The headlines are screaming:
Seriously, it looks like the TEA Party is in trouble.
As Theda Skocpol of The Atlantic lays out, the TEA Party Isn’t Going Anywhere.
There’s a simple reason for this: passion. The current manifestation of the American political right, more accurately those who buy into the ideals put forth by the founders of the country and the Republican Party (not the same people), came to the fore on a wave of disgust that the Congresscritters they elected – or not – were not doing the job entrusted to them by the electorate. Law makers in Washington were doing just that – making a lot of laws – and in the process putting the country on a path to bankruptcy.
To THAT, the American right objected, just as we have objected since somewhere around the 1820s.
It’s a grand tradition woven into the culture of regular old America, and over time the Republican Party and their funders drifted away from the founding ideals.
How the Republican Party got away from this is wrapped up in the good times that were the post World War II decades, and the concept that big business was better for the country. The Washington Post had a good piece earlier in the year on the topic.
So, if the founding ideals of smaller government, less spending, low taxes, a halfway protectionist tariff and all that are best for not just the people, but business, especially big business, why are there objections to the TEA Party and the efforts to change the course of American government? After all, conservative strategems of lower taxes and less regulation make the country more prosperous (make business more profitable with more cash available for employing more people) which was proven during the Reagan years. Why wouldn’t every GOPer and their brothers jump on the bandwagon?
Aside from the threat to entrenched Republican power brokers that the TEA Party has become basically because they are rocking the boat, the tactics used by the most outspoken and celebrated of the fiscal hardliners doesn’t simply stop the expansionist efforts: they are blocking any kind of movement at all. For a lot of TEA darlings, it’s their way or the highway.
Doesn’t matter what the argument or discussion is, that doesn’t win many friends.
Somewhere in all the criticism and history of the GOP this is described as “pious purity” and has been part of the political landscape since the 19th century waves of refugees and immigrants flooded American shores and changed voting demographics. Traditional Americans on what we know as the political right demand it, not unlike the people on the far political left we call nutjobs do with their ideals.
The difference being that the right’s ideals have a successful track record. (That many of today’s political right, or TEA Party sorts, are the descendants of the immigrants who inspired pious purity rarely gets mentioned.)
Pious purity plays well to those who buy into the TEA Party’s message and ideals, but it doesn’t get the job of getting government to work and slowly easing it away from enormity and fiscal irresponsibility done. The political right, or TEA Party at this time, wants government lean and mean, going cold turkey on excess spending without any preparation – and if that means committing political suicide…there’s always martyrdom
That’s not going to win any friends, either – and it certainly is not going to win friends in big businesses who have managed to get the entrenched lawmakers who created the mess in Washington to at least not bankrupt them. (Some manage to actually get subsidies and favorable conditions, but certainly not all.)
By demanding purity – or else – what the traditional American political right has done is box themselves in a corner with the more moderate voters who balk at joining the cause to at least elect fiscally restrained sorts of people because criticism of any sort, constructive or not, isn’t tolerated. There seems to be no room for differences of opinion on the finer points.
And while the GOP “Establishment” needs the far political right to win – a widely recognized fact – so does the far right need moderates to win, something that the right just does not want to swallow.
Thus, the establishment working to break the romanticism of TEA to everyday Americans who aren’t necessarily passionate about limited government, but see rights and freedoms eroding, since the middle is needed to win elections. Their message will be that the TEA people are obstructionist – and the recent actions by those most admired by the American political right parlay right into that notion.
It’s very unfortunate (yeah, I know, guilt-ridden weasel word, but in this case true). And it’s more unfortunate for the GOP Establishment that they announced they are intentionally going to do it.
Is the leftist psy-ops playbook not available to them? It’s one thing for the TEA Party to not have it seeing as how it is a grassroots movement, but the establishment? To make psy-ops messaging work, letting on that it is happening is a big no-no. A whole herd of cats were let out of multiple bags with that announcement.
Hence the idea that thinking through actions, and working on messaging needs to be done – and done fast – before the Establishment gets rolling, has to be digested (because with the money available to them and the savvy of the marketing firms they will employ, the establishment is going to fight dirty for the soul of the party. Doesn’t matter that the base disagrees them, they know and understand the marketing strategies and tactics that will destroy the TEA Party influence among the undecided).
If the TEA Party, or political right if that term is preferred, is going to win at a national level, the people making the headlines are going to have to get their act together and have more than “conservative policies win” as a message. At this point, the recent track record is that conservative policies block anything getting done. With not just ObamaCare, but any number of other issues on the table, the stalemate will work against anyone perceived to be standing in the way of changing the way things are done, real or imagined.
Being piously pure is not going to do the trick against an opposition that already has the mattresses on the floor, to borrow an image from The Godfather. It just isn’t.
By the end of 2014, one side of the GOP will survive. Who that is going to be depends on whether passion overrides practicality. The passion is the reason the political right has come this far against entrenched forces. Now it’s time to employ practicality or the soul of the party may just switch to the other side.
P.s. There’s a lot more to marketing and messaging than meets the eye, and you get what you pay for. Skimp on this and ignore the professionals and nothing works the way you want it to.
P.s.s. Having a professional or graduate degree in any one subject does NOT make a person an expert at everything, particularly marketing. That goes double for M.D.s and J.D.s.
Categories: Republican Party