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Don’t let crooked
politicians hijack the
Tea Party movement

By John Silveira

Issue #126 • November/December, 2010

Incumbents and the special interest groups they cater to will lie, cheat, and even steal elections to stay in office. Of course, so will those trying to unseat them. Having said that, let me now offer a cautionary tale you should keep in mind in the coming election.

Some time ago, I wrote about a friend who saw dissatisfaction with politics in the Massachusetts city where he resided. An incumbent in the city government, though unpopular, was running unopposed. My friend conducted an informal poll and figured about 60% of the voters would vote against this guy, no matter who ran against him. So he went to city hall to get his name on the ballot. His first surprise came when he was told he was too late. He pointed out he wasn't, but the ballot commission dragged their feet until it was too late. "Try again, next election," they told him. Being persistent, he got a court order to allow him on the ballot. Now he figured he was a shoo-in—except that when the ballots were printed, two more candidates mysteriously appeared, both after the entry deadline and both, he later found out, cronies of the incumbent. The incumbent knew the disenchanted voters didn't know who they wanted, they just knew who they didn't want, and with three names to choose from, they were likely to split their votes among them. Thus he got two of his buddies to run "against" him.

When the votes were tallied, the incumbent got around 40% of the vote, as expected, while the three opponents, my friend and the two phony candidates, split the other 60%—roughly 20% each. The result was that 60% of the voters were still stuck with a politician they didn't want.

I bring this up because today we have the Tea Party movement and the candidates they endorse. Big Government people, including many Congressmen and their hacks, don't like it. It's been vilified by the Democrats who have claimed it's homophobic, racist (though, according to polls it's about 5% black and 11% Hispanic), and anything else they can think of to keep their constituency from delving into it and discovering its real message. It's been embraced by Republicans who mouth the Tea Party line like so many shibboleths, but have a history of saying one thing while campaigning, then doing another once in office.

And if the mainstream media, Big Government's handmaiden, can find just one kook in attendance at a Tea Party rally, they focus on him to the exclusion of others so as to convey the idea the kook is representative of the Tea Party movement. And it often works. (One Oregon middle school teacher so hates the Tea Party he's vowed to plant himself at rallies dressed as Hitler while carrying racial, sexist, and anti-gay signs.)

In case you haven't looked into the movement, what they want is lower taxes, less government spending, the deficit lowered, and those in Washington, DC, to adhere to the Constitution. Ever hear that stuff before? Of course you have. It's what most candidates—Democrats and Republicans—promise when they're running for office. But, once they get in, it's business as usual. Those in the Tea Party want to change this.

Because of its message, the movement appeals to a large part of the electorate and has become a powerful political force. Some candidates who leaped on its bandwagon have already benefitted. Using the Tea Party's endorsement, Scott Brown (for better or worse) came from nowhere to win Ted Kennedy's old Senate seat in Massachusetts.

The Tea Party promises the possibility of real change this November. However, there are now candidates running under the Tea Party banner who have virtually no Tea Party sympathies. These candidates have no expectations of winning. They're not in the race to win. Like the candidates my friend ran against, they are friends of those in big party machines, usually Democrat but sometimes Republican, and they're only in there to be spoilers. They know they're not going to take votes away from the Big Government candidates, they're going to take them away from the candidates promising change and reform. It's democracy at its worst; it's democracy being used against us. We're seeing this in Nevada, Florida, Michigan, and other states: Incumbents trying to deceive the voters—to literally steal votes—so Big Government candidates and the special interests they favor can retain power.

How do they get away with it? The problem is that there's no central clearing house to certifying "Tea Party" candidates and, even if they know who the phonies are, the mainstream media is not likely to expose them any more than it accurately reports the Tea Party's messages. But it will keep reporting on the lone or planted kooks who show up in their Hitler suits.

What should you do?

If you think there are things wrong with this country and you're sympathetic to what the Tea Party wants, i.e., smaller government, lower taxes, a smaller deficit, a government that adheres to the Constitution, then vote carefully this November. Go to a Tea Party rally and see who they actually support.

Make sure of whom you're casting your vote for because there are going to be candidates who will lie, cheat, and steal to get your vote, and if you give it to them, it's going to be your own fault.

Read More by John Silveira

Read More Opinion / Commentary

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