The “Romney-fication” of the Tea Party
(From AriDavid.us, reposted with permission)
Movements and elections are based upon, and happen because of, ideas – not because of compromises. In 2009, the greatest, most effective, most civil and kindest protest movement in the history of the world was born. It was called the Tea Party. It sprung up in response to two political realities. The first was in opposition to the Obama Administration’s lie that it was going to cut government spending and deficits when Obama and the Democrat Congress passed the stimulus bill and the budget plan that quadrupled government spending and debt from where the Bush administration had taken it. The second was in response to an emasculated Republican Party that seemed willing to go along to get along with the thuggery and intimidation of the Democrats going back some eight years to President George W. Bush’s “compassionate conservative” movement which made the GOP nothing more than a group of eunuchs practicing the same policy ideas as the Democrats but on a smaller scale. What most pundits missed in Obama’s 2008 electoral triumph was that the GOP got routed not because Obama was such a magical figure but because the Republican Party had turned into nothing more than “Democrat lite.”
The rise of the Tea Party was meteoric because of the integrity of the movement. This integrity was based entirely on ideas, and the ideas were quite simple: freedom, responsibility, and government accountability. These three principles created a huge tent for the movement to exist under, because many of the contradictory positions that usually tear movements apart had room to coexist. Social conservatives and social libertarians could both come together to petition the government to get its spending under control. Fiscal conservatives could join the other groups on spending issues and agree with them on issues of government overreach and taxation. Even socially conservative and libertarian leaning Democrats joined the movement in opposition to Obama’s cap and trade and health care reform bills.
A fact unreported in the “mainstream media” is that four-in-ten Tea Party people were registered Democrats in the 2008 election cycle.
Only a movement based on clear ideas and an ideology that has mass appeal could attract such a diversity of political adherents.
After early victories like the defeat of tax-and-spend bills in California, the election of Scott Brown in Massachusetts, Chris Christie in New Jersey and Bob MacDonald in Virginia, the movement had its crowning victory in the 2010 midterm elections. 2010’s election brought to power governors like Scott Walker in, of all places, Wisconsin, who then, following through with Tea Party ideas and ideology, struck a lethal blow against the government spending power of teachers unions by eliminating collective bargaining for health and retirement benefits. The activist, unionized left and the Democrat party made Madison ground zero for an all-out assault on Tea Party activism in response. The lesson of Wisconsin was that Tea Party ideas win elections and defeat the left in almost every part of the United States.
Which brings us to 2012. Having achieved all-out victory, and having proven that genuine Tea Party conservatism appeals even to some of the bluest states (like New Jersey and Wisconsin), the “wise” powers-that-be in the GOP have aligned behind the one candidate in the republican field who believes in absolutely nothing: Mitt Romney.
To be sure, all of the remaining candidates in the GOP field have their liabilities. Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum have both committed spending and size-of-government, anti-conservative heresies. While of concern, given their overall records of accomplishment for the conservative cause, they are forgivable. Ron Paul, while excellent on fiscal and sound-money issues, is unelectable by Tea Party people and “neo-con” Republicans because of his dangerously irresponsible foreign policy and anti-Israel stances. But only Mitt Romney presents something that is not only lethal to the GOP’s electoral chances against Barack Obama in November 2012, but also to the Tea Party itself: a complete void in the realm of ideas.
Romney is the type of candidate the Tea Party-aligned voter had come to loathe by 2008, and become dedicated to defeating by 2010: a career politicians interested in nothing but getting elected. It’s not just that Romney is a glib, flip-flopping politician; it is that he is just as much of a feckless empty suit as there has ever been in American presidential politics. Romney is so devoid of real belief that he develops a stuttering speech impediment whenever he tries to recite conservative boilerplate talking points, but is as smooth as silk when talking about defending the Massachusetts disaster, Romney-Care. As soon as Romney actually has to address tax-spend, foreign or regulation policy points, his belief-free “poker tell” stutter shows up.
Case in point: what most Romney supporters indicate as his strongest attribute is that he is electable. What does that even mean? “Electable?” Who isn’t electable? Charles Manson? O.J.? Barack Obama was electable. Henry Waxman was electable, Maxine Waters was electable. Even the completely insane-sounding Nancy Pelosi was electable! The “electability” argument means nothing. It does not indicate that a candidate believes anything or that he has any honesty or integrity. When people voted for Obama in 2008, most had no idea what he believed, and when they found out, they abandoned his lies for the integrity of the Tea Party. Will we in the Tea Party become so paranoid to beat Obama, that we lose all perspective and abandon our strongest attributes – which are our ideas – even after the evidence of the 2010 victory proves that conservative ideas win anywhere and anytime that voters have a real chance to vote for them?
Romney presents two grave dangers to America. One is that Obama will surely be re-elected if he is the GOP nominee because few will be energized to support him. But the worse danger is this: If Tea Party members give in to fear and join the establishment GOP in nominating an idea-free “electable” candidate, we will see our movement truly die, and it’s our movement which is the last best hope for America to remain the protector of freedom in the world.
I beg my fellow Tea Party members to not commit organizational suicide, because Tea Party suicide will lead to the death of the republic. If the American republic is lost, western civilization will soon go with it.
Ari David, a native of Southern California, is a writer, actor, social commentator, speaker, infuriating contrarian, and former political candidate. He writes about politics, culture, cooking, fine (and not so fine) dining, and sports.