The Tea Party, Washington, and the Nation
By Clark S. Judge, managing director, White House Writers Group (www.whwg.com <http://www.whwg.com> ) and chairman, Pacific Research Institute (www.pacificresearch.org <http://www.pacificresearch.org> )
Liberal Washington has spent much of the last week denouncing the Tea Party movement, which completed a series of rallies around the nation with one big one at the Washington Monument on April 15, the day tax returns were due.
We all know the particulars. A week ago Bill Clinton used a Sunday New York Times op-ed slyly to equate the Tea Partiers with the Oklahoma City bomber. Out of other leftward quarters came charges of racism. Generally there was a mix of handwringing and scorn. [# More #]
The goal seemed to be to identify the Republican Party with this grassroots uprising against spending, deficits, and government control of the economy. Apparently the geniuses in the Democratic Party apparatus thought this a way to put the GOP on the defensive going into the November elections.
Meanwhile, Politico released its exit poll of demonstrators leaving the Tax Day Tea Party rally. Spending and deficits were at the top of their list of concerns. Social issues (specifically gay marriage) stood at the bottom (http://tinyurl.com/y6vjg3j).
But it is more than that.
Something very big is going on in the nation. The Tea Partiers are part of it, but only part.
During the three weeks in which the Tea Party Express was making it way rally by rally from Searchlight, Nevada, home of Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid, to DC, polls and media stories were confirming a growing tide in public opinion.
National concern about spending and debt was rising. The sense was growing that, at least on these fiscal issues, the government has acted beyond the limits of the national consensus and without concern for the nation’s future or the limits of its own competence.
Last Monday Rasmussen reported (http://tinyurl.com/3xfb69k) that 56 percent of voters continue to want the signature legislation of the Obama Administration’s first two years – the health overhaul – repealed. The number feeling this way has been high ever since the legislation passed. But Democrats had assumed it would go down in time. It hasn’t. It may even be rising.
Meanwhile, Pollster.com has shown a gap in generic Congressional vote preferences (the answer to the question, “if the election were held today, would you vote for the Republican or the Democratic candidate for Congress” without using candidate names) opening up in favor of Republicans. By the end of last week this averaging of all polls (http://tinyurl.com/msmbo2) was reporting a spread of three percent, with support for Democrats headed sharply downward.
Now the liberal media has begun to take note. Yesterday, The New York Times ran a front-page story (http://tinyurl.com/36yq4pv) on supposedly secure Congressional Democrats who are in hard reelection fights, in some cases for the first time in their careers. The story focused on Wisconsin congressman David Obey, who is in his forty-second year in the House of Representatives and must surely qualify as the most secure of the secure. If both he and Senator Reid are in trouble, the entire nation may be looking like Scott Brown’s Massachusetts by November, full of hitherto unimaginable upsets.
Washington keeps score by polls in the same way that Wall Street keeps score by stock prices. But not a mere a momentary shift of opinion is at work. American global power and all that depends on it is founded on the financial strength of the United States government. Now, as the Washington Post reported yesterday (http://tinyurl.com/2bc92m6), even American investors are concerned enough about our rising debt that they are hedging their positions in U.S. Treasuries with bonds from other countries.
The issues the Tea Party protestors raise are real and vital and a few sneers and smears of the most vocal carriers of this message won’t make them go away. It is the same message we are hearing from Chinese bankers, global financiers of all stripes, and, as the polls are showing, much of the American electorate.
The Senate may vote on financial industry reform this week, with a cloture vote perhaps coming as early as today. But the financial reform the nation now clearly wants is reform of Washington. For Congressional Democrats and the White House, the bad news is this: When they try to change the subject, nobody is listening.