The surprising recent alliance between progressives and the Tea Party movement in opposition to American military action in Syria illustrates that the American political landscape in 2013 can no longer be understood through the classic lens of Democrat versus Republican partisanship.
On September 5, Breitbart News reported that Tea Party groups across the country unanimously oppose a proposed American military attack on Syria. That same day, Talking Points Memo reported that “House progressives look to team up with Tea Party on Syria vote.”:
As the struggle to secure House votes for or against authorization for military strikes in Syria accelerates, the progressive wing of the Democratic Party has started making plans to team up with isolationist conservatives to stop the resolution, TPM has learned.
Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) has become the leader of the progressive resistance. He is planning an “ad hoc whip operation,” as he called it in a phone interview with TPM. That includes supplying other aligned members with talking points and giving them the names of undecided colleagues to lobby for a no vote.
As the Washington Post noted on September 6, “[t]his sort of right-left alliance is often discussed but rarely materializes. But this time there could be something to it.
In an exclusive statement emailed to Breitbart News on Wednesday, Congressman Alan Grayson (D-FL) praised the Tea Party movement’s role in raising public opposition to the proposed American military attack on Syria, while pointing out that the Tea Party movement should also credit him for leading Congressional opposition to the proposed action. “What this [whole Syria debate] demonstrates,” Grayson said, “is that both left and right can maintain their principles and at the same time accomplish concrete goals for the greater good.”
Until the Syria debate, Tea Party activists and Congressman Grayson were generally in diametric opposition on almost every major issue, and often engaged in bitter and vitriolic attacks and counter-attacks. Those ideological differences remain, but each side, surprisingly, is now showing a previously unseen level of respect for the other’s commitment to principle.
Ben Cunningham, founder of the Nashville Tea Party, spoke with Breitbart News on Wednesday about the alliance between Congressman Grayson and the Tea Party movement on Syria. “I can’t imagine where else we might agree with Alan Grayson, certainly not on the bedrock tea party issues regarding an arrogant, authoritarian, broke federal government,” Cunningham said. “I can say however, that his willingness to publicly disagree with a President who commands zombie like allegiance from most of the left, is, how shall I put this, noteworthy.”
Bill Hennessy, co-founder of the St. Louis Tea Party, told Breitbart News that., “Representative Alan Grayson earned a ton of respect from me with his brave opposition to bombing Syria. We shouldn’t be surprised when a legislator puts principles above party–but we are.” Hennessy noted that, “Mr. Grayson, who can be a vicious partisan on many issues like Obamacare, has demonstrated he can be a statesman, as well. He deserves our thanks and respect for leading the fight against war in the House.”
Lynn Moss, co-founder of the Mid-South Tea Party in Memphis, Tennessee, told Breitbart News that “Representative Grayson’s acknowledgment of tea party efforts is a refreshing departure from the frequent condemnation we in the tea party receive from the left.” Moss added that, “Representative Grayson’s statement also reflects what the tea party has known from its beginnings, that we are non-partisan and seek only the greater good for our beloved nation.”
After President Obama’s address to the nation Tuesday night, in which he asked Congressional leaders to postpone a vote on support for American military intervention in Syria, it is unclear when, if ever, either the House or the Senate will vote on the issue.