Irish more than any others devoted to politics
By By Steve Flowers
No other ethnic group in American history has immersed themselves into American politics any more than the Irish. The Irish politician that best exemplifies this devotion to politics was the famous Boston pol Tip O’Neill.
O’Neill was one of the most colorful politicians of the 20th Century. His extraordinary career spanned 50 years, including a decade as Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives. There is a great book entitled “Man of the House,” penned by William Novak, that chronicles O’Neill’s life and career.
The last true bipartisan friendship seen in Washington was the union of House Speaker Tip O’Neill, a devout liberal Democrat, and Ronald Reagan, the quintessential conservative Republican president. These two men of diverse political thought genuinely liked each other. They were both proud of their Scotch Irish ancestry and met frequently over libations like good Irishmen.
This bipartisan camaraderie is sadly missing today on Capitol Hill in Washington and on Goat Hill in Montgomery. The American and Alabama electorate are longing for partisan discord to subside and for statesmen to arise.
They yearn for men and women who will seek solutions rather than cling to party mantras and marching orders. They want someone who looks out for them and their interests and concerns more than party bosses and lobbyists.
This craving for rational decision making and problem solving in lieu of constant gridlock and acrimony has forged splinter movements like the Tea Party. Many people ask the question, “Who are and what is the Tea Party?” The Tea Party movement is non partisan. They are not driven by loyalty to or affiliation with either the Republican or Democratic Party.
Although they do not identify or declare themselves a member of any party, these people have for the most part voted with the Republican Party and most will wind up voting in Republican primaries. In fact, the Tea Party movement was largely born out of disappointment with George W. Bush, his War in Iraq, and the deficit incurred by that war.
These people are first and foremost fiscal conservatives. They are not extremists. They are your true blue, salt of the earth, taxpaying, hardworking, live within your means conservatives. They are for a smaller government that does not squander or overspend what the government takes into its coffers. Many were Reagan Democrats. They were for the Contract with America, which called for conservative and prudent stewardship of federal tax dollars.
After the Republicans won congress with this contract, they disregarded the fiscal conservative platform and values that elected them and reverted to being liberal Democrats who simply wanted to take the real Democrats’ place at the federal trough.
These Tea Party conservatives abandoned the Republicans over their gluttony. The Republicans lost control of congress when they lost these folks. Bush lost them when he ran up a deficit with his war because these Tea Party people are pure fiscal and constitutional conservatives.
The movement stays away from abortion, same sex marriage, or any other causes championed by the Christian conservatives. They are disenchanted with unbridled deficit spending. They believe that it will sink this country quicker than terrorism. They are adamantly fearful of Obama and his big federal spending plans. They are fearful that America will drown in an ocean of debt. They do not want to saddle our children and grandchildren with a federal debt that will be an albatross to our country and put a noose around their neck.
In short, these folks are basically Libertarians. At the most recent Conservative Political Action Committee (“CPAC”) National Convention, Ron Paul, the Libertarian Republican stalwart, won the straw poll as the choice for President in 2012. The Tea Partiers are similar to our forefathers who threw a bunch of tea into the Boston Harbor and are a force to be reckoned with in 2010.
The Republicans will benefit in this year’s congressional races from this conservative reawakening and backlash. It is appearing more and more everyday that a Tsunami is on the way. The pendulum is swinging hard to the right. Nancy Pelosi and her teammates may need a lifeboat to rescue them from drowning in a sea of red.
See you next week.
Steve Flowers is Alabama’s leading political columnist. His column appears weekly in 75 Alabama newspapers. Steve served 16 years in the State Legislature. He may be reached at www.steveflowers.us.