Barak Obama’s success in the last US election was in part due to the quality of his opposition. The Tea Party dominated Republican Party was just too scary and extreme. This turned off swinging voters and energised progressive activists for who a Mitt Romney White House was just too awful to contemplate. Despite considerable liberal misgivings they stood behind Obama and helped to push him over the line.
This failure has not stopped the right from continuing its extremism. The US Government shut down and the attempted stopping of the raising of the US debt limit are shining examples of how crazy they are. As an example of how crazy Republican Senator Mike Lee is reported to have said of the deal that kickstarted the US Government and averted a cataclysmic melt down of the world’s economic system “[t]his is Washington at its worst” and that it was exactly what the American people are fed up with. And 18 Republican Senators and 144 Republican members of the House of Representatives voted against the bill which reopened the American Government and averted a world wide economic crisis.
Senator John McCain, who is on the moderate side of the party, has stated that the Republicans had lost the battle and were asking for something that they could not get. Even the Koch Brothers, reputedly the original astroturfing creators of the Tea Party opposed the brinkmanship. From afar it is clear that there is a battle for control of the Republican Party between those who want to make Government work and those who want to destroy it.
New Zealand is seeing its own version of the Tea Party start to emerge and the moderates are starting to hit back. On the moderate side are people such as Bill English, Stephen Joyce and Michelle Boag. On the Tea Party side is the Judith Collins faction with supporters including Simon Lusk and Cameron Slater.
Lusk is an interesting person. A campaign paper that he prepared for the Party was leaked to the Standard a few months ago. In it he described the current National Government as a “disappointment to fiscal conservatives”. He advocated tea party like for reducing the size of Government. He described New Zealand’s political market as “exceptionally retarded”. He advocated for the blackballing of existing National MPs and the building up of a large fund so that his goals could be implemented. The document is both simplistic and chilling at the same time.
He advocated for the developing of a limited number of young people to position them for a career in politics and it appears that Wewege may be one of them.
It is clear that elements in the National Party are recoiling from the Lusk/Slater approach to politics and this is clear from the response to the treatment of Bevan Chuang. A Herald article yesterday included this interesting passage:
[Palino’s denial of knowledge of the affair] came amid a bitter battle yesterday between senior members of the Palino team and National Party insiders.
Palino’s election team was tearing itself apart last night over who was aware of the Brown affair.
Rob Nesbit-Savage, who left as campaign manager in June, said he was saddened by Palino’s behaviour.
“If it’s true, he would have lost all credibility with me. I’d be quite disgusted. I’m also disappointed that Len seems to be getting away scot-free and ignored,” Nesbit-Savage said.
National Party campaigner and volunteer Hamish Price said that he was approached to write Palino’s campaign policy, but it was only four months out from the election and such a big job that he couldn’t have done it as a volunteer.
Price did not rate political strategist Luigi Wewege or others involved in the Palino campaign.
“People who weren’t wanted elsewhere, or had zero campaign experience. No significant current National Party figures went near the campaign, as it was generally known to be entirely dysfunctional.”
However, campaign manager and former National Party president John Slater hit back and said Palino had been consistent with what he had said all week.
He said Price was persona non grata after being denied a job with the Palino team.
Despite key players describing themselves as National Party activists, Prime Minister John Key would not be drawn on how the fiasco reflected on his party.
A spokeswoman for the Prime Minister said no one was paid by the National Party to work on the campaign.
The extent of the battle can be seen in this Facebook post made by Hamish Price. Price has done the decent thing and sought to protect Chuang from being used by Slater and Wewege. He is obviously from the conservative respectful wing of the party. He sums up the situation by saying to Slater that he and reporter Stephen Cook “have been a party to a sickening, deceitful, dishonest and corrupt plan to not just steal a democratic election, but to exploit other people’s misery.” The post is publicly available and was linked to in Kiwiblog.
Slater’s comment that all politicians are dirty disgusting despicable people says much about his mind set. It is now apparent that elements of the National Party realise the danger that he presents and are seeking to depower him.