Krist Novoselic’s column on music and politics runs every Tuesday on Reverb.

Krist Novoselic’s column on music and politics runs every Tuesday on Reverb. Check back on Friday when he writes about what he’s been listening to.Right on the heels of my column last week regarding the Rock Party, the big political news of the weekend was the Tea Party convention in Nashville. Sure, these folks have momentum right now, but Tea Partiers shouldn’t feel too special. Like Tea Partiers, Americans from across the political spectrum share an anxiety about the economy and feel disconnected from Congress. Ask almost anybody and they’ll tell you how there’s too much special-interest money in elections.The Tea Party is the latest political phenomenon resulting from the powerful tools provided by the information revolution. It’s good when common people become invested in our democratic system; it adds balance to the privileged financial interests who have done the same for too long. When a movement grows to the size of the Tea Party, they have a real chance to affect change on a local and national level. But is it really about change or more business as usual?The political establishment, the press, and even the Tea Partiers themselves are wondering whether their movement can be a new party or a just a way to influence the GOP. Convention keynote speaker Sarah Palin urged the latter. She never even took the risk of mentioning a new third party, instead calling for GOP primary challenges. And it makes sense because with a plurality ballot count, an actual Palin-led third party would split the right-wing coalition, much to the benefit of delighted Democrats.It’s a safer bet for Tea Partiers to rely on the inherent advantages provided by the election systems used in most states. As a result of partisan gerrymandering, most districts tilt to favor one party or another. All Tea Partiers have to do is turn out for a partisan primary election in a Republican district. Primary elections draw less voter participation, so a small but motivated group can have a big impact, and if their candidate wins, they’ll likely win the conservative district in the general election.Washington state has a different primary system, but with a similar dynamic. In the open seat for the 3rd Congressional District, there are so far nine candidates running–four Republicans and five Democrats. With a field of nine, as little as 12 percent of the vote could propel a candidate into the general election, where only the top two vote-getters in the primary run-off. Considering the Tea Party momentum, the current threshold to reach the top two is doable as long as they keep their numbers strong by backing a single Republican in the primary.Most observers consider the 3rd District (southwest Washington) a competitive or “swing” district. This means both major parties, along with independent expenditures, will focus their resources on it. It’s up for grabs, and there will be tons of outside money dropped in. That’s why there’s nobody running from a third party or as an independent so far–candidates want to get national-party money. It’s more business as usual. With Washington state’s easy ballot-access laws, a candidate need not run within an established major party. They could simply prefer Tea Party on the ballot. A “prefers Tea Party” candidate could cross the low threshold to get in the top-two general election. There, a candidate must be prepared to connect to a wider swath of voters than in the primary.And if they really want to go against the grain, candidates could also take a cue from the Rock Party and use the increasing power of small-scale contributions collected online to set up a financing regime that’s completely free of political soft money. Any party or campaign can tout a self-imposed individual contribution limit that’s well below the $4,800, what the federal rules allow. How’s that for less government, personal responsibility, and private initiative? And why should conservatives like Sarah Palin claim these ideals only for themselves? Vote Rock Party!