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No longer does the pro-life/pro-choice debate hold voters in blue states hostage to the Democratic Party, bound and determined to swallow as much in regulation and taxation as their liberal candidates offer if only to protect Roe v. Wade. Nor does it hypnotize Southern or rural conservatives, who grant their Blue Dog congressmen a pass on Election Day as long as they are right on life, guns and gays.
Now these Blue Dogs are paying the price for their betrayal of fiscal conservatism and find that they can no longer assuage their angered base by ads showing them with firearms. While social concerns still exist and are deeply held throughout the country, economic and fiscal issues have gripped the hearts and minds of Republican voters and candidates, pushing the social questions aside.
This preference for economic and fiscal questions over social issues is not a top-down decision of the tea party leadership. There really is no tea party leadership. Those who conduct its affairs are mere coordinators of local groups where the real power lies. The entire affair is a grass-roots-dominated movement.
I was shocked to learn that the teapartypatriots.org umbrella group, to which more than 2,800 local affiliates belong, has a total payroll of $50,000 per month with only seven paid staff members, some of them low level at that.
This group, which embraces more than half of the self-described tea party groups in the U.S., leaves up to each local organization how to proceed and what to do. It is a bottom-up movement.
The determination to focus on fiscal and economic issues, to the exclusion of social questions, wells up from below as individual members vent their concerns over Obamacare, stimulus spending, and cap-and-trade legislation. It is around opposition to Obama’s agenda, not Roe v. Wade, that the movement is organized. It is a new day on the Republican right.
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