The mainstream media has pretty much missed the biggest story about the energy on the right not just in the fall campaigns concluding with today’s elections, but since the first tea party took place sometime last February.
So committed are they to pushing the narrative of an attempted coup by social conservative extremists that they’ve missed the real story, a grassroots uprising against increased federal spending. Frank Rich’s rant this past Sunday was emblematic of that ignorance, albeit a quite extreme emblem.
Hugh thinks Democrats are focusing on internecine warfare on the right to deflect attention from Democratic losses:
The idea of a GOP “civil war” is suddenly all the rage among Beltway-Manahttan media elites, for the very obvious reason is that it gives them something to discuss other than Virginia. Democratic spokesmen on the networks tonight –think Paul Begala– will be looking for anything to divert attention from the expected blowout in Virginia. . . . No matter how much noise the talking heads make about anything else, the key story tonight is Virginia
I agree. In my next post, I’ll explore just why Virginia is the key story in terms of finding a larger meaning in election results. For now, I want to focus on the real issue driving grassroots activism on the right: federal spending.
Indeed, spending’s the issue which sunk Dede Scozzafava in New York’s 23rd congressional district. Over at the Corner, Jonah Goldberg posts an e-mail he received from Steve Horwitz, who teaches economics at St. Lawrence University:
I live in NY 23 and you are exactly right about it being Republican not conservative. I think you and others are also right in noting that what really got people upset about Scozzafava was not her social liberalism per se, but that in combination with her moderate-to-liberal views on economic issues. The real rebellion here is a Tea Party rebellion: people are just tired of spending and debt and that is what motivated the conservatives to run Hoffman.
Interesting counter-factual: suppose Scozzafava was still pro-choice and pro-SSM but anti-stimulus and had a better record on tax-and-spend issues. I think we would not have seen the Hoffman candidacy and I think she would have won the seat fairly easily.
Emphasis added. I don’t think this evidence though will dissuade many in the MSM to move from the preferred narrative. If they really want to understand what’s going on on the right, indeed, what’s being going on on the right at least since 2006, they have to appreciate the salience of the spending issue.
The ideas expressed on various tea party web-sites, the signs at the rallies, the rhetoric of the speakers indicates that they’re upset about the growth in federal spending. And if the media were doing their job, reporting the news instead of trying to portray conservatives according to their prejudices, they might see it as well.