I recently cofounded a unique beast in Prince William County, Virginia: Prince William’s Future, which is both a Tea Party and Coffee Party chapter.
OK, so maybe I’m a little crazy at times. Maybe crazy like a fox or just plain crazy. History will judge me. I’m ignoring all judgments prior to history’s final opinion.
What I can tell you is that the Tea Party will make itself felt as a political power between now and the 2012 election. What happens after that I have a hunch about … but will save that for another blog item.
Per a recent New York Times/CBS Poll: Tea Party supporters are wealthier and more well-educated than the general public … the 18% of Americans who identify as Tea Party tend to be Republican, white, male, married and older than 45 … they are more conservative than Republicans in general and responded to the CBS/NY Times poll as more “angry” than “dissatisfied” … and the majority do NOT want Sarah Palin for president.
This NY Times/CBS poll is actually a very good demographic description of the Tea Party Movement, and is the first ever attempt to investigate and to present a picture of what the Tea Party is comprised of within its support base.
The level of support in the belief system of Tea Party supporters is very stark:
- 90%+ of Tea Party supporters think the country is headed in the wrong direction, compared with about 60 percent of the general public.
- Nearly 9 in 10 disapprove of the job Mr. Obama is doing over all, and about the same percentage fault his handling of major issues: health care, the economy and the federal budget deficit.
- 92% believe Mr. Obama is moving the country toward socialism, an opinion shared by more than half of the general public.
— The country is indeed headed in the wrong direction, but it was well on its way before President Obama arrived. President Obama has also done good, too.
— On policy, President Obama gets a solid ‘C’. On health care he did what he said he would, his economic policies are a continuation of Bush’s policies almost without any modification, and on the federal budget deficit: it is only some amount of time before the U.S. government and we as a nation will be forced to declare bankruptcy. Our economic problems are not all due to Obama, probably most are NOT … but recent trends (financial collapse, bailouts, stimulus spending, the health care bill from hell) led Federal Reserve Chief Bernanke to warn last week that just our ANNUAL interest payments on the national debt/deficit could easily hit $1 Trillion by 2020. (Tim Geithner acknowledges that it is a possible scenario, but doesn’t believe it probable … probably with his fingers crossed.)
— Leading the country to socialism? No. President Obama is a traditional liberal. That doesn’t make him a socialist. But if he were a socialist what would it matter in a democracy where socialists can be voted out of office — socialists are democratic, too.
My greatest disappointment in President Obama is that he failed to deliver on open and transparent government. He could probably have allayed many of the concerns that Americans have about him if he had started off just delivering that simple promise.
As for Tea Partyers, I am also disappointed in the Tea Party. There is too much focus on emotional appeals ‘to save the nation’ and a distinct lack of intellectual honesty when it comes to critique of President Obama.
In my book, many Tea Partyers are angry because they gambled that Obama could be defeated. And they lost. They gambled that health care reform could be torpedoed and they lost.
To my fellow Tea Partyers: take a deep breath and consider: by looking the other way and not taking care of business from 2000-2008 made the election of President Obama possible.
I was very vocal on the national debt in 2004 and 2005 — when President Bush’s own numbers showed that we had lost the ability to maintain, much less tame, national debt. But my voice was a very lonely voice, except for the Concord Coalition.
Continued refusal to think a little deeper about how we got here will probably create a situation where we end up Bill Clinton II — after he and the Democrats were neutered in 1994, Clinton went on to achieve some impressive things in his second term because he had the power of the veto pen. Once Republicans took Congress they had to act like they were in power — and to do that they had to get past that veto pen.
We all should take a deep breath: wealthy or poor, well educated or otherwise. Let’s drop the name calling and try working together. We cannot do this alone. And certainly 18% of America is enough folks to make life miserable for our political opponents, but it is not a future without a rational plan — someone does have a plan, right?