I saw a blog post last night on The Dish with Andrew Sullivan which is also on WordPress, if you are interested in The Dish and the blog was called. Why hasn’t there been a Liberal version of the Tea Party. I’m paraphrasing, but that is pretty close to the title of it. Referring to groups like Occupy Wall Street as if these are liberal groups. Granted these groups are on the Left, but they aren’t Liberal. And ideologically have more in common with Social Democrats in Europe than they do with Liberal Democrats in America.
Liberal Democrats like Wendell Willkie from the 1930s and 40s. Or Jack Kennedy or Bill Clinton or Dick Durbin the Assistant Leader in the U.S. Senate. Or Representative Jared Pollis one of my favorite members of the House who I would love to see run statewide at some point. A real New Democrat, a true Liberal Democrat who is pro-gay rights, anti-war on drugs, pro-marijuana legalization, fiscally responsible. The men that I mentioned are the real Liberals in the Democratic Party and the country. Senator Ron Wyden would be another and I’m sure there are plenty women like this, Wendy Davis in Texas. That make up the real Liberals in America as well.
So perhaps Andrew Sullivan’s blog post should’ve been titled something to the effect. How come there hasn’t been a left version of the Tea Party. Whether it comes from Liberals where I am or Social Democrats. Who are a bit further to the Left and perhaps not even center-left. But the point is taken that there hasn’t been a liberal response to the Tea Party in this century. When Republicans took control of the House and the state governorships in 2011 after the 2010 elections, the Democratic response led by President Obama was a defensive one.
President Obama responded with you meaning the “Republicans are back in power and we have divided government now, but we are here to stop you and prevent you from getting everything you want”. And this went on for over a year until Democrats got back into campaigning and decided they wanted to get reelected. And not have a President Mitt Romney with a united Republican Congress including the Senate. And set out to essentially destroy these people . Tea Party Republicans running for election in swing states and of course Mitt Romney who gave Democrats plenty of weapons to hit him with. But it wasn’t a positive reaction to the right-wing Tea Party.
In 2005-06 when the Democratic Party started rebounding thanks to the Iraq War, President Bush’s failed Social Security reform effort, Hurricane Katrina after President Bush was reelected in 2004-05. And with Republicans in Congress going downhill thanks to corrupt House Republicans and President Bush’s lower thirties approval ratings. One poll I saw in late 2005 had President Bush at twenty-nine percent. And to go along with the Iraq War and House Republican scandals some bad Senate Republicans incumbents. running for reelection in 2006.
Like George Allen in Virginia and Conrad Burns in Montana all of these things led to the first Democratic Congress since 1993-94. Democrats won back the House and Senate in 2006, but not because of some liberal or social democratic revolution similar to the Tea Party on the Right. But because Republicans had ten toes that year and probably shot off eight of them. So Democrats coming back to power in 2006 was a response to Republicans failing in power with a united government, not because of a Democratic revolution liberal or otherwise.
To go back even further with the Goldwater-Reagan Conservative-Republican movement, that started in the mid 1960s and went up all the way through George H.W. Bush losing reelection for president in 1992. And this revolution was in response to the Progressive Era of FDR and LBJ. Where Progressive-Democrats essentially were in charge of the United States from 1933 until 1969 with a small break with Eisenhower years in the 1950s. Who did not seek to roll back the New Deal. But even added to it with the creation of the interstate highway system.
There wasn’t a counter-movement from the Left at all until the mid or late 1980s after Democrats had taken it on the chin for twenty years. Basically at least at the presidential level losing 5-6 presidential elections from 1968-88, four of those by landslides. Jimmy Carter’s defeat to Ron Reagan in 1980 was so bad it also cost Democrats the U.S. Senate. And gave House Republicans a large minority working with Southern Democrats an ideological majority in the House. But it wasn’t really to 1985 or later that Liberal Democrats woke up and said “we need to take the party back from the Far-Left if we are going to govern again”.
The closest thing I believe we’ve seen to a liberal version of the Tea Party as far as in power and the ability to mobilize is what is known as the New Democrat Coalition in the Democratic Party. An organization that was put together to respond to two ideological factions the Goldwater-Reagan Conservative Republicans. And the George McGovern Social Democrats in the Democratic Party. New Democrats are Democrats whose message is basically this. What we aren’t crazy like these people on the far-left in the Democratic Party and we are responsible and know how to govern”.
New Democrats aren’t going to tax or regulate people out of business. But they aren’t Conservatives either, but that don’t believe government has a strong role to try to take care of everyone and try to run people’s lives for them. But there to support people who need it and to see that there is opportunity for everyone to survive on their own. And government is there to protect consumers and workers from predators. Not try to protect people from themselves which is different. And this movement produced Mike Dukakis for president in 1988 who ran a horrible campaign. And Bill Clinton who of course was elected president in 1992 and reelected overwhelmingly in 1996.
But since the Tea Party was created in 2009, there hasn’t been a strong Democratic movement that could gain the support and manpower. As well as a political and governmental agenda to counter the Tea Party from the Liberal Center-Left in America. And I would like to see that happen, because if this movement were put together and it would have more than enough resources to compete with the Tea Party because it would be business friendly. Not owned by business, but be able to raise funds from them. Because there are plenty of liberal business groups, as well as be able to raise a tone of money online from individuals as well. And as a Liberal Democrat I would love to see this happen.
“We live in a liberal democracy! That’s what we created in this country. That’s our Declaration of Independence and our Constitution! We should be very clear on this… this country was founded on the principles of the Enlightenment. It was the idea that people could talk, reason, have dialogue, discuss the issues. It wasn’t founded on the idea that someone would get stuck by divine inspiration and know everything, right from wrong. People who founded this country had religion, they had strong beliefs, but they believed in reason, in dialogue, and civil discourse. We can’t lose that in this country. We’ve got to get it back.”
WKC Media: Real Time With Bill Maher- Wes Clark: We Live in a Liberal Democracy