Outlasting the Tea Party

Both Mitt and Barack are competing for very few undecided voters, in very few swing states, very few of whom are listening. And yet the media is saturated with horse race commentary, punditry, biting advertising, and incessant blah, blah, blah. It could be accurately said that the ones who are listening are unaffected by what they hear, they just like to listen; it is the persuadable are largely unreachable. The very, very small portion of uncommitted, open minded listeners is minute indeed. The campaigns and the press must have to turn over a lot of rocks to find them, given that ranting is not conducive to thoughtfulness; it is more the realm of the opinionated.

So, the majority is a collection of the quiet. Most of them are settled into their political perspective, though they dutifully watch the national debate. I think most people want a calm life. Regardless of where on the political spectrum lies their view, or if they should have any strong opinion at all, these people seek peace in their routine and relative control of their lives. Clearly, these are not the people that will inspire good media ratings. They are who Nixon referred to as the silent majority.

The volume of the ranting, especially from the right has no doubt influenced the tone and content of the national debate. All of this fuss has left the silent majority behind. Paul Ryan’s “Fuss Budget,” as per the New York Times got way more attention than budgets that came from the middle. The Tea Party in general has lit up and is attempting to take over the Republican Party. We must wonder about the nature of the Silent Majority; how big are they any more, and what do they have to say about the direction the country should go? In Texas, the silent majority did not speak very loudly, as many raised our eyebrows at Ted Cruze’ recent primary victory. I am confident that Texas has too many Republicans to give the Democrat challenger Paul Sadler a chance this November. Texas’ Silent Majority are still largely Republicans.

It’s the noise that these extremists make that bothers me the most. Evidently, they vote enough to be counted. And Lord knows, they bloviate on enough to be heard. And their spanner-in-the-works actions have produced some pretty sad and detrimental results. Congress can’t get anything done. The hyper-partisan stalemate makes a difficult economy worse. As the cliché we heard from everyone’s teacher goes, the bad behavior of a few has ruined it for the rest of us. I feel for Mitt Romney. His party anointed him partly for his supposed ability to negotiate fractured and corrupted situations. Assuming he has any core personal integrity, the whining in his party has overshadowed his chances at generating any unity. And like spoiled children in public, these rude noisemakers have not been disciplined adequately by any responsible leadership, and they have placed the general public order in a mess. It is fair and accurate to say that most of any shortcomings of the Obama administration can be blamed on the Tea Party.

The only solution to this is an energized whole electorate. We can ignore the din of rightist media. We can even outlast the bile we overhear on street corners. Crazy people, though they are wrong, have a right to exist. There are places for them, just Not in My Back Yard. The Silent Majority must – at the very least – get to the polls. For the sake of the economy and the sanity of the rest of us, I really hope we see calm on the horizon. Vote, thinking people, vote.


About Jim

I've been leading outdoor environmental education in the YMCA since the 1970s. I love teaching nature, history, current events, being a dad, fixing stuff, groups, and general thinking.
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2 Responses to Outlasting the Tea Party

  1. JP says:

    Jim, you’re absolutely right. And though you don’t mention it, I read your post as a call to abolish the electoral college. You may or may not mean that, or even agree with it, and I think it would accomplish much of what you hope for. Where I live, and where you live, there is no point in getting seriously involved in either campaign, for we know that Obama will win Illinois and Romney will win Texas. If there were no electoral college, then I would have reason to get far more involved in Illinois, wanting Obama to win by as large a margin as possible here, for it would matter. The media is no help, because they like the electoral college in that it can make elections seem much closer than they really are. This election looks close because it comes down to a few swing states. Obama leads nationwide in popular vote polls only by a couple points (though it is much harder to move the nation a couple points than it is a couple swing states). And if that widened, then what’s a poor media that needs ad dollars and a good story to do? Right, who cares about the media’s profits. It would be good for the country if more people were more involved, and felt their vote counted, and were engaged in the issues. Without the electoral college it would also minimize the influence of fringe groups like the tea party. While they could still influence state races, without the electoral college a lot more mainstream voters in those states might get involved in the process sooner, and that would mitigate the tea party influence. Without the electoral college I think it would be far easier to make the case that every vote counts. There are criticisms to be made for getting rid of. Some say it would be unfair to smaller states where neither candidate would campaign. True, but now they focus most of their campaigns on a handful of swing states, and that’s hardly more fair. Some small states, Iowa and NH, of course, have outsized influence in the primaries. If there was a very close election a nationwide recount would be difficult; far more difficult than a recount in one state. But I think we’ve pretty rarely if ever had a popular vote that close, and it’s hardly a convincing reason to keep the outdated and undemocratic electoral college.
    Like most good ideas in politics, all that is keeping it from getting done is any remaining semblance of a government of, by, and for the people.

    • Jim says:

      To nix the Electoral College would be akin to the direct election of US Senators amendment, which remains controversial today. To just go by popular election for presidents would send all the competition to urban areas; leading to something like how the Yankees keep thinking they can buy the World Series. I am not for that. I’ll tell you what might be nice, though. A rotation set by the feds for the dates for primary elections. Iowa has been bought by the extreme right. I say they have lost their claim to any sort of honest American expression. New Hampshire has not yet sold out. Neither of these things are likely to happen, though. Especially in an election year.

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