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Tea Party goes cold as US voters reject the far right

The Tea Party Movement appeared to have become a major force in American politics in the 2010 mid-term elections, sweeping 87 new Republicans into the lower house, biting into the Democrats' lead in the…

The party may be over for right-wing republicans. sobyrne99

The Tea Party Movement appeared to have become a major force in American politics in the 2010 mid-term elections, sweeping 87 new Republicans into the lower house, biting into the Democrats' lead in the senate, and monstering mainstream Republicans into pushing the party further to the right.

Just two years later, the results are starkly different, with Tea Party-aligned candidates causing considerable embarrassment, dragging down the Republican vote and costing it eminently winnable Senate seats — and perhaps even the presidency.

The most epic failure was in Indiana, where six-term Senator Richard Lugar, the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and an internationally respected expert on nuclear disarmament, lost the Republican primary election in May. The successful challenger, Richard Mourdock, mounted a well financed campaign with support from the Tea Party movement, the National Rifle Association and such arch-conservative lobby groups as the Club for Growth, Red State and FreedomWorks. Mourdock also came armed with endorsements from Tea Party favourites Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann.

Lugar had been enormously popular with voters in general elections, winning at least two-thirds of the vote in 1988, 1994 and 2000. In 2006, the Democrats didn’t stand a candidate against him, with Lugar recording 87% of the vote against his Libertarian challenger.

Republican stalwart Richard Lugar, seen here with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder in 2001, was defeated by Tea Party sponsored Richard Mourdock DPA/Wolfgang Kumm

Although Lugar received a 77% lifetime conservative rating from the American Conservative Union — and 100% in more recent years — he was nevertheless painted as too liberal and accommodating. Among other sins, he had voted to confirm Obama’s two Supreme Court nominees, supported the auto industry bailout and indicated sympathy for immigration law reform.

In contrast, Mourdock argued that “the time for being collegial is past, it’s time for confrontation”. He subsequently became infamous for his debate comment that “even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen”. Although Mitt Romney easily won Indiana with more than 54% of the vote, Mourdock registered only 44% (barely half Lugar’s last tally) in losing a very safe Republican Senate seat to Democrat Joe Donnelly.

This phenomenon was repeated in other critical seats, with conservative voters having to split their votes to support Romney for president, but shun the Tea Party radicals on the lower part of the ticket.

In Missouri, Tea Party Republican Todd Aikin — also highly controversial for his “legitimate rape” remarks — was soundly beaten by Senator Claire McCaskill, who retained her seat despite struggling badly in earlier polls. Mitt Romney won Missouri with about 54% of the vote, but only 39% could stomach Aikin.

In North Dakota, another staunchly Republican state carried by Romney with nearly 59% of the vote, Tea Party Republican Rick Berg lost to Democrat Heidi Heitkamp. As a state legislator in 2007, Berg co-sponsored a bill to make it a serious felony to get an abortion, even for victims of rape or incest. However, it was a bigger source of controversy during the campaign that he persisted in referring to Heitkamp as “Heidi-Ho” and repeatedly mentioned that she is “childless”. Similarly, in the Florida and Ohio Senate races, Tea Party Republicans fell significantly below Romney’s tally in losing to incumbent Democrats in states that the GOP thought it could win.

The impact of the Tea Party was felt in other Republican losses as well, if less directly. In Maine, moderate three-term Republican Senator Olympia Snowe suddenly announced her retirement, explaining that politics had become too divisive and her party too right-wing. Snowe got nearly 75% of the vote in 2006, and would likely have done so again. However, the vote of her successor as Republican candidate fell to 31%, with former Governor Angus King enticed into the race as a liberal independent when Snowe withdrew. King is certain to vote with the Democrats in the Senate.

In Massachusetts, Scott Brown shocked the Democratic Party to its core by winning the seat made vacant in 2009 by the death of Senator Teddy Kennedy. This heralded the arrival of the Tea Party as a major force and foreshadowed the major gains to come in 2010. In office, and then seeking re-election in a liberal state, Brown has taken a more moderate stance than most fellow Tea Partiers. Brown exceeded Romney’s vote tally in Massachusetts by 8%, but Elizabeth Warren recaptured the seat for the Democrats.

In the Wisconsin Senate race, Democratic Rep Tammy Baldwin — a strong liberal and the first openly gay candidate from a major party — defeated Tommy Thompson, a former Governor and Secretary of Health and Human Services under President George W Bush. A mainstream Republican, Thompson faced a bruising primary battle from Tea Party-supported challengers, depleting his campaign of critical funds and energy.

Likewise, a number of Tea Party stalwarts in the House of Representative lost or suffered reduced margins of victory. Congressional Tea Party Caucus founder and erstwhile presidential candidate Michelle Bachmann squeaked back into office in Wisconsin after a tough challenge from businessman Jim Graves, and she will surely face another serious challenge in 2014 now that she is regarded as vulnerable.

Illinois Rep Joe Walsh is a Tea Party warrior and self-described “Congressional Enemy No 1”, who was elected in the 2010 tidal wave. He is perhaps most famous for shouting “Quit lying!” during President Obama’s address on the debt ceiling to a joint sitting of Congress. Walsh’s recent campaign was heavily funded by FreedomWorks and other Tea Party-aligned groups, but he nevertheless was beaten by nearly ten points by Democrat Tammy Duckworth, a former Black Hawk helicopter pilot who lost both legs to a rocket attack in Iraq.

Allen West — a very high profile Tea Party standard bearer, and a rare African-American in this movement — narrowly lost to a political newcomer in Florida, despite leading in the pre-election polls.

History is not likely to be on the Tea Party’s side. If “demography is destiny”, as Auguste Comte once said, the American electorate is rapidly moving away from the Tea Party, which is heavily comprised of ageing white men without college degrees. Obama got the votes of only 40% of this demographic, but he was able to win comfortably because he received 55% of the vote from women, more than 60% of young voters, more than 90% of Black voters, and more than 70% of Latino and Jewish voters — and the proportion of Blacks, Asians and Latinos is steadily growing.

The Tea Party movement remains unrepentant, accepting no blame for the disappointing election results. Indeed, according to the TeaParty.org website, the root of the problem was that Romney and the Republicans played it too safe, were not confrontational enough, and, in conjunction with a tame and co-opted media, refused to highlight President Obama’s “record of crimes, fraud and treachery”.

Americans have made plain their distaste for the hyper-partisanship and gridlock in Washington, while so many pressing issues of national and international importance fail to be addressed. The Tea Party Movement has pitched the Republican Party to the extreme right while there is a long history of Americans preferring their politicians to govern from the centre. Apart from pursuing all-or-nothing policies verging on nihilism, and selecting candidates that even many Republican voters can’t support, the Tea Partiers have seriously harmed the Republican movement by discouraging potentially excellent, moderate candidates from standing, because they are wary of the expense and the exposure to attacks from the right during the primary campaign process.

As the one-time moderate Republican Mitt Romney recently learned to his cost, it is difficult to credibly return to the middle after so much time has been spent tacking sharply to the right.

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49 Comments sorted by

  1. Chris McGrath

    Senior Lecturer at University of Queensland

    Thanks for a great round-up David. Really interesting. I'm so happy to hear of Tammy Duckworth's win in particular. She is truly inspiring.

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    1. David Weisbrot

      Emeritus Professor of Law and Honorary Professor of Medicine at University of Sydney

      In reply to Chris McGrath

      Yes, she was quite outrageously "Swiftboated" in 2010, so great to see her romp in this time - as you say, she is very inspiring and has an enormous amount to contribute.

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  2. Peter Ormonde

    Farmer

    Excellent summary David.

    The interesting question now sit in the lap of the GOP ... what to do with these unpalatable and increasingly unelectable teabaggers - how to hold their support, or at least neutralise them without being driven to the margins of US political opinions and beyond.

    The Tea Party seems to be hell bent on riding the Republicans off into the sunset in search of some mythical land filled with white, male voters ... where Blacks, Latinos and women knew their place and didn't…

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    1. Neo Tesla

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Chris Harper

      What on Earth are you on about? And, more importantly, what is the source for your claims about Tea Party? According to Wikipedia, "Several polls have been conducted on the demographics of the movement. Though the various polls sometimes turn up slightly different results, they tend to show that Tea Party supporters are mainly white and slightly more likely to be male, married, older than 45, more conservative than the general population, and likely to be more wealthy and have more education". There you will find five sources for this claim.

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    2. Chris Harper

      Engineer

      In reply to Neo Tesla

      Neo,

      And not one word of what you said conflicts in any significant way with what I said. Read it again.

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    3. Chris Harper

      Engineer

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Peter,

      I found what you wrote to be uninformed, racially abusive and offensive.

      Your characterisation of the Tea Party certainly fits the stereotype created by their opponents, but it is a pity it bears no relation to reality.

      As a bye the way, the US is approximately 65% non latino European, and 35% minorities of various types. The Tea Party is approx 75% the first, and 25% minorities. While it is clear that while the TP philosophy of small government constitutionalism is less attractive to the minorities, those numbers make it pretty clear that they are welcomed when they do join, and that they have joined in large numbers.

      Judging by the stereotypes, tone, attitude and words you used here I don't think you are in any position to label anyone a bigot.

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    4. Timothy Wong

      logged in via email @yahoo.com.au

      In reply to Chris Harper

      Chris Harper, it is you who are in denial about the still vicious reality of race in the USA.

      This map has been doing the rounds post election:

      http://www.redditpics.com/election-results-2012-vs-civil-war-map-1846,1245124/

      Could you please explain how the "birther movement" of Donald Trump and Joe Arpaio et al. are merely disinterested inquiries after empirical knowledge?

      Daniel Pipes' continued assertion about Obama's Muslim faith?

      So you think that the American Deep South is well…

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    5. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to Chris Harper

      Hi there Chris... good to see you are still out there paddling away .... not too far now .... the horizon is just over there a bit.

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    6. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to Neo Tesla

      Neo,

      Don't you go contaminating and confusing the issue with facts ... we tea baggers like to make up our own and we reject any facts that cause us discomfort.

      And yet - despite all the enthusiastic mass recruitment of Blacks, Latinos and women into the Tea Party they just didn't vote for the GOP.

      Wonder where they all went? Must have been disillusioned with Romney's kid glove treatment of minorities and social issues. Yep, that feels like it has the ring of truthiness about it.

      Seriously I love it when these fellas lose. And with the economy the way it was and unemployment, the GOP should have been a shoo-in. Ooops. The American people have failed them again. Let's hope they learn absolutely nothing.

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    7. Chris Harper

      Engineer

      In reply to Timothy Wong

      Timothy,

      Can you please point to anything I have said that indicates I go along with any of those issues you refer to?

      Birtherism? Obama is a muslim?

      Why should I give you any explanation of something I think is complete twaddle? I could, but given I have no time for them why should I?

      I tend to lump those things you mentioned into the same bag as the Tea Party = racism nonsense Peter peddles.

      As to looking to the Tea Party for NAZI converts, I could not think of two philosophies more diametrically opposed. Personal freedom and small government constitutionalism on one side, “Everything within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state” on the other.

      So no, the Tea Party is pretty much the last place I would look for NAZI converts – regardless of the existence of people like Joe Arpaio. Not that I would want to look at all.

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    8. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to Chris Harper

      Ah Chris Harper - good to see you're still up.

      As an uninformed observer I should remind you that it's not so much national averages it's where they are. It's whether they're registered. It's whether they turned out to vote. And they did. By the truckload. But not for Romney. And, more significantly - not for the Tea Party plants.

      I must admit to being somewhat conflicted though. If the GOP is smart they've got a couple of years to strangle the Tea Party and crush its influence. But gee I hope they don't. Part of me - the cruel and sadistic part - really wants to see the Tea Party 1950s rump triumph and totally determine the GOP's policy options for the next 20 years.

      Defeat - it's an acquired taste. You'll get to enjoy it eventually. Suck it up Chris... it'll become a habit soon enough.

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    9. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      PS: For the truly brave ...

      here's some facts about the Tea Party - albeit from 2010 when there was more public interest and even worse it's from the CBS polling analysis unit - a hotbed of folks with strange foreign names.

      Membership: 89% white. 1% Black.
      52% reckon that "too much has been made of the problems facing Blacks" (compared with 28% of Americans as a whole who agree, and 23% of non-Tea Party Whites nationally).
      16% believe that Whites have more opportunities to get ahead (compared…

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    10. Timothy Wong

      logged in via email @yahoo.com.au

      In reply to Chris Harper

      Chris Harper wrote "Not that I would want to look at all." And there's your problem right there mate. Willful blindness and blank denial.

      I wasn't talking about YOU and what you may or may not believe. I was talking about the Tea Party and the American lunar right in general which post Civil War onwards has always had a very bellicose and (literally) militant wing. Anti-"world-government", "patriot", nativist militias. The NRA (Tea Party candidate Sharron Angle used to address her rallies fully…

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    11. Dennis Singer

      Student

      In reply to Chris Harper

      Hi Chris,

      Sorry but you completely misunderstand the Tea Party. To be fair, you are merely repeating what the self-appointed "leaders" of that movement claim are their key concerns.

      In 2006 - before the Tea Party - Campbell and Putnam surveyed 3000 Americans on their political attitudes. They surveyed many of the same people again in 2011, and they confirmed what many of us suspected:

      "So what do Tea Partiers have in common? They are overwhelmingly white, but even compared to other white…

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    12. Chris Harper

      Engineer

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      “a hotbed of folks with strange foreign names”

      Really? Is that something you care about? Otherwise, why mention it? I don’t understand why you think it is relevant.

      As to CBS itself, when it comes to objectivity it hasn’t exactly covered itself with glory in recent years. How about we use a survey conducted by Fox instead?

      Is that hysterical shrieking I hear? Shall I take that as a no then?

      Ok, how about a survey from a source whose very existence depends on a reputation for both accuracy…

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    13. Chris Harper

      Engineer

      In reply to Timothy Wong

      Timothy,

      Seriously, Al Jazeera? Well, at least you didn’t point me towards RT or Press TV. Thank the lord for small blessings.

      So, you list a load of movements and organizations without providing anything which links them? So what? I fail to see what they have to do with the issue, and you don’t say. I can list stuff, but to what end? Are you claiming that these movements are central to a mainstream organisation like the Tea Party?

      I can list things, and link them as well, it is easy. Try…

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    14. Chris Harper

      Engineer

      In reply to Dennis Singer

      Dennis,

      Assertions about race in respect to the TP are common, but mainly from those who are both TP opponents and who are themselves obsessed with race. Evidence for the claims is far less common.

      As to religion, even as an atheist I am relaxed. Enlightenment civilisation as it has evolved over the last three centuries was largely built by Jewish and Christian believers, and I see no reason to regard the current crop as any threat. Believers want to see more believers in office? Good for them…

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    15. Michael Shand
      Michael Shand is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Software Tester

      In reply to Chris Harper

      hahaha, alright so first of all - The tea party is a astro turf movement that was created and is fundded by the Kock brothers. So dont get too upset that people are criticising a true social movement - this was artifically created by pumping money into it.

      Second, there are a lot of bigots that have been crying since the election and saying some really awful hateful stuff....and claiming they are not bigots

      Marginalising Obama's acheivement and putting it all down to skin colour for instance…

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    16. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to Chris Harper

      Did you actually read the lot of that Gallup Poll? I cannot see how they came to the conclusions they assert. Particularly when it comes down to the "moral" outlook of the Teabaggers. Might explain why Gallup's prophesies of a Romney victory two days before the ballot were so hopelessly wrong.

      Bit closer when it comes to analysing the outcome of the actual result which saw the largest gender gap - ie the difference in voting patterns between men and women - in US history. http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/267101-gallup-2012-election-had-the-largest-gender-gap-in-history

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    17. Chris Harper

      Engineer

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Actually, there is more variation between populations within Africa than between all populations outside it.

      Perfectly reasonable when you think of it. Africa is where we arose, so one would expect variation to be at its maximum in the parent population. Especially when you consider that for a gene sequence to leave Africa it had to pass through the North Africa / Sinai bottleneck. The first groups to go through that bottleneck would tend to act as a stopper to impede later migration, and would…

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    18. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to Chris Harper

      Chris,

      You seem to have great insights into what I actually think - far beyond my own flimsy grasp. Seems to be a consistent problem with folks who feel drawn to the Teabaggers... telling us what we really think. Race-baiting indeed!

      The fact of the matter Chris is that in the USA - certainly in the South and the Mid-west - the red states - "race" (and more recently "ethnicity") is a burning issue - perhaps THE burning issue.... them and us, the enemy within, the welfare class. It's…

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    19. Chris Harper

      Engineer

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Peter,

      I can only go with what you write, and what you write shows an obsession with race. You read issues of race into everything.

      You seem to discount the possibility that there are people who dislike Obama because they dislike his policies, his divisiveness, without giving a damn about his skin colour. In fact, you don't even seem willing to acknowledge they can exist.

      Well, I have news for you...

      As to those who link voting patterns by blacks to skin colour of the Presidential candidate…

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    20. Dianna Arthur
      Dianna Arthur is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Environmentalist

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Mr O

      "58% of Tea Party members keep a gun at home."

      Only 58%? The constitutional right to bear arms an' all?

      Here's me thinking that one of the qualifiers to be a member of the TP was a gun licence + gun. Did you check on how many TP's hold a gun licence and are members of the NRA?

      The above was written before a little research on the part of yours truly. Seems the Tea Party has tried to distance itself a millimetre from the NRA.

      "I dont think there is anyone that thinks the a 5 round…

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    21. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to Chris Harper

      No - not a counter revolution - I'm just advocating reality Chris. That the US is no longer a WASP dominion.

      Now here's the issue (from Galloway's piece you posted above):

      "When it comes to issues such as civil rights and equality, 87 percent of African-Americans polled declared that GOP concern was either “just talk,” or simply didn’t exist."

      Now there is the fishbone in the throat as the Japanese say. That is a hard legacy to beat. Even harder when the Teabaggers want to "restore" the country by kicking the poor, the different, women and anyone else they don't like. The 47%.

      Be interested to learn what "ancient British freedoms" you reckon the Americans were fighting for. Magna Carta? "No taxation without representation"?

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    22. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to Dianna Arthur

      Always knew that the NRA was a cawmewnist fifth column ... Charlton Heston was a dupe - or a fellow traveller. Real champions of freedom need howitzers and RPG's ... assault rifles jest won't do the job - remember WACO! We should be teaching the kiddies to build IEDs as well creationism.

      And remember Ms A, that 58% are just the ones admitting having a 38 under the pillow. They probably have licenses. God knows what the real number is and what they really have stuffed under the bed.

      Are we feeling free yet?

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    23. Chris Harper

      Engineer

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Be interested to learn what "ancient British freedoms" you reckon the Americans were fighting for.

      Really?

      Seems they have been forgotten here too, although we once had them as well.

      The Glorious Revolution? The Bill of Rights? These unfamiliar to you?

      For a well expressed example, may I quote William Pitt the Elder:

      "The poorest man may in his cottage bid defiance to all the force of the Crown. His cottage may be frail; its roof may shake; the wind may blow through it; the storms may enter, the rain may enter—but the King of England cannot enter. All his forces dare not cross the threshold of the ruined tenement."

      This legal reality was summed up in the term - "An Englishman's home is his castle". Who would make that claim today? Other than ironically?

      We were once a free people.

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    24. Dianna Arthur
      Dianna Arthur is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Environmentalist

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Feeling Free? Not really.

      Take this as an example, from above article:

      " However, it was a bigger source of controversy during the campaign that he (Tea Party Republican Rick Berg) persisted in referring to Heitkamp as “Heidi-Ho” and repeatedly mentioned that she is “childless”.

      Reminds me of someone, someone who heads the Liberal (snigger; oxymoron) Party, someone who calls another political leader, the PM no less, "Juliar" and "barren" among other terms. That such a person could be leading this wide brown land after the next election makes me afraid, very afraid.

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    25. Dianna Arthur
      Dianna Arthur is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Environmentalist

      In reply to Chris Harper

      "An Englishman's home is his castle"

      Problems with this statement. Specifically 'Englishman' & 'his'.

      Rawther limiting sort of freedom Mr Harper. Or were YOU in fact being exceedingly ironic?

      What about the majority of people? That inconvenient majority consisting of women and non-English? The inconvenient majority who voted for Obama? Are they/we not deserving of freedom also?

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    26. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to Chris Harper

      Oh I thought you were talking about ancient British Freedoms - not just the English. See not too many of these "freedoms" actually managed to get across the Irish Sea, nor did they manage to jump Hadrian's Wall or get much past Snowdonia. Nor did they percolate down to the rabble in England either actually. Crofter' cottages were not considered inviolate castles. Nor if you were a papist. Or a puritan. Nice notion though. But hardly ancient ... 1628.

      Originally the notion was designed or…

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    27. Chris Harper

      Engineer

      In reply to Dianna Arthur

      Dianna,

      Nice joke.

      It was a joke wasn't it?

      I quote an extremely well known and ancient proverb, 500 years old at least, which provides a nice summary of a core principle of traditional English law, and you think that my having not used modern all inclusive language is some sort of valid criticism?

      Really?

      You're having a lend of me, aren't you? Or did you just not bother reading any of this thread before popping in?

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    28. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to Dianna Arthur

      Oh indeed Ms A. What we are watching here is a mumbling sing-along from the Teabagger's song-sheet. I keep waiting for Abbott to don a Colonel Sanders' plantation costume. Or perhaps a banjo and some boot polish, given the US result.

      And without doubt the bitter taste of defeat will be causing some serious concerns in the Liberal Party Room. I think the comments from Turnbull and John Hewson in the wake of the Obama result are just the tip of the iceberg.

      I usually avoid predictions but I'm increasingly certain that Abbott will not be leading the Libs into the next election. Or at least that he will have to face a serious challenge to remain there. Let's hope he stays. He's unelectable. Australians have more sense.

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  3. Christy McGillivray

    PhD candidate

    Thanks for great summary. Just one detail I felt compelled to point out - Bachmann represents MInnesota's sixth congressional district, not Wisconsin.

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    1. David Weisbrot

      Emeritus Professor of Law and Honorary Professor of Medicine at University of Sydney

      In reply to Christy McGillivray

      Thanks, Christy - you are absolutely right, and good that you corrected that howler.

      I've obviously had Wisconsin too much on the mind recently, not least because I was closely following Tammy Baldwin's (ultimately successful) Senate campaign. Or perhaps I confused Michelle Bachmann with Joseph McCarthy - an easy mistake to make. ("In my hand, I have a list of un-American vaccines ... ". )

      DW

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  4. Peter Ormonde

    Farmer

    Just a note of movements in the markets following Obama's re-election: gun sales are going gangbusters apparently according to the Telegraph - not "our Tele" ... the English one. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/9670585/US-guns-sales-soar-after-Barack-Obamas-re-election.html

    Good to see they're tooling up with an excellent robust little assault weapon with only seven moving parts. But gee I don't know how one can get to sleep with one of them under the pillow.

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    1. Dianna Arthur
      Dianna Arthur is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Environmentalist

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      A man aint't a rool man less'n he can sleep on an AK pillow.

      With his trusty dog, I mean rocket launcher at his side.

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  5. Dianna Arthur
    Dianna Arthur is a Friend of The Conversation.

    Environmentalist

    @ Mr Chris Harper

    " Or did you just not bother reading any of this thread before popping in?"

    Erm, et tu

    I have had the utter effrontery that only Irish/Scottish/Jewish women posses to place earlier posts than my little post to you. Suggest YOU read this thread.

    As for your much loved anachronism "An Englishman's home is his castle". It is an anachronism (try looking up the word) - which was my point. My objection to it has nothing to do with "modernity" and everything to do with equality, human rights and even freedom to vote.

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    1. Chris Harper

      Engineer

      In reply to Dianna Arthur

      Um, I think I get it.

      Many people today don't appreciate what a strange beast the United Kingdom is. It is made up of four distinct and separate countries and encompasses multiple legal systems.

      I referred to English law in this context because the law only applied to England. Ireland and Scotland have to this day separate legal systems. They are, in law and by history, different countries, with different systems. The United Kingdom does not have a unified legal system, never has, and probably…

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  6. Peter Ormonde

    Farmer

    Er not actually Chris ... "ancient British freedoms" were your words. But not all that ancient and definitely not all that British ... just English. And applied rather capriciously when it come to lesser ethnicities, religions and classes.... not to mention "races" scattered about the Empire.

    It is increasingly important to distinguish between Britain, Great Britain, the "United" Kingdom (call it what you will) and England. They all mean rather different things - particularly to those of us whose ancestors and families experienced first hand the virtues of English laws and freedoms over the centuries.

    But - trusting in the canny sense of the Scots - and the lovely Welsh - the UK will soon be just a simple plain old K - like it always really was. And hardly inspiring - even for the teabaggers.

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  7. Andrew Smith

    Education Consultant at Australian & International Education Centre

    The Liberal National coalition should also take note as many (mostly younger) Republicans despair over wedge politics on narrow issues e.g. immigration etc. which will disenfranchise their future constituency i.e. Latino etc.

    In Australia this is observed by many "small l" Liberals who see wedge issues on refugees, immigration etc. being used for short term political advantage by the Liberal Party which has become more conservative (as has Labor), appealing to significant oldie and baby boomer demographics in Australia while neglecting the reality of younger generations (and "small l" Liberals).

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  8. Peter Ormonde

    Farmer

    Last one... promise.

    Here's a good piece for those who seek a decent snapshot of the dilemma facing the GOP: http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/the-republican-party-the-death-of-americas-angry-white-man-8303846.html

    I wouldn't be as confident as the author that "reclaiming the centre" will be as simple as it has been elsewhere. The enterist strategy of the teabaggers and the war they are waging against their "main enemy" - that is, moderate Republicans - together with the wholesale acceptance of the rhetoric and mythology of the Tea Party - make this virtually impossible I suspect.

    They are locked in and any step towards the groups they have alienated will be regarded as betrayal and retreat.

    The Tea baggers are hell-bent on oblivion and nothing will stop them. They are - at the core - opposed to democracy in the modern multicultural and diverse USA.

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  9. Timothy Wong

    logged in via email @yahoo.com.au

    Chris Harper you are a superb example of cognitive dissonance and subjectivist solipsism. And reading incomprehension. And of the post-modern stance of absolute and nihilist skepticism when it suits your purposes.

    Unlike you, I was trying to describe the various currents of the American Right-Wing *objectively*. I repeat. I don't care what Mr Harper thinks he may or may not believe. I have attempted to paint a picture of what your fellow travelers are and what they believe. That's what the items…

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