Having a party?

Here’s something from the United States that you may need to become familiar with, though I hope it won’t last long: the so-called ‘Tea Party Movement‘. I’ve been kind of aware of it for a little while, but for me it’s been one of those phenomena you know you’re not going to like if you try to find out more, so why not leave it in somewhere in the background while focusing on more congenial stuff? Well, Sarah Palin delivered a speech there last night, and as she has some entertainment value for me I decided to overcome my reluctance and find out more.

I decided to start by looking at their mission statement, and the first thing I was able to take away from it was that the Tea Party Movements likes capital letters at the beginning of Every Important Word. Here’s what they say they believe in:

Tea Party Patriots as an organization believes in the Fiscal Responsibility, Constitutionally Limited Government, and Free Markets.

But the Important Words do also reveal more – they are the buzzwords of the American conservative right. And so these folks are a movement that wants to portray the intellectual foundations of the United States as being concerned with free markets, gun ownership and low taxation; and to make that connection they have taken a name that is intended to suggest that they represent the true spirit of the American Revolution. Whether this has worked is another matter; on the whole the general view of them appears to be of fairly extreme right wingers with a slightly nutty approach to politics. Or at least, that is what some commentators are suggesting, and so maybe what these folks needed was a person who could reject such talk as the elitist, out-of-touch rantings of liberal intellectuals.

And so here comes the folksy Ms Palin, invited by the Tea Party guys to address their first convention, and with just such a message. Interestingly, she has felt the need to build up to the event by explaining why she is doing it, a kind of getting in her justification first. This has come via her Facebook page (and interestingly, Ms Palin’s main internet presence is there), via an opinion piece she wrote for the newspaper USA Today, and on her Twitter page.

And what did she say at the convention? I’ve read several accounts of her speech, and for the life of me I can’t work out what message she was trying to get across, beyond the charge that Barack Obama is no good and that the Tea Party people are Just Wonderful. So maybe the significance is what some have suggested it to be, that she has identified this particular movement as the base on which she will build her expected challenge for the presidency in 2012.

We shall have to wait and see. I do like the idea of her candidacy because of the sheer entertainment value it promises. But a little bit of me is terrified that we may find that this can gather a bigger group of supporters than we (or at any rate I) would like to imagine. Let us hope that Obama finds the perfect formula for success.

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4 Comments on “Having a party?”

  1. kevin denny Says:

    To enjoy the somewhat scary entertainment offered by Sarah “you betcha” Palin’s pronoucements a good read is “Going rouge, an American nightmare”, don’t know if its available in Ireland yet.

  2. Vincent Says:

    If I was a betting man, I would say that Obama getting a 2nd term was slim. Unless that is the centrist and insane republicans split like they did with Perot. There is another issue and that would be the Kennedy Democrats who are if anything a bit further to the right than a lot of centrist Republicans, it might not take much to shift them.

  3. Perry Share Says:

    It is no surprise that Palin’s speech has no discernible content or programme. Analyses have revealed this to be a classic strategy of populism (a topic I studied in some depth about a hundred years ago). The consequence is that the populist non-strategy (which effectively means an orientation against some ill-defined ‘elite’ on behalf of ‘the people’) can be aligned with any passing political philosophy that is convenient. The consequence can be right-wing populism (as we see here) or a left-wing variant (eg with much of the current ‘anti-banker’ rhetoric). Palin is following a well-trodden path, previously followed by Pauline Hanson in Australia or our own dear Dana! Fortunately perhaps, neither of these predecessors has had any long-term career in political life.


  4. […] conservative movements in America. The Tea Party Movement for example (which I previously discussed here) seems somewhere between alien and just bizarre to most Europeans. And in that frame of mind the […]


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