Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Patriot Act extension votes

I was reading on the Washington Post about the recently failed House bill seeking to extend the Patriot Act, and was interested to see the break-down of the votes.  Maybe this isn't a shocker to anyone, but I found it interesting that the category of "Tea-Party endorsed" members voted for and against the attempted extension in virtually identical proportion as the Republican Party... about .11 of the members who voted voted against (R: 210/26, TP: 96/12).

This surprised me because my superficial assumption was "Tea Party is more extreme than the GOP mainstream/establishment, ergo Tea Party would be the reddest of the red".  At the same time, though, I assume that there's plenty of statist government surveillance in the Patriot Act that a Tea Party member could reasonably object to on the basis of Tea Party ideals.  I was also surprised to see how many Democrats were listed as Tea Party endorsed, although (as with the above observations) a lot of this stems as much from my ignorance and lack of any real interest in the Tea Party movement.  Surely some of this won't come as a surprise to others.

What would be neat to see is a similar break down of Republican v. Tea Party endorsed votes across the board.  If the voting patterns are so similar for this legislation, which I imagine is something of a bellweather for the culture wars today, I wonder what sort of distinctives the Tea Party really could claim.  Based simply on this vote, they don't look like material for any sort of third party that would be at all interesting (and I'm not saying that any or all of them claim to be establishing a new party, but the idea suggests itself when Bachmann stands up to give her own Tea Party response to the State of the Union address)

Also... is it too much to ask that every journalistic account of these votes include reference to the official resolution number?  The Washington Post had it, but a lot of other news sources didn't bother including the information.  Is it really that difficult to fit "HR 514" in somewhere?  Why send readers scouring the internet to find this sort of straightforward information so that they can look up further details on it?


  1. It's not surprising to me that Tea Partiers aren't libertarians - they're conservative/populists with some libertarian mixed in - and that therefore they would vote like Republicans on this sort of thing. But I have to say, that breakdown is still surprising to me. I would have expected them to be somewhat different from Republicans at least, but in the opposite direction that you expected. I would have expected to see more opposing it.

    This would be tough, though. I don't know much of anything about the Patriot Act, but I would bet at least three quarters is good, fine, updating security for the 21st century type stuff. So how do you handle the more problematic stuff? Do you kill the whole thing or do you do it piecemeal?

    Health reform presents the same issues (albeit less urgently) for me. It ultimately depends on the individual I suppose.

    Bachmann is an attention whore (for God's sake don't selectively quote me on that). She's exhibit A in the list of evidence that Tea Partiers want the public to fawn over them as much as any other politician (Sarah Palin and Ron Paul are close behind her on that point at least).

  2. ...I think the article did mention that some of the provisions from the Patriot Act will be brought up for another vote... it may even be sponsored by Democrats. So yeah, I wasn't intending to say anything in particular about the Patriot Act as a whole.


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