Saturday, February 13, 2010

A party by any other name

An analysis piece of The Jacksonian Party.

I rarely do retrospective pieces, although I link heavily to past works it is to save time and energy of repeating viewpoints I have previously stated.  Thus one of the first of the Party Papers I wrote dealt with how to form The Jacksonian Party, the party of one man, each and every one of us.  Since then a new way of looking at politics has arrived in the Tea Party movement and it might be worth doing some comparison and contrasting between what I expounded and what has come about.  So I will bring up the points I postulated for The Jacksonian Party and see if the Tea Party has any points of contact.

I will summarize the points in my preface:

1)  There is no party hierarchy.  This is an apt description of the Tea Party.

2)  There is no formal party structure.  This is an apt description of the Tea Party.  There is local structure but it is self-created.

3)  It is a party of Networks.  The Tea Party does this extremely well across MySpace, Facebook, Friendster and on-the-fly contacts to organize and counter-organize against those supporting government expansion.  It is truly amazing.

4)   It is a party that holds common agreement and the support of differences in ideas.  That, too, is a good description of the Tea Party in all its local organizations and yet coming together for massive rallies to express common ideals.

5)  The existing two party system resists the entrance of a new party or force in politics.  In general this is true at the start back in FEB 2009, and the Tea Party faced stiff resistance.

6)  Overcome resistance with networking.  And that is the process the Tea Party is in by examining the current two parties and finding their weaknesses at the local level and working to start changing BOTH of them.  In places like OH this is at the lowest organizing level where 1/4 to 1/3 of both parties have NO local organizers.  Networks have also played a part in supporting candidacies that may have seemed quixotic, and yet became a force to be dealt with (Doug Hoffman in NY and Scott Brown in MA).

7)  Honor and respect your fellow citizens.  All organizations have fringe sections, but those fringes do not define the main movement and so that is with the Tea Party movement that respectfully disagrees with its opponents but does not vilify them.

8)  Examine the structures of government that have been built up and see if they make any sense today.  This is not about 'managing' a huge and expanding government, but in cutting it back.  The Tea Party movement has some parts taking that up but the tenor of the mood is one that reflects a dialogue towards smaller government.  A WaPo/ABC poll finds 58% now supporting a smaller government, as does RasmussenRasmussen Reports also has the stunning poll that 63% of Americans feel that it would be best if Congress were not re-elected.  A recent NYT/CBS poll also finds that Americans would like a smaller government with fewer services.  The idea of 'Taxed Enough Already' is that government is to live within its means and if that means service cuts, then so be it.

9)  Abolishing those aspects of government that are ruling our lives, not governing for the Nation as a whole.  While part of (8) this is separate and a discussion that is only now taking place in the States and not from the Tea Party venue.  Utah is joining Montana in confronting the federal government over gun rights, and Wyoming looks to be set to join in this as well.  I previously reported to this in my Signposts article and is representative of the NRA's longstanding work for individual rights for arms.  Here there is a confluence of two streams of thought that are supporting each other: less federal government and State sovereignty.  Thus it is an expected part of The Jacksonian Party and may yet become a part of the Tea Party.

10)  Leanest possible government.  The Tea Party movement is starting in the fiscal conservative realm but not the traditional 'manage growth' concept which is Progressive.  It is unclear if the Tea Parties, in whole or in part, will take up this conception.

11)  Ethics for those elected from the party or its movement.  The Tea Party does not have that as part of its make-up, but does expect results from those it helps to elect.  The Jacksonian Party has an ethics platform in conception amenable to local conditions.

12)  Networking to use simple concepts that get complex results so as to effect change for liberty and freedom.  The Tea Party has that with taxation and government spending and has done a good job of explaining that on the many-to-many basis.  This changes politics laterally, across the board, not vertically in a power structure.

13)  An expectation of valid reasons that can easily be explained why government must take on more duties than it is given.  The Tea Parties have been strengthened by the 'health care' imbroglio which has demonstrated that the political elite cannot do this: simply explain why government must do more.  As more power is pushed by the elite and the old two party structure, so the Tea Party gains strength.  This is a core part of the Tea Party system.

14) The recognition that the Preamble to the Constitution is not a part of government but a statement by the People.  Such as the Tea Party is an embodiment of the concepts presented in the Preamble, but has not been explicitly stated as such by the movement as a whole.

After the preface I go into speculative ways to form up a party, and as they were speculative are overtaken by events.  In general there are some major agreement points between the Tea Party and The Jacksonian Party conception, such as wide-open acceptance for common views, and divergence such as personally stating what you uphold or do not uphold and why.  It was a good exercise at the time to see how the basis for a new party could be made, and adheres to the preface ideals.

In broad view there are a large number of points in congruence between my early outline of The Jacksonian Party and the currently growing Tea Party.  Items 1-3 are the organizational basis for this movement and are in hard common agreement as this is the utilization of modern technology and communications to promulgate discourse. 

Items 4-6 were expected problems and they have shown up as expected for any new movement or party.

Item 7 is apparent and congruent between my outline and what is being done by the Tea Parties.

Items 8 and 9 have underpinnings in longer standing movements, such as the NRA and personal conceptions of protecting liberty, but the discourse that has started due to the Tea Parties is now making the once unthinkable, States and people pushing back against federal power, a slowly growing force to be reckoned with.  This is a process, not an end in and of itself.

Items 10 and 11 are not part of where the Tea Parties are, but not outside the possibility of becoming a part of them at some future point in time.

Items 12 and 13 are part of the overall conception and a growing solid point between my prior conception and the way the Tea Parties have grown.

Item 14 is a clear statement of the Preamble that is currently being lived by those in the Tea Party who wish to put forth that the rights of man are of man and are leant to government.  Not bestowed by government upon man.  As such there may be an explicit stating of that at some future point in time to re-affirm personal liberty and freedom as underpinnings of the Tea Party movement.

I am not at all surprised by the way the Tea Party movement has grown, and has been within what I would expect given the Guiding Principles of Jacksonianism.


Unknown said...

Thanks for the overview.

One thing which isn't mentioned is that the Republican Party -- both parties in fact -- is vulnerable to a takeover by TEA Party activists from the grassroots up. Most of the local and state official positions in the Republican organization are partly vacant and staffed by self serving rent seekers. TEA Party Activists can run for those positions.

If the TEA Party activists, as a number of groups have said they will be doing, take over these functions then they can bend the party in a Conservative direction. If TEA Party Activists field candidates to every elected position, in both political parties, then their message affects the political dialogue.

Many democrats do not like the direction in which the country is going. They are not Socialists, but want to maintain the supposed "social safety net." Many TEA Party activists are disillusioned democrats at heart, so they could give the Obama statists a hard time even if they never win.

A Jacksonian said...

Louis - One of the parts I left out, as it is from another of the documents here, is that TJP members do not need to give up affiliation to either party. As TJP is a network-centric, flat structure (and more local than National, thus being unable to get Party status due to the State laws) it is open to movement into any other established party.

This is an instance where the old 'must have so X individuals per county' rules works in favor of an unofficial party: it cannot form due to State laws, therefore it is not a 'real' political party but an affiliation of like-minded people.

In OH both political parties are having new Tea Party members slip into the local precinct level to fill vacant positions... that is as much as 1/3 of each party open for new ideas. Shift a few marginal precincts with little party establishment and that is nearly 1/2 of a party apparatus then in the control of new hands.

What can, and probably will, happen is a cross-party shift for the Tea Party members to ensure the election of their members to local offices, first, then State offices (actual elected seats in State government) plus party offices at the State level. There is then a 'Tea Party Caucus' that can be formed accepting like-minded individuals of ANY party into such a caucus inside government organs.

A Tea Party need not be a majority, but a large enough minority so as to play 'Kingmaker' with their own views getting hard input into any legislation and then drafting their own add-ons via amendments from BOTH party structures inside government. There will no longer be a 'party' line vote on anything: the Caucus is its own virtual party. A simple 10% in knife-edge votes establishes a 'Kingmaker' and a 15% secures it. Thus establishment in the US House is: 43-65 members. The US Senate: 10-15 members (harder to do but possible given backing of more established candidates willing to establish a Caucus). At the State level this also plays out, but State seats can and should be easier to get than the federal seats, and establishing a small government movement in the States will start to change how citizens view government across-the-board.

Thus stop-up the works in DC while reworking things in the State Capitols. That is about a 6 year action to get started, although a vocal minority in the US House willing to do a 'by the book' rules agreement will nicely stop up things with the reading out of each and every bill... in both Houses... that takes 1 member per chamber. Clog up DC, open the drains in the States, then address the mess in DC with stronger backing from the State level.

All possible without a third party.