An unkempt bookworm with an insatiable appetite for travel. Carrying with him three nationalities (French, American and Filipino), Fabien Ortiz has a foothold in three different continents and a solid interest in Africa. A political science and history graduate from McGill University in Canada, he has worked for newspapers and radios in France, the United States and Switzerland. He currently works in Washington D.C., an interesting vantage point from which to watch world affairs. And yet he already knows he will soon be setting sail to other destinations, dreamily describing his experiences, casting a critical glance on social and political trends, people and events.
The Other Afrik - United States - Politics
Dissecting the Tea Party
We first saw it as a throng of people taking to the streets, venting their anger against taxes and vociferously showing they were not part of the mass euphoria engendered by the Obama election in 2008. Now it seems that these same people have reached a critical mass, as they begin to find real political representation with six Tea Party backed candidates defeating mainstream favorites in GOP primaries (1), while enjoying increased resonance in the news and entertainment industry (2).
They are staging protests across the country and are now a political force to contend with. What remains to be seen is whether they will bolster the conservatives’ chances to score a major victory at the November primaries. Some of the Tea Party candidates are so far to the right (Christine O’donell’s anti-masturbation video or Rand Paul’s ambiguous stance on the civil rights act of 1964) political pundits contend that they are potentially a nuisance to the Republican cause and will impede Republicans from gaining a majority in the Senate.
Should democrats rejoice? Bogged down by a resolutely high unemployment rate (9.6%), Obama is as unpopular as he’s ever been. In this ironic twist of fate, tea parties may be his saving grace. The Republican Party is far from showing a homogeneous face and lacks political clarity. And the plain fact that some Tea Party candidates may simply be too far to the right could alienate them from moderate Republican voters, who given the choice between a centrist democrat and an ultra-conservative republican may choose to switch sides or simply refrain from voting.
While Sarah Palin, the Tea Party ‘darling’, ignites and enthuses crowds across the nation with her patriotic, god-loving, anti-establishment rhetoric, 46% say they are “unfavorable” to her. A six percent rise from last month. ‘Mama Grizzly’, as she has been affectionately dubbed by her political comrades, is as popular as she is divisive. While this is premature, it is interesting to see whether she can unify the party and emerge as its leader. Some find her flat-out embarrassing whilst others believe she is inspiring…
At this time, it is difficult to cast any authoritative political analysis of what is going on. The general sense is that something significant is brewing and that we are far from ‘politics as usual’. While it has always been there, anti-Washington, anti-government sentiment is rampant and gaining in momentum. Religion is also increasingly part of the political discourse. A populist conservative movement with solid financial backing has staged a successful assault on the aging Republican Party. Whether it will permeate into the mainstream and durably affect American politics is an important question that bears no immediate response.
1. Christine O’Donnell in Delaware, Joe Miller in Alaska, Sharron Angle in Nevada, Rand Paul in Kentucky, Ken Buck in Colorado and Mike Lee in Utah
2. Prominent media personalities such as Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly or Sarah Palin proudly support the movement and its values
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