Is it time for the Democratic version of the Tea Party?

CNBC’s Rick Santelli’s April 2009 rant regarding proposed stimulus spending by the Obama administration contributed to the birth of the Tea Party, that fringe element of the Republican Party that advocated for less government interference in the markets, reduced government spending, and reduced taxes. While the movement did not create any legislative success, I wouldn’t call it a complete failure since the movement was able to persuade some members of Congress to advocate for the movement’s position on spending and taxes.

Could the Democratic Party benefit from such a movement? The past two weeks have seen Congressional Democrats voice concerns espoused by protesters during a number of marches and protests. Concerns have ranged from reproductive rights to immigration to civil rights to repealing the Affordable Care Act.  These concerns, however, were not the concerns of the voters that supported Donald Trump in November 2016.

Lower and middle income white voters expressed feelings of economic disenfranchisement and that civil rights initiatives worked against them. Loss of manufacturing jobs in the Rust Belt added fuel to the feelings of economic disenfranchisement. Also, some Trump supporters like the idea of a president dedicated to growing the economy without redistributing wealth.

These are the voters that Hillary Clinton did not reach in 2016 and if the Democrats want to do well in the midterms, they will have to craft political packages to win these voters over. So far there is no indication that Democrats intend to address, legislatively at least, the concerns that drove rural voters to come out for Trump. My review of 200 (12.1%) pieces of legislation filed in the House during the 115th Congress indicates that no Democrats have filed any legislation addressing the concerns that drove Mr Trump’s supporters. It is still early but Democrats don’t appear to eager to knock on the doors of people living in the “Flyover States.”


About Alton Drew

Alton Drew brings a straight forward and insightful brand of political market intelligence. Alton Drew graduated from the Florida State University with a Bachelor of Science in economics and political science (1984); a Master of Public Administration (1993); and a Juris Doctor (1999). You can also follow Alton Drew on Twitter @altondrew.
This entry was posted in American society, democracy, Democrats, Economy, Election2016, government, Political Economy, Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Is it time for the Democratic version of the Tea Party?

  1. Joseph Toomey says:

    It’s interesting and quite illuminating that the author maintains a position that the Tea Party had no enduring legislative success. Since its inception, the movement was responsible for getting dozens of House members elected in key swing districts and in State legislative and executive positions all across the country. Whatever one’s views about it, the Tea Party advanced a coherent program of limited government, lower taxes, reduced regulatory burden, and improvement in economic growth. That same agenda succeeded at the polls in 2016. By contrast, the Tea Party’s competition on the Left, the Occupy Movement, suffered electoral defeat in EVERY SINGLE INSTANCE where it was able to field a candidate. Not one solitary Occupy candidate was elected anywhere in any legislative or elective seat where they fielded one. Before the imported movement burned out in 2011 — it was created by a pair of Canadian Leftist community organizers — it was revealed to be an embarrassing cesspool of rampant crime, lawlessness, drug-fueled insanity, and violent civil disobedience. In that sense, the Occupy movement differed little for the Left’s crazed, lawless, violence-plagued over-reaction to Donald Trump’s narrow electoral victory in 2016.

    Since the Tea Party’s inception, the Democrats have lost the White House, have seen a crushing 257-to-178 seat advantage in the House flip to a 241-to-194 seat disadvantage, a filibuster-proof 60-to-40 dominance in the Senate flip to a 52-to-48 seat disadvantage, and have witnessed more than 1,030 legislative seats at the State level flip to the opposition. Beginning in 2017, the GOP will control 68 of 98 State legislative chambers, complete legislative control in 33 States, complete control of executive AND legislative functions in 25 States, and executive and legislative control of more than 85% of counties. The GOP’s complete executive and legislative control in 25 States contrasts with Democrats who maintain this level of control in only 4 States, California, Hawaii, Delaware, and Rhode Island, only one of which is of any real electoral consequence. Republicans will make all Supreme Court appointments for the next 4 years which will cement a high court majority for their party that will last a generation. The Democrats will be locked out of power in Washington and will control just 16 governor seats and 13 state legislatures, an electoral desert unprecedented in any living person’s lifetime. In addition, in 2018 Democrats will be forced to defend 10 Senate seats in States that Trump won. Five of those States were won by more than 19 points. The GOP has just one seat to defend in a State won by the Democratic candidate. Clinton won that Nevada contest by a margin of less than two and a half points.

    Clinton lost 194 of the 207 counties that voted for Obama in either 2008 or 2012. After the 2016 election, Democrats will occupy fewer elective offices in the nation than at any time back to the 1920s. This will allow the GOP to wield the whip hand in legislative redistricting after the 2020 census, which will have enduring electoral impact for the next generation just as the Tea Party’s 2010 midterm trouncing of Democrats gave the GOP the upper hand in this decade. So that will make it two decades in a row that the GOP, so often destined for extinction in the fevered imagination of progressives, will control electoral outcomes at the Federal, State, and local levels. So if all this is not indicative of success, one is hard-put to know what legislative electoral success looks like.

    Nevertheless, all these realities shouldn’t obscure Alton Drew’s excellent observation that the Democrats are doing nothing to address the economic anxieties that drove their perennially reliable blue collar voters into the GOP fold this year. A realistic appraisal of the bi-coastal elite nature of the Democrats — its Presidential candidate lives in New York, its House minority leader comes from San Francisco, its Senate minority leader is a New Yorker, its two most vocal hard-Left Senate acolytes are from Massachusetts and Vermont, its ideological support structure resides in Washington-, New York- and California-based Left wing media entities, and its funding spigot comes from East and West Coast hedge funds, Wall Street, Washington-based public sector unions, K Street trial lawyers, and Silicon Valley oligarchs — shows that NOTHING on the horizon indicates the Democratic Party’s leadership understands any of this. Until the party can free itself from these chains, nothing fundamentally will change.

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