Wednesday, April 15, 2009

No votes means no representation

One of the signs at this Tea Party protest in Lansing Mich. says "The Federal Reserve is a private bank that owns America". Given the exploding balance sheet of the Fed and its strange structure, that's hardly the most bizarre sign that appeared at any tea party protest.

But it does raise a question. There was a Presidential candidate last year warning about the unrestrained power of the Fed. He also warned about the growth in federal debt and the increasing power of the state. His name was Ron Paul and he was shunned by the Republican party establishment and even many self-styled libertarians, who viewed him as a distraction. Yet 6 months later, a platform a lot like his is supposedly energizing the masses. So where were the tea party enthusiasts back then?

Here's Glenn Reynolds --

So why vote for the guy you know can’t win [Ron Paul or Ralph Nader]? I know, I know–you want to move the party in the direction of Truth, Justice, and the American Way. But this is wishful thinking. The reason that those of us on the fringe–libertarians, Greens, socialist workers, or what have you–do not have more representation in government is not because there is some structural problem with the American political system, like a lack of IRV or minority party candidates. The reason we don’t have more representation is that most people just don’t agree with us. Oh, I know you can find a poll that says that voters want national health care, a guaranteed income, a carbon tax, or lower government spending. But voters like lots of things in the abstract. When you get down to the specifics of raising their taxes and restricting their choices, they tend to get balky. The Democrats cannot move significantly closer to Nader, nor the Republicans to Ron Paul, without losing more voters in the center than they gain on the fringe.

So Ron Paul didn't get enough votes because most people don't actually agree with him and the parties have captured the center. But now tea parties sweep the nation with no big election due for 18 months. What does it say when the ahead-of-time prognosis from one of the movement's media boosters is so bleak?

Photo: AP/Al Goldis

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