A looming tea party backlash?

By Ken Feltman

In September I wrote that the voters who tend to be identified with the tea parties “reject what they sense is the underlying attitude among political elites – that the elites know more and, therefore, know best. Perhaps this means that the tea parties will find a lot more work to do. Perhaps they are just beginning to remake American politics.” Events since September have given tea party-inclined voters fresh reasons to believe that the two major parties are unable to move the country forward. 

People all across the country know that the two political parties in Washington share many attitudes if not policy positions. A National Journal survey of political insiders from both parties revealed that nearly six of ten political leaders and policy functionaries believe that rank-and-file citizens do not know enough to have meaningful opinions on important issues. What the voters perceive as condescension and arrogance, the leaders see as their wisdom versus the people’s ignorance.

The Republicans have gone right and the Democrats left, leaving fewer in the center, which has been the source of so many past compromises. As we hurtle toward the fiscal cliff at the expense of doing what most people want – running a more efficient, leaner government – the political elites share the arrogant chumminess that they are the only ones who really understand how to resolve the country’s problems. 

So long as that attitude exists, the tea parties will not go away.

(A version of this article was published in Politico)


About Radnor Reports

Ken Feltman is past-president of the International Association of Political Consultants and the American League of Lobbyists. He is retired chairman of Radnor Inc., an international political consulting and government relations firm in Washington, D.C. Known as a coalition builder, he has participated in election campaigns and legislative efforts in the United States and several other countries.
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