There Will Not Be A Liberal-Tea Party Alliance

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47 Responses

  1. Avatar North says:

    I certainly hope the liberal wing of the party puts up a candidate if for nothing other than to give Hillary an additional datapoint to triangulate off of beyond batshit crazy GOP positions.
    I agree, of course, that there’ll be no TP Liberal alliance. Since the Tea Party is for most practical purposes a fictional mirage it’s not something you could expect the liberals to ally with. Might as well propose a liberal GOP alliance, it’s as likely to happen.Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to North says:

      Sanders looks like he is gearing towards a run. Webb is also gearing up I think. Warren is doing and I’m not running but maybe I am running thing which is typical at this stage.

      I would be excited by a Brown-Warren or Warren-Brown ticket.Report

      • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        Which Brown is this? not the one from Mass, I assume?
        I like Warren, but I hope she doesn’t run. WAY more useful where she is now.Report

      • Avatar North in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        My personal opinion: Warren herself won’t run unless Hillary bows out or performs an astonishingly bad failure to launch.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        That could be.

        Though the really interesting question is the divide between liberals and libertarians. Liberals and Libertarians agree on a lot like the problems with the drug war and police overreaction but the difference seems to be that libertarians think that Universal Healthcare can eventually lead to more police action while liberals seem to think it is perfectly ordinary to have a robust welfare state and regulated economy and also protect civil liberty.Report

      • Avatar North in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        I dunno Saul, I’m not a libertarian and I suppose universal healthcare but it’s not like our own liberal contingent here at the League doesn’t sound notes of restrictionism with regards to food and the like typically under the banner of “their poor food choices lead to bad health outcomes that we pay for”. I don’t blame libertarians for being squirrelly about that.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        @north

        If you were to give me two options:

        A. Vote for a Democratic Candidate and get universal healthcare, better banking and environmental protection regulations, more rights for unions, ending Citizens United, and a better tax code; or

        B. Vote for a Libertarian candidate and completely end the drug war and seriously roll back the NSA, end farm subsidies, or too big to fail, and decrease the size the military budget.

        I’d pick A any day. Until I see Libertarian concessions on welfare-state liberalism, there is not large chance of me going for them. I refuse the current overtures which seem to be “vote for us and end the drug war and NSA but give up on everything else you like or believe in.” That is not an alliance but basically saying “liberals please give up and become libertarians already.”Report

      • Avatar North in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        Well that’s understandable since you’re a liberal. Since libertarians are libertarians of course they’d choose B. All I was pointing out is that when Libertarians say “universal health care means liberals are gonna start agitating to restrict what people are allowed to eat” you can’t really scoff at it.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        while liberals seem to think it is perfectly ordinary to have a robust welfare state and regulated economy and also protect civil liberty.

        The disconnect is that libertarians have a broader view of civil liberty, particularly with regard to some of that economic regulation. They tend not to buy that there’s a distinction between civil liberty and economic liberty. If you understand that, you’ve gone a long way toward understanding them. If you don’t understand that, you don’t really understand them.

        Just as you say you can’t vote for them as long as they say “give up on everything else you like or believe in,” they look at your demands for economic regulation and say the same thing, and it’s not just about free market fundamentalism, but asking them to back off in what they define as civil liberties.

        Also, what North said. Right here at OT we’ve had food controls defended on the basis that we’re all paying for your ill-health, so the argument that a robust social welfare state leads to social controls, even if libertarians overstate it, cannot in good faith simply be waved away.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        “Hey, if I’m paying for your welfare, I don’t want you spending your day stoned on the couch.”Report

      • Avatar Dand in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        libertarians think that Universal Healthcare can eventually lead to more police action

        If you want an example that proves this true look at the Eric Garner case.Report

      • Avatar LWA in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        “They tend not to buy that there’s a distinction between civil liberty and economic liberty. ”
        Which is really the disconnect, and it runs very deep, right to the core of the different belief systems.

        Both contemporary liberals (in the New Deal mold) and contemporary conservatives (in the Reagan mold) hold that economic rights and civil rights are distinct. This is why even conservatives are perfectly happy to meddle in the marketplace when it serves a purpose (like anti-pornography and drug laws).

        Elevating economic activity to the level of a right is something new. Property ownership has long been recognized as a right, along with other freedoms tangential to economic freedom, but explicitly elevating economic activity, by itself, as a right on par with speech and faith is something new.

        It sounds odd to the rest of us, because it hasn’t yet been fully integrated into the system of ethics and morality that we are accustomed to. All the questions I have asked here, about how this interacts with the religious and moral traditions of a just society and human dignity that European and American societies are grounded in, are currently unresolved.

        This is why Charlie Pierce invented his famous “5 minute rule”- where the first few assertions of economic freedom sound pretty ordinary, and something we could get with. (e.g. “We should reduce regulation of taxis and nail salons…” “Yeah, I could buy into that.”)

        Then comes the jaw dropper at the 5 minute mark, where economic activity is elevated above the ordinary ethical concerns most people share. (“And we shouldn’t have food stamps, instead poor people should be allowed to sell their organs…” “WTF??”)

        This why libertarians are not, as the conventional wisdom goes, in between liberals and conservatives, like some happy moderate middle.
        In order to reach a consensus and accord, the liberals and conservatives have to do some pretty serious stretching, beyond where most are ready to go.Report

      • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        LWA,
        what drives me batty about libertarians is that they can take a perfectly ordinary “level the playing field” rule, and start screaming about how this is a government takeover.

        I tend to think that even libertarians ought to be for some amount of regulation from the government, and that leveling playing fields is one of those areas.

        After all, one company having a competitive advantage because of the State is a bad thing, isn’t it?Report

      • Avatar Jim Heffman in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        “what drives me batty about libertarians is that they can take a perfectly ordinary “level the playing field” rule, and start screaming about how this is a government takeover.”

        ah-heh. There’s “level the playing field”, and then there’s Harrison Bergeron.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        @jim-heffman

        Harrison Bergeron was Vonnegut’s parody of Ayn Rand. It somehow got changed to be taking more literally in the popular imagination.Report

      • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        Saul and Jim,
        thanks for the read, and the context.
        I particularly liked “snaggletooth random” It has such a nice ring to it.

        And, yes, of course we can’t make people precisely equal. I can’t say the same about corporations, though… They’re figments from the getgo, legal constructs — why should we not work to eliminate artificial barriers to entry into a market?Report

    • Avatar DavidTC in reply to North says:

      Since the Tea Party is for most practical purposes a fictional mirage it’s not something you could expect the liberals to ally with.

      This.

      The Tea Party is what the *Republican base* calls itself when they somewhat disagree with the GOP.

      The idea that this might end up matching up with *liberals* is somewhat silly.Report

  2. Avatar zic says:

    I realize that my state’s an outlier, but after the second win by our Tea-Party governor with a minority of the vote, people are getting serious about ranked balloting here (Maine). We like our independents, we’ve had independent governors, frequently elect independents to state and local government, and are pretty open to 3rd-party challenges.

    Before the last election, Elliot Cutler campaigned on ranked balloting; but I never thought the Democratic Party would get behind it. Yet I got an email from the local organizer today looking for volunteers to collect signatures. I don’t know that his is official party policy; it probably isn’t. But unofficially, it’s the flavor of the day.

    Here, the alliance would be more libertarian/NE Republican/liberal together, with the Tea Party and Modern GOP and religious conservatives opposing.Report

  3. Avatar LWA says:

    But they are “classical liberals”!Report

  4. Avatar j r says:

    Yes, many “constitutional conservatives” oppose corporate bailouts. But they also typically support eliminating not just subsidies but regulation of big banks and other corporations; oppose most if not all of the social safety net (and certainly its expansion); and also oppose legalized abortion and marriage equality, for that matter.

    When I read this, I can’t help but think that there ought to be a disclaimer stating, “No actual conservatives were harmed in the making of this straw man.” And I say this as someone who is not a particularly big fan of the current conservative movement.Report

  5. @saul-degraw

    Wareen, Brown, and Franken are all pretty traditional liberal Democratic politicians in the New Deal mold. If anything, they are more likely to appeal to the Democratic base who do not want more years of Clintonian “triangulation.”

    You never really know, though. Clintonian “triangulation”–a la DLC–was in part an appeal to fiscal conservatism and to the types of people who might have been willing to buy into the 1992 version of teapartyism (roughly, Perotism, which I interpret as something like teapartyism, but not as fanatical). Not all of them, but enough to win some states. That turned off some of the leftier parts of the party, and was probably

    And for what it’s worth, the original New Dealers were happy–or if not happy, at least willing–to make compromises with a huge racist coalition in the Jim Crow South in order to bring about their new era. At least at first. For a lot of reasons that people here know very well, the next 50 years or so was largely a realignment where supporters of the New Deal along with other civil-rights oriented constituencies began to systematically challenge, and at least partially repudiate, their alliance with the Jim Crow South.

    I haven’t been closely following the claims that there are or could be a liberal-tea-party alliance. So I don’t know what type of alliance the people who make those claims envision. But I do think an “alliance” of sorts is possible that can siphon off enough support from people who otherwise might be sympathetic to the tea party. I’m not talking about the die-hard teapartiers, but those who listen to what the tea party has to say and nods in agreement with most of it and do actually worry about overspending or fiscal solvency. (And for the record, those are legitimate issues to worry about. One way to appeal to such people is to point out the GOP’s (and tea party’s) failure to restore much in the way of fiscal responsibility.)

    Whether that’s worth the tradeoff of inviting people who may disagree or have more reservations about other things–like abortion or Obamacare or same-sex marriage–than more “liberal” people is something to consider. But I do think it’s a mistake to believe that just because someone is concerned about fiscal solvency and spending that they are automatically opposed to those positions, just like it would be a mistake to suppose that someone who supports legal abortion, Obamacare, and ssm are not concerned at all about spending or solvency. (I also think that’s what @j-r may have been getting at in his “straw man” comment above. And although I don’t believe what Kilgore said, at least in the quoted piece, is necessarily a straw man, it’s not fully correct, either.)

    At any rate, an alliance of any sort may very well be impossible if the party devotes itself to a sustained campaign of rooting out “heretics.” It didn’t work for FDR during his 1938 “purge,” and I doubt it would work all that well now.Report

    • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Gabriel Conroy says:

      Everyone left of center that I’ve heard from over the last 5 years has told me that fiscal solvency is a made up issue that has stalled the economic recovery and inhibited economic growth as well as a trojan horse to gut Social Security and Medicare.

      (and the tea party has been very good on fiscal responsibility, if one measures the change in the budget deficit from the time they took power in January of 2011 to the present day).Report

      • Avatar morat20 in reply to Kolohe says:

        I suppose that’s one way of viewing reality.Report

      • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Kolohe says:

        Reality is most voices on the left, and all the intellectual heavyweights, providing constant and consistent criticisms of ‘austerian economics’, complete with charts and graphs.

        (and they’re not entirely wrong. If George Bush the Greater had not succumbed to the siren call of austerian economics in 1990, Hillary Clinton would just be sending the next six years as a law partner somewhere.)Report

    • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Gabriel Conroy says:

      I’m not talking about the die-hard teapartiers, but those who listen to what the tea party has to say and nods in agreement with most of it and do actually worry about overspending or fiscal solvency.

      Anyone who was the slightest bit informed about ‘fiscal solvency’ wouldn’t be caught dead voting for a Republican, and wouldn’t have done so for *decades*.

      And for the record, those are legitimate issues to worry about. One way to appeal to such people is to point out the GOP’s (and tea party’s) failure to restore much in the way of fiscal responsibility.

      If your solution is ‘inform the voters’, you probably shouldn’t start with people who have been brainwashed into thinking the issue is ‘fiscal responsibility’. (And then brainwashed into thinking Republicans are somehow better at this, when literally every single record shows otherwise.)

      You start with people who haven’t been taught that nonsense over and over, and make sure they *don’t* learn it, by pointing out where money actually comes from, and that countries do not work anything like a business or individual.

      You explain the *absolute worse case scenerio* (Barring idiotic Republicans defaulting on our debt) is that we print so much money that inflation causes the value of their money to decrease. And even that is unlikely. (And as huge amounts of Americans *have* little or no money, this should not conceivably be a worry for them.)Report

      • @davidtc

        Anyone who was the slightest bit informed about ‘fiscal solvency’ wouldn’t be caught dead voting for a Republican, and wouldn’t have done so for *decades*.

        In that case, the liberals should be quite successful in forging the spoken of alliance 🙂

        But then….

        (And then brainwashed into thinking Republicans are somehow better at this, when literally every single record shows otherwise.)

        …..calling them “brainwashed” doesn’t bode well for the alliance. Maybe the problem isn’t 100% with the tea partiers.

        Also, “literally every single records [sic] shows otherwise” is not true. The GOP took over Congress in 1994 and within about 4 years there was a balanced budget. True, Clinton was president and he did his share. I’ll even grant the balanced budget had more to do with Clinton than the GOP. But the GOP played a role. So there’s one data point against “literally” “every” “single” “records.”Report

      • Avatar DavidTC in reply to DavidTC says:

        …..calling them “brainwashed” doesn’t bode well for the alliance. Maybe the problem isn’t 100% with the tea partiers.

        Also, “literally every single records [sic] shows otherwise” is not true. The GOP took over Congress in 1994 and within about 4 years there was a balanced budget. True, Clinton was president and he did his share. I’ll even grant the balanced budget had more to do with Clinton than the GOP. But the GOP played a role. So there’s one data point against “literally” “every” “single” “records.”

        …uh, no. The budget deficit started dropping *immediately* upon Clinton taking office, before the Republicans got there. More to the point, when the president switched to Bush, and the House (Which makes the budget) stayed in Republican hands, budget deficits skyrocketed. (The Senate was technically in Democratic hands, but you can’t just assert this somehow made the budget bigger. You have to have some evidence the Senate demanded something in the budget the House and President didn’t want.)

        It is, hypothetically possible, in some other universe, for Congress to be the group that should take the blame or credit for the budget.

        In *this* universe, however, budget deficits correlate almost *exactly* with what party has the presidency. When Republicans have the presidency, the deficit get larger, when the Democrats have the presidency, the deficit get smaller. Congress has no pattern at all.

        But for presidents, there is no pattern clearer in governing. It happens *even when it shouldn’t*, like in a recession.Report

      • Avatar Jim Heffman in reply to DavidTC says:

        “It is, hypothetically possible, in some other universe, for Congress to be the group that should take the blame or credit for the budget.”

        Welp

        They are the ones who have to pass the spending billReport

      • Avatar DavidTC in reply to DavidTC says:

        @jim-heffman
        Like I said, it is possible there is some universe where the House is the cause of growth or reduction in deficit. They certainly *could* do it. (Hell, there’s even some possible universe where it’s the Senate.)

        But in this universe, ever since Reagan, the deficit correlates very very strongly with which party holds the presidency. Put a Democrat in, the deficit starts falling, on average, with maybe a few minor setbacks where it goes up a bit one year. Put a Republican in, the deficit starts rising, again, with a few minute setforwards when it drops slightly. (Put a Democrat in long enough, and the deficit disappears entirely.)

        We’re not talking about some hard-to-observe effect. Every Republican ends with higher deficit, every Democrat ends with a lower one. Every *term*, in fact, if you split the two-termers in half, you get the same thing. Even if you go and take out the recession’s effect in 2008, you get the same thing…the recession didn’t help Bush’s spending record, but even without it, he has a bad one. Whereas Obama manages to have a pretty good record even *with* half the stimulus on it.

        There’s a statistical point where people really have to stop claiming this is due to anything but who is president.

        Part of this is because Democrats believe in paygo (Both as a general principle, and also putting it into law.), and their priorities (At least the ones they want to put more money into) are included under paygo, whereas Republicans like to spend money on the military and wars, which *don’t* have to be paid for under the rules, as I understand. Another part is that Democrats are actually willing to *tax people* for their spending.Report

  6. Kilgore is usually one of my favorite liberal writers, but in this case I think he’s missing the forest for the trees. Or some other metaphor.

    Now, I’m not saying that a massive lefty-tea party alliance over “crony capitalism” is necessarily likely, but I don’t think it makes sense to just dismiss the idea because of differences over the welfare state, much less because of differences over social issues.

    The idea, so far as I’ve ever heard, is not that there should be some sort of broad electoral coalition. It’s that there should be a narrow, single-issue legislative alliance. In what way, shape, or form are differences on other issues relevant to whether there are anti-“crony capitalism” steps that can be taken on which liberals and Tea Partiers agree? And why does it need to be an alliance of all liberals and all Tea Partiers? Why can’t it just be “enough” liberals and “enough” Tea Partiers to get particular legislation passed?

    Hell, such an alliance already exists in some ways. A majority of Democrats, led by Alan Grayson, joined with Republicans to support the Tea Party-driven audit-the-Fed measure. Walter Jones, very much a Tea Party darling, opposed banking industry deregulation.

    And, although they had vastly different reasons for doing so, opposition to the CRomnibus was also something that united liberals and Tea Partiers on, in their respective and subjective views, anti-“crony capitalist” grounds. See, e.g., http://www.redstate.com/2014/12/11/democrats-great-point-cromnibus/Report

    • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Mark Thompson says:

      I agree that populists on the left and right will be well-positioned going forward to occasionally muck up and frustrate leadership on economic issues. Sometimes they may see eye-to-eye on some of the issues, but mostly they’ll be doing it for their own reasons. That there are multiple factions that want to obstruct major (largely need-to-pass-type but not exclusively) economic legislation doesn’t mean they’re in an alliance to do so.Report

      • Avatar North in reply to Michael Drew says:

        What MD said Mark. I think you’re being overly rosy in this. There’s a world of difference between opposing something for different reasons and affirmatively supporting things together. The TP is just a rebranded right wing GOP. They may oppose things that liberals oppose sometimes but that’s coincidental or opposite (liberals oppose it because it’s too far right for their tastes and TPers oppose it because it’s not far right wing enough); but they’d never affirmatively cooperate with the Party of Obama to draft legislation.

        Now libertarians (who emphatically are not Tea Partiers despite what the TP may say) might be able to cooperate with Liberals. Liberals have policies they hate; libertarians hate most state policy so there’s an overlap there that’d be areas that both groups would wish to eliminate. Where the cooperation falls off the tracks is where Liberals say “Okay we’ll abolish NSA spying with you but you have to learn to love the safety net” or Libertarians say “Fine we’ll end the war on drugs but you have to make your peace with privatizing social security”.Report

      • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Michael Drew says:

        The cooperation gets stymied well before that. The compromise “Fine will make peace with ending the war on drugs but you have to make your peace that some corporation might make a buck off of selling pot” is too often a bridge to far.Report

      • @michael-drew @north I don’t think it needs to just be obstruction, and definitely not just an obstruction based on opposing legislation for wildly different reasons. In fact, at least in the case of the Audit the Fed bills – which passed – it wasn’t. I could potentially see other similar – but limited – areas of cooperation if someone really tried to push for it: striking ethanol and various other corporate subsidies, certain types of lobbying (as opposed to campaign finance) reform such as putting an end to the revolving door on Capitol Hill, and probably some other narrow issues.

        These are all things, by the way, where there is strong opposition from many of the more “mainstream” elements of both parties but on which I’d wager that the grassroots of both parties are largely in agreement.

        Again, I’m not talking about some giant, broad-based coalition. Just a limited single-issue legislative recognition of a unity of interests.Report

      • Audit the fed is perhaps a fair example of what you’re talking about. Right now I’m inclined to see it as a bit of a one-off, but we’ll see.Report

    • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Mark Thompson says:

      Why can’t it just be “enough” liberals and “enough” Tea Partiers to get particular legislation passed?

      Because the places that the Tea Party (Aka, the Republican base) agrees with the left instead of the GOP leadership is *exactly* where the GOP leadership *can’t* bend.

      Let’s say, tomorrow, that the Tea Party decides they were in favor of, I don’t know, the government funding more homeless shelters. And they approached the left, and made an alliance.

      This is not something the GOP would generally be in favor of, but the leadership *wouldn’t care*. If a large enough section of the base of the party was clearly in favor of it, they’d let it happen. They might not join in, because there would be people who disagree with that, but it’s easy enough to call the people in favor of it ‘the Tea Party’ instead of ‘The Republicans’.

      But let’s say that the Tea Party, as they *supposedly* were from the start, are against bailing out the banks. So they form an alliance with the left about that, as what sorta happened to stop the repeal of the banking regulations.

      The GOP leadership *cannot let that happen*. The GOP leadership *needs* banking money. They will work tirelessly to stop this from happening.

      This exact thing not just played out in front of our eyes, but it played out earlier in my state, where the local Tea Party decided that encouraging home solar power would be a good idea, and were totally startled when the local GOP turned on them. Because it turns out utility companies don’t like that.

      The Tea Party gets free reign to do what it wants if, *and only if*, such a thing does not interfere with the GOP’s funding.

      (This is not to say the Democrats won’t do sorta the same thing here, but the GOP has much more dubious funding sources.)Report

      • Avatar Mark Thompson in reply to DavidTC says:

        FWIW, add the “Democratic leadership” to much of this as well, albeit to somewhat of a lesser extent, and I basically agree with you here – the impediment isn’t lack of common interest or reflexive opposition to anything involving liberals (or TPers in reverse), so much as it is limited ability to grab the wheel.

        That said, if the question is merely whether there is room for liberals and TPers to work together on these types of issues in the hopes of building enough grassroots support to force leadership’s hand, rather than whether they will frequently be able to succeed in doing so, I think my original point stands.Report