Boycott Watch  
October 12, 2010
The Tea Party, from a Consumer Standpoint
Summary: If you remove the partisan bickering, reaction to the recent Tea Party victories reveals much about voter sentiment.
    Previously, Boycott Watch wrote how the Tea Party is planning its own demise via rejoining the Republicans, but political events have changed which makes the Tea Party movement interesting if you remove the politics and view it strictly from a consumer standpoint. After all, politicians are supposed to be serving the public, in a sense being governments' consumer advocates, yet both major partiers generally fail in that role.

    When Boycott Watch wrote about the Tea Party, we wrote that their boycott campaign would result in their demise because groups which declare one-day boycotts vanish into the dustbowls of history. We stand by that February, 2010 article, but one thing revitalized their movement - the Obama health care bill. Since that time, the Tea Party has grown because many people felt the Republicans failed to stop it, thus the Tea Party had a resurgence by people who felt neither party was listening to them.

    While that fueled enough anger to have people like Christine O'Donnell win primary elections, the real fuel came from Republicans like Karl Rove who criticized Tea Party candidates who won their primaries against establishment Republican candidates, separating the Tea party from the mainstream Republicans. By doing that, the Tea Party instantly became hot news in all of the media, not just on Fox News. The fact that both Democrat and Republican have been taking their time to specifically criticize the Tea Party is unprecedented, and it shows both major parties fear the Tea Party. The problem is the Tea Party is mainly comprised of the disgruntled swing voters both major parties need to win a national election. Alienating potential voters is not politically smart.

    In his 1992 presidential campaign, Ross Perot was generally hated by the media and the people, so both mainstream political parties did not have to fight Perot because the media did it for them. What we are seeing now is both major political parties taking time to criticize Tea Party activists. The Republicans are more affected since Tea Party candidates can split their votes. Still, fear exists on both sides, indicating the voting consumers, a.k.a. the public, is not happy with the way Washington is responding to their needs, or should that be not responding to their needs.

    The Tea Party is a populist rejection of government officials, but not government itself as evidenced by the number of incumbents who lost their primary bids. Both major political parties should realize they need to pay attention to the Tea Party and other swing voters; the problem is they usually only pay attention to swing voters in the election season. The primary victory for the Tea Party is, therefore, standing up to Washington and demanding year-round attention. The longer both major parties reject Tea Party and other swing voters, the harder it will be for them to maintain incumbents and therefore party stability.

    Weeks after the primary, the Republicans have toned down their primary night loss rhetoric and even embraced the Tea Party. RNC Chairman Michael Steele is using GOP money to fund Tea Party candidates, thus bringing the Tea Party back into the GOP tent. The Democrats, however, have rejected Tea Party voters instead of trying to attract the disgruntled Republicans. Sure, there are ideological differences, but splitting the Republican vote would have been in their best interests and the Democrats failed to accomplish that. Perhaps this explains why Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ) calls herself an Independent in her congressional reelection bid despite having a firm Democrat voting record in Congress.

    In the end, the Tea Party, which Steele prevented from becoming an actual thirty party, will revert into the GOP camp, but partly because the Democrats failed to encourage them to thrive when they had the chance, thus not splitting the Republican vote in a key midterm election. While the party in power usually loses power in midterm elections, political pundits will inevitably claim the Democrats could have won had they played their cards right, and from a consumer standpoint, the Democrats have already failed to win by taking business away from their top competitor. Politicians and parties sometimes forget elections are about the consumer electorate. David struck and Goliath didn't pay attention. Just remember you read it here a month prior.

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