If, during eras of elite ascendancy, the two visible parties are tools of elite manipulation, then there is at all times a third party involved in all our political activities. It is the populist party, normally divided against itself as a result of successful elite manipulation. In terms of its potential, it is always the majority party. The notion that “third parties fail” is therefore less an observation of fact than a statement of elite intention.
In the past, this third party was occasionally roused to unify under its own leadership under the influence of material or moral passion. But in our current political circumstances the perception of a general failure of elite leadership (that is the failure of both elite manipulated parties) combines with the revulsion produce by the Obama faction’s clumsy exposure of elite ambition. More than in any similar period in the past, this threatens to impel the populist element to unify in opposition to the elite.
Ordinarily, the elite element would simply play one of its squadrons against the other, using whatever issues and rhetoric promised most effectively to co-opt the populist focal point of passion. But the fact that the populist focal point involves revulsion against both parties, complicates the task of the elite squadron assigned to co-opt popular passion. (Right now, that’s the GOP.) So does the Obama faction’s blatant exposure of the elite elements hostile intent toward both the populist constitution and the moral habits and convictions that support its effective implementation.
The Tea Party movement is the strategic response to these complications. It’s existence “hides in plain sight” the elite acknowledgment that the third party is not a possibility but a reality. But the Tea Party name signifies the ambiguity of its existential status. It is the Party that is not a party, thereby continuing in an ironic form the political invisibility of an always real political fact. Though united in opposition to both parties, it exists in a form that prevents it from effectively opposing them. Though it looks back upon and forward to betrayal by the GOP, that party nonetheless appears to offer the only effective outlet for its unifying revulsion against the elite agenda exposed by the Obama faction.
Tragically, if the populist element simply accepts the GOP’s plainly treacherous offer, the best it can hope for is to exchange the reality of America’s populist constitution for the delusion of playing in a political sandbox (the arrangement J.R. Dunn suggests) while the overthrow of the America’s populist constitution transforms an ascendant elite compelled to be respectful of the populist majority into a ruling class that respects nothing but power and the instruments of malleable conscience (like Obama) through which it can be employed it without compunction.
Must the sovereign people of the United States surrender to the fact that the historic moment of their political abdication is inescapably at hand? Is this the only alternative?
Given the analysis presented in this series, certain actions being taken by the elite element indicate that it is not. The GOP effort to exploit fiscal and economic issues fits the usual paradigm of past periods of populist assertiveness. But additional actions being taken simultaneously to discourage and co-opt the moral aspects of populist revulsion with the elites suggest that this is the source of populist unity most likely to interfere with the elite agenda. Just as the Tea Party aims to co-opt using a party that is not a party, the recent manifestation of moral passion organized under Glenn Beck’s auspices marks the emergence of it moral counterpart- a moral revival that is not a revival. The Tea Party is being manipulated in order to channel the populist votes toward a result that threatens no real restoration of the people’s authority. In the Glenn Beck revival the roused moral passion of the people is being manipulated in order to channel populist votes toward a result that threatens no real restoration of the politically relevant authority of God. Obviously in order really to restore the sustainable populist constitution intended by the Founders, what the elite offers to people as a sham they must develop for themselves as the real thing. Is this possible?