I’ve noticed that a lot of members of the Republican Party have nothing but vitriol for self-described libertarians who have chosen to affiliate with the GOP. It seems a bit incongruous to me. The GOP brand is supposed to be one of a government with limited and well-defined powers exercising them as lightly as possible. This is something that would naturally attract libertarians, and it would make them allies of many conservatives on any number of issues. So what’s the deal with all of the hostility?
I’m not a fan of the Tea Party and haven’t been for some time. As Jon Stewart put it, most of them are moral majoritarians in tri-tipped hats. It’s hard to see how they differ from the Ralph Reed disciples that stormed into the Republican Party in 1994. That said, it seems like what has become just a mouthpiece for the more outrageous elements of the GOP had some roots in something worthwhile. It’s just been thoroughly co-opted by the establishment for their own purposes.
So how did it all start? Way back in mid-2008, Ron Paul’s campaign for president was winding down and the newly energized campaign volunteers were still all kinds of riled up. They were sick of the constant centralization of both government and economic power, and sickened by the power structure of the parties that only allows “annointed” candidates to advance to elections. A coalition of libertarians, fiscal conservatives, and reformers were ready to challenge any and all party structures that did business as usual. So what happened?
Well, those in power in the parties didn’t get there by being stupid. They saw the wave coming and knew they had to nip that sucker in the bud, and what better way than pulling a reverse infiltration? Almost immediately, the same people who had been a part of the problem started loudly singing the praises of the Tea Party, carefully steering it into an attack dog of the Republican Party, not a near-partyless populist mob demanding more from everyone. In Utah, the problem was particularly bad as the organizers chose to invite elected officials to come speak to crowds, hardly the kind of thing a reform movement should want. It only took weeks or months to quell the uprising and get the media to label the newly-formed beast as a group of angry zealots whose rage was fueled by racism, misogyny, xenophobia, or whatever ugly thing could be attached to it.
What got botched was a trans-partisan populist movement to fight against centralization of power, public and private, that has lead to rampant crony capitalism, impenetrable political party power structures that exclude any kind of insurgent candidates from the process, and the reigning in of an out-of-control pattern of federal spending perpetuated by both parties. All of these are laudable and arguably popular goals. Unfortunately, they’ve been buried under a mountain of far-right social neo-conservatism with a very narrow appeal, obviously explaining the precipitous drop in popularity among the general populace.
Is there any hope for these much needed reforms to happen anytime in the near future? Maybe. It depends on if the lightning in a bottle during the first few weeks can be recreated, or if the original reformers have stuck around now that the real work begins.. Otherwise, I expect the same old story.
Just so I’m clear: In the wake of electoral defeat, Republicans decide to do more to appease their base and Democrats start the meme that they’re “doubling down on crazy”. Now when Democrats are in the wake of electoral defeat, they decide the solution is to… do more to appear their base, yet this isn’t also “doubling down on crazy”? Help me understand the disconnect on this double standard. I really don’t get it.
One inevitable side effect of any wave of populism is that you’re going to have opportunists looking to latch onto that wave as quickly as they can. With the recent wave of anti-federal sentiment courtesy of the tea party movement, the hollow rings of opportunism have reached a similar crescendo. They range from the somewhat plausible to the laughably transparent (I’m looking at you, Orrin Hatch). To those of us with a track record of opposing the never-ending reach of federal power, it’s galling to find a bunch of wannabes and hypocrites attaching themselves to these ideals while simultaneously stoking the bonfire of crazy that seems to accompany it. It doesn’t just insult our intelligence, it makes us look bad.
Apparently Paul Rolly isn’t as good of a political gossip columnist as he claims to be. On Tuesday, he had a small blurb in his column about animosity between Provo Municipal Council members Steve Turley and Cindy Richards, the latter of which was recently voted out of office in a very dirty smear campaign. What he failed to miss, though, is why Cindy would have a beef with Steve. One of the comments on the story claims that Turley was involved in the StopCindy campaign headed by Utah County Republican Party Chairman Taylor Oldroyd. That would certainly explain why Richards has no desire to be anywhere near Turley and it fits perfectly with his MO.
You see, Steve Turley is an ambitious politician and a bit of an opportunist. I’ve watched the way he calculates and postures for votes, and he does it so that if things go south, he’s covered his bases. During the various votes on the fate of iProvo, he voted No both times knowing that the measures would pass so that if things went south, he could claim to not have been responsible for it. (Think Jim Matheson voting No on issues to cover his bases at home knowing full well that the House as a whole is going to hand out a Yes vote.) It wouldn’t surprise me in the least that he would throw a fellow member of the council under the bus to curry favor with party leadership, no doubt in the hope that he will get party support when (not if) he attempts to go for higher office.
And herein lies the real story: Steve Turley sacrificed Cindy Richards to further his own political career. Maybe Paul Rolly should try writing that one up instead of the meaningless blurb he came up with.