ACCORDING TO THE “OUTSIDE THE MAINSTREAM” ARGUMENT, certain (extreme) views must be disregarded since they (1) aren’t supported by a majority of voters (the numbers might or might not stem from cherry-picked polls), and (2) because they disregard the conventional political wisdom. The framing varies, but the argument is the same: X is too “extreme”, too “radical” or too far “left” or “right” to be taken seriously.
Intriguingly, the argument might prove counterproductive for Democrats (and Republicans) in the current political climate. With certain segments of the electorate high on anti-incumbency sentiments, one might actually contribute to the continued rise of so-called extreme candidates by labeling their ideas and campaign promises as reckless opportunism and crazy talk. If the driving force behind the tea party movement is that the mainstream political movement is out of whack, then it might not be such a good idea to paint tea party candidates as “far outside the mainstream.”
Governor Jennifer Granholm (D-MI) did just that on Meet The Press this Sunday (August 22, 2010) in a debate with former House majority leader Dick Armey (R-TX) (Freedomworks founder and author of the new book Give Us Liberty: A Tea Party Manifesto):
MR. GREGORY: One of the arguments that Democrats make about some of the candidates who are supported by the tea party is that they’re, frankly, too extreme for … the mainstream of the Republican Party [and] too extreme for the mainstream of the political country.
REP. ARMEY: Well, first of all, each one of these candidates [Ken Buck, Sharron Angle, Rand Paul and Mike Lee] won a Republican primary as a Republican candidate with a variety of different stresses on different issues. I am not going to take the Democrat (sic) Party’s characterization of a Republican Party candidate’s position on any issue as the gospel truth. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but politicians say insincere things; and, frankly, I don’t quite listen to the Democrats on the candidates. But the voters paid attention to the candidates and made their choice. Now, the Democrats … have a guy down in South Carolina who wins the primary and, and is then convicted of a felony. They ought to concern themselves with, “What is the quality of our candidates, and can we meet the challenge of trying to race against these candidates” who are going to beat their person in the fall.
MR. GREGORY: Governor, is this an example of what they’ve called a mainstream political movement, some of these candidates and their views?
GOV. GRANHOLM: Well, you know, no. I think it’s far outside the mainstream…
Time will show.
Mr. Armey’s response was spot on: If politicians such as Ken Buck, Sharron Angle, Rand Paul and Mike Lee are indeed “outside the mainstream”, then voters will say so in November. And if they don’t, then it is in fact the proponents of the “outside the mainstream” argument who are out of touch and unable to connect with the electorate.
Tags: 2010 midterms, David Gregory, Dick Armey, Freedomworks, Jennifer Granholm, Ken Buck, Meet the Press August 22 2010, Mike Lee, Politics, Rand Paul, Sharron Angle, Tea Party, Tea Party candidates, Tea Party movement