If you’re not familiar with the thesis of “Indispensable Enemies”, please read the Indispensable Enemies OpenLeft diary. From that diary:
By and large party leaders do not want reform, progress, or change, since anything new makes their job harder and threatens to bring in new and competing leaders. The two party oligarchies support one another against the dissident forces in either party, and often their disputes are choreographed dog-and-pony shows leading, like pro wrestling, to foreordained conclusions — as we have seen with free trade, tax reduction, and deregulation, often the two parties are in agreement on the issues.
Some examples of what party leaders will do in order to keep control:
A. Sabotage a popular candidate of their own party, either because he is in some way dissident on the issues, or just because he seems likely to try to take over the party organization.
B. Concede small or large areas to the “opposition” party, ensuring a standoff whereby the leaders of the two parties are able to broker deals at the expense of their own supporters. After the Civil War the Republicans conceded the whole South to the Democrats by accepting the disenfranchisement of black Americans. In many states, the party machines divide the state on an urban-rural basis. Once the nation or the state is stabilized that way and a standoff achieved, the leaders of the two parties can happily do business.
I recently posted comments in a diary, For the Tea Party, Another Election, Another Defeat, which I thought was “off”. The diary completely ignored the possibility of sabotage of a Republican candidate by the GOP (yes, you read that right; if you’re not familiar with concept, again, read “Indispensable Enemies”). Furthermore, it conflated (or at least obscured) popularity of the Tea Party with Tea Party membership. It also completely failed to acknowledge the tactical/strategic strength of the Tea Party, which was sufficient to help degrade the popularity of the GOP, in general. (The last shutdown worked out badly for Republicans, also. Boehner could not have been unaware of that fact.) Almost needless to say, it didn’t even entertain the notion that the Tea Party might temper this particular aspect (i.e., gov’t. shutdown) of it’s aggressiveness. (Indeed, this appears to already be happening with some Tea Partiers. See Tea partier shifts tactics on Obamacare)
Why should progressives care about such ‘details’?
1) Because progressives have little power compared to Tea Partiers, (and more significantly, compared to their numbers, where “numbers” means “popularity on various issues”, and not “self-identification categorization, as determined by polling”. ) and need to extract useful lessons about gaining power, wherever they can find them. (Before some dummy chimes in “so you think progressives should look to shut down the government, huh?” please note that that is hardly what I’m suggesting.)
2) Because the thesis of “Indispensable Enemies” is correct, and should be imbibed and proselytized by all Americans with a civic conscience. The Democratic and Republican parties are NOT your friends, in general. And they have lots of experience in making fools of their respective bases, engaging in dog and pony shows.
3) Because perhaps the MAJOR “clear and present danger” facing Americans is the Trans Pacific Partnership, and at least some Tea Partiers are strongly against TPP. If overly demonizing the Tea Party inhibits allying with them, the foot you shoot is likely to be your own.
E.g., here is the top guy from Tea Party Patriots, Judson Phillips:
Perot was right. NAFTA was the first of a series of free trade agreements we signed. All of them have been disasters. Our trade deficits have shot up, our manufacturing base has been destroyed and the American blue-collar middle class is disappearing.
TPP is NAFTA on steroids. The only difference between steroids and NAFTA is that steroids do some good.
In March, the Korean Free Trade Agreement went into effect. Guess what? Our trade deficit with Korea has exploded since then. In May, our trade deficit with Korea had jumped to $2 billion, which is a 53.5% increase over what it was a year earlier. Meanwhile, thanks to this great deal, American exports to Korea are tanking.
This is a 90% issue.
90% of Americans agree that we need to protect American jobs.
The most recent email from Tea Party Patriots is entitled “The GOP establishment has declared war on the Tea Party”. Here is an extract:
Reports are pouring out of Washington about how the Republican Party establishment plans to “neutralize” the Tea Party movement.
Big business groups and ruling class GOP politicians plan to spend millions attacking Tea Party candidates and local Tea Party groups.
They are even drawing up lists of Tea Party-supporting local GOP officials to purge from their party!
Please make an emergency contribution of $15, $20, $25, $50, or whatever you can afford to help us fight back.
This is the most direct attack on the Tea Party from the “Republicans” since the American people rallied in 2010 and created this unprecedented movement.
And, frankly, we are massively outgunned.
I need your help now. We are about to get hit with millions of dollars’ worth of attack ads and carefully placed smear stories in the liberal media.
You see, “big business” lobbyists and moderate Republican politicians hate people like us and our movement.
Their goal is the use the federal government to stomp out business competition and loot the taxpayers for their own personal gain.
The Tea Party Patriots email was unsourced, so I went to Politico to see if there was any corroboration. Indeed, there is some. From GOP seeks to tamp down tea party clout
Senate Republicans are spoiling for a fight this primary season as they try to take back control of the party from conservative activists.
The strategy: prop up the most electable candidates — even if they are more moderate than ones demanded by tea party activists — and punish those who get in their way.
Photo from Derek Bridges licensed under Creative Commons