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Democracy ain’t pretty

Steve Kornacki at Salon:

This is just a preview of the GOP’s Tea Party hell

What’s most striking about the trauma the Tea Party inflicted on the Republican establishment in the Senate primary season that ended last week is how much worse it could have been.

Sure, the Tea Party base managed to dethrone two sitting senators, Utah’s Robert Bennett and Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski, and to scare another senator, Arlen Specter, and a governor, Charlie Crist, out of the party. And it knocked off establishment favorites in a handful of key states, like Delaware and Colorado, while scaring the bejesus out of others, like New Hampshire’s Kelly Ayotte (who survived her primary by 1,600 votes).


As it is, though, the Tea Party is out of Republican targets for 2010. But 2012 is just around the corner, and the Tea Party may pick up right where it left off when the next round of Senate primaries convenes..

This, at least, is what history suggests. The last time there was this much upheaval within the GOP was in the late 1970s, in the wake of Ronald Reagan’s challenge to President Gerald Ford in the 1976 primaries. While Reagan fell just inches short in that race, the writing was on the wall: The GOP’s demographics were changing and the conservative wing that Reagan represented would soon dominate; Ford’s win would be the Rockefeller crowd’s last stand.

After ’76, New Right activists set out to purge the remaining liberal Republicans from the party — a task that only took on more urgency when liberal Republican senators provided critical votes for Jimmy Carter’s Panama Canal treaty in 1977. To the right, this represented a blatant sellout of American sovereignty. In the 1978 midterms, the right organized several high-profile primary challenges. In New Jersey, they united behind a Reagan aide named Jeffrey Bell and took out an icon of liberal Republicanism, four-term Sen. Clifford Case. In Massachusetts, they rallied around a radio talk-show host and anti-busing crusader named Avi Nelson and nearly knocked off Sen. Ed Brooke, the only black Republican ever elected to the Senate. There was no collective name for the movement that did this, but in spirit and style, it was very much the Tea Party’s precursor.

And the movement didn’t stop in ’78 — not with Reagan running again in 1980, and not with liberal Republicans still roaming the halls of Congress. Down went Sen. Jacob Javits, Herbert Lehman’s literal and ideological Senate heir, in New York’s ’80 GOP primary, felled by a then-obscure Al D’Amato. Only after Reagan’s election did the purge mentality cease.

Apparently, unlike the Democratic party, the GOP still adheres to that archaic idea that their voters should pick their general election candidates. They have these things called “primaries” where the Republican party rank and file get to choose from among various people. Whoever gets the most votes gets to be the GOP nominee.

Shocking concept, isn’t it?

I’m no fan of the Tea Party but they’re playing the rules – and winning. Boo-fucking-hoo.

If you can’t join ’em, beat ’em. The Tea Party is to the right what PUMA should have been on the left. The Republicans have angry grassroots, the Democrats have Axelrod’s astroturf.

So when do we start purging blue-dogs and corporate shills?

84 Responses

  1. Democracy is a process not an outcome.

    When the Democrats manipulated the 2008 primaries to install Obama as the nominee they lost me forever. The Dems officially came out and let us know that they don’t give a shit what we want. If the Tea Party takes control of the next Congress it will be the fault of the Democratic Party leaders and their Obamabot followers.

  2. They have these things called “primaries” where the Republican party rank and file get to choose from among various people. Whoever gets the most votes gets to be the GOP nominee.

    Shocking concept, isn’t it?

    Yup, if we did, The Best Candidate That Just Happened To Be A WOMAN, Hillary R. Clinton would have been the NOMINEE…and Dean, Axelrod, Donna Brazile, Pelosi, and Obama would have had to honor the will of the VOTERS! That latter being those people that get the party elected!

    As to purging, the corporate shills are the motivating factor for disaster as it’s their funding that takes Democracy out of the hands of the people, as they can out spend and spend with NO LIMITS in elections…they were given PERSON RIGHTS, with more rights really than real persons. Us little folks have to play by the rules, corporate shills don’t.

    • Shocking!

      I don’t even get to vote and have my vote stolen, cut in half, or ignored in a primary. My state has this system where if you’re working, sick, caring for family, unable to drive or walk, you have no say. It’s called the caucus system.

  3. Looks like this election is a good candidate to start. Purging can be done by sitting out elections also. . .

    • Yup. The conservatives actually cost McCain the election. Lots of them sat on their hands in 2008, because they did not like his more moderate bent. Their compatriots screamed and yelled at the “traitors” who were handing the presidency to a Dem. They didn’t budge.

      And yes, they did hand the presidency to a Dem. They paid that price. But now, 2 scant years later, their party is falling all over themselves to move right.

      I’ve watched this play out several times in politics. You;d think the left would get a clue and realize that “I’ll bitch and moan, but always vote for you anyway” is really sucky leverage.

  4. As long as the unDemocratic party has caucuses that can be manipulated and superdelegates that can be bought there is little hope for democracy in the party. Obama and the DNC aren’t going to get rid of the system that gives them the power to control the outcome.

    • Donna Brazile at the RBC Meeting (Playing Poker with the VOTERS, VOTES…)

    • ITA. Get rid of the undemocratic caucuses which exclude working folks and single moms who can’t spare a day off to participate in the process. Get rid of a process that allows voters to be bussed in to steal votes from the folks who actually live there. Get rid of a process that allows voters to be intimidated at the polling place. Get rid of a process that does not count our votes!

      • It is a rigged system to give the ‘elites’ more voting power and taking the power away from the ONE PERSON ONE VOTE! To bad the media is to chicken to call it for what it is.

        We Will Not Be Silenced

      • Get rid of the undemocratic caucuses which exclude working folks and single moms who can’t spare a day off to participate in the process

        It’s not just one day. In the Washington State caucus, you go one day, for a few hours, to select your delegates who will represent your vote at the District Caucus held a couple weeks later. This second caucus starts very early in the morning and lasts until late in the afternoon or early evening. There is no food or water provided by the party. At the one I attended, one generous individual had a supply of water bottles that were shared, but if you didn’t know enough to bring food for yourself, you were out of luck. If you are unable to stay for the entire day through the mind-numbing minutia and you leave, the votes you are there to represent are up for grabs and can go to the other candidate. It’s beyond anti-democratic.

    • Don’t like it? Don’t vote for it.

      Such a simple solution, even us low information, non-creative class types understand it!

  5. Even Bill Clinton, while disagreeing with the Tea Party ideas, said on Sunday shows that EVERYONE should hear the real people of the tea party movement.

    Said that everyone that caused the financial crisis and the economy cratering seem to have done ok (banksters, government, etc), EXCEPT the “real people.” They’re asking now, in anger, “What about ME?” Urged his fellow Dems not to diss that concern.

    Not in a million years could The One have understood that, or expressed it that way.

    • Said that everyone that caused the financial crisis and the economy cratering seem to have done ok (banksters, government, etc), EXCEPT the “real people.”

      Yes, but no one has asked about this TRICKLE DOWN VOODOO ECONOMICS (That even the Democrats voted for with no clear verbiage to direct how the money was to be spent and no verbiage to prevent the CEOs from giving themselves millions in bonuses while they tightened credit for small businesses), which us older folks remember were a way to give to the ultra rich, the working folks got nothing.

      • Voodoo economics should be called “Doodoo economics”, because under VE/DE, the bonus classes get everything while the rest of us get doodoo. 😉

        • And then the bonus classes’ current spokesweasel Obummer chides us for our ingratitude at receiving doodoo. 😛

    • In essence WCJ says: don’t deny the people their right to be angry…. LOVE. THAT. MAN.

    • Like a cad boyfriend, he keeps playing his fools for time, only to stand them up when a better (for him) deal appears. Like a defiant daughter refusing to hear parent’s pleas for sanity, his adoring supporters push further and further with the race card, oblivious to the determined rejection by the burned & learned crowd. It’s tough love, taking down a President masquerading as a Democrat, American, but the real people have decided it’s us or HIM!

  6. Taunting the Tea Party over Christine O’Donnell
    RS Reliable Sources|CNN

    “There is never going to be a Bill in Washington about masturbation, and there is only one reason to show that video and that is to make fun of her…” -Debra Saunders

    • Saunders did say the other items are legitimate concerns regarding her candidacy. I might point out that Saunders is some what conservative in my view and I do think her views on funding for AIDS and also her view of those with AIDS does matter.

      I was there when we had to get permission to pass out condoms and talk about AIDS in colleges and I was there when people didn’t want hospices (I once asked what would they suggest we do with those in need of care with AIDS?) anywhere.

  7. Can we start the Social Security Party? I think it could work, ha.

  8. From the comments at Salon:

    It’s worth noting, Mr. Kornacki…

    …that up until the primaries, Salon was generally posting articles saying that the Tea Party was a joke, and their candidates buffoons, and that they had no serious chance of winning offices — indeed, the most they would do is split up the traditional Republican votes, giving more offices to Democratic candidates in the November election.

    I’ve been saying all along that we ignore their growing power — and the reason behind that power, which is the frustration and disenfranchisement of the ordinary American — at our peril as a nation.

    Salon writers such as yourself get nowhere by categorizing Tea Partiers as trolls, as “old people who will just die off (yeah, in about THIRTY YEARS!)”, as Luddites, or here as “John Birchers”.

    This is reality. These are many of our fellow Americans — and while their ANSWERS may not the be the same ones we would espouse, their ANGER comes from many of the same things liberals and moderates are also angry about….Wall Street bailouts, economic meltdowns, lying government officials, and the overwhelming sense that no matter who you vote for — Dems or Repubs — everything always turns out THE SAME WAY.

    We also all need to face the reality that if someone like Christine O’Donnell can be elected (and I think she can), then it will be very possible for Sarah Palin to run for President and be elected. If Ms. O’Donnell wins in November, I think the path for Ms. Palin will be cleared.

    Ridiculing the Tea Party — thinking we can dismiss the threat by looking down at people who “don’t think the way we do!” — means UNDERESTIMATING them.

    That means accepting that you don’t win elections with your snarky condescending opinions, or by getting off really good putdowns. And you do not win elections when you refuse to vote, or when you decide to support Nader or Kucinich or the Green Party.

    It definitely doesn’t help when the liberal response to losing is “I”ll move to Canada!”

    I can almost smell the whinging and the nashing of teeth in November, and in 2012 and beyond, RIGHT THIS VERY MINUTE.

    No, Mr. Kornacki, the Tea Partiers will NOT be less angry in two years. They will be MORE ANGRY, and if we have any hopes of winning any elections, we’d better be able to counter that anger and those arguments with something solid and well-thought-out of our own — with a STRATEGY, not with complacency and a snotty sense of entitlement.


    • She’s dead on. Sticking your fingers in your ears and insisting that all of the country is culturally just like you except those few marginal neanderthals, just because you wish it were so, is simply ignoring reality.

      Insulting and sneering at a big chunk of the country is not a path to viability for Dems. They’d better listen up, and fast, or it’s going to be a long dark decade or more in the wilderness.

      • Dead on, exactly!!! I Couldn’t have said it better!

      • She’s wrong about one thing, though:

        And you do not win elections when you refuse to vote, or when you decide to support Nader or Kucinich or the Green Party.

        I’m sorry, I just don’t buy this argument. I’m really tired of being blackmailed into supporting a party establishment that will sell me out at the drop of a corporate hat. The DNC really, really needs to get its posterior handed to it.

    • That means accepting that you don’t win elections with your snarky condescending opinions, or by getting off really good putdowns.

      Ouch! But that’s what they do best! You mean it doesn’t really do anything? They most likely would rather lose
      elections than accept their snark is powerless …there’s the rub

  9. Spammy got me, because of that trigger word!

  10. “….If you can’t join ‘em, beat ‘em. The Tea Party is to the right what PUMA should have been on the left. The Republicans have angry grassroots, the Democrats have Axelrod’s astroturf…”

    I’m glad you said that. Yesterday I read an interesting piece that compared them to the power of the left wave of the 60’s — only on the other side.
    The first time I ever voted was against Reagan At UCSB.

    Geez. From the Wikipedia:


    “….Reagan was involved in high-profile conflicts with the protest movements of the era. On May 15, 1969, during the People’s Park protests at UC Berkeley, Reagan sent the California Highway Patrol and other officers to quell the protests, in an incident that became known as “Bloody Thursday.”[70][71] Reagan then called out 2,200 state National Guard troops to occupy the city of Berkeley for two weeks in order to crack down on the protesters.[70] When the Symbionese Liberation Army kidnapped Patty Hearst in Berkeley and demanded the distribution of food to the poor, Reagan joked, “It’s just too bad we can’t have an epidemic of botulism.”[72]….”

    Do I ever remember that era. Watching the grown-ups, but protesting with all the Jr. High kids. And then there was Nixon.

    ps: Chicago Suntimes says Axelrod out.

    • I heard that about Axelrod too, VB. Word is that Plouffe is now da man. *snort*

    • Reagan joked, “It’s just too bad we can’t have an epidemic of botulism.”….”” Uncle Ronnie…so warm,and twinkly ….NOT.

    • Actually come to think of it, didn’t we have an epidemic of botulism?
      We did. And then there was all that generic food. Remember?
      There was no gas, either. But I didn’t drive yet. We all hitchhiked. Most people drove VW buses. What I can never understand about the top of the Baby Boom is how they got from there to where they are now.
      In terms of complacency.

    • How about when he threw jelly beans at the protesters that he wouldn’t meet with!

  11. Whaaaa? Salon published an article in which the Tea Party is called by its actual name? No cute sexual inuendo nick names?
    I am shocked, I tells ya!
    Interesting bit of history about Reagan and Ford – didn’t realize that.
    And notice how the right is going righter while the left is stuck in the “mocked-shocked” position. What will this do for the political dialog – and where will the new “center” be? Seniors on ice floes/no more than 2 new wars a year/torture limited to waterboarding?

  12. Greg Sargent:

    * White House flatly denies Times story about ad assault on Tea Party: The Times story linked above also claims the White House is planning an all out advertising assault on the GOP’s link to the Tea Party, and the story is getting lots of play on the right. But a White House senior adviser emails that the story is false:

    The New York Times got this one totally wrong. No one is weighing a national ad campaign.

    Indeed, even if such an ad campaign were being contemplated, it would be launched by the DNC, the political arm of the White House, not by the White House itself.

    Or maybe the Tea Partiers’ eager “Bring it on!” reaction made them reconsider.

  13. BTW, I am having one of my occasional bouts of killer insomnia, and right now have not slept in about 26 hours.

    It makes me chatty and the brain cells fire weirdly. So if I say something that makes no sense ignore me – I’ll be human again once I crash. 😀

    • You can sleep when you’re dead.

    • I did that when my computers got a virus and then could sleep once I was done fixing all the problems.

    • Here is a remedy: take advantage of the last to hours of sunshine, and go running for a few miles (as many as you can to tire the body). If running is not your cup of tea, leave the car at home, and walk all day (don’t forget to drink water), at least 6 hours, until the body relaxes with lots of fresh air and the body tires from the exercise. Take a hot bath before going to bed.

      • Here’s my favorite remedy:

        Purchase a fifth of your favorite liquor. Commence drinking one shot every ten minutes until unconsciousness occurs.

        Repeat as necessary.

  14. WSJ:

    A new comprehensive national survey shows that independent voters—who voted for Barack Obama by a 52%-to-44% margin in the 2008 presidential election—are now moving strongly in the direction of the Republican Party. The survey, conducted by Douglas E. Schoen LLC on behalf of Independent Women’s Voice in late August, raises the possibility of a fundamental realignment of independent voters and the dominance of a more conservative electorate.

    Today, independents say they lean more toward the Republican Party than the Democratic Party, 50% to 25%, and that the Republican Party is closer to their views by 52% to 30%. This movement comes in spite of independents’ generally negative views of the GOP—a majority of independents (54%) view the Republicans unfavorably, compared to 39% who have a favorable impression. (The poll also revealed that 48% of independents were either “sympathetic to or supporters of the tea party.”)

    Cue Paul Luksiak screaming “That’s a right-wing source!”

    • This movement comes in spite of independents’ generally negative views of the GOP…

      That’s telling. Thanks, Obama, the Great Uniter.

  15. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/earl-ofari-hutchinson/time-to-rethink-palin_b_730839.html

    A very good read from yesterday. I’m sure the old time Democrats like Clinton are aware of what happened when the Clinton voters were so hurt — loyalty wise. It’s not Palin’s glass ceiling. It was supposed to be Hillary’s. The way I see it? If Hillary were to run in 2012 we could get the Clintons back. I’m not sure how they would fix things but, at least the country would be stable, emotionally.

    One thing about the Clintons? You get two of them! Both of them could solve things. If it goes the other way? I just see incredible pandemonium.

    At this point, and after that Huchinson article and what Powell said — it is time for the Dems to take off the rose colored glasses and get real. In this case, the Dems had better think long and hard about what is actually going on in the country.

    • While a guest on the Jon Stewart show, Pres Clinton said that he sets aside about an hour each day to study the economy and how to fix it. Interesting comment. Could this mean that HRC will run in 2012?

      Also, hearing Bill speak about the issues and give advice to the WH just brought tears to my eyes.

  16. Widdershins (today)-

    In my opinion, people who voted for Barack Obama in 2008 were voting on faith. There was no real record of accomplishments to go on; he had hardly any experience in the federal government; and his policy positions were so amorphous, that he was able to get away with saying both “Jerusalem must be undivided” and “Jerusalem must be divided” in the space of 24 hours. Those of us who were treating Obama like any other candidate – using reason instead of faith – kept shaking our heads in disbelief as none of the Post-Partisan One’s gigantic mistakes, any one of which would have felled any ordinary Democrat, failed to penetrate the consciousness of our family and friends in real life, as well as the blogosphere. They believed in Obama, and their belief was unshakeable. I could point out that reason was a much more reliable tool for predicting Obama’s actions as President, but I think we all know that by now…
    Unliberated Woman (dec. 2009)-
    This article in the Washington Posts does due diligence for calling out liberals who are getting the big old letdown from their Messiah.

    But at least as much blame for the disillusionment goes to progressives who simply expected too much of him. Some are disappointed that the Nobel Peace Prize winner proposed even higher defense spending than George W. Bush did — but Obama never said he would cut the Pentagon’s budget. Many liberals are disappointed that he isn’t pushing the “public option” more forcefully in the health-care debate — but it was never something Obama emphasized during the campaign.
    I know why these liberals are suddenly shocked – because they WILLINGLY (again, emphasis on WILLINGLY) ignored that Obama was an ambition politician, an empty-suit who would say anything to get elected. Seriously, this was a politician who threw his pastor of 20-years under the bus in order to present himself as more mainstream and less controversial, and NOW you want to question his inability to stick to campaign/ideology promises, Michael Moore? Wake up and smell the false rhetoric you bozo!  And get a Q-tip to clean out yo ears while you’re at it – because you obviously have some listening issues.

    John W. Smart (today)-

    It seems that finally…FINALLY…those who supported Obama fervently are beginning to see the light. Obama throws everyone under the bus eventually. It’s part of his pathology. That many Democrats are only now realizing this is proof of the extraordinary level of denial they indulged it. Obama has been throwing people under the bus since he began his career. Anyone with a computer and internet access could have – with minimal effort – known the truth about Obama
    I’ll insist again: If the Democrats expect to recover they must throw Obama under the bus. He is the problem. The DNC made a generational mistake. They, all of them, need to own their mistake.

    Calling what the DNC did “a mistake” is way too charitable. 




    • Many liberals are disappointed that he isn’t pushing the “public option” more forcefully in the health-care debate…

      President Obama blocked SINGLE PAYER, HE TOOK THE PUBLIC OPTION OUT OF THE TABLE OF DISCUSSIONS (no one could utter ‘Public Option, not even Charlie Gibbs as part of the interviews, remember) and He Killed THE MEDICARE BUY IN!

      He was fighting alright, for the REPUBLICAN AGENDA!

      • Yes, but the hand writing was on the wall when Pelosi, the liberal from San Francisco helped the GOP president to give billions to the banks with no strings attached, and then selected the candidate in 2008. It’s no just Obama. It’s the party.

      • But he did push the “public option” forcefully. He pushed it forcefully under the bus, right beside single payer. He had to pack them pretty tightly, too, because he needs the room for Social Security and Medicare.

    • In my opinion, people who voted for Barack Obama in 2008 were voting on faith.

      I guess St. Paul was right along, then. Faith really is “the evidence of things not seen.”

  17. The Big Cheeto tweets:

    New PPP results for dkos, will post tomorrow — Feingold down by double digits, MASSIVE intensity gap.

    I like Russ, but he climbed on the Obama train, and will sadly pay the price. Tidal wave.

  18. I understood that the Democratic Party was dead, but this post makes it more clear how stagnant and foul it is. Uh-huh, there will never be a McGovern or any other populist leader to shake the party again.

    Thank you Tea Party for cleaning the Democratic Party for me.

  19. Tea Party Analysis Roundup

  20. How The Guardian is summing up what is going on.


    Here is what I think. Americans were in anguish post 9/11 and the country has been in a double bind. The economy. The stolen election which was like 2000 redux, for those who remember.

    What stimulus? Where? Banks going under. Houses swept away.
    Taxed to death. People are in an era where they are finished caring — or? They can’t afford to help. The vanished middle class.

    The Democrats in Exile wanted Hillary because we knew it would be a sigh of relief. But look what the Democratic Party did to itself. Also? Brazile insulted every Democrat who was for Hillary.

    Democrats have always been about helping the poor. That Scot’s – Irish thing is a huge backdrop as MIQ put it. To watch the Democrats party hardy in the White House while the country suffers?
    The fake Nobel. The globalism when our country is hurting.

    The double bind over the war.

    I think what the country needs is EXPERIENCED politicians who are willing to work together. The problems our country faces should be FOREMOST in the minds in Washington. Not parties. Not infighting.

    What this is about is like Bastille Day? I feel. Two years ago we were blogging about FDR and the WPA. The Clintons could do that.
    Really fast. The lofty ideals about caring for everybody else on the globe first aren’t working in this era.

    I’m sure this looks very different state to state. And with all the different state’s personalities. To me? The Clintons have a “sober” take and they have been in politics all their lives.

    They would know what to do. I also feel that way about somebody like McCain. They had all better get off their lofty little clouds and get to work very soon. Nobody will be voting for Obama again. By the time the Tea Party is finished doing what it has started. The Obama voter who was Republican is part of the Tea Party. The Democrats who are fed up are part of the Tea Party. If Obama cares about his old political party, he should help the Clintons right now. Starting now. If it is true that there is going to be a Republican sweep in November, which I believe will be true?

    I care very much about my old political party. Nostalgia I guess.
    I think the Clintons would be able to work with the Republicans who get voted in. I hope so.

    Here at the Confluence it has always been a middle ground of sanity — ever since it started. Both political parties should get over themselves and start finding common ground while that is still possible.

    That Guardian article is really good.

    Another thing I think the Clinton’s could take care of? The FDA and its altered salmon. Hillary Clinton was working too hard to bake cookies. I’m sure she would reform whatever is currently toxic in the FDA though. “It takes a village.”

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