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Tea Partiers and Liberty Republicans Set New Agenda for Maine GOP

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Reports coming from the Maine Republican Convention this past weekend are that Tea Party activists and Liberty Republicans, who were elected as delegates in large numbers, have outvoted the party establishment and passed an alternative party platform stressing party reform and emphasizing traditional Republican and conservative values.

After their suggestions submitted through the platform formation process were ignored, the delegates on the floor rejected a platform proposed by party leaders which was virtually identical to the party's 2008 platform and then voted on and passed a much more libertarian and anti-government platform which passed easily. Then when it was challenged on procedural grounds it passed again with an even larger majority.

In the preamble they issue a challenge to the corruption of the party system, writing that "Years of neglect have allowed factions detrimental to the core principles of this nation, to entrench themselves in both political parties, and undermine the education of Constitutional principles vital to the survival of the republic." They also stress constitutional values and announce that:

We, the citizens of Maine united by free association as Republicans, dedicated to seeing the principles which brought forth the birth and ascendance of this State and these United States once again made dominant and pledge our unwavering allegiance, not to a political party, but to the Constitution of the State of Maine and the Constitution of the United States of America. The Republican Party is the vehicle through which we seek to better unify and promote those in pursuit of these goals.

The principles upon which the Republican Party was founded, to which we as Citizens seek return, and to which we demand our elected representatives abide, are summarized as follows:

  • The Constitutions, both State and Federal, are the framework to which any and all legislation must adhere.
  • State sovereignty must be regained and retained on all issues specifically relegated to the States by the constitution.
  • National sovereignty shall be preserved and retained as dominant over any attempted unconstitutional usurpations of such by international treaty.
  • It is the responsibility and duty, of “We the People”, to educate both ourselves and others; to demand honest elections free of corruption, and to hold our elected officials to the highest standards of honesty, integrity and loyalty to the constitution."

They then go on to address many specifics, although the platform is relatively short compared to those of other state Republican parties. Their concerns include protecting state sovereignty, national sovereignty, and individual rights, opposing federal interference with free speech in the media, opposing card check and forced unionization, prohibiting public funding for advocacy groups, opposition to cap and trade, ObamaCare and any kind of tax expansion, term limits and other limits on congressional power, and some socially conservative positions including opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage.

Not everyone is happy with the new platform. The state party has yet to actually put it on their website, with the old proposed platform remaining in its place. Dan Billings, former attorney for the Maine GOP, called the new platform "wack job pablum" and "nutcase stuff." Yet the content does not really focus on the kind of conspiracy-related issues, hardcore anti-globalism or other radical agenda items of the Tea Party movement. Most of what it contains is very mainstream and widely supported by Republicans. It's just more specific and less moderate than many insiders would have preferred.

Response has been positive but qualified from party reformers and Liberty Republicans. In a comprehensive examination of the platform, Matt Gagnon of Pine Tree Politics applauds the substance of the platform while criticizing the cobbled together nature of a document essentially written off the cuff on the floor of the convention hall. R. Kenneth Lindell of the Republican Liberty Caucus of Maine commented, "It would have been better if the Platform Committee had done its job and taken the proposals for changes to the platform seriously. The end result would have been better written and more presentable. That said I think that it is a very positive development that activists who are new to the party have been able to succeed where earlier they were simply ignored and dismissed."

Critics on the left have been quick to attack the Maine platform as radical and the product of political amateurism, pointing to the criticism of the Federal Reserve and of globalist groups as "conspiracy theories and making much of the favorable mention in the platform of Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX). Some have been eager to make fun of the conflict between the "teabaggers" and the Maine GOP. Nonetheless, even they admit that this may be a sign of things to come as grassroots activists gain a larger voice in Republican politics.

With state Republican conventions scheduled all over the country in the coming months, we may see more large-scale movements towards a more purist Republican ideology and an ongoing reaction against big government. Even if other state parties don't see outright takeovers of their platforms, they may respond to this grassroots pressure by shifting farther right voluntarily to address the increasingly loud demands of constituents.


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About Dave Nalle

  • Winston Apple

    Dave,

    I’m usually the guy at a forum who wants to make a statement rather than ask a question during Q & A. Now here I am using the “comment” section to ask a couple of sincere questions.

    Is there any sign of tea party people joining the Libertarian Party? Is the Libertarian Party doing anything to court tea party people?

    I would love to see my favorite third party move toward major party status as a result of the tea party activities. Do you see any hope of that happening?

  • Harold

    There is nothing wrong with government if it represents the people. Every time I see the “anti-government” stick I think I’ll throw up. There is “good” government and then there is “bad” government. There is government that gets out of the away for free market principals and individual freedom and then there is the controlling, suffocating type of government that ends up destroying a free society.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    Dave delicately tiptoes past a few bits, calling them “some socially conservative ideas” — items he normally abhors, but is tolerant of as long as a tea bag is attached.

    I like Wonkette’s snarky and sardonic description rather better:

    Maine GOP Platform Hijacked By Teabaggers In Comical Fashion

    This document is called The Bible. No, it is called something else, but it is basically a copy-paste of The Bible: “The official platform for the Republican Party of Maine is now a mix of right-wing fringe policies, libertarian buzzwords and outright conspiracy theories.”

    The document calls for the elimination of the Department of Education and the Federal Reserve, demands an investigation of “collusion between government and industry in the global warming myth,” suggests the adoption of “Austrian Economics,” declares that “‘Freedom of Religion’ does not mean ‘freedom from religion’” (which I guess makes atheism illegal), insists that “healthcare is not a right,” calls for the abrogation of the “UN Treaty on Rights of the Child” and the “Law Of The Sea Treaty” and declares that we must resist “efforts to create a one world government.”

    Lovely. Very inspiring stuff.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    How did the state party that gave us Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, often the only sane voices in the GOP, come up with this?

  • John Wilson

    They can’t help it. The builtin contradictions of the Tea Party and their ilk will always result in nuttiness as they struggle with the contrary notions of limiting government while expanding the corporate privileges that cause big government.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    Is there any sign of tea party people joining the Libertarian Party?

    None. There is evidence of many people leaving the Libertarian party through the Tea Parties and ending up in the GOP, however.

    Is the Libertarian Party doing anything to court tea party people?

    From what my sources tell me the LP is on the brink of death as a nationwide organization. As the GOP moves more libertarian it just can’t compete. It would take a major comeback by the religious right to change that trend, which is not impossible.

    I would love to see my favorite third party move toward major party status as a result of the tea party activities. Do you see any hope of that happening?

    None. The Tea Parties have supported LP candidates, but they want to WIN, and that is driving them into the arms of the Republicans.

    Dave

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    Handy, the hardcore religious right stuff in this platform is absolutely minimized. Look at some other Republican state platforms for comparison. One remarkable thing about this platform is how moderate and non-nutty it is considering how it came into being.

    How did the state party that gave us Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, often the only sane voices in the GOP, come up with this?

    Because they are sick and tired of the compromises on fundamental principles which Snowe and Collins have made.

    Dave

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    Fundamental principles: such as distorting or ignoring the truth in favor of ideological purity? Inflexible ideologues do not make the world a better place, to put it mildly.

    The phrases “tunnel vision” and “can’t see the forest for the trees” seem tailor made for describing ideological straitjackets like the one the tea partiers are happily fitting for themselves.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    Handy, once again you blabber about things you know zero about. Your view of the tea parties is the distorted lense of Rachel Maddow and the angry hatemongers of the left.

    The tea parties are particularly notable for their lack of ideological purity and their diversity of views. In fact, this is one of their major weaknesses as there is a great deal of infighting and rivalry going on.

    They do agree that government is out of control and needs to be reigned in, but that’s hardly an “ideology” – it’s a plain and obvious reality.

    Dave

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    ” . . . will always result in nuttiness as they struggle with the contrary notions of limiting government while expanding the corporate privileges that cause big government.”

    Good point, John Wilson.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Dave,

    I would tend to agree with your description in #9, in particular, that “the tea parties are particularly notable for their lack of ideological purity and their diversity of views. In fact, this is one of their major weaknesses as there is a great deal of infighting and rivalry going on.”

    On another thread, I spoke at length about moral crisis many Americans are facing in these times (in addition to, and as a result of, the economic crisis); and if this is even partly true, this would explain the kind of indecisiveness and lack of uniformity of views.

    Many on the right are driven thus into the Tea Party movement, and for a variety of reasons.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful


    The tea parties are particularly notable for their lack of ideological purity and their diversity of views.

    But you and Handy weren’t talking about the Tea Partiers. You were talking about the Maine Republican Party.

    And what is a party platform if not an ideology?

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    But you and Handy weren’t talking about the Tea Partiers. You were talking about the Maine Republican Party.

    The Maine Republican Party is diverse too. Look at this issue and the difference between the platform and the positions of their two Senators. That’s quite a range of views.

    And what is a party platform if not an ideology?

    Usually a hodge-podge mess of random ideas to please every possible constituency.

    Dave

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    It is tea partiers who took over the Maine platform.

    And my ‘blabbering’ was a direct response to Dave’s own ‘analysis':

    Because they are sick and tired of the compromises on fundamental principles which Snowe and Collins have made.

    In other words, they want ideological purity. They have even [in other venues] proposed pledges and tests to filter out the impure from candidate lists.

    Ousting very conservative Utah Sen. Bennett because he voted for TARP? Preferring J D Hayworth to John McCain? Forest for trees/tunnel vision.

    I’m not in the habit of quoting conservative columnist Kit Parker, but here goes:

    …in purging impure Republicans from the ranks, tea partiers ultimately may manage to further shrink the GOP by alienating those repelled by purity tests. Nothing dissuades like righteousness.

    If you set up a rigid rule that all tax increases are evil, or that amnesty for immigrants is 100% off limits, even Ronald Reagan couldn’t pass your purity test.

    Individual tea partiers may be all over the map. But their overall effect on the GOP and elections has been to the range of acceptable policy positions — and threatens punishment for violators.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    sorry, that was meant to be “to narrow the range of acceptable positions” in that last sentence.

  • STM

    I have a solution: Everyone needs a nice cup of tea and a good lie down before things get out of hand.

  • Bill B

    The irony is that the tea partiers/baggers are angry about many of the same things liberals and progressives have a problem with; namely a government run by big money.

    Their fanciful out of touch notions of dealing with it are the problem. When 90 + % of them don’t even realize their taxes have gone down under Obama and their outrage manifested but a month or 2 after he was in office while they sat in their hands while Bush started 2 wars and didn’t even include the expenditures in the budget process, they have zero credibility. Zero.

    The only reason they even get face time is because they’re interesting – like rubber necking on the highway.

  • http://ComicsPundit.com Shawn Levasseur

    “From what my sources tell me the LP is on the brink of death as a nationwide organization.”

    We’ll see about that.

    Admittably, it has declined in activity. I’ve been part of the effort to get the LP of Maine moving again, and see that at least here we are well poised to make a good comeback. (see their website if you want to help with that.)

    But that’s just talk. Actions will be what matters. I’ll crow more when we do more.

    And ultimately this Maine GOP platform is just talk. Will candidates run on a more fiscally responsible agenda? More importantly, will they LEGISLATE to get a smaller government?

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Among the more interesting things about the new Maine Republican party platform is that it calls for rejection of the UN treaty on the Rights of the Child which was drafted in large part to stop child sex trafficking and drafting children into armies.

    From what I understand, there’s two countries that have not signed on to the treaty – America’s one…and Somalia’s the other.

    In terms of political idiocy, this is right up there with requiring police to stop people and say, “papers please” when there is “reasonable suspicion” that they are not citizens…while concurrently outlawing English teachers with a strong accent and outlawing courses on ethnic history and culture.

    AND let’s not forget the law just passed – I think it’s in Tennessee – where it is now allowed for people to open-carry (or concealed-carry IIRC) loaded firearms into bars and restaurants. At least fourteen other states saw fit to include that firearms carriers would not be allowed to consume alcohol…but not Tennessee! Why? Because Tennessee had to show that they’re REALLY conservative! “Keep your loaded weapon on you while you get loaded!”

    The Republicans are all playing a game of “See – I’m more conservative than you!” (by modern-day Republican standards, even Ronald Reagan would have been called a RINO) But they apparently don’t have enough foresight to see where this particular game (if not stopped) must eventually lead.

  • Zedd

    Dave,

    At some point it’s time to stop the silliness.

    ARE YOU SERIOUS?

    What are you on about??? The major problems is that Americans don’t know a lot. Thats it!!!

  • Zedd

    The one and only campaign that you need to spend your time on is an anti stupidity campaign. What makes politicians do what they do, the way that they do it, is the public and their ignorance.

    The Tea Party is a glaring display of the frightening ignorance that is spreading virally through this country.

    This is ridiculous, just ridiculous. I mean really!!

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    March on, Zulu soldier!

  • Zedd

    I still don’t get the objection to the size of government in a HUGE country where the elected officials are ELECTED by the public. The issue should not be about the size. The discussion should be about the efficiency. For some reason some speech writer decided to say that government has to be inefficient and for some reason no one challenged that (even people who believe that America is a place where ideas flourish and solutions are abundant). From that point it was deduced that BIGger government HAS to be even more inefficient, thusly, we should all hate big government.

    What we should hate is inefficiency. Whether its from corporations, or any institutions, including government, we should expect excellence. Now the problem is when you don’t know what efficiency looks like and you are just parroting a bunch of nonsense (a la the tea party, the extreme left and most Republicans)

  • Zedd
  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Can’t expect excellence, Zedd, in the midst of corruption. America has never been about excellence but about success. And their notion of success is the equivalent of the Greek term arete.

    Hardly a viable comparison.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/scott-deitche/ Scott Deitche

    The highjacking of the Maine platform shows unequivocally that the tea party is NOT an independent party at all.

    It’s the extreme far right in sheep’s clothing, no matter how loudly they claim to be otherwise.

  • Jeff Dickey

    Roger (#25) No, but an “excellence” campaign that boosts transparency (so that voters can satisfy themselves that the ‘excellence’ campaign is working) will by definition reduce corruption. It will also, as a matter of necessity, bring into the light of day any hypocrisy built into the political machine… where people say one thing to get elected and then do something else; sometimes that “something else” really is the only thing that can get passed, sometimes it’s something less pleasant. EIther way, having something people can point to and talk about rationally would do wonders for American politics, in either wing of the Corporate Party.