Palin in Wonderland: Why the Tea Party Must Kick Out Sarah Palinby: Rob Chapman-Smith ‘10
With organization, the Tea Party could become a lasting force in our political landscape
For the first time in a long time, the American political landscape has the potential to be something other than a two party system. The conservatively-principled “Tea Party” is gaining momentum as a political movement. Tea Party rallies take place all over the country and have been happening more frequently as people feel the need to publicly vent frustrations over “Obamacare.” While there is no “official” doctrine of the Tea Party, there are many similarities between Libertarians and Tea Baggers. Love of free markets, lower taxes, smaller government, and non-interventionist foreign policy seem to be the cogent themes of the Tea Party movement. Politicians, ever the opportunists, are attempting to bolster themselves by jumping on the Tea Party bandwagon and using the inertia of the movement as a propellant into potential White House runs. One politician in particular seems interested in capitalizing on the Tea Party movement: Russian foreign policy expert Sarah Palin.
Few things could be more detrimental to the growth of the Tea Party than jumping into bed with the biggest political gaffe machine this side of Dukakis. Outside of a disdain for most things Obama, Palin and the Tea Party have little in common. During the 2008 campaign, Palin blamed predatory lending for the housing crisis and issued support for the first economic stimulus passed by President Bush. As governor of Alaska, Palin instituted a windfall profits tax on Alaskan oil companies that is “successful” enough that all Alaskan’s receive an estimated $3,200 check from the state. According to aides on the McCain campaign, Palin had to be informed that Africa is a continent, not a country. Palin is, in many ways, the antithesis of what the Tea Party is supposed to represent.
During the campaign, Palin made no mention of how government perverted incentives through the Community Reinvestment Act or of the potential moral hazard that is created by government bailouts. Palin talks a big game about the slide to socialism and the dangers of “spreading the wealth,” but during her reign as governor Palin enacted one of the biggest wealth spreading programs in America. Palin can attempt to put lipstick on a pig, but even if Palin used all the makeup in existence, she would not be able to paint herself as an individual who understands how markets function.
Outside of Ron Paul and senatorial candidate Peter Schiff, most republicans jumping on the Tea Party bandwagon are doing so simply to adjust to the shifting political winds. If prior decisions are a precursor of belief, then it is safe to say that few Republican politicians seem to actually believe in the principles that constitute most of the Tea Party movement. If the Tea Party wants to move forward as a legitimate political force, it needs to be untethered from the overtly Neo-Con Republican Party. While both groups dislike the actions of the current administration, the Tea Party’s disdain seems to be rooted in substantive differences while Republicans appear to be engaging in political point scoring.
The seeds for change have been planted, ironically, by none other than President Obama. Thanks to Obama, the government now has the precedent to mandate that Americans purchase a good or service from other Americans. If the federal government can force Americans to buy health insurance, then what is to stop the government from forcing Americans to buy General Motors cars or US bonds? Certainly not the Supreme Court, who continues to allow the federal government to abuse the power of the Commerce clause. The Tea Party has the chance to be the sole voice of reason that rises above irrational cries of politicians, but the movement must unhinge the Republicans from the bandwagon. The Tea Party also needs a strong presidential candidate. While Ron Paul did well in the 2008 presidential campaign, the representative from Texas will be 77 in 2012. A better candidate for 2012 is Peter Schiff, a libertarian running for Chris Dodd’s soon-to-be vacant Senate seat in Connecticut. Peter Schiff is currently running as a Republican, primarily because at this stage the Tea Party is not organized enough to support a serious political candidate. Hopefully by 2012, the Tea Party movement will have formed into an organization that is able to offer a real challenge to the political monopoly held by the Democratic and Republican parties.