By Katie Engelhart - Tuesday, March 19, 2013 - 0 Comments
National Culturists put a younger face on conservatism
He’s an unlikely far-right trailblazer: neither old, nor angry, nor square. Jack Buckby, the 20-year-old founder of the National Culturists—a Tea Party-inspired youth movement that aims to reinvigorate Britain’s flagging far right—pairs John Lennon glasses with modish ties and ironic facial hair. He’s well-spoken. He blogs. He’s already a darling of the radical British National Party (BNP), which campaigns on the premise that immigration has put British culture in peril, and has plans to spread the word to campuses nationwide.
His political awakening occurred, he says, after realizing that “if you disagree with multiculturalism, you are deemed a racist.” Frustrated, Buckby came across the work of John Press, founder of the Brooklyn Tea Party. Press argues that “traditional majority culture” should be promoted over diversity, which, he feels, embraces “practices such as female genital mutilation and drug-running gangster culture.” In 2011, Buckby, who is partway through a political science degree at the University of Liverpool, founded the National Culturists. “We don’t have aspirations to be a street movement,” he says. “We want to be an academic organization.”
That may be just what Britain’s far-right needs: in 2009, a street movement known as the English Defence League attracted hordes of supporters to its anti-Muslim marches. But the group’s window-smashing, proto-fascist song-chanting members also alienated social conservatives.
By Jaime Weinman - Friday, December 14, 2012 at 9:11 AM - 0 Comments
After losing two key players in as many weeks, does the grassroots movement carry the same weight?
Is the Tea Party disbanding in the wake of the 2012 election? Maybe not, but the movement has begun losing some of its most powerful supporters. Last week, FreedomWorks, the conservative advocacy group that helped create the Tea Party movement, parted ways with its chairman. Dick Armey, the former House majority leader said he left due to “serious concerns about the ethical and moral behaviour” of FreedomWorks president Matt Kibbe. Kibbe had allegedly used staff resources to help write his book, Give Us Liberty: A Tea Party Manifesto, leaving the group little time for actual Tea Party organizing.
The Tea Party also lost its key player in government last week. South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint, a powerful conservative who raised money for many anti-establishment candidates and wrote an article this year for The American Spectator called “Tea Party is the new reality,” announced he was giving up his Senate seat. He had accepted a position to head the Heritage Foundation, a 40-year-old conservative think tank.
Tea Party supporters argue that the movement maintains power in Washington. The Tea Party caucus of the House of Representatives still has 47 members; many candidates DeMint endorsed are in the Senate, including Marco Rubio, a rising Republican star from Florida. But the Tea Party, which was formed to energize the Republican base, may have outlived some of its usefulness. DeMint told the Wall Street Journal that Republicans must reach beyond the base and convince people who don’t already agree with them: “This is an urgent time because we saw in the last election we were not able to communicate conservative ideas that win elections.”
By Julia Belluz - Thursday, September 23, 2010 at 10:40 AM - 0 Comments
After getting run over by the Tea Party Express in the primary, an Alaskan senator considers a comeback
When Lisa Murkowski, the Republican senator from Alaska, recently conceded the primary to her opponent Joe Miller, her loss was considered a victory for former governor Sarah Palin—and the Tea Party movement that’s sweeping America. Murkowski, 53, was expected to win. After all, she’s a Republican power player from one of the most prestigious families in Alaskan politics, and part of the GOP leadership in Washington. She had more than 10 times as much money for her campaign as Miller, and the political clout and experience to match her war chest.
But Miller—a 43-year-old attorney and virtual unknown in Alaskan politics until Palin endorsed him—managed to upset Murkowski’s 30-year family legacy in that Senate seat. (Murkowski’s father was a former governor, and senator for Alaska.) The Tea Party Express pumped some US$600,000 into an advertising campaign that attacked Murkowski, erroneously claiming that she supported President Barack Obama’s economic stimulus package, and that she did not want to repeal health care reform—even though she does.
Since then, the Republican Party has been throwing its support behind Miller, a hardline conservative with little political experience. Said Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, “I have no doubt that he will be elected as the next U.S. senator from Alaska.” And this narrative of a little-known politician toppling an incumbent senator from the Republican establishment is not exclusive to Alaska. Miller is part of a group of Tea Party candidates who have been emerging as the Republicans of choice in Senate races this year from Florida to Colorado.
However, Murkowski, with GOP blood running through her veins, is not one to easily give up. Just over a week after her defeat, she announced she’s still ready to fight for her seat in the race for the November general election, should Alaskans want that. Supporters have overwhelmed her with a flurry of emails and phone calls, requesting that she does not step down. She said, “I’m not a quitter, never have been. And I’m still in this game.”
If she decides to run, she could announce her candidacy as early as this week. Her friend Andrew Halcro, an Anchorage politician, said this would be “the kind of campaign you should have seen in the primary”: “no-holds-barred, pedal-to-the-metal stuff.”
But this would be an uphill battle for Murkowski. She has lost support from the Republican establishment, including the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which now backs Miller. The moderate Republican has already met with the Alaska Libertarian Party to see if she could run on their ballot, although their politics were too disparate. Her other option would be an independent write-in candidacy, but few national candidates have been elected by convincing voters to write their names at the bottom of their ballots.
Of course, Murkowski could also stay out of the race. For now, she says she’s listening to the people of Alaska, and giving “considered thought” to what they want. And it just could be that what Alaskans want may have more of a Sarah Palin flavour.
By Michael Petrou - Tuesday, March 16, 2010 at 8:00 AM - 196 Comments
How she’s changing the face of American politics
John McCain thought he needed to spring one more surprise on America.
In August 2008, his presidential campaign against Barack Obama was listing badly. Some of this was his fault. But after eight years of George W. Bush, anyone representing the Republican party came with a lot of baggage. McCain needed to choose a candidate for vice-president who underlined his reputation as a maverick within the party and who was untainted by close ties to the previous administration. The stakes were high. As John Heilemann and Mark Halperin write in Game Change, their book about the campaign, “If McCain’s running mate selection didn’t fundamentally alter the dynamics of the race, it was lights out.”
McCain’s original plan was to partner with Joe Lieberman, the 2000 Democratic nominee for vice-president. McCain hoped such a choice would prove his bipartisan credentials, steal thunder from his opponents, and back-foot the press—allowing his campaign to regain some momentum. But when word of the Lieberman plan leaked, much of the Republican party rebelled, and McCain was forced to scramble. “We need to have a transformative, electrifying moment in this campaign,” McCain strategist Steve Schmidt said. No one on the short list of alternative candidates could deliver this. Schmidt suggested a new option: Alaska governor Sarah Palin.
There wasn’t time to vet Palin properly, or to probe her thoughts on foreign and domestic policy. Picking Palin was a Hail Mary pass in the dying seconds of a championship game. But McCain met and liked her. She was confident and calm. She wasn’t afraid to burn bridges and upset people, even in the Republican party. She was an outsider, like him. Steve Schmidt told McCain choosing Palin could hurt him. But a safer candidate, he said, wouldn’t help. It would be better to go for the win and lose big than to tiptoe to a narrow defeat. “High risk, high reward,” another one of McCain’s advisers cautioned. “You shouldn’t have told me that,” McCain replied. “I’ve been a risk taker all my life.”