Surely 2010 will go down in American history books as one of the more interesting years in American history.
2010 is in many ways a lot like both 1884 and 1992.
1884 gave us the Mugwumps – conservative and moderate Republicans that revolted and openly distanced themselves from the official choices of the Republican Party. In many cases the Mugwumps actively worked against Republican candidates, this includes even the Republican nominee for president. Unlike today, Mugwumps were a top down revolt of Republicans already elected that thought the party was on the wrong path.
1992 — how quickly we forget the anger that existed, to include real concern about our national debt. National polling shows that Americans were much more “angry” at the government back in 1992, significantly much more angry. That anger got channeled however through the candidacy of Ross Perot who stepped forward and very explicitly challenged the political establishment — with charts and predictions in hand Ross Perot made a difference. We later got “Contract with America” which turned out to be: vote us in, we promise to use all of your favorite buzzwords, and then we’ll do what is best for the party.
Ross Perot got my vote and the vote of 19% of America in 1992.
The lessons of 1884 and 1992 are that populist movements to reform government are usually shortlived. They can linger on for a few years; Ross Perot later formally founded the Reform Party which actually won some elections. We have some few remaining elected officials here in Virginia that are officially Reform Party … this is now a party footnoted in history.
Without structure and organization there is no future for a movement. Perhaps even with structure there is no future; witness the inability of the Libertarian Party to connect, or the Constitutionalist Party — the “fastest growing party in America” as it bills itself … I don’t think so.
So here we are at 2010. Anger we have plenty of, but alas no Ross Perot to represent us or any central personality capable of convincing America that someone with a name cares. There is no cross-generational Ronald Reagan, whom we literally had decades to know and to mature with and to evolve with. 2010 is all about chaos, impending financial entropy on a scale that we cannot yet imagine … although some are trying hard.
2010 is all about having to represent ourselves against the machine — and the machine is both red and blue.
Tea or coffee? Coffee or Tea?
Until now I have been uninvolved in the TEA Party movement. I don’t do anger. Anger blinds you and makes you do silly stuff. I’m a solutions person. I have never let not knowing what I am doing get in the way of achieving something. Until recently the TEA Party movement has largely been against and not for anything. That is changing.
The TEA movement is maturing, and now that the Republicans (Romney/Rove/Steele) have informed TEA Partyers that they really are Republicans and that they should act accordingly, there is more sober thought among TEAers to consider what comes next. Conservative Texas’ voter thumping of TEA candidates has also caused many TEAers to pause and to reflect.
Now comes this new creature: the Coffee Party. The premise of Coffee is that government is not the enemy. It may not have the answer, but it is not the enemy.
We are the government. If it is wrong then we are wrong. Coffee suggests that ‘we the people’ should focus our energies on helping guide government by being both its watchdog and by being involved. We must do more than be angry. We must be part of the solution.
So for me I will now get involved in both. Although many in TEA distrust Coffee, and certainly Coffee is in reaction to TEA, we are at a crossroads in American history. They both are a distraction and yet they both may hold answers.
One thing is certain: 2010 is the chapter that follows 1884 and 1992.
BTW #1 – some good did come out of 1992. Congress seriously took up the challenge to pass a constitutional amendment to balance the budget. 1995 was the closest that Congress has ever come to voting yes and then allowing the states to consider and to vote on this amendment. That said, the vote was 65 Yea and 35 Nay in the Senate. Here is a brief history of past attempts to pass a Balanced Budget Amendment.
BTW #2 – Republicans claim to be serious about passing some form of a Balanced Budget Amendment if only we give them the chance. Really? Those two wild and crazy South Carolinians Lindsey Graham and Jim DeMint (both R-SC) introduced a Balanced Budget Amendment in 2007. Surely you remember!? Don’t you? Surely you do. Anyway, Republicans always run to this ploy when politically in trouble. I believe that Graham and DeMint were serious about it — but where was the rest of the party?
This post by Bill Golden, aka Bill4DogCatcher.com, an independent observer of American political life, economics, and workforce issues.