John Hanson: America’s Tea Party may have found its own Thatcher
Michele Bachmann, the darling of the Tea Party Patriots, rides high in the opinion polls. Could she make it to the White House?
The TPP are not a political party in their own right but are a pressure group of conservative people who seek to influence the political landscape by forcing, in the main, Republican candidates to be more conservative.
In the 2010 national elections their support changed the political balance of the Republican Party by getting more conservative Republican candidates elected.
The formation of the Tea Party came about some 10 years ago. It was championed by Fox News anchorman Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin, the former governor of Alaska who was John McCain’s vice presidential nominee in 2008.
Their view of America was that the fundamental constitution was being broken by both the Democratic and Republican parties: the failure to look after the basic lives of ordinary Americans should not continue.
They viewed that the government was taxing the nation too highly, spending too much of its money and interfering with the daily lives of ordinary people; this became a focus of their fight.
Barack Obama’s rise to power, with his big government views and implementation of Medicare, gave the TPP a clearer target to attack. That is why the conservative Republicans – with TPP support – did so well in last November’s mid-term elections. They managed to take back control of the House of Representatives, which blocked a number of President Obama’s socialist bills.
Since Obama was elected, the deficit has grown from $6 trillion to $16 trillion. As such, the Republican Party, led by TPP representatives, refused to pass any budget that did not include government spending cuts.
The Democrats could not accept this and there was then a stand-off, caused by the Republicans saying that they would not increase the debt ceiling. It has been agreed in the last two weeks, by both sides, that a bi-partisan committee of 12 elected members should put forward recommendations that would see a significant cut in government spending. By agreeing to this, the default by the government has been avoided.
The general view is that as this committee is made up in equal number of hardcore Republicans and Democrats, the committee will not succeed in coming to an agreement. This realisation by the financial markets has led to the massive fall in share values that has been seen on Wall Street. As in Europe, the assets of middle-class Americans are being destroyed by cheap, unfettered imports and the loss of highly-paid manufacturing jobs. Around 70 per cent of the American economy is made up of retail sales, and manufacturing employment has fallen from 25 per cent of the economy in 1964 to eight per cent today.
Retail jobs do not pay well and are mainly part-time. As we have seen in Britain, a housing price bubble has burst, taking housing prices down by some 50 per cent and making mid-America feel poorer. The great American dream of hard work and the opportunity to make a fortune is failing.
All of this makes a very fertile ground for the TPP and its conservative views. In Michele Bachmann, they might have another Margaret Thatcher. She has shown very strong leadership in the past three months as the debt crisis has come to a head.
Her position of no compromise on the budget deficit has shown to the American people the dangers of the Obama policy which is spend and tax. If a major financial bust in the USA is to be avoided, her strategy and style of leadership will be required.
The TPP has changed the face of American politics and stopped the future slide of America into more socialism. Whether the Republicans can win the 2012 election will depend on Barack Obama’s handling of the economy and the re-budgeting of America.
Having beaten the other Republican candidates in polls in Iowa at the weekend, Senator Michele Bachmann showed, at the very least, that she will be a major player in the year ahead.