[The Toronto Star, Canada]



Cotidianul, Romania

The Tea Party and the Workings of American Democracy


"In just scant months, the Tea Party movement's entry into Congress has become a turning point in American politics. Their presence in the forefront of the American legislature will serve to extinguish the bi-partisan tradition of Congress."


By Dumitru Constantin



Translated By Helene Grinsted


November 3, 2010


Romania Cotidianul - Original Article (Romanian)

After the U.S. midterm elections, when Americans elected all 435 members of the House of Representatives and one third of the Senate, Democrat President Barack Obama will have to share power with a Congress that includes a House controlled by his Republican opponents.


For their part, the Democrats, who until now controlled both legislative bodies, will retain the Senate and the presidency. They will therefore have to cohabit with Republicans, who will comprise a majority in the House of Representatives. Although such situations have occurred in the past, the big surprise of these midterms was the entry into Congress of the Tea Party - an ultra-conservative movement that emerged in April 2009 following demonstrations that took place while tax returns were being submitted. The movement also gave Republicans some momentum in campaigns for state governor in 37 out of the 50 states.


It must be noted that once these results were made public and were understood by the president, he behaved as a true advocate and defender of democracy by contacting Republican leaders to lay the ground for an effective, sustainable dialogue in the interests of the nation. When we talk about the relationship between the U.S. president and Congress, it must be said that governing without such cooperation would be impossible. It's true - one is often told that the president is the most powerful man on earth. But it is often forgotten that he is only a part, albeit an essential part - and Obama has shown himself to be a formidable adversary on more than one occasion - of the way the U.S. system works. That's because the Founding Fathers carefully crafted an institutional balance between the legislative and executive branches that obliges both branches to carry on a constant dialogue. As a result, political scientists say that only by appreciating the central role that Congress plays can one talk about democracy in America. This also explains the fact that in the recent election campaign, Barack Obama constantly reminded voters of this and urged them to vote for a Democrat majority in Congress to enable him to enact his programs.


It's also worth noting that these midterms confirmed the tradition that the party in power loses, irrespective of the popularity of the president in office. It's no less true that, historically, there have been few exceptions to this. The most notable was in 2002, when the midterms followed September 11, 2001. Then, the Republicans of George W Bush, who was president at the time, retained their majority in Congress. In the case of these latest polls, the tradition was only partially confirmed. At one point before the voting, opinion polls suggested a comfortable win for Republicans.


However, [if the results weren't as bad as some had predicted for Democrats], under the new circumstances, with Republicans at the helm of the House of Representatives, Obama will certainly have a hard time passing any major reforms, whether they be for immigration or environment reform. This will be quite significant, given that at the moment, his popularity rate has dropped considerably due to health care reform - which is seen by many Americans as a huge government intrusion into their private lives. For that reason, 52 percent disapprove of his current actions, and a third who voted for him in 2008 say they will no longer support Democrats. We're a long way from the beginning of 2009, when 78 percent of Americans had a favorable opinion of their president.


As a consequence, the results of these midterms represent a loud wake-up call for the current occupant of the White House. Republicans are exploiting Obama's most unpopular policies to maximum effect and even his problems communicating with his own government. For example, it was found that some important provisions of his financial reforms are largely unknown by those affected (married couples, for example), even though they are quite favorable to them.



Gazeta, Russia: The Disconcerting Swings of America's Political Pendulum

Sueddeutsche Zeitung, Germany: Europe Baffled By Loss of 'Bloodless' Obama

Beijing Times, China: Elections Can't Cure America's 'Disease'
ABC, Spain: The Misguided Demonization of the 'Tea Party' Movement

Folha, Brazil: Obama: An American Anomaly?

Le Monde, France: Charting the Tortured Path of the Tea Party

Liberation, France: American 'Anti-Statists' Claim Midterm Victory

La Jornada, Mexico: A Dire Midterm Result for the U.S. and World

Le Figaro, France: Tea Party: An 'American Fever' that Will Quicky Pass

Wen Wei Po, Hong Kong: Blaming China Led Obama to Midterm Defeat

Le Temps, Switzerland: Obama Pays Big for Anemic Growth

News, Switzerland: Obama: Don't Bargain with Your 'Political Assassins'

La Jornada, Mexico: Obama 'Bit Off More than He Could Chew'

Le Temps, Switzerland: Cheap Advice for President Obama

Tageblatt, Luxembourg: Prepare for 'Tea Time' in America

El Pais, Spain: As U.S. Exposes its Divisions, China Powers Ahead

Global Times, China: The West is Forming an 'Axis of Evil Ideology'

Hispanidad, Spain: How Spain Can Build its Own Tea Party: Copy Palin

El Universal, Mexico: Immigration Reform: Obama's Ace in the Hole

Le Temps, Switzerland: America's 'Cry of Agony' Through the Tea Party

Izvestia, Russia: Evil Obama and China's Yuan: It's About the Midterms

Liberation, France: Christine O’Donnell at the 'Oral Stage'

Financial Times Deutschland, Germany: West Must Halt Slide Since 9-11

El Mercurio, Spain: The 'Neo-Nazi' Campaign Against President Obama

El Mundo, Spain: Beck and Palin Search for Mythical 'Paradise Lost'

Der Standard, Austria: In Despair Over Democracy - Both America's and Ours

National Post, Canada: U.S. Democracy Suffers 'Death By Talk-Show Host'

La Jornada, Mexico: Beck and the New U.S.-Right: 'Like a Horror Movie'

Iraq News Agency, Iraq: Sarah Palin: The 'Seductress' of the American Election


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In any case, these elections were similar to the success of Republicans after 1948, which was even better than the defeat inflicted in 1994 on the Democratic president at the time, Bill Clinton. Now taking control of the House of Representatives, Republicans are replacing the well-known Nancy Pelosi and, ruling out any last minute surprises, her successor will be 60-year-old John Boehner, who up to now has led the Republican minority. On the other hand, Democrats retain control of the Senate. But there too, they have suffered considerable losses.


Last, but not least, in just scant months, the Tea Party movement's entry into Congress has become a turning point in American politics. Their presence in the forefront of the American legislature will serve to extinguish the bi-partisan tradition of Congress.


The movement’s name was chosen as a reminder of the act of revolt in the port of Boston in December 1773, which marked the beginning of the War of Independence against the British. Even more notable is that, even without naming their own leader or having a clear political program, dissatisfaction over a range of subjects has crystallized in the Tea Party. These include opposition to the federal government, which is considered too powerful, and the need to reduce spending, lower taxes and create greater opposition to the health reforms adopted and passed by Obama.


Republicans have enthusiastically welcomed members of the movement, which is considered more ultra-conservative than the ultra-conservatives of the Grand Old Party, as the Republican Party is also known. However, there are voices that argue that the demands by Tea Party radicals could in the end help Obama and the Democrats and create more problems for Republicans. In his turn, future House Speaker John Boehner could be faced with a real dilemma, which is to ensure that the Tea Party remains a mobilizing rather than a centrifugal force. Otherwise, its effects during the 2012 presidential elections when Obama seeks a new term could be disastrous. Nevertheless, the movement claims it will do everything in its power to ensure he doesn't win a second mandate.   



In addition, regarding what this election reflects and its results, it is said that Republicans are also divided over what policies to pursue - health reform, which the aforementioned Boehner wants to abolish, immigration reform, or deficit reductions. Above all, once the results are understood and the period of euphoria or gloom has passes, all analysts agree: American voters have issued a serious warning to President Obama just two years after his triumphal electoral success. They have challenged him to listen to the people if he wants to be reelected.  Until then, he will need to carry on and work effectively with a legislature in which the House of Representatives is controlled by Republicans.



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[Posted by WORLDMEETS.US November 23, 4:4ppm]


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