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Massachusetts Senate Race Pits Principles Against Pragmatism for Tea Party Movement

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A lot of attention has been directed at the special election to fill Ted Kennedy's seat representing Massachusetts in the Senate, but one aspect of the race which has been simmering beneath the surface is the split which it has generated within the coalition that makes up the Tea Party movement. Although the main contenders in the race are Republican Scott Brown and Democrat Martha Coakley, there is also a credible and widely popular libertarian running as an independent challenger.

Joe Kennedy bills himself as "The Tea Party Candidate" and has attracted a lot of attention because of his name and the possibility that it may draw substantial votes from Coakley, even though he is not related to the Kennedy family in any way. He is currently polling at between 5% and 10% of the vote, with some indication that he is drawing votes mostly from Coakley, bringing her numbers down enough so that Brown is within a couple of percentage points of winning and becoming the first Republican to hold that seat since John F. Kennedy defeated Henry Cabot Lodge in 1953.

It's an interesting scenario, but one which we've seen in other races where a libertarian or an independent does well enough to change the possible outcome of an important election. But from the perspective of those in the Tea Party movement it has become much more controversial, almost a struggle for the identity of the movement.

Kennedy calls himself "The Tea Party Candidate" because he is endorsed by the Boston Tea Party, one of the original Tea Party activist groups associated with the Ron Paul 2008 presidential campaign. He is also endorsed by the state Libertarian Party and even has some support among liberty Republicans, both groups who were central to the original grassroots Tea Parties.

However, other elements of the Tea Party movement have chosen to support Republican candidate Scott Brown, even though his record on issues they are concerned about is weak. The Tea Party Express has officially endorsed Brown. It is a group founded by Howard Kaloogian which has attracted a lot of mainstream Republicans and is viewed as suspect by many grassroots activists. The Tea Party Patriots, who are backed by FreedomWorks and are frequently accused of being shills for big business interests have also shown strong support for Brown, as has Tea Party Nation which is a coalition of far right social conservatives, nativists and extremist groups associated with the Tea Parties. Even many members of Ron Paul's nonpartisan Campaign for Liberty are pushing Brown.

None of these groups who are supporting Brown are terribly enthusiastic about his record or his positions on issues. Many of them would support Kennedy in a second if he was running as a Republican challenger to Brown and had a chance of getting elected. Some of the more socially conservative groups have no candidate they like in the race at all. Yet all of these Tea Party associated groups have abandoned the candidate with genuine Tea Party credentials to support Brown because it is a better political strategy. They may not like Brown much, but if he can win a Senate seat from Massachusetts that's such a huge blow to the Democrats and would do so much to weaken the efforts to pass Obamacare that they are biting the bullet and promote a candidate who they wouldn't give a second look in another circumstance.

In return, Brown has really embraced the Tea Party label and has borrowed their message and many of their ideas in pushing his candidacy. This raises the hope for those who are reluctantly supporting him that some of that rhetoric will stick with him once he gets in office and he will be a better representative for the people than he would have been without their support, either by being educated from his association with the Tea Party movement or out of a sense that he owes something to them for putting him in office.

All of this seems pretty unfair for Joe Kennedy who really is a good candidate with solid credentials and interesting ideas and a more authentic Tea Party platform. Some of his supporters are taking it personally. There is already a lot of resentment among more libertarian Tea Party activists against some of the more mainstream and often better-funded groups which have become involved. They are seen as corporate shills or interlopers from the Republican party or opportunists trying to cash in on Tea Party momentum. There is fear that they will take over the movement and resentment that they give the left-leaning media a basis to criticize the movement as a whole as illegitimate.

The groups which have stuck with Kennedy are the ones which are most ideologically driven and which put ideals and principles ahead of political pragmatism. But this sort of misses the whole point of the Tea Party movement, which is to actually influence government and implement changes in policy. You can't change anything with candidates who can't get elected, no matter how great they are. It's the old, old argument of whether or not to take the lesser of two evils, and one element of the Tea Party movement has decided that evil is still evil and utterly unacceptable while the rest have taken the position that less evil is better than more evil.

It is certainly true that Martha Coakley is "more evil." Not only is she guaranteed to vote with the Democrat establishment on health care, bailouts and other issues, but seeing that Brown has welcomed the Tea Party groups into his campaign network, she has been hammering him on that association relentlessly, a tactic which may actually have backfired, driving more grassroots support and money to Brown.

Borrowing a leaf from the Tea Party's book, Brown launched a fundraising "money bomb" on Monday with the goal of raising $750,000. At the end of the day he surprised everyone by having raised $1.3 million, giving his warchest a huge boost at a time when the election is only a week away and Coakley's larger initial funds have almost run out.

Brown is now only two points behind in the latest poll, which has put even more pressure on the Tea Party groups, because if Kennedy could be persuaded to withdraw that would very likely give Brown the votes he needs to win. All over the blogosphere Tea Party activists are haranguing each other over this issue, arguing principles vs. pragmatism and getting very hot under the collar. Ultimately it comes down to Joe Kennedy, and it seems unlikely that having taken his campaign this far he would withdraw and throw his support to Brown at this late date.

It is an irony of our political system that everyone concerned about this situation at the grassroots level knows that Kennedy is the better candidate and one who represents their interests much more completely. At the end of the day, however, that's not enough when the issues at play are so important and the stakes are so high. Some in the Tea Party movement will never accept this, but it's a reality they are going to have to face again and again in the upcoming nationwide election cycle, and that clash between ideals and reality may very well tear the Tea Party movement apart.

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About Dave Nalle

Dave Nalle is Executive Director of the Texas Liberty Foundation, Chairman of the Center for Foreign and Defense Policy, South Central Regional Director for the Republican Liberty Caucus and an advisory board member at the Coalition to Reduce Spending. He was Texas State Director for the Gary Johnson Presidential campaign, an adviser to the Ted Cruz senatorial campaign, Communications Director for the Travis County Republican Party and National Chairman of the Republican Liberty Caucus. He has also consulted on many political campaigns, specializing in messaging. Before focusing on political activism, he owned or was a partner in several businesses in the publishing industry and taught college-level history for 20 years.
  • Jeannie, you seem like such a reasonable person and in that spirit I want to convey something to you. Scott Brown is the reluctant recipient of Tea Party support. He’s far from a stereotypical tea party-er or contemporary conservative. There are many layers to this man and as I’ve come to know his record and his temperament. I’ve learned that this man is more an Ed Brooke Republican.

    As you consider the big picture consider this. It takes a skillful politician to wade through the halls of the Senate. A good Senator has to think quickly, be ready to compromise and have keen political instincts which are in tune with the voters. Martha Coakley has run a horrible campaign and has been a disengaged candidate. That’s not me talking. That’s leading Democrats. If a candidate cannot display keen political skills on the campaign trail, how will they be an effective Senator?

    Whoever wins tomorrow only has two years to prove their worth. Bay State voters are willing to give Brown the chance because they know they can upset the balance in 18 months. That places a lot of pressure on the next Senator. A Brown victory is not a defeat for Massachusetts — it’s a message to Washington that even Massachusetts has a mind of its own in the post Kennedy era.

  • President Obama made his own case for why Massachusetts needs Martha. Progress depends on it. Health care reform depends on it.

    But radical right activists have turned Massachusetts into ground zero for the tea party movement. The leader of the Rhode Island Tea Party said if Scott Brown wins, “This will be a clear indictment of the Obama presidency and the Democratic Congress overreaching.” We can’t let the tea partiers win.This afternoon, President Obama made his own case for why Massachusetts needs Martha. Progress depends on it. Health care reform depends on it.

    But radical right activists have turned Massachusetts into ground zero for the tea party movement. The leader of the Rhode Island Tea Party said if Scott Brown wins, “This will be a clear indictment of the Obama presidency and the Democratic Congress overreaching.” We can’t let the tea partiers win. We must get out the vote for Martha Coakley, and your donation now will help.

  • Silas wrote-please don’t forget our fellow humans in Haiti. They are suffering far worse than we will ever imagine.

  • Well, Jeannie, thank you. I am one of the few who really don’t subscribe to this whole “marriage” thing. I believe two people, regardless of gender, have the right to marry. But the words “husband” and “wife” should be reserved for two people of opposite sexes who are in a marriage in which they biologically procreate. The term “marriage” itself is a legal term for a contract between two people, and as such, should not be gender specific.

    We all do have a right to dream. We Americans have so much more than most around the globe. And, in that spirit we must remember that to those who much have been given, much is expected in return. So, I echo your sentiments — folks, please don’t forget our fellow humans in Haiti. They are suffering far worse than we will ever imagine.

  • I hope not Silas…

    I believe you have the right to refer to you’re partner as husband if you desire.

    That all of us have a right as US citizens to the same health care afforded Congressmen, Senators, and prisoners on death row.

    That we all have a right to the American dream, no matter who or what we are!

    I can go on but…

    Please Text Haiti to 90999 so ten dollars can go directly to help those that need it the most, the people of Haiti.

  • Perhaps all that which Kennedy fought for was lost already, Jeannie. This health care bill is nothing what Kennedy envisioned. His attitude was get what you can and work from there. In days of yore, Ted Kennedy’s willingness to get a piece of the pie was somewhat effective. The days of Kennedy-esque politics are gone. His death closed the door on compromise in the Legislative Branch. We don’t have Teddy at the helm any longer and that means we’ve got to grow up and face reality. This health care bill is trash. It is a special interest dream and a consumer nightmare. Don’t let those who promote this legislation fool you, Jeannie. As you and your folks travel across the Commonwealth stumping for Coakley remember this — each candidate, regardless of party, has received millions of dollars in campaign financing. Have those millions benefited the citizens of this Commonwealth? No. It serves big corporate media and lines the pockets of the politicians. This entire special election process has been a joke and spits in the faces of the founding fathers of Massachusetts. In my mind, a vote for Scott Brown is a vote for Ted Kennedy. It sends a message to Washington that we want reform. While it may not be the reform Ted Kennedy envisioned it is a far departure from the business as usual which permeates the hallowed halls of Congress.

  • If we lose, Sen. Ted Kennedy’s seat will be in the hands of someone who opposes everything he fought for. We’ll lose a key vote for the President’s agenda in the Senate — and put all the progress we’ve made toward health reform at risk.OFA is going all out in Massachusetts — we’re sending organizers, knocking on doors, and making phone calls by the tens of thousands to make sure that folks know how to participate.

    Is this comment relevant enough for you Arch?

    Please Text Haiti to 90999 so ten dollars can go directly to help those that need it the most, the people of Haiti.

  • Please Text Haiti to 90999 so ten dollars can go directly to help those that need it the most, the people of Haiti.

  • The President is coming! The President is coming! We’ve just heard in BeanTown thanks to our friend Andrew Sullivan, that Barack Obama is coming to town on Sunday to campaign for Martha Coakley. Well, TeaBaggers, here’s your opportunity! The lines have been drawn the battle begins. Things keep going this way, Scott Brown wins.

  • Mark

    I hear that heated car seats help with those movements…

  • zingzing

    nalle’s law… hmm… i’m trying to think of a way to connect “liberty movement” and taking a shit… ah, well, it’s there anyway. so we can still call the “liberty movement” what they want to call it, but we all know it means squat. i mean poop.

    meh. teabaggers deserve whatever they get.

  • The White House may have sealed Martha Coakley’s fate this morning. There’s news from Rep. Hoyer which indicates a deal has been hammered between House and Senate leaders. Scuttlebutt in Boston is that they want this thing rolled out by Monday morning to help boost Coakley’s chances. The bottom line is that such a deal in the eleventh hour all but insures that Scott Brown will be the next Senator from Massachusetts.

    The Democrat machine is already spinning the possible Coakley defeat by saying Ms. Coakley ran a horrible campaign. Gee, ya think? She ran a campaign where she figured her name recognition combined with gender all but guaranteed victory. Ms. Coakley’s campaign is a reflection of her performance as Attorney General — lackluster, under the radar, and ineffective. Things aren’t so black and white any longer in Massachusetts politics. They’re becoming decidedly Brown!

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Dave –

    You know something? “Nalle’s Law” I can honestly understand and can abide by – after all, the T-word would be as offensive to those in the Tea Party movement (which is NOT ‘grassroots’) as the N-word would be to African-Americans. You’ve got a deal. I won’t use it.

    What I do NOT understand is your applying Godwin’s ‘Law’ to my writing yet you do not apply the same principle to yourself when your own writing is much more inflammatory – essentially referring to people (in so many words) as ‘treasonous saboteurs’ with NO evidence, whereas I did NOT call the Republicans ‘Nazis’ (and specifically said in the article that they do NOT compare to the Nazis), but only pointed out where the Bush administration’s torture policy had the same name, but with fewer restrictions than the Nazi program.

    Do you see what I’m talking about? The spirit of “Godwin’s Law” – just like the spirit of “Nalle’s Law” – is against using insulting, inflammatory language. Your article referred to the Obama administration as (again, in so many words) ‘treasonous saboteurs’ (as in deliberately sabotaging the American economy) and – unlike my article that you panned as having violated “Godwin’s Law” – presented NO proof of said treason or sabotage.

    I don’t mind you pointing out error on my part, Dave – I’m always grateful for correction (and you know I mean that). However – and take this for the constructive criticism that it is – you need to make sure that you do not make the same error to a greater degree…or if you do, at least acknowledge your error and make an effort to not make that same error in the future.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    STM –

    Me too – but I need to keep up my liberal cred by making sure it’s organic, fair-trade certified, distributed by a company that supports equal rights for LBGT’s and union labor, and sold by local merchants instead of Wal-Mart knockoffs.

    Pah! What a crock! Just a cup of regular green tea will do.

  • Glen, #48,

    Could the man in that link possibly look any stupider? I think not..

    If they are having a convention then I hope they check the white sheets at the door!

    And don’t try to deny it! The three letters are dug in deep.

  • STM

    I feel like a nice cup of tea.

  • BTW, in case you guys missed it, in a poll released today Brown is now ahead of Coakley.

    And Arch, there is no way on earth Obama is going to campaign for Coakley. He sent Bill Clinton instead. If he campaigned for her and she lost his credibility would be history.


  • Glenn, I’m waiting for my press pass from the Tea Party convention. But not holding my breath.

    However, that convention is being looked on with great skepticism by many in the liberty movement. The groups involved have dubious connections and the whole structure and huge price of admission makes it look pretty bogus. It certainly has no status as any kind of offocial tea party gathering.

    And Glenn, you’re the first to violate what I’m now going to call “Nalle’s Law” (similar to Godwin’s Law) by using the word “teabaggers” and thereby disqualifying yourself as anything but a elitist who despises the genuine grassroots.


  • Glenn Contrarian

    Let’s hear it for the Tea Party – those famous defenders of the constitution – and their support of the First Amendment!

    Having previously announced that the National Tea Party Convention would be closed to the press, organizers announced yesterday that they would reverse course. However, the Nashville Post reports that only five media organizations will receive credentials for the entire convention, and they all conveniently happen to be right-wing outlets:

    The five approved outlets are: Fox News, Breitbart.com, Townhall.com, World Net Daily and The Wall Street Journal. All five are widely considered to be Right-leaning organizations.

    Hip Hip Hooray for the Teabaggers! They’re mighty defenders of the American constitution…except for when it’s inconvenient for them!

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Dave –

    That problem is not going to go away if the state takes control. In fact, with insurance companies in control you at least have recourse to the courts. With the state in control you have no recourse at all.

    All your claims here are patently false. (1) It is included in the contracts that insurance agencies can drop you for pre-existing conditions, (2) many (if not most) insurance agencies require that anything that would otherwise go to court must go instead to binding arbitration…which is almost always won by the insurance agencies, and (3) you should check with lawyers – it not unusual at all to take the government to court and win.

  • Arch, grab the smelling salts, I’m about to let you in on a little secret… Scott Brown is within a hair of winning. And this writer is casting his ballot for Scott Brown – the Republican successor to Edward Moore Kennedy and the political slayer of St. Martha of Coakley.

  • Silas, #42,

    I am so tired of the lies being propagated about what would happen to our Health Care System if we move to Single Payer.

    We would not lose our present coverage ,if we have it, and we would not be taxed to death either.

    The only deference is that our Doctors would bill the government with untied hands. It would now be up to our Doctors and us regarding what tests or treatments would be best.

    Not an insurance agent.

    Number one and foremost we would all save money… The administrative costs for medicare today totals around eight percent, while the overall administrative costs for private insurance, at the lowest end of the scale, top thirty percent.

    My husband has paid premiums for over thirty five years and has used that coverage ONCE!And his premiums have gone up about fifteen percent a year, consistently.

    Saving money should motivate all of us to want SINGLE-PAYER.

  • Arch Conservative

    Back to the original topic.

    Up here in NH I can feel the support for Brown. it’s electric. Coakley is running scared. They’re talking about bringing Big Barry in to stump for her. He may just have a shot. Even Silas would begrudingly admit it I bet.

    If Brown does it pull it off how much more reasonable will that make speculation as to the Dems losing Congress?

  • Zedd

    Actually, the similarities are striking. Both groups consist of a large body of grassroots common people and have a secretive leadership of the rich, powerful and politicaly connected.

    That’s probably true of most large political movements.

  • Jeannie, I’m still not sure about the public option. I do think we need a single payer system or at least a single repository from which all fiduciary matters health related are handled. I am concerned about government regulation of health care but I do not see a reasonable alternative. Unfortunately I’ve come to the point where my distrust of the financial and insurance industries far outweigh my distrust of the government. We still have hope in America. It’s called getting involved with the process and getting our voices heard. That was the intent of our founders. That should be our resolve. We now return to regular programming — Dave, Jay or Conan? We report, you deride.

  • Dave,

    I have VA Health Care and you, are going to want Medicare Part B someday..give me a break!

  • That could well be a quote from Kafka’s Trial.

  • It was an insurance companie’s wish to save a buck that lead to my mothers death in N.Y.

    And it was the German government’s desire to save a buck which led to my wife’s grandmother’s death in Germany.

    That problem is not going to go away if the state takes control. In fact, with insurance companies in control you at least have recourse to the courts. With the state in control you have no recourse at all.


  • Sorry, but I’m a little tired right now..so I need to take a break from BC..not long though 🙂

    see ya in the threads.

  • Silas, #36,

    I cannot agree with all of your reasons.

    You make a good argument that reform must be the right kind of reform…

    Since I don’t hear the words Public Option or,the true reform words, Single-payer, then, there will not be the kind of change we need.

    I also say that Government as a payer would not dictate Health care as the insurance industry does today.

    It was an insurance companie’s wish to save a buck that lead to my mothers death in N.Y.

  • Why, Jeannie? Because here in Massachusetts we’re being led to believe that Martha Coakley is the 60th vote to insure health care reform. Like it or not, that’s just about the truth. Without a Democrat to replace Ted Kennedy, this health care battle may be lost.

    Jeannie, I’m an ardent supporter of health care reform — but not at the price we’ll have to pay under this plan. I live in Massachusetts under the so-called mandatory health care system. If this bill goes through and Barack Obama signs it, get ready. Your health care will be a part of your tax return. And, as with all things IRS, the next thing you know the IRS will have some involvement in YOUR health care. Gee, that sounds like a bright approach.

    Jeannie, I desperately want health care reform achieved but it has to be accomplished by changing the way health care does business. Health insurance companies must no longer be exempt from anti-trust laws. And, what’s most important, health care must be taken out of the for profit paradigm. We’re talking human lives here. We’re talking about a healthy, quality life for every American. I’m talking about common decency. Is that so wrong?

  • Dave, #33,

    Grass roots? Dick must have a dirt floor in his office.

  • Silas Kain, #30


    Health care reform must be stopped and I’m one of the few Americans that can actually do something about it — all I have to do is say NO to Martha Coakley.

  • Trying to connect the history of the Boston Tea Party with Dick Army’s group called The Tea Party, is like connecting Saddam Hussein with 911… pure fiction!

    Actually, the similarities are striking. Both groups consist of a large body of grassroots common people and have a secretive leadership of the rich, powerful and politicaly connected.


  • Zedd

    Wait, did Dave mention the word “pragmatism”?

  • STM

    Dave: “everyone was happy, except Gov. Hutchinson who had his house burnt down.”

    Lol. Some of your best work that.

  • As a Massachusetts voter, Dave, I’ve literally agonized over the choices we have. As one of the handful of citizens who will actually VOTE, I was an Alan Khazei supporter. Throughout the process since our lackluster Primary Day, I almost was swayed to go with Coakley because all of a sudden she has discovered what it is to be Attorney General. That being said, I’ve been hesitant to support Mr. Brown. He’s an attractive candidate with solid roots in this part of the Commonwealth but certain positions he’s taken on social issues are of major concern to me.

    So now it comes down to one core issue — health care. Martha Coakley is being hailed as the “60th vote” in Barack Obama’s quest to get health care reform achieved. The agony is over. Mr. Brown will get my vote on Tuesday. Health care reform must be stopped and I’m one of the few Americans that can actually do something about it — all I have to do is say NO to Martha Coakley.

  • Dave, #27,

    Trying to connect the history of the Boston Tea Party with Dick Army’s group called The Tea Party, is like connecting Saddam Hussein with 911… pure fiction!

    By all means, correct me if I’m wrong.

  • Very interesting, Dave.

  • You being a historian, can you please clear up the disinformation about the original tea party. That the demands of the participants had been met but they wanted to rile people up so they went ahead with the “protest”.

    The protest was largely symbolic and intended to stir up the people.

    However, although the East India Company had agreed to meet the demands of the protesters and pull the ships out, Gov. Hutchinson had declared that he would fire on the ships from Ft. Charles if they tried to leave the harbor without paying their tax.

    Faced with the inability to unload their cargo because of the protesters and the alternative of paying the tax out of their own pockets if they wanted to leave, the captains of the ships made a deal with the Sons of Liberty and colluded to allow them on the ships to dump the tea with no opposition.

    Once the tea was gone the governor had no basis on which to tax them and they could leave and everyone was happy, except Gov. Hutchinson who had his house burnt down.

    The owners then went to Lloyd’s of London and demanded 3.5 million pounds in insurance value for the tea that was destroyed. Lloyd’s then lobbied Parliament to be repaid for their losses out of revenue from a new tax. Parliament cooperated and the rest is history.

    And it was a thrup’ny tax on tea, not a twup’ny tax, Stan. Not coincidentally the tax was set at just under the amount which most ship captains had been paying the customs inspectors in bribes under the previous tax structure. The problem was not that the tax was high, but that it was low enough that people actually started paying it. They were fine with paying bribes to the customs inspectors to avoid taxes and only got mad when they started having to pay the same amount to the government.


  • #s 12 and 13 are right about the inherent weaknesses and diversity of the tea party movement, however they do represent a great many votes and were able to raise $1.3 million for Brown in one day, mostly from small contributors. That’s power.


  • STM

    And George didn’t go mad until later in his reign … from porphria, attacks of which were made worse by a medication given to him that contained arsenic, which heightens the condition.

    It was the government of Lord North, and the meddling in parliament of those who had fallen under the King’s influence, who kept the war going.

    Yorktown certainly didn’t help and swayed public opinion, but the British never know when they are beaten. Even if they appear to be losing they keep fighting – which is generally how they manage to win, most of the time (look at World Wars I and II).

    Which was exactly the strategy of the revolutionaries, who couldn’t have hoped to beat the British in any significant, crushing manner in most of the larger, set-piece battles … not unusual, either, when looked at in this light: most Americans up to the time of the declaration of independence considered themselves Britons. or “Englishmen”, and in fact were either immigrants from Britain or the descendants of British migrants.

    The French alliance was key at Yorktown, especially the naval input of the French.

    Glad Americans have finally seen the light in relation to their one-time allies 🙂

    Now, how do I get invited to a tea party. I love a nice cup of tea.

  • STM

    Zedd: “Spread propaganda against the King in order to meet that end”.

    Rebellious Yankee scum! Traitots to the Crown …

    It was more a civil war than anything.

    I can forgive them all that, but getting into bed with the French was unforgiveable.

    Also, many Americans don’t realise that it was not any military defeat during the War of Independence that ended the fighting (that aspect of it was always a might close-run thing, as even many American historians will tell you), but the change of government in Westminster to the Whigs, who had supported American self-government from the outset and wanted an end to the war.

    George, now stripped of his little meddlesome coterie in the House, asked for more money to keep fighting, but parliament denied him.

    In truth, it could have gone on for another 20 years had they not, given Britain’s wealth and growing global status at the time.

    Ultimately, however, I believe the result would have been the same: self-government in one form or another.

  • As much as has been made of it over the years, the so called “tea party” would hardly be considered even a good fraternity prank by today’s standards. It was a lot more “show” than “blow” – much like today’s TPs.


  • I took a journalism class a couple of years ago in which the teacher pointed out that the Boston Tea Party, far from being a spontaneous act of rebellion, was actually the first manufactured public relations exercise.

    And you know what? He was right. Mobs don’t go in for symbolism. They would just have set fire to every ship in the harbour. A lot less intellectually challenging, not to mention more fun.

  • mrdockellis

    I put this in the comments section in my article, but I thought I’d put it here too.

    There’s a rumor going around that certain counties in the Bay State are sending around census forms this week that say if you don’t respond in ten days you will be purged from the voter rolls.

    Some believe this is aimed at absentee voters who have their mail forwarded. It usually takes at least two weeks for mail to get forwarded. So those folks who may have mailed their absentee ballots, won’t get this snap census in time to stay on the rolls. This is why the local officials say it will take weeks to certify the election. They need the time to figure out who didn’t send in this last minute census so those votes( presumably for Brown) can be disqualified.

    The Fix is in!!

  • Zedd

    Most were proud to be subjects of the crown. They identified themselves as Brits. Radicals like Thomas Paine (later) wanted an independent nation and were all to happy to spread propaganda against the King in order to meet that end.

  • STM

    Yes, you’re right Zedd. The idea that Americans were an oppressed people at the time are a myth.

    The revolutionaries, as you quite rightly point out, were more interested in cementing their own money, power and prestige. It took quite a long time to get ordinary American colonists to go along with it all, and even then many didn’t.

    It was about much more than a tuppeny tax on a pound of tea, which was the drink of the wealthly anyway and not – unlike now – a drop for the masses.

    I can deal with the idea of traitors to the Crown, as even the British parliament was split down the middle on American self-government and only George’s meddling in Westminster prevented it, but not with them getting into bed with the French.

    Anyway, I do love a good tea party … cucumber sandwiches are a must, though. With the crusts cut off.

  • Zedd


    You being a historian, can you please clear up the disinformation about the original tea party. That the demands of the participants had been met but they wanted to rile people up so they went ahead with the “protest”.

  • Let’s not forget that the longest serving Libertarian Republican legislator in America – Mass Sen. Bob Hedlund is an old friend and colleague of Scott Brown, and was one of thos originally calling on him to run for this seat.

  • My goodness, Archie.

    You’re less of an ideologue than you led everyone to believe.

    Good for you.

  • Arch Conservative

    “Spinny, it wasn’t the tea party folks who supported Hoffman in NY-23, it was extreme social conservatives from the religious right”

    I consider myself fairly social conservative but I’m no idiot. Right wrong or indifferent, moneymakes the world go round. The more of it I can keep and the less the government can steal from me the happoer I am. At the end of the day the tax rate is infinitely more important an issue to me than abortion and I’m sure millions more that once were or currently are members of the GOP feel the same way.
    Bob McDonnel gets it, why can’t the rest of the GOP…..

    As far as the MA Senate race goes……..Coakley really is a poor excuse for a human being…………

  • Baronius

    Baritone, I think they include a lot of disgruntled independents who would have been Republicans if the party had stood on its principles. They’re not necessarily on the far right. There are plenty of moderate deficit hawks.

    Plus, any fringe is going to attract unclassifiable kooks.

  • I don’t pretend to know what is likely to happen in Massachusetts. However, it becomes clear to me in reading Dave’s article and others that so called “tea partiers” are no more well defined than either of the major parties. There are a # of groups identifying themselves as tea partiers, but they offer up widely divergent agendas. In essence, they are just disgruntled Republicans who, on the whole, measure out well right of center.

    Each of the groups seem to have an “all or nothing” notion about what they stand for, and who they will or will not support. Such splintered groups will find it very difficult to put together any effective coalition that can, of itself, have any significant impact on coming elections unless they can be content playing the role of nothing more than spoilers ala Perot, Nader, etal.


  • The Obnoxious American


    I think the central point is that this is a two party system. People can support third parties or tea party movements or Ron Paul all they like. Unless the major parties pick up these views and run candidates that capture the essense of these movements, these votes are completely wasted and may even hurt the objectives of these independent voters as has been proven time and again, most notably with Ross Perot voters who ended up with Clinton but probably would have preferred Bush Sr if they couldn’t get Perot.

    That Chavez loving Joe Kennedy would claim to be a Tea Partyer, is beyond absurd. But about on par for a hack like Joe.


    Take responsibility for your party’s actions. You got your fillibuster proof majority, control of both houses (which the dems have had for almost three years now) and the executive branch. It’s all on the Dems now buddy, don’t try to lay this rotten egg at the feet of the GOP

  • zingzing

    lumpy, you are your own worst enemy. that was truly hilarious.

  • Lumpy

    I wonder how long it will be before some pinhead bigot shows up on this thread ranting about teabaggers.

  • biteme

    GOP standing against the health bill because it’s an insurance sell out… oh my god, i just fell off my chair. That’s the biggest joke I’ve ever heard in my life. If the GOP was in power, they’d be editing the bill that the insurance companies gave them right now. Just like they did with the telecommunications act and energy policy. Not to mention countless others.

  • spinnikerca

    Dave 6 – some of the tea party are not liberty types, but social conservatives. In some areas those are rare, in others, not so much. That convention being planned so someone can obtain email lists and create a top down structure? What liberty type would consider spontaneous order bad?

  • spinnikerca

    Dave, well if he doesn’t even have sufficient spine to stand with the entire rest of the GOP against the insurance sell out, I see no use for him. That is a very different issue.

  • Spinny, it wasn’t the tea party folks who supported Hoffman in NY-23, it was extreme social conservatives from the religious right. The main Tea Party groups actually stayed out of the fight because all the candidates sucked.


  • Spinny, I agree with you, but I’ll make the Devil’s Advocate argument here. I think some people are not confident, based on Brown’s record, that he will actually stand firm against the health care bill or against raising taxes and spending more on bailouts, which is also a concern.


  • spinnikerca

    I also think it is important to note that Kennedy’s polling to date is part of this. Rubio is polling well, Rand Paul is polling ahead of his competitors in KY. This issue only arises if the tea party can’t get sufficiently behind their candidates, prior to the last push to ballot. In upstate NY, it wasn’t the ‘tea parties’ who were the spoilers, they got 45% of the vote. It was the liberal pretending to be GOP who was the spoiler, taking 5% of the vote which would have put the tea party candidate over the top.

    The White House said that principles will get you 45% (essentially), however, not listening to your base will get you 5%.

  • spinnikerca

    I think there are a number of groups of people who like the tool of tea parties who have overlapping ideas. None like the health bill, however, and some are saying Brown is best (for them) but a whole bunch of others are saying ‘this isn’t just voting the lesser of two evils, this is voting against the insurance corporate welfare program being called health reform’. And that makes a huge difference. Even to those who in most elections would vote for the Liberty candidate and consider it a lesson to the two major parties if that ‘impacted elections.’

  • Maia

    Brown actually started off with a goal of $500,000, not $750,000; that goal was met shortly after mid-day, and his campaign then moved the goal to $750,000 and finally, sometime during the evening, raised it to $1,000,000. Although the official “money bomb” time frame has passed, I am sure he is still receiving significant contributions as more and more people (nationwide) sense that he really might win. Rasmussen’s most recent poll shows him moving within 2 points. That’s from 30 points, then 9, now 2.

    I think his desire to reign in the seemingly endless expansion of government that we are witnessing and his strong stance on national security have great mass (could pun be intended?) appeal. Cutting taxes and getting some actual job growth in the private–not government–sector–is of critical importance. He is a sincere and honest guy.

    I’ve put my money where my mouth is. I hope others–from whawtever party–will do the same and give his campaign the tools it needs for a solid final push.

  • Old Oak Tree

    I think Republican politicians now realize they must immediately become fiscal conservatives. We must address our federal debt, our annual deficits, our diminishing manufacturing base, our trade imbalances, and the resulting risks to the U.S. dollar and our ability to protect ourselves. My hope is that all fiscal conservatives can work together to defeat the costly liberal agenda.

    I think the voters have realized they must whip Republicans into shape. Republicans must rise to the challenge and govern according to the principles of fiscal conservatism. To the extent they are successful in doing that, pragmatic tea-partiers like myself will support them.

    Right now, my focus is on getting Scott Brown elected. His victory on Jan 19 will have immediate effects.