Can eclectic distributed electorate produce governance?
American government is beginning to look more like Iraq. Something must have rubbed off the wrong way. I mean, in Iraq it has taken forever to seat the President and to assemble a working group of legislators. What is happening in the United States that makes me draw a comparison, albeit a rough one?
The American two-party system has worked fairly well for a long time. Eventually, when representatives are committed to the peoples’ business, they collaborate and reach compromise that is a product of democracy.
Story version #1
Trouble began when extreme right and extreme left began representing the parties and the people in the middle did not feel comfortable aligning with either extreme. Instead of trying to gain control of one or the other party, some people in the middle decided to form one of their own. Therefore the eclectic distributed electorate rallied for a third and called it the Tea Party movement.
Story version #2
Trouble began with the Republican Party composition skewed to the right. Republican moderates wanted to keep control, but the right wing kept moving rightward and spun off into the Tea Party movement. To win elections, the Republicans need the Tea Party so they began to fund TP initiatives to buy support. Now, there is a lose arrangement to defeat Democrats where the extreme right have found homes in both the R and TP parties.
Story version #3
Trouble began after Obama became President and Congress was left-leaning and wanting to drive the President’s agenda with a club. The President had his own set of priorities not all of which were in alignment with Congressional leadership. Legislation suffered as a result because compromises split loyalties in the President’s own party. Some of the newly found Democrat voters who were crossovers from moderate Republicans went home to escape the liberal left. Economic conditions and heavy workload diminished the President’s capacity to get things done his way. Now, his legislative advantage is falling apart.
Story version #4
Tea Party emerged for all of the reasons described in story versions 1-3. The TP wins some seats because an eclectic distributed electorate produced some wins. Does that mean that the new legislature will perform better than the old one? To answer that question, one must consider two variables: 1) elasticity of TP winners to embrace a collaborative approach, 2) elasticity of the President to work with what the electorate has delivered.
“Gauging the scope of the tea party movement in America
By Amy Gardner
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, October 24, 2010; 12:01 AM
In an unruly, unpredictable and chaotic election year, no group has asserted its presence and demanded to be heard more forcefully than the tea party. Thegrass-roots movement that was spawned with a rant has gone on to upend the existing political order, reshaping the debate in Washington, defeating a number of prominent lawmakers and elevating a fresh cast of conservative stars.
But a new Washington Post canvass of hundreds of local tea party groups reveals a different sort of organization, one that is not so much a movement as a disparate band of vaguely connected gatherings that do surprisingly little to engage in the political process.
The results come from a months-long effort by The Post to contact every tea party group in the nation, an unprecedented attempt to understand the network of individuals and organizations at the heart of the nascent movement.
Seventy percent of the grass-roots groups said they have not participated in any political campaigning this year. As a whole, they have no official candidate slates, have not rallied behind any particular national leader, have little money on hand, and remain ambivalent about their goals and the political process in general.
"We're not wanting to be a third party," said Matt Ney, 55, the owner of a Pilates studio and a founder of the Pearland Tea Party Patriots in Pearland, Tex. "We're not wanting to endorse individual candidates ever. What we're trying to do is be activists by pushing a conservative idea."
The group, with 25 active members, meets to discuss policies and listen to speakers, Ney said. "We provide opportunities for like-minded people to get together," he said.
The local groups stand in contrast to - and, in their minds, apart from - a handful of large national groups that claim the tea party label. Most of those outfits, including FreedomWorks and Tea Party Express, are headed by longtime political players who have used their resources and know-how to help elect a number of candidates.
The findings suggest that the breadth of the tea party may be inflated. The Atlanta-based Tea Party Patriots, for example, says it has a listing of more than 2,300 local groups, but The Post was unable to identify anywhere near that many, despite help from the organization and independent research.
In all, The Post identified more than 1,400 possible groups and was able to verify and reach 647 of them. Each answered a lengthy questionnaire about their beliefs, members and goals. The Post tried calling the others as many as six times. It is unclear whether they are just hard to reach or don't exist.
Mark Meckler, a founding member of the Tea Party Patriots, said: "When a group lists themselves on our Web site, that's a group. That group could be one person, it could be 10 people, it could come in and out of existence - we don't know. We have groups that I know are 15,000 people, and I have groups that I know are five people."
'We can't always agree'
There is little agreement among the leaders of various groups about what issue the tea party should be most concerned about. In fact, few saw themselves as part of a coordinated effort.
The most common responses were concerns about spending and limiting the size of government, but together those were named by less than half the groups. Social issues, such as same-sex marriage and abortion rights, did not register as concerns.”