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Monday, November 10, 2014

US Midterms: Suppressing Aspirations of Republicanism Does Not Eliminate Them

By Staff News & Analysis - November 10, 2014

With Fear of Being Sidelined, Tea Party Sees the Republican Rise as New Threat ... As most Republicans were taking a victory lap the morning after the elections, a group of conservatives huddled anxiously in a conference room not far from Capitol Hill and agreed that now is the time for confrontation, not compromise and conciliation. Despite Republicans' ascension to Senate control and an expanded House majority, many conservatives from the party's activist wing fear that congressional leaders are already being too timid with President Obama. – New York Times

Dominant Social Theme: The Tea Party Movement has been diminished but not neutered. The politics of compromise is not yet ascendant – but thank goodness things are getting back to normal.
Free-Market Analysis: The great destroyer of freedom in the US is the "politics of compromise." And this is the meme now in play since the Republican mid-term victory.

The mainstream media and its allied interests have cast the victory as one for "moderates" that repudiated Tea Party "radicalism." How these commentators reached this conclusion is not clear, nor is it clear – according to this analysis – how the mind of the average Republican voter operated.

Did this voter, as is being implied, decide to vote for Republicans based on the perception that the party had lurched back to the "center"? Did the voter pull the Republican lever while thinking, "These folks have repudiated Tea Party radicalism and I'm glad I can entrust them with my vote once again?"

That's how it seems according to a steady stream of articles now being posted by mainstream media journos. Here's more from the New York Times:

Establishment Republicans, who had vowed to thwart the Tea Party, succeeded in electing new lawmakers who are, for the most part, less rebellious. And when the new Congress convenes in January, the Republican leaders who will take the reins will be mainly in the mold of conservatives who have tried to keep the Tea Party in check.

... One thing that will prove popular among the base is a commitment by Senator Mitch McConnell, the presumptive new majority leader, to bring up a bill that would ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, which he is expected to do next year.

Whether the party can reconcile more demands of its base with the will of its leadership could determine how enduring the Republican Senate majority will be. The crop of senators up for re-election in 2016 includes those elected in the first Tea Party wave of 2010. And in a sign of what is at stake, even some of them are sounding notes of compromise and caution that would have been unthinkable at the height of the right's resurgence.

"I understand the frustrations of the conservative base; I am one of them," said Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, one of the original class of Tea Party-inspired senators. "I also recognize reality."

"We're not going to pass the entire conservative agenda tomorrow. We can certainly lay it out," Mr. Johnson added. "Let's start with the things we can pass. Doesn't that make more sense?"

The idea here is a familiar one and has to do with choosing realism over ideology and practicality over purity. Politics, we are told, is a messy business that should be conducted behind closed doors. One doesn't like to watch sausage being made, either.

It is this ideology that supposedly propelled Republicans to victory. And it is this ideology that has been verbalized by Republican leaders. These leaders have taken to expressing the need for compromise and for meeting their Democratic counterparties halfway.

And yet is this a valid perception? Mainstream Republican leaders often seem eager to create political compromises that can result in additional, "successful" legislation. The Tea Party put a momentary stop to the endless manufacturing of such legislation, preferring to stand in the way of objectionable or freedom-sapping laws.

Interestingly, the above article mentions one legislative initiative that may be brought to the floor that has to do with abortion. But if one examines the Tea Party movement as a whole, it was a response to high taxes, over-regulation and a Republican Party that was indistinguishable from its Democratic adversary on a variety of fronts.

This stance, in fact, remains an animating force within Tea Party ranks. And even the Times article acknowledges this truth in the latter portion of its reporting:

... Other lawmakers popular with the Tea Party base are saying the fight is on. As votes were still being counted on election night Tuesday, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas said Republicans could still work through Congress to dismantle the Affordable Care Act — even though the president is guaranteed to veto anything Congress passes that undermines it.

"After winning a historic majority, it is incumbent on us to honor promises and do everything humanly possible to stop Obamacare," Mr. Cruz said in an interview.
 ... Tea Party conservatives, many of whom argue that the government shutdown last year was a sound strategy, said they were baffled by remarks after the election by Mr. McConnell that the Senate under his control would prioritize policies that Republicans knew Democrats would also support.
... Any perception that Mr. McConnell is not sufficiently committed to repealing the health care law, despite his running hard against it in his own re-election campaign, would renew the same fissures among Republicans that preceded the government shutdown.

"That would cause a civil war inside the Republican Party," said Richard Viguerie, a longtime conservative activist, referring to anything the party's base saw as a halfhearted attempt at repeal. "There's almost zero trust between the base and the Republican leaders."

This last perception – admittedly aimed at Obamacare – rings true for a variety of issues, in our view. Surely there is a mainstream perspective of many Independent and Republican voters that fedgov remains out-of-control and even the most destructive trends have not been sufficiently ameliorated.
Here's a concluding paragraph from the article:

"The for-profit wing of the Republican Party will always have a voice, but after this last election, they don't have much credibility," said Scott Reed, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's senior political strategist. "I'm not sure many folks will listen to it much longer. Governing still matters, and the good news is, everybody who was elected is into governing."

What this tells us is that divide between Republican grassroots activism and party leaders is probably as wide as ever. If, indeed, Republican leaders have convinced themselves that the insights gained and internalized by grassroots supporters regarding the way US politics operates have dissipated, they may have reached the wrong conclusions.

It is certainly possible that the Tea Party has been diminished, at least temporarily, as an electoral force. If that is the case, the current Republican victory is not just a repudiation of Democratic policies; it is also evidence that mainstream Republicanism has regained its grip.

But this has little or nothing to do with the larger issues that created the Tea Party in the first place. These issues are likely no more resolved today than yesterday.

And this is really the critical point. It is one we've been writing about for a long time. In the 20th century voters' knowledge of regulatory democracy was scant: The idea for many was that the system had evolved, as it must.

But more than a decade of Internet education and activism has changed the perceptions of millions, even tens of millions. Meanwhile, various efforts aimed at suppressing this knowledge and its results have played out in the public forums that technology now provides.

The whole idea of the modern demos is to provide the assurance to the voter that his or her voice is being heard. But the brutal suppression of the Ron Paul campaign and the determination of Republican leaders to squelch the rising tide of libertarian republicanism has confirmed for many that what was once seen as "normal" was indeed contrived.

This is no small matter. As people increasingly conclude that everything from central bank monopoly fiat currency to the military-industrial complex itself is at least questionable, the entire social compact can begin to crack.
Lest this sound alarmist, consider what is going on in Mexico as of this writing. Here's an excerpt from a Guardian article entitled "Protesters set fire to Mexican Palace."

Attack on building in Mexico City caps day of protest at the apparent massacre of 43 students ... Tens of thousands of people in recent weeks have taken to the streets of Mexico City and those of the southwestern state of Guerrero where the students were abducted to decry the government's handling of the case in recent weeks.

There were more protests outside the Guerrero state government headquarters on Saturday as classmates of the missing students set fire to vehicles. The unrest has been fuelled by comments made by the attorney general Jesus Murillo at a press conference on Friday to announce that the charred remains of bodies believed to be those of the students had been found.

After speaking to the media for a hour he said "ya me canse", an expression in Spanish meaning "I've had enough" or "I'm tired", and walked away. Mexicans have seized on the comments on social media and are using the remarks as a rallying cry, saying they have had "enough of fear".

The case is the toughest challenge yet to face Pena Nieto, who took office two years ago vowing to restore order in Mexico, where about 100,000 people have died in violence linked to organized crime since 2007.

What the article doesn't indicate is that popular dissatisfaction includes the government of Pena Nieto, which many Mexicans apparently consider to be incorrigibly corrupt.

Mexican democracy has been dysfunctional for decades but the current level of dissatisfaction – after sustained cartel drug violence – seems a good deal higher than in the past. Again, we'd attribute at least some of it to the availability of modern-day communication technology.

When an electorate senses that the political dialogue has veered away from the reality of their lives and lifestyles, then widespread sociopolitical convulsions can take place – even significant violence.

Is this happening in the US? We'd argue that it is. What mainstream Republicans are congratulating themselves for doing – suppressing the formal manifestation of Tea Party ideology – may only be storing up more trouble for later on.

The Internet Reformation is real and continues, in our view. Suppress it and it will manifest in new and perhaps more dangerous ways. For these reasons, we continue to advocate asset protection, offshore investments including gold and silver and real estate and, of course, second passports and other elements that support one's independent movement around the world at will.

There is no going back, only forward. The idea that business-as-usual can be reestablished in Western regulatory democracies is a fanciful one. The determined suppression of the trends that we note every day will not make them disappear but may, in fact, make them stronger or at least more unpredictable.

Western regulatory democracies may be reaching the end of their abilities to control voters' aspirations in a credible way. Disenchantment is obvious: Electoral participation continues to plunge; government generally – in the US and abroad – is increasingly seen as lacking credibility.

These are the trends that matter, far more than the election or reelection of this politician or that. It is surely the erosion of belief in the fundamentals of the system that is to be feared by those with a stake in creating and sustaining it.

And from what we can observe, they are worried, indeed.

via TheDailyBell