Contract from America: 'tea party' crafts its election manifesto
Taking a cue from the GOP's success in 1994, the 'tea party' movement is putting together a Contract from America – a platform for the 2010 elections culled from thousands of suggestions.
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Many tea partyers are politically to the right of the average Republican and most have little party loyalty. As Politico points out, “Republicans who paint tea partyers as a fringe group risk primary challenges, while those who embrace the group risk drifting too far rightward to win a general election.”Skip to next paragraph
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Tea party infighting
In that light, the crowd-sourced contract will shed more light on tea party priorities, but it could also play into widening fissures in the movement, evidenced at least in part by infighting over the upcoming Tea Party Convention in Nashville.
“Right now, they’re certainly against Democrats, they’re pretty often against Republicans, but they’re an oppositional force more than a party or organization that’s aiming to do anything constructive with government,” says Martin Johnson, a political scientist at the University of California in Riverside. “The other tension here is they’re going to have to become insiders if whatever they’re proposing here is going to have a deep and sustained effect on policy.”
The emerging contract is also, in many ways, the opposite of the Contract with America, which was written by party operatives in the standard Washington mold – via polls and focus groups.
University of Tennessee law professor Glenn Reynolds, author of “An Army of Davids,” calls the Contract from America “a crowd-sourced party platform … more in the nature of a contract of employment from the voters, which politicians may choose to accept or look for alternative employment.”
“It’ll be interesting to see what the intellectual differences are between what emerges out of this process and the kinds of things we saw with Contract with America,” says Professor Johnson. “Only time will tell whether this will rise beyond clever political marketing and showmanship.”
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