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  • Tea Party: Committed, Ruthless and Well Played

    The Tea Party was clear about their objective, committed to their own end: and ruthless to get there.

    In my wildest dreams, as a New York City progressive, I could not ever envision writing a narrative that congratulated the Tea Party. But I have to give them credit: they were clear-eyed about their objective, committed to their own end – and ruthless to get there. They have created a seismic shift in politics: the new no-deal deal – the all or nothing deal.

    The freshman Tea Party class in congress, guided by long-term Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina, were adamant about cutting government spending, and they seemed to have done so, without absorbing a single tax increase – impressive. Well, I don’t really know if it’s indeed impressive, or a capitulation by both Democrats and moderate Republicans.

    It’s rare , when a slice of one party, simultaneously compromises the other party, as well as the leaders of its own party.

    So how did they do it?

    They read the tea leaves: they saw early on that both Democrats and Republicans, most of them never meant what they said, and that their flexibility made them vulnerable to anyone who stood firm to their convictions — that the Tea Party loyalists could get a great deal, by not being willing to deal. They also capitalized on two things: a president that is getting overwhelmed by a economic and jobs crisis, who wants to get elected next year, and a house leader, John Boehner, under fire for not being conservative enough, who was being challenged by one of his own members, Eric Cantor, for the house leadership: both men were extremely vulnerable, and the debt ceiling fiasco brought neither man any relief, quite the contrary.

    The Tea Party saw opportunity and they took it: they knew that both President Obama and House Leader Boehner, needed deals to save their jobs, so they refused to deal – – they drew the deal out to a slow march, already knowing that they had the stop gap, in the form of a cut-off date that the debt ceiling had to be raised, so they had ideology and time on their side, and what did they do: they did nothing — they used their leverage and intentionally waited everyone out .

    What the Tea Party knew was that it had cover, because even if the debt ceiling went into default, which would have been catastrophic on so many levels: but even if Tea Party leaders were blamed on Capitol Hill, they would still be considered heroes to the constituencies, who sent them to congress to cut everything in site and shrink government, and somehow they pulled it off quite easily. Tea Party members created a situation where they– one, only could win – and two, could not lose: so they both won and didn’t lose.

    I think the Tea Party illustrated to all Americans: if you strategize, are committed and ruthless more so, you can have your own America. What really worries me, aside from not agreeing with any Tea Party principles, is that by scorched earth policy – the damage might be already done.

    A few things happened: the U.S. government looked paralyzed and ungovernable, not only to American citizens, but to the rest of the world as well: Democrats and moderate Republicans made a deal based on extortion, as opposed to wisdom, plurality and long-term objectives: Americans have a president that puts fear in the heart of no one, the least so, his challengers and that’s not good: America’s credit worthiness will still be an issue, because this debacle displayed that America might not the preferred global leader anymore, not only because of its economic issues, but because of the lack of seriousness and sophistication in dealing with them. Lastly, the market will tick-up, but it also has to be concerned, because very rarely does cutting equate into growth – and markets are built on growth: many of these proposed cuts, especially during a recession, will be unambiguous disruptions to growth. I’ve never heard the Tea Party members emanate specifically about growth: should be interesting.

    I hope the Tea Party is as committed to getting Americans back to work, back in their homes and creating a robust national and global economy, as much as they want to cut entitlements and reduce taxes from what they are now, because I don’t know how you punish the middle class, the working poor and those now underwater, while giving more to those who have too much already.

    We’ll see, but begrudgingly, I have to say: well played.

    Good Luck.

    Calvin Wilson
    Founder and CEO
    Upstart: Business and Management for 20-40 Year Old Professionals

    Filed Under: Gamechangers


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