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Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Tea Party Played For Third-Rate Fools Under Election Law

As I predicted six months ago in this article -- which was met with derision among most of the "tea party" movement -- the establishment insiders running the Republican Party in New York used a "Stop Common Core" ballot line as a ruse to create a new third party to attract and ultimately neuter independent, reform-oriented sentiment on various issues.

The new third party will be called the "Reform Party." As that report indicates, the party will expand its "issues" beyond purported opposition to the Common Core school curriculum which has become a hot button around the nation and also raised issues about federalism and states' rights. 

It should now be apparent that the ballot line's title was merely a ploy to attract the necessary ground troops to gain 15,000 petition signatures and then the 50,000 votes (Stop Common Core got a shade over 51,000 for Rob Astorino) needed under New York election law for a ballot line to convert into a legally recognized political party for any election in the state for the next four years. "Stop Common Core" was never about protesting the federal curriculum mandate. It was about making sure protest movements were kept under watch, under control and chopped down at the first sign of strength.

But as I predicted, the petition drive and third statewide ballot line for November's gubernatorial election used grassroots and "tea party" elbow grease to capture independent-minded protest votes, first for the near-term objective of keeping them away from any bonafide independent (read: not controlled by the establishment), and later (and this is unfolding now) to keep them captive so no serious challenge to Republican establishment orthodoxy can ever be mounted. 

The pseudo-reform brilliantly capitalizes on the amateurishness and mediocrity -- the third-rateness -- of so many self-styled "reform" or citizens' groups which lack not only money and expertise but also the basic discipline to agree on and implement a winning strategy.

I am critical now of these self-styled citizens' groups, both because of their emotionally immature stubbornness to even consider what they thought last year was the unthinkable -- that political insiders would dare lie to them -- and their arrogant dismissal of my very public, overt and strident warnings of what was about to happen.

The end result is that now, voters in New York State will have the illusion of even more choice, when in reality they will have much less. In New York, the political parties' ability under state election law to cross-endorse one another's candidates has led to a practice where most elections are either not seriously contested or, when they are, they are two-candidate races in which each candidate is "endorsed" and runs on at least two or three ballot lines. 

Too often, third parties are and remain third parties, because their personnel and decisions are third-rate. I am not even sure the tea party groups' decisions with Stop Common Core even rise to the level of third rate. New York deserves better. 

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