We certainly don’t walk the beaten path when it comes to religion, yet many of us feel compelled to do so when it comes to politics. Republican or Democrat, that old duality, is the only choice we have. That’s what we tell ourselves. Falling back into a mode of duality thinking, we extol the virtues of the one and demonize the other. It’s a very Abrahamic way of looking at things from a supposedly non-Abrahamic group of people. Early teachings and cultural immersion bites deep.
The main argument for not supporting Third Parties and their candidates is that a vote for them is a wasted vote. Supporting a Third Party is to marginalize yourself and the issues you hold dear. But here’s a question for you, are Pagans any less marginalized in the Democratic or Republican Parties? Both are old, established Parties that have shown little intention to hear anything we say. The power brokers are firmly in place and we have little chance of entering those elite ranks and affecting platforms or policies. In a choice between having more voice in a powerless group or having no voice in a powerful group, which vote is more of a waste?
There may be a window of opportunity in the USA to create a different power paradigm, one that could be especially appealing to Center and Right of Center Pagans. Due to voter dissatisfaction with both the Democrat and Republican Parties and the extremely low approval numbers for Congress (20% approval) the time is ripe for either a viable Third Party to emerge or for serious reform of our existing two main Parties.
Although I haven’t made up my mind, I have been giving serious consideration to getting involved with the Tea Party. As of now, they are not a true political Party, more of an umbrella name for a political movement, but they are gaining in power. According to one poll 41% of likely voters now have a favorable opinion of the Tea Party, compared with 35% for Democrats and 28% for Republicans. If the tea party really were a party, it’s candidates could expect to beat their Democratic and Republican opponents.
In time they may become a political party or they may be an agent for reform within the (mostly) Republican and (some) Democrat parties. This is some of what I have found out about the Tea Party over the past year:
- Tea Party has no fixed platform, no established hierarchy, and is brand new so it could be possible for Pagans to become influential within it – more of a chance than within the existing established parties.
- There seems to be three main things they agree on: Both major parties are to blame for (insert issue here), neither were fully responsive to voters and it’s time to clean house. The desire for a smaller, less intrusive Federal government. The national budget must be balanced and excessive national debt is generational theft.
- They do seem sincere that the group is to be non-partisan and Democrats are welcomed, but let’s face it, the main message outlined about is not going to appeal to many Liberals. That said, people I’ve talked to said they would love it if people like Hilary Clinton and Jon Stewart would speak at Tea Party rallies. That makes sense when you realize how many Independents there are in the Tea Party. A poll in Iowa found that Independents account for nearly half of Tea Party supporters, Republicans represent a third, and Democrats 17 percent.
- They are trying to stay away from social issues, although some of the sub-groups are very focused on pushing a social based agenda. I think that sooner or later they will turn to social issues, which is another area that I think we could influence if we become involved.
- Most of the Tea Party groups seem sane, but some are either flat out racists or are religiously exclusionary. The sane ones seem to be trying to push the racists out and not allow the fundamentalists to take over. But that wacky minority could give the Tea Party a bad name and could cause people to leave the Tea Party. The Tea Party needs to more forcefully eject these people from their ranks. I’m sure the Heathens can empathize.
- I love their tactics. Even if I don’t become involved with the Tea Party, I think Pagans would do well to learn from what the Tea Party is doing. They are encouraging candidates to challenge incumbents of both parties in primary contests to ensure that career politicians stay responsive to the voters. They are encouraging Tea Party members to file as candidates for the office of precinct executive within both Parties – this places Tea Party activists in GOP and DNC leadership positions and allows them to change the party from within. They actually have a PowerPoint presentation that shows interested persons how to run for precinct executives.
The disorganization and infighting really puts me off. That’s just a personal peeve and is one thing about the Pagan community that drives me nuts, too. I’m more of a ‘suck it up and do your job efficiently’ kind of person. If the Tea Party starts to run on Tea Party Standard Time – I’m out of there.
I’m going to join a local Tea Party group and I’ll let you know my impressions, particularly from a Pagan perspective. Are they accepting of us? Is there an opportunity for Pagans to gain a more prominent voice in American politics through them? I also want to know what your personal experiences are with the Tea Party. Have any of you joined a Tea Party group? Have you been to any rallies?
I’ve been told I am naive to think that involvement with the Tea Party, or any Party outside of the DNC or GOP, can make a difference. I may be naive, but I do fondly remember “throwing away my vote” for a Third Party candidate in 1998 in the Minnesota Gubernatorial race.
Update: I was sent this and had to agree to it before I could get into the Minnesota Tea Party group that I wished to take a look at: I agree that MinnesotaTeaPartyPatriots.org is a nonviolent group of citizens. I agree not to invoke call for violence or violent activities. I am free to vent my frustrations and disapproval under the appropriate topics. I am free to disagree, debate and take issue with other members in a manner that is non threatening. I will not attempt to put myself ahead of the parade, but that I stand and march in the parade and lift this movements efforts up to the best of my abilites. I agree that this organization will not tolerate racism of any kind. I further agree acknowledgement that this site is named the “working group” and I am here to work.
I’m looking through the group’s information now and looking at their Twitter feed. As of now, I see quite a bit of chatter about if the group should be a change agent within the two Parties or if it should become a Third Party and what the Pros and Cons are. Discussion over if person X (X = multiple names, like Beck, Palin, et al) help or hurt the Tea Party and if they are a part of it. That gets a bit heated. Chatter about the National group and if they are the National group or just a group that wants to be “in charge.” Lots of comments about how they don’t need anyone telling them what to do in Minnesota and others saying that there has to be some leadership. Lists of events – mostly what politician is speaking where. That’s all for now. I’ll update more as I see it.