An integral part of the 2010 Values Voter Summit put on by the Family Research Council over the weekend was insurgent politics. The pro-family conservative event featured Tea Party candidates and leaders of the Christian Right in America expressing the need for "pro-family" or religious voters to influence the outcome of elections.
The event displayed a key fracture among conservatives--whether the Tea Party movement, especially those running mainly on fiscally conservative agendas, whether they should run without acknowledging that fiscal problems cannot be fixed without renewed dedication to moral values in America. It's a fracture that is not new to conservative politics; as far back in American history as the John Bircher Society there has been a struggle over what combination of religion and constitutionalism or states' rights advocacy should tackle key issues supposedly plaguing America's national identity.
The Summit expressed resentment for how out of touch American politics is with key tenets and principles of the word of God. Sights were trained on Muslims, homosexuals, atheists and pagans who would like to further poison politics. Meanwhile, removed from this capricious event, President Barack Obama dined with members of high society as part of a DNC fundraiser at the "home of Richard and Ellen Richman, who live in the exclusive Conyers Farm development in Greenwich [Connecticut]'s famed 'back country' neighborhood."
While those dining enjoyed their dinner, which cost $30,000 per plate, President Obama stood before the crÃ¨me de la crÃ¨me of America and chided progressives:
"Democrats, just congenitally, tend to get -- to see the glass as half empty. (Laughter.) If we get an historic health care bill passed -- oh, well, the public option wasn't there. If you get the financial reform bill passed -- then, well, I don't know about this particular derivatives rule, I'm not sure that I'm satisfied with that. And gosh, we haven't yet brought about world peace and -- (laughter.) I thought that was going to happen quicker. (Laughter.) You know who you are. (Laughter.) We have had the most productive, progressive legislative session in at least a generation."
President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs and Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel all think deriding disappointed progressives will whip them into understanding how flawed their judgment of Democrats and the Obama Administration. It's no matter that a list can be outlined indicating Obama didn't simply struggle to deal with a catastrophe left behind by Bush but embraced parts of the catastrophe that his Administration thought should continue under his governance. It's no matter that countless unions and party activists have struggled on behalf of the Obama Administration and given President Obama a chance by laying low in certain political situations that have unfolded over the past two years. In the presence of patricians, progressive problems are mere products of petulance and unreason.
Could it be that concern with health care legislation and finance reform all stem from the reality that more and more Americans are sinking into poverty? Could it stem from the reality that the Obama Administration didn't give the country enough economic stimulus to ensure the security of the economy? Sure, the recession may have ended in 2009, but if one visits working class America, struggles to regain economic security lost as a result of the economic collapse in 2008 continue to play out.
In the same news cycle that President Obama demonstrated he was not beholden to any "fringe" activist organizations on the left, seasoned political consultant, strategist, and former Senior Adviser to President George W. Bush, Karl Rove laid into Tea Party candidate Christine O'Donnell not for her passion for seeking answers to real world problems through fantasy but for being unable to keep up with the costs of running for election:
"One thing that Christine O'Donnell is going to have answer is her own checkered background . . . . These serious questions: how does she make her living? Why did she mislead voters about her college education? How come it took nearly two decades to pay her college tuition? How does she make a living? Why did she sue a well-known conservative think tank? . . . . questions about why she had a problem for five years paying her federal income taxes, why her house was foreclosed and put up for a sheriff's sale, why it took 16 years for her to settle her college debt and get her diploma after she went around for years claiming she was a college graduate. . . . when it turns out she just got her degree because she had unpaid college bills that they had to sue her over."
Not only has Rove been critical of O'Donnell but he has simultaneously made it harder for candidates like O'Donnell to run for election by capitalizing off a Citizens United v. FEC Supreme Court decision that made it permissible to funnel money into "shadowy" organizations free from transparency. O'Donnell's decisions to use campaign funds to help her get by stem from scenarios all lower and middle class political candidates face thanks to a political culture where money equals freedom of speech. Her campaign has and likely is still engaged in campaign fraud, but as a believer that she is one of the Chosen politicians that God has anointed and instructed to campaign for political power, her violations of FEC rules and regulations are justifiable in her mind and probably even to her supporters.
O'Donnell and disgruntled progressives share a common bond. Disgruntled progressives pondering staying at home on Election Day pose a threat to the Democratic Party similar to the threat the Tea Party poses to the GOP. Both have factions that entertain notions dismissive of political strategy and electoral strategy. Both exude raw populism that includes an interest in movement strategy and/or the transformation of culture to ensure domination in politics. That frightens the establishment careerists of both parties, and it also scares followers of both parties, who practice intellectual masturbation by claiming to know what is realistic and what is unrealistic in politics.
No fan of masturbation, O'Donnell at the Values Voter Summit demonstrated an utter disdain for the ruling class in America. She declared, "the ruling class elites may try but they will never have the last word on liberty." She shared how she was one of six children and learned "while life can be hard, hard work makes life better." And, she mentioned she spent a decade trying to pay off student loans and has never had a high paying job or a company car but celebrated that she has "never had to worry about where to dock any yacht to reduce" her taxes, a sucker punch directed at upper class America.
Her speech mis-characterized the ruling class and earned applause for repeating the oft-stated message that liberals and the Democratic Party are synonyms for the ruling elite. Yet, it smacked of populism that both establishments of the major two parties seek to suffocate--populism both parties have to be conscientious of or else it could be a factor in their corporate financiers' decision to put a cap on the flow of campaign contributions to their party's coffers.
Tea Party candidate O'Donnell is not simply a candidate who has "dabbled" in witchcraft, who is a seasoned evangelical activist committed to invading politics and culture with her interpretation of the Bible. Whether she knows it or not, she openly engages in class warfare. Sure, it's a perverted and misshapen class war that she hopes Americans will fight because they believe in Jesus Christ, but, nonetheless, her campaign tells people they are at war: at war with ruling elites who are primarily liberal or Democrat, at war with government workers who continue to get rich off the Big Government teat while other Americans who adhere to moral values slip deeper into poverty, and at war with an Administration polluted by atheism and paganism, which breed economic uncertainty and afflict America.
This perverted and misshapen class war rhetoric is what Americans hear echoed by televangelist newsmen, political pundits, and talk radio blowhards. There isn't really an alternative narrative on increased income inequality in America. There isn't an alternative narrative on the weakening of lower classes. The richest in America continue to claim entitlement to reaping more and more benefits or wealth as the lower and middle classes are conditioned to accept this imbalance of economic power.