While Tea Parties and so-called tea-baggers grab headlines and microphones, it appears their appeal is as thin as their fear-based rhetoric. The rogue Republicans who attempted to hijack what’s left of the Republican Party were handed a dose of electoral realism in the twenty-third congressional district in New York state—it was won by a Democrat for the first time since the nineteenth century, even though rogue poster-woman Sarah Palin, wannabe president Fred Thompson, and re-tread Republican Dick Armey tried their best to get their fellow tea-man elected. And, the news was arguably worse for Democrats. They lost two state houses in Virginia and New Jersey due to uninspired campaigns and the promise of change that, as yet, has produced more rhetoric than substance. The larger story here is both parties lost. Enter the Transcendents.
Transcendents are the bulging center of the population who have been disenfranchised by our two-party system where reds and blues have money without ideas and slogans without action—stuck in a narrative of insular certitude that more often is falling on deaf ears. Transcendents are not independent, as both Republicans and Democrats prefer to pejoratively cast them; rather they are highly dependent on a system that has failed them. Nor are they libertarian; they actually believe that government plays an important and selective role that must be bound by fiscal discipline and common sense.
Transcendents, driven by the effects of economic crisis and concerned about the future of the American dream, are rising above the rabble of established politicos—who are more interested in profile than production—to make voting choices based on pragmatism, not party identity. They believe both Wall Street and DC are rigged games. They look for ways to work around every assumption and rule to solve problems on their own. In this way they are social, economic, and political entrepreneurs.
The question now is which party will realize the reality illustrated by the “T” party and change their ways to attract more votes for their candidates. They would do well to take off their red and blue lenses and start seeing things as they are, not as their traditions wish them to be. Transcendents are now the majority who will decide which party, if either, will prevail. Republicans may realize this first, since they’re more desperate, but they need leadership to quell the rogue-ies. Democrats have more at stake because they risk losing their mandate, but their problem is age-old—they’re the party of factions who identify themselves through narrow interests—where unity is an oxymoronic.
The encouraging news is the voice of reason may be creeping back into the process as Transcendents represent electoral value to those who wish to hold power. The lesson of this week is clear—if you don’t listen and act, or represent the rogue fringe—you’re gone.