When the Tea Party Glove Doesn’t Fit

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On Tuesday, MoJo‘s Adam Weinstein brought you the heartwarming story of Tim James, the Alabama businessman who, if his newest ad is any indication, is running for governor this year on a platform of dramatic pauses and DMV reform. Since then, James’s bizarro, race-baiting campaign ad

which was produced by the same guy who made DemonSheep

has gone viral and the candidate is reaping benefits from the conservative base.

James's ad is pretty awesome. But it might be only the second most interesting spot out of Alabama this month. That's because one of James's primary opponents, former 10 Commandments judge Roy Moore, just cut this track:

 

Catchy! As Moore's site explains: "The Judge's love for music steered him to step outside of the proverbial political ads, and be the first person running for office to utilize music as the sole message for his campaign." The message in this video is really about faith, not race, but still, it's not every day that you see a Republican primary candidate pander to black voters. The fact that Moore's opponent seems to be pandering to the xenophobic wing of his party makes the contrast between the two that much sharper.

But Moore is noteworthy for what his candidacy represents, not just its ads. As Stephanie Mencimer reported back in February, Moore entered the race as what you might call a "Tea Party candidate"; he was a featured speaker at the Tenth Amendment Summit, and his career has been singularly defined by its resistance to the federal government's authority. But James is also something of a Tea Party candidate. So is front-runner Bradley Byrne

The point, I guess, is that every Republican running for governor in Alabama this year should probably be considered a Tea Party candidate, which makes the label "Tea Party candidate" less than helpful if you're trying to tell them apart. Moore is a faith-based Tea Partier; James plays to cultural concerns. In reality, the Alabama race isn’t about who can win the Tea Party vote; it’s a matter of prioritizing the various grievances of the traditional conservative base.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

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It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

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We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

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Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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