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  • Dec 25, 2014
  • Updated: 8:58am
CommentInsight & Opinion

In the US, 'tea party' defeats bring rays of hope

PUBLISHED : Monday, 11 November, 2013, 4:36am
UPDATED : Monday, 11 November, 2013, 4:36am

You may not know where Trenton is, but the news from the capital of the state of New Jersey last week was the best to come out of America for some time. An electoral comeback shows moderate Republican Party members are far from a spent force. In fact, one of them could become the next occupant of the White House, having become an early favourite to win his party's presidential nomination. This is the result of pragmatic centrist Chris Christie's thumping re-election as governor and generally disappointing poll results for the conservative "tea party" wing of the Republican Party. Voters in New Jersey, Virginia, New York, Alabama, Detroit and elsewhere hinted at a loss of patience with conservative lawmakers who tried to advance ideological agendas by precipitating the recent US budget crisis and threatening not to lift the national debt ceiling, necessary for the US to pay its debts. A world that depends on the US dollar as a reserve currency will endorse that sentiment.

Christie, 51, won 60 per cent of the vote, including majorities among the normally Democrat strongholds of women, blacks and hispanics. In nearby Virginia, a Democrat defeated a tea- party republican for the governorship, despite the unpopularity there of President Barack Obama's health care reforms.

Christie is not unknown outside the US, after Hurricane Sandy devastated his state last year. He infuriated Republican hardliners by inspecting the damage alongside Obama, when the Democratic president was campaigning for re-election. Then he slammed conservative lawmakers for not fast-tracking relief for hurricane victims. He has also won no friends among them by keeping his opposition to abortion largely to himself and not pressing a legal challenge to same-sex marriage after a judge allowed the first weddings to go ahead.

Tuesday was a night to remember for besieged Republican moderates. Hopefully, for the sake of American democracy, it marks a return to pragmatism and tolerance that appeals to the middle ground in an increasingly multicultural society.


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In this New Jersey election, one sees the good side of democracy and the wisdom of elections. But this is only one encouraging anecdote out of the US. It one looks at the US as a whole, the picture is far from promising.
I know some New Jerseyans who hate Governor Christie for cooperating with President Obama. There are still many Confederate minded in the north even today. Worse, the declining white majority in the US has been using gerrymandering to redraw Congressional districts that they actually have gained representation in the House.
The nation is polarized in ideology. A presidential election is decided in a few states that you could count with fingers on one hand.
George Bush was elected president in 2000 even though he lost the popular vote. But at least Americans are mature enough to accept the "unfair" outcome. That has changed during the Obama presidency. He is so hated by right wing conservatives, who are using every parliamentary process and court challenge to ensure that Obama's health care measures and other budgetary expenditures already approved by the previous legislature can't be moved forward.
HK democracy morons are driven by a singular reflexive hate-China gut feel. They have sabotaged every pragmatic proposal for the 2017 nomination process. By words and deeds today, they will likely riot if the election outcome doesn't go their way.
Why waste time on charades? CY may not please me. It's high time that he acts like a CE.
Another poorly informed editorial on American politics. On substance, Christie is no moderate. When asked whether he is a moderate or a conservative Christie says he is a conservative. He is moderate in tone, conservative in substance. He has worked harder to expand his appeal to black and Latino voters than most conservatives, in this he shows himself to be both brave (many of these voters are a tough sell for conservatives) and effective.
The article talks of the tea party and moderate wings of the Republican Party. This is a myth. "Tea Party" is a term to describe conservative political advocacy. The term has been demonized by the media, but virtually every Republican politician welcomes tea party activism - knocking on doors, working the phones, on-line campaigning - doing the work of retail politics. The Republican Party, as is the modern Democratic Party are generally united ideologically, much more so than 30 years. The prime issue is expanding the size and scope of government. Republicans oppose expansion, Democrats support expansion. The ACA (Obamacare act) was an example of this polarization. In the House every Republican voted no and all but 20+ Democrats voted yes. In the Senate every Democrat (many now to their regret) voted yes and all Republicans voted no.
The "tea party" loses in Virginia and Alabama was more about tone than substance. Americans prefer positive and optimistic politicians and Cuccinelli in VA, Young in AL were neither.
Pragmatism is a philosophy invented in US in the late 19the century. It is a practice how to view one’s world around in terms of its practical uses and successes. Simply a word gains meaning through function in real life.
Pragmatism became the hallmark of American style politic since. Ideology played a limited role in politics that different political parties at a point in time must compromise and resolve differences in order to govern peacefully.
The multicultural makeup is currently still insignificant in US politics, but pragmatism will certainly serve it just as well as in a Eurocentric culture when pragmatism was first invented.


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