    Yeah. But Reid is so bad that I blame the voters of Nevada. Sharon Angle wasn't ideal. But anyone would have been better than Reid. Hell, electing an outright communist would have been an improvement for the simple reason that the new Senator wouldn't have been in a position to do as much damage as Reid.

  • anon||

    . I still consider Reid's reelection to be the biggest letdown of 2010.

    Don't blame me, I donated a significant amount of money to Angle's campaign.

  • Cletus Starfish||

    That was just a terrible race there though. I honestly don't even have a preference between Reid and Angle; they're both atrocious candidates.

  • Cytotoxic||

    The TP has been pretty good at knocking off bad incumbents but their replacements have been poor in terms of electability and fidelity to principles. Only when the Ron Paul Front gets involved do we get really good candidates like Rand and Amash and Massie. Those three made this whole thing worth it btw.

  • anon||

    The TP has been pretty good at knocking off bad incumbents but their replacements have been poor in terms of electability and fidelity to principles.

    Whodathunkit, a politician that lacks principles!

  • John||

    Cruz is really good. Rubio is good on everything but immigration. But Libertarians are pro open borders.

    There is no question that the Republican Congressional caucus is vastly better today than it was in 08. And that improvement is entirely due to the Tea Party.

    Libertarians of course bitch and won't admit that because they culturally hate most of the people associated with the Tea Party and would rather lose than be associated with people from a culture they don't like.

    It is funny how Libertarians are happy to work with Widen, a guy who in every other area is pretty loathsome, on the NSA but then won't work with someone like Cruz on an issue because they think he really is a SOCON. It is kulture war and snobbery all around.

  • PaulW||

    I'm only pro open borders in the long term.

    Too many libertarians have no idea that our ideology is a process. There are certain things that need to be dismantled before other things can.

    Its a big reason why we're looked at as crony capitalists more than free market people by the lay person. We'd dismantle certain regulations on business before addressing the underlying anti-free market principle that caused that regulation to be created in the first place. Net neutrality is a good example. *ducks tomatoes

  • John||

    And you have to be willing to accept small victories. I am fine with working with Wyden on the NSA. I don't care that he is a borderline socialist on other issues. IN fact, I would like to see the socialists of the world at least reject domestic spying.

  • PaulW||

    Sure, you can dismantle the NSA before you dismantle the Patriot Act, neither are really free market issues anyway. The free market is an ecosystem that we have to be very careful with what we do, which was my point. You think you're helping by feeding the monkeys, they stop eating the fruit, they stop shitting fruit seeds all over the forest, trees die out, animals that survive on those trees die out, and then when the people stop feeding the monkeys, they die out too because they don't have access to any of their old food supplies.

    As far as our rights and liberties, it doesn't matter much which way we work from, top down, bottom up, any victory is good in the long term.

  • Cytotoxic||

    "Net neutrality is a good example. "

    Of the dangers of your kind of 'thinking'.

  • PaulW||

    How so?

    Wouldn't the logical thing to do be dismantle franchising laws that hinder the free market?

    If you do that, Net Neutrality is a non issue, or do you disagree?

    If you dismantle net neutrality without dismantling franchise laws, you get a hybrid statist/capitalist approach, ie crony capitalism. That makes us all look bad.

    If we succeed in dismantling net neutrality, we'll get blamed for even less choice in the market, even though we theoretically would like to dismantle franchising laws, we didn't actually do that, did we?

  • robc||

    Both need to happen, but net neutrality is winnable today.

    So get rid of it and worry about franchise laws later.

    And trust me, I give a big damn more about franchise laws than about net neutrality. For personal reasons.

  • JFree||

    'need to be dismantled before other things can'??

    This sounds suspiciously like there is some sort of central plan for dismantling bureaucracy - and THAT is why many people view 'libertarians' as nothing more than useful Randian idiots for cronyist elites.

    The reality is that no bureaucratic anything is going to get dismantled unless there is a very broad coalition of people who want it dismantled. And, almost by definition, that means there will need to be far more agreement on 'anti-cronyism in general' than 'Regulation 123 in particular'.

    It also means that libertarian action is going to have to benefit the little guy looking to be left alone before it benefits the big billionaire making vaguely trickle-down promises about a 'free market'. Otherwise, there is no room in politics for yet another top-down leave-it-to-the-establishment party. This is one thing that still resonates a LOT with both tea party types - and the occasional Georgists/etc on 'the left'.

    This is IMO the biggest political failure of 'libertarians'. The failure to hammer on cronyism - even at the risk of going overboard and heading into class warfare territory.

  • ||

    The down side is that their original message has been strongly negatively associated with a bunch of other crap that weighs it down. They had a decent chance of reasonable bipartisan popular support for an anti-big-government populism. They have very little chance of anything but fringe support (enough I grant to swing the occasional election) for an anti-big-government plus anti-immigrant plus sorta-racist plus sorta-fundamentalist plus sorta-batshit-crazy platform (not all of which is their doing of course).

    They go from being potential winners to irritating gadflies at best, taking a seat at the kids table with...um...us.

  • John||

    They had a decent chance of reasonable bipartisan popular support for an anti-big-government populism

    They still have that number one. And number two, the only way to keep the media from completley demonize them was to sell out and embrace the status quo.

    The media and the establishment of both parties don't want anything to change. So anyone who actually tries to change it is going to be demonized by all three. It is fantasy to think the Tea Party could have avoided demonetization if only they had been made up of the right top men and told all of the hillbillies and in the process most of their supporters to fuck off.

  • ||

    It is fantasy to think the Tea Party could have avoided demonetization if only they had been made up of the right top men and told all of the hillbillies and in the process most of their supporters to fuck off.

    I agree with that - the solution is to be better at positive branding and be insanely aggressive at countering negative portrayals the instant they happen. They got framed as racists way too early on to hope for any takeup on the left side of the political debate.

  • Overt||

    " It is fantasy to think the Tea Party could have avoided demonetization if only they had been made up of the right top men..."

    Yup. The great thing about any Populist uprising is that supporters tend to imbue in it all the things important to them. The downside is that they must also be influenced by the bad things important to those people.

    I look at the happenings in Rome as the Gracii brothers had their tilt at the government. They had a lot of important grievances- specifically around a rich ruling class that did everything to maintain privilege at the expense of the masses. But they also brought the mob mentality and all the "Give me free shit" ethos that lower classes wanted.

    Hopefully the US doesn't go in the same direction- populist revolt only to be eventually coopted by dictators who ruin everything.

  • Weygand||

    The IRS handled the Tea Party's demonetization

  • Bill Dalasio||

    They had a decent chance of reasonable bipartisan popular support for an anti-big-government populism.

    No, no they didn't. Unless you want to consider the "bipartisan" Republican and Libertarian.

  • ||

    I'd argue that the subsequent existence of Occupy exemplifies the fertile ground that their (original) anti-corporatist message would have fallen upon on the left.

  • Cytotoxic||

    Occupy was NEVER anti-corporatist it was anti-capitalist to the bone.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    As Cyto points out, Occupy was never really even remotely "anti-big-government". It was calling and aiming for a massive expansion of the federal government.

  • JFree||

    There is fertile ground on the left - but not the Occupy stuff. Rather, the fertile ground is the 'working poor' - who have the highest marginal income taxes around if they ever want to get ahead through work. Most still do - but they also know the playing field is hopelessly tilted against them what with elites looking to import the world's poor and game the laws in their favor.

    Dems divert their attention to welfare crumbs instead of changing the playing field (but at least that is vaguely 'economic'). Reps try to divert their attention to their social traditionalism. And Libertarians are busy smoking pot.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    Of course TP sweethearts, who turned out to be simply uninformed bg government GOPers like Michelle Bachmann have been able to start a career.

  • John||

    What big government did Bachman ever demand?

    Oh yeah, big government begins and ends with the GAYZ!!

  • Raven Nation||

    The tea party's problems roughly summarized

    Also, Lois Lerner.

  • Paul.||

    3. Massive negative branding by the Democrats that was poorly countered and (unsurprisingly) met with little debunking by the media or themselves.

    Two of these things are essentially one in the same.

  • GregMax||

    They may be impotent now, but the ideas and coming economic reality are still alive and in play.

  • Mongo||

    The Tea Partiers in the Midwest seem to be loaded with the SoCons, in comparison with the East and West coasts.

    There was a recent interview with what seems to be two competing Tea parties here: one spokesman immediately spouted Christian values while the other one rolled his eyes.

  • Tonio||

    No, the local TP organizations where I live (mid-atlantic) are lousy with SoCons. The various TP organizations have done a fairly good job of staying out of the culture wars, but any individual tea party member* is likely as not to spout some SoCon rhetoric when being interviewed by the media.

    (*)Media cherry-picking and the ease of claiming TP affiliation duly noted.

  • Cytotoxic||

    If they keep out of the culture wars then that's okay.

  • John||

    But how do you stay out of the culture wars? The left lives and dies by them and is never satisfied. Give them gay marriage and they want protected status for gays. Give them that and they want the same thing for transvestites and want school kids to be able to go to the other gender's bathroom and shower is they like. Give them that and they will move onto polygamy or make even so much as stating an objection a crime.

    Everyone thinks we can just end the culture wars. They are mistaken. Tonio wants to expand the CRA to include gays and make it illegal not to serve gays or have an employee so much as object to homosexuality. He thinks that once he gets his pony the culture wars will end. They won't. Whatever you think of Tonio's view of the role of government, giving in on that issue won't end the culture wars because the Left will just find something else. Their entire strategy is to pursue the culture wars as a way of marginalizing their opponents, making dissenting speech illegal, and changing the argument away from economics and the actual performance of their ideology.

    They will never stop doing that.

  • Cytotoxic||

    Stop fighting gay marriage, period. Stop criticizing the 'homosexual lifestyle', period. Just because you can't stop something bad doesn't mean you shouldn't stop making it worse.

  • John||

    Sure. And when the Left moves on to something else what then?

  • Cytotoxic||

    Then you'll be like Canada: no one will care or at least not as much.

  • John||

    Then you'll be like Canada: no one will care or at least not as much.

    That is what people said about gay marriage or applying the CRA to gays 25 years ago when they killed the sodomy laws. It would never happen. And here we are.

    The left controls the media and the entirety of the mass culture. This gives them the ability to define what is and what is not culturally acceptable. If you don't challenge them and fight the culture war at some level, they will just continue to push and make any dissent from the leftist ideology unacceptable.

    Each new issue they choose takes one piece of the coalition against them and marginalizes and silences them. Right now it is the SOCONs. Let them do it to the SOCONS and they will move on to someone else. It is how they win.

  • Cytotoxic||

    Oh horror! Freedom begot more freedom! Oddly enough this does not frighten libertarians. Indeed I take pleasure in the impotent rage of SoCons. Again, just be like Canada (in this regard).

  • John||

    Sure.

    We now have the freedom from intolerance.

    I mean nothing says freedom like making speech illegal and forcing people to do business against their beliefs.

    If you don't see the problem with that, you are just a fascist yourself Cytoxic.

  • Madisonian||

    Oh joy, can we have Canada's "hate speech"laws, too?

  • SusanM||

    "applying the CRA to gays 25 years ago when they killed the sodomy laws."

    Lawrence v. Texas was in '03. And states and localities still have those laws on the books - even if they're technically unenforceable (if they ever really were without needing "intent" and "conspiracy" to back them up).

  • Thomas O.||

    John: The question then becomes, what do you push back against that won't make you look like a fun-killing Neanderthal. Face it, fighting gay marriage or decriminalized weed is political suicide these days, and what little support you may have for those issues will die off (literally) in maybe a decade's time.

  • GregMax||

    War on women and abortion.

  • Tony||

    We'll be right on that too and you'll be wrong.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    The left lives and dies by them and is never satisfied.

    WHile this is true, it's a statement that encompasses your whole political being, John. You don't recognize that the right does as well.

  • Robert||

    aA quibble with the above characteriz'n: The "left" will not move onto polygamy, because polygamy almost always is polygyny and therefore "demeans women".

  • carol||

    It is my experience, as a member of the Tampa Tea Party, that as individuals we hold a myriad of views but are united in our call for fiscal responsiblity and smaller government.

    I don't know if Cruz or Paul will be the Republican nominee but you can thank the Tea Party that whoever it is it sure as hell won't be Bush or Christy.

  • John||

    Exactly. I really think Paul is going to win. People who say he won't are not paying attention to how well he is laying the ground work for his candidacy and how good of a job he is doing building an organization and fund raising machine.

    I really think he is going to come out with a better organization, more money, a real core constituency and blow the doors off the other candidates who will have some of that but not all of it in the way Paul does.

  • carol||

    I'm leaning towards Paul as well. I think that he has broad appeal. A lot of Democrats either liked Obama or really, really wanted to like Obama not because of his politics but because they thought that he would make a "cool" president. Paul is likable. He comes acrossed as laid back and funny but also intelligent. And, darn it, he's not hard to look at. My prediction, so long as the establishment Republicans don't muck it up like they did last time, Paul/Rubio 2016.

  • Raven Nation||

    A lot of Democrats either liked Obama or really, really wanted to like Obama,

    Also, a lot of Democrats were done with the Clintons. And, the same factor could play out in Rand Paul's favor, i.e. a lot of TP are done with "establishment" candidates.

  • John||

    A lot of centrist Democrats and left leaning independents really wanted to like Obama. And a lot of blacks felt it was their duty to turn out for him.

    The next Democratic candidate will not get the benefit of either of those things.

  • JFree||

    Republicans will ONLY nominate an establishment type. The only exceptions in the last 100 years were Goldwater and Reagan. Goldwater was nominated in an 'unwinnable' election - but then undermined by the GOP establishment anyway just to make sure. And Reagan had the very unique qualifications of huge-state favorite son, universal name recognition, gubernatorial experience, 'next in line', Jimmy Carter as an opponent, AND the willingness to appoint Bushbots and other establishment types.

  • Cytotoxic||

    I can see where you are coming from, just Cruz has such a following he could use that to build a formidable machine. Regarding what carol said, both Paul and Cruz are good at projecting an image and avoiding butthurtiness. Cruz seems more 'presidential' at times while Rand is more 'likeable'.

  • John||

    I think Cruz is the only threat to Paul. In fact, three months ago I would have said Cruz is going to prevent Paul from winning. But Paul seems to be doing such a better job at the mechanics of building a campaign than Cruz, I have changed my mind.

  • luvcats13||

    Cruz is the least "presidential" politician I have EVER seen. He is horrendous - can't bear to look at his pinched Hispanic face while listening to his whiny Canadian voice. He is playing the low info voters and good ole boys while laughing with his Harvard cronies.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    I'd bet that the candidate will be neither Paul or Cruz.

    The TP had the opportunity to do something back when their movement was stronger, and they balked, voting for the likes of Santorum and Gingrich over Ron Paul, and allowing Romney to be the candidate.

    The TP will stop nothing.

  • John||

    Lots of TP voted for Paul. More than Santorum. Go look it up. Paul didn't lose because of the TP. He lost because the establishment hated him and he pissed off enough people with his idiotic "America got what was coming to it" rhetoric that he couldn't overcome that.

    And I have no doubt that when Paul does win the nomination, you and a lot of other people will bitch about it.

  • JFree||

    Sadly I agree. TP made a big strategic error in tying themselves to the GOP. In theory, 'reforming the GOP' makes a lot more sense than simply starting or taking over a third party. In practice, all it means is perpetual struggle with an entrenched establishment that will NEVER go away or accept 'reform' because - they are corrupt. And from inside the GOP, you can't control your own message/branding.

    People seem to forget. The Republican Party was not merely a renaming/rebranding/reforming of the Whig Party. Rather, ALL of its ideas were Free Soil Party - those ideas changed the electoral dynamics killing off the Whigs and disrupting the Jacksonian Dem coalition - and the Northern Whigs were merely the already-elected incumbents who saw and joined the new parade.

  • Robert||

    Here in the Bronx they're Birchers by another name—more libertarian than the "conservative" mainstream, but conspiracy nuts in their approach. It also doesn't help that they were previously the Committee to Save Medicare.

  • Madisonian||

    If you referring to that group run by Bob Diamond, meeting at the Conservative Party office, they just co-opted the name and do not represent anyone I know of either Tea Party or Libertarian leanings.

    The first and last time I went there was in 2010. They didn't want me to talk about the upcoming 9/12 rally (I had been to the 09 one) and trotted out the feeble-minded sweatpants clad drunk Ken Reynolds that both the (C) and (R) parties were running against Crowley for Congress. Reynolds helpfully told me he studies Diamond's pamphlets and I read too many varied sources.

    Diamond left long and desperate messages on my machine for almost a year, begging me to return (he liked my website names) and saying it was OK if I was pro-abortion, etc. This was because I objected to the line of questioning he had for some other candidates, pointing out that the crucial issues and concerns of the movement were fiscal responsibility and constitutional freedoms. I doubt the few sane people I met still attend.

    They were the final straw for my family to leave the NY Conservative party after 25 years. Newmark of the Bronx Conservative party has always been a venal creature, who will back anyone, no matter the party or platform, if there was some quid pro quo, but latching onto a grass roots movement and inviting a raving maniac to run the group was too much for me.

  • Cytotoxic||

    I'm getting really concerned that the nativists are hijacking the TP, more so than the SoCons. Norquist and others are kind of pushing back though.

  • John||

    Open borders is a dead political loser. The political and media elite and the Hispanics are the only ones who want it.

    It is impossible to get a populist movement that supports open borders. Whatever you think of open borders, that is just the reality of it. If you want open borders, you better be willing to support whatever shitbag the establishment puts up, because they are the only ones who agree with you.

  • anon||

    If you want open borders, you better be willing to support whatever shitbag the establishment puts up, because they are the only ones who agree with you.

    As a rule of thumb, I closely examine any position I might take that would put me in agreement with The Establishment.

  • John||

    I don't want to make this an open borders thread. I am commenting on the desirability of open borders. I am just saying that its support comes mostly from the establishment.

  • anon||

    That's pretty much why I generalized; anything that I agree with someone I generally find despicable is generally highly scrutinized by me.

  • Cytotoxic||

    Stop deflecting. I am not talking about open borders I am talking of the people gibbering about LA RAZA and how we need a wall and to deport everyone and fine businesses for hiring illegals. Nativists want e-verify. Polls are clear these people are even less political viable that straight open borders but they refuse to die off and like a parasite are trying to latch on and infiltrate the TP. Rand Paul's eminently moderate and reasonable position on immigration-which rejects e-verify-is heresy to these nutters and that's another reason Paul is better than Cruz.

  • Overt||

    "Polls are clear these people are even less political viable that straight open borders but they refuse to die off"

    Do a lookup on polls for e-verify. Even reason notes that most people think e-verify is fine until they are told it costs money.

    So I think you are a bit guilty of confirmation bias.

    In general there is a popular distrust of immigrants (a distrust that has been here since the founding) and those people will always be swayed by a thumping populist who complains about jerbs.

  • Cytotoxic||

    Polls also show that border security is the top concern of like 2-3% of folks.

  • John||

    Refusing to enforce the immigration laws is effectively open borders. And "enforcement efforts" are popular among everyone except those who want open borders.

    Sorry but objecting to open borders necessitates supporting enforcing the law. It also necessitates explaining why open borders are a bad thing. And pointing out how a large number of people who are coming across the border are members of an outright racialist, fascist organization like La Raza is a valid way to do that.

    La Raza makes no secret of the fact that is believes in the racial supremacy of Mexicans and their blood claim to the Southwest. If whites or even blacks were members of such a group in large numbers, the rest of the country would have a fit. Why should Hispanics get a pass?

  • Cytotoxic||

    Oh my God...you're actually going with this. Is The Pope also going to take over thanks to JFK?

    We already spend tens of billions fighting phantoms because people like you are, to varying degrees, insane. That is the only way to describe this. We are going to leave you behind. Some form of 'earned citizenship' is coming deal with it.

  • John||

    You are right, the establishment is going to shove it down the country's throat.

    But I already knew you were an establishment supporting shit bag. You are happy to use government force to punish people you hate. Cytotixic. So what is your point?

  • carol||

    http://www.paul.senate.gov/?p=issue&id=12

    I don't see anything in Paul's opinion on immigration that conflicts with the opinion of Tea Partiers in general. If he sticks with this position I wouldn't foresee any opposition to him.

  • Cytotoxic||

    Not so much TPers as the borderites are offended by Paul's rejection of e-verify and his stated desire for the illegals to earn some kind of status. They are also offended by Cruz's desire for many more HB1s.

  • Tonio||

    Fringe groups always glom on to any political movement that doesn't outright reject them. Some of those glommers-on are legit, others are plants by the enemies of those nascent movements. This has happened to libertarians, too.

    Also, TP is a decentralized movement, as noted by others above, and that makes it difficult to enforce any sort of movement discipline.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    Also, TP is a decentralized movement, as noted by others above, and that makes it difficult to enforce any sort of movement discipline.

    And if there is no sense of movement discipline, there is no movement other than a bunch of folks who already identify as Republican, yet don't want to call themselves Republicans.

  • Azathoth!!||

    How many of you are actually IN a Tea Party?

    How many actually know whereof they speak?

    Because it sure sounds like a damned lot of self-professed 'libertarians' have sucked down the Left's kool-aid on this topic.

    In the last Presidential election the Tea Parties really had no one--except Not Romney. And that's how they voted. No one really got out in front of anyone. It was a mess.

    And they didn't really pay attention to GOP establishment types attaching themselves--there are no membership lists, anyone can say 'I'm in the Tea Party'. Anyone. So?

    Why is such a big deal made when some RINO, so or neocon retard attaches himself to the Tea Party but no one cares the Fred Phelps is a big-time Democrat. Make a fuss about that. God Hates Fags is donating to Dems.

  • John||

    ^^THIS^^

  • Cytotoxic||

    In my defense, I'm Canadian. Our 'conservative' government is like the pre-TP GOP sans war.

    But you're right about 2012. It was breathtaking to watch the MSM blame the TP for Romney's loss. There is literally no situation under which the TP can avoid blame.

  • carol||

    I'm actually in the Tea Party. We don't have a 'leader' per se, and we don't want one. It doesn't piss me off when some asshole like McCain or McConnell bitches about the Tea Party. I take it as a badge of honor. A lot of people vie for the title of "Tea Party favorite" but so what? And yes,some of us are honest to God nutcases,but again, so what? Who cares if Tea Partiers tend to be pro-life and closed borders while Libertarians tend to be pro-choice and open borders? If we don't get our shit together neither position will matter.

  • John||

    What the hell difference will the borders or abortion make after the country goes bankrupt and turns into Argentina?

    I am with you Carol.

  • Cytotoxic||

    See where you are coming from but abortion helps eliminate poverty and allows for control of the 'dependency class'. Also, open borders would be an economic boon.

  • robc||

    Two utilitarian arguments.

    Ugh.

    Im pro-open borders, but that is the worst argument ever.

  • John||

    Cytoxic is all for government coercion. I sometimes forget how horrible he is.

  • Soros' Wank-noose||

    control of the 'dependency class'

    Holy shit....that's some Sanger bile right there!

  • Tony||

    The country cannot go bankrupt and if that's what you're really worried about, then don't vote for Republicans. Any honest look at who spends more and creates more debt would make that obvious.

  • Thomas O.||

    So... what happens when we inevitably reach the point where 100% of the annual tax revenue has to go to paying interest on the several-hundred-trillion-dollar national debt? I don't think you can borrow from the bank to pay interest to the same bank. And you can't keep S&P muzzled forever.

  • Tony||

    Well, since we have historically low interest rates and substantially higher outlays, we're actually paying less than half of what we were in the 1990s on debt service in terms of % of outlays. So the real question is why do you guys want to drive up interest rates?

  • JFree||

    Because there are roughly 200 million Americans whose savings are being stolen as we speak by the artificial repression of interest rates. That is a whole bunch of retirement dreams that are disappearing because some overfed pigs in DC want to keep feeding at a public trough.

  • robc||

    In the last Presidential election the Tea Parties really had no one

    Except the guy who fucking started the movement.

  • Azathoth!!||

    Huh? The guy who started the movement? He wasn't running.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    In the last Presidential election the Tea Parties really had no one--except Not Romney.

    Are you really trying to argue that the TP couldn't have voted for Ron Paul in force? Because his political philosophy is the base of what the TP says they support.

  • Stormy Dragon||

    Once again demonstrating how there's often a huge difference between what people believe they support and what they actually support.

  • Azathoth!!||

    Ron Paul doesn't quite fit the bill. Surely you've noticed?

    Now, granted, most of his negatives come from the leftists that have grafted themselves into his following, but most people won't see that. They just see the wrong stuff coming from the RP camp.

    But here's the thing--a lot of TP folks went the RP route--and the Gary Johnson route--and some even went the Johnson route in the general.

    But there was no one in the 2012 election that could hold everyone.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    "The Tea Partiers' poor choice of banner carriers helps explain why their brand has suffered, and libertarian identification with the movement has waned over time"

    All the assorted flavors of leftist groups have far more wacko signs - and behaviors and speakers, etc. etc. yet none of that ever seems hurt their brand. The MSM gives them all a pass and makes excuses for them.

    The media and talking heads all fawned over the Occupy Wall Street loons to such an extent that they maganed to achieve a new high of ludicrousness. And for them, that's a high bar indeed.

  • John||

    And don't forget, two OWS were arrested for plotting to blow up a bridge in Cleveland. The media just yawned. Can you imagine the feeding frenzy if that had been the Tea Party?

  • Loki||

    That class will continue to reign, unless and until they're confronted with a citizen movement that marries passion with sound judgment.

    In other words, forever.

  • LynchPin1477||

    so frustrated talking to these neocons," he needed a pre-noon shot of Jameson

    You don't need a reason to have a pre-noon shot of Jameson.

  • R C Dean||

    The TP's three biggest challenges/problems, in no particular order:

    (1) It has been targetted for extermination by the IRS.
    (2) The DemOp media will spread any negative story about it that it can dream up.
    (3) The Republicans hate the TP worse than anything. They would rather a Dem hold any given seat than a TPer.

    Given all that, its a wonder we're even still talking about it.

  • Tony||

    (4) They're a bunch of crybabies who blame all their problems on somebody else.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    A classic case of projection.

  • politicsbyothermeans||

    He said TP, not Democrats.

  • Tony||

    Idiots who are wrong about everything and hypocrites about half of it.

  • Kevin47||

    The Tea Party has had actual, tangible success introducing Libertarian values into the public square. Co-opting happens. Am I the only one who remembers the Libertarians of the 1990s being uber-liberals who were chill with expansive government because the Dems were right on gays and abortion but not drugs? That was a thing.

  • MartyKZ||

    I can't believe I'm thinking this, but as a one-time Speaker of the House, the only member of this conservative clown posse to have once been #2 in the order of presidential succession and thus had qualifying 'experience' in executive governance, is Newt. Despite his abject pandering to the kamikaze true believer class, there is an intellect and a deep down streak of pragmatism in Newt. Please forgive me for reminding you about this.

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