by J. F. Kelly, Jr. | Coronado
Pundits and party strategists are in a frenzy trying to explain what the recent primary election results really mean and what the present and future roles of the tea party movement will be. Obviously, many of the tea party-supported candidates did well, toppling some prominent establishment Republicans who were deemed to be too moderate or too accommodating toward liberals. But will the tea party rhetoric prove too extreme for mainstream Americans, echoing the perpetually angry conservative radio talk show hosts who “want to take back America”?
Will primary victories for previously little-know, tea party-backed candidates turn into defeats in the November election? Will there be a backlash?
The Obama-Reid-Pelosi ruling trio desperately hopes so but their nervousness is showing as they watch defections within the Democratic ranks growing. At this writing, 31 Democratic legislators have defied the party leadership by announcing support for extending the Bush tax cuts and Democrats involved in close races are distancing themselves from the big three with some even running advertisements critical of Ms. Pelosi.
Is the tea party movement swinging America too far to the right? Does it accurately reflect the sentiments of most Americans? We’ll know in November how many of the nominees backed by the movement are electable. Democratic strategists are predicting that once the populist tendencies of some of these candidates like Sharon Angle of Nevada, Joe Miller of Alaska and Christine O’Donnell of Delaware become better know, Republican moderates, businessmen and independents will be reluctant to support them financially. My guess is that these strategists will be disappointed.
Most polls now show that over half of Americans want Republicans to take control of Congress. This is a startling reversal from earlier in the year. What has happened in the interim? Americans became deeply troubled by the drift to the left of their government and by the tactics of Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi in pushing unpopular, complex and flawed legislation through Congress by manipulative and divisive methods.
A Rassmussen poll shows that more than two-thirds of Americans (68%) want a smaller government, lower taxes and, remarkably for the times, fewer services. The percentages are higher among independents (74%) and Republicans (88%). In short, people want less spending, less borrowing and less intrusion into their lives. They are startled by the growth of government and frightened over the debt burden we are bequeathing to our children and grandchildren. They have watched with a sense of frustration as the Obama Administration has, in two short years, lurched to the left, expanding the size and scope of government, bailing out the banking and auto industries and putting us on the road to socialized medicine.
Americans have watched as billions were squandered on stimulus packages that have not worked. Employers still are not hiring, banks still are not lending, people still are losing jobs or income and homes while all the administration seems capable of doing is more of the same with the prospects of higher taxes to boot.
Obama has lost one-third of his support among independents. The congressional approval rating sits at a pathetic 23%. People are angry and they want change. They aren’t sure who has answers that will work but they have seen enough of the current administration to conclude that they are clueless. These emotions were at work in the primaries as establishment candidates fell to relative unknowns, untainted by the ruling class stigma, promising a return to basic values and principles. My reading of the tea leaves is that when the voters weigh in come November, they will still want change and they will figure that anything will be better than what they’ve gotten the past two years.
So if Democrats are counting on a backlash against the perceived excesses of the tea party movement, they will probably be disappointed. Some of the tea party-backed candidates may be a little rough around the edges, but their populist sentiments are back in style with the ordinary people who are tired of having ruling elites tell them what’s best for them. It is definitely not fashionable with them this year to be perceived as an establishment politician or to be associated with an administration that has abused its mandate. Voters want to elect candidates they feel can focus on fixing problems, not creating new government bureaucracies or programs to study them. They have also seen enough these past two years to know that government cannot spend its way to prosperity.
copyright 2010 J.F. Kelly, Jr
J.F. Kelly, Jr. is a retired Navy Captain and bank executive who writes on current events and military subjects. He is a resident of Coronado, California.