Whiskey Rebellion

Rich Galen
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Posted: Nov 17, 2016 12:57 PM
Whiskey Rebellion

I did a post-election panel for a telecommunications group earlier this week during which the Democrat, former Congressman Rick Boucher of Virginia, talked about how he foresaw bipartisan cooperation in the House to update the Telecommunications Act of 1996.

Not to worry. This is not a column about Title II or Section 706.

I conceded that the Congressman - a long-time expert on telecoms - knew more about that than I did, but I knew a lot about how political parties act when they've been knocked on their collective butts and, like Oliver Twist, meekly holding out a bowl asking for more gruel wasn't in the playbook.

The edges of those political parties always say, "Aha! Had you been more pure in your understanding of the doctrine, had you been more adamant in adhering to the ideology, had you been more loyal to the tenets of our political party you would not have lost. We must purge those who's political DNA has been found weak and wanting."

I told the group that in the election of 2008 the Democrats not only won the White House, but also picked up eight seats in the U.S. Senate (going from 51-49 to 59-41 including independents) and 21 seats in the U.S. House to make Nancy Pelosi Speaker and take control of all the levers of power in the District of Columbia.

The GOP in Washington didn't go back to its pre-1994, pre-Gingrich model of accepting minority status for the next 40 years. The results of the election gave rise to what quickly became known as the Tea Party movement.

The adherents didn't protest in the streets as we are seeing with the anti-Trump protesters today. They disrupted town hall meetings of Member of Congress and Senators, often shouting them down off the platform.

In the first mid-term elections of President Barack Obama's term in 2010, the Tea Party was in full flower - and full voice. Republicans gained 63 seats in the U.S. House regaining control of that chamber, closed the deficit in the Senate by picking up six seats, and gained an astonishing 680 seats in State House and State Senate seats across the nation.

That last is crucial because statehouse seats make up, in many cases, what former Governor Pete DuPont called "the farm team" for candidates for the U.S. House.

After the rush to the Affordable Care Act in the first two years of the Obama Presidency, the Tea Party Republicans (now renamed the "Freedom Caucus") were more than satisfied in creating the Congressional gridlock we have endured or enjoyed (depending upon your political bent) for the ensuing six years.

So, now we have the reverse result. Republicans control those levers in Washington, DC and Democrats are so far back on their heels they look like they're about to tip over backwards like a participant in a "trust exercise" at a management retreat.

The precursor to the Tea Party was the Republican Club for Growth, which was founded in 1999.

The Club for Growth became the keeper of the Conservative flame - relentlessly seeking out moderate Republicans (Republicans In Name Only or RINOs) - and finding more Conservative candidates to run against them in primaries.

I begged its founder and president, Steve Moore, to go after Democrats that were too liberal for their districts instead of Republicans, but he had a vision to purify the DNA of the GOP and he was very successful.

I led you through that because lurking behind the scenes at Democratic meetings is the Liberal version of the Club for Growth - MoveOn.org.

MoveOn has been the keeper of what used to be called the Liberal agenda, now renamed the Progressive agenda.

I suggested in that panel discussion that, like a mirror of the Club for Growth and the Tea Party on the Right, Democrats in the House and Senate would now - today - have to look over their collective Left shoulders to see who might be gearing up to challenge those who's Liberal DNA has been shredded by too many years in the Nation's Capital.

The original Tea Party was in opposition to taxes imposed by the British Parliament. The first open rebellion of the new Constitutional Republic that was born in 1789 was the Whisky Rebellion in 1794 - in opposition to taxes imposed on American grain farmers by the new American government.

I wouldn't be at all surprised if the Progressive wing of the Democratic Party doesn't organize itself as the "Whiskey Rebellion" and demand the same level of ideological purity on the Left as the Tea Party has on the Right.