Who Protects the Voter?
The question has the standard answer -- the next political party willing to compete for his vote. The Tea Party movement is an attempt to get both of the main political parties to favor a small government agenda. It will likely get some explicit converts among the Republican Party or stand up its own candidates and make it more difficult for Republicans to get elected. In today's Washington Post, Philip Rucker reports from Raleigh on an analogous movement gaining traction in North Carolina:
A political rebellion is brewing inside an old funeral home near the state Capitol here. Frustrated liberals and labor organizers are taking aim at the Democratic Party, rushing to gather enough signatures to start a third party that they believe could help oust three Democratic congressmen.
The nascent third party, North Carolina First, could endanger the Democratic congressional majority by siphoning votes from incumbent Democrats in November's midterm election, potentially enabling Republican challengers to pick up the seats.
Organizers say they are so fed up with Democrats who did not support health-care reform that they simply do not care.
This is perceived as a problem with starting a third party movement -- that in the short term, the principal effect may be to weaken the major party more closely aligned with the movement's goals. I think this may be a cost worth paying, because it may be only a short term cost. It may also be "self-correcting," if that shift to the opposite direction enables the third party make a more credible case for itself with the public.
I'd like to see these insurgent elements, on both the political left and the political right, continue to refine their approaches. Other than reform from within the major parties themselves, which I am too pessimistic to think will happen any time soon, new parties seem to be the only way to get better governance. When they start, they may not be pretty. But that doesn't mean they cannot get better.