Take warning now tea party: tonight’s primaries are finished. The GOP candidates have been selected by popular vote. Regardless if some of you didn’t get your preferred candidate, now is the test of your devotion to the movement: galvanize behind the chosen candidate and dig in your heels. The alternative is to save all of us money and effort and just call the Boxer’s, Brown’s, Reid’s, Lincoln’s et al. people and concede now.
Tonight was the night for the tea party and conservative women, the most persecuted entity in politics.
The tea party movement has been plucking moderates and independents from the left and as a result, the left’s most revered establishment candidates are now embattled and will face the election of their lives this fall or in 2012. Liberal candidates are distancing themselves from President Obama – heck, here in Missouri the uber-liberal Robin Carnhan of the poor man’s Kennedy dynasty even scrubbed a photo of herself with Obama from her campaign website. Blanche Lincoln, a moderate who waffled on health care reform, won in Arkansas over a more liberal primary challenger and called unions “special interests groups.” We’re seeing more and more Democrats scrambling back to center because more voters are identifying with the tea party than with those holding the reigns in congress.
I’ve often said that the tea party is the unattached conscience of the GOP. It’s also proving to be a measure of reality for Democrats.
Chuck DeVore was the preferred grassroots candidate, Palin endorsed Carly Fiorina which picked away a sizable amount of conservatives. The utopian strategy is to pick the most conservative candidate, the candidate that matches bit by bit every tea party stance from every group in every state in existence. Sunshine kittens if you can make that work. The most realistic strategy is to pick the most conservative candidate who can win. Are you playing to win or are you playing to make a point? Those are to very different motivations and only one can have any success in a primary or, in the case of NY23, a special election with a dramatically liberal GOP candidate.
It’s pretty well known that I am neither a Republican or a GOP apologist; I’m a conservative. I also recognize that were it not for the GOP this country would have gone socialist a long time ago. Sometimes the GOP doesn’t behave in a conservative fashion, sometimes it does. I pledge myself to the Constitution, not a party.
We went through the strategy of “teaching the GOP a lesson” during the last general election. I had multitudes of listeners calling into my show confessing that they voted for Obama or not at all just to teach the GOP a lesson for nominating McCain. McCain, it was said, wavers on energy. McCain is a big spender. McCain is a RINO. McCain’s daughter is endlessly annoying. The lack of conservative turnout, coupled with the vengeful voting (the lion’s share of the blame falling on an irresponsible GOP who nominated a weak candidate with a bad campaign) contributed to an Obama win. Do you see how well that strategy has served us? Let’s see, we now have a socialized auto industry, health care, a tripled deficit, horrible foreign relations, a looming crisis with cap-and-tax, a financial reform bill that threatens to completely destroy small business and further jack up the economy, shall I continue? That’s how well that strategy has served us. I’m not going to even mention the Supreme Court nominations, the placation of Europe over American constituents, or the MMS regulations under this administration which helped contribute to the BP disaster.
Still OK with McCain strategy of teaching lessons, not backing the “best chance” candidate?
Because this will happen again if we don’t galvanize this fall. Don’t bother discussing 2012, it won’t matter if we can’t get it together to even get a foothold for 2010 because that’s what we don’t have right now: a foothold. We barely have one in the senate with Brown, and he’s a complete RINO, the most conservative we will ever get from Massachusetts. It’s interesting how irony works: we bet the game of health care on a RINO when many couldn’t even get behind one for the presidential election.
Don’t get me wrong: I loathe RINOs. I’m infuriated whenever one is presented, but one cannot be presented if we’re doing our job as an informed, responsible electorate and involving ourselves in precincts, in our community, becoming liberty evangelists. It’s going to take some time. Tea party activists are getting burned out. These are every day citizens who have jobs outside of politics; activism was a side road for them, they’re not professionals like the folks in Washington against whom they rail. We spend a lot of time and effort battling fauxcare and successfully held it out for a year before it was unConstitutionally rammed through. We’re tired.
Last July 4th at a large rally I told the crowds that I hope they didn’t think this would be easy. I hope they didn’t think that a year, tops, and we would be done. This is just the beginning. The tea party movement is the Paul Revere of a much larger awakening. The tea party movement is in “the dip.” At some point it will cease being (and all the shysters who’ve failed in business and tried to co-opt and turn a buck off the movement will be without a gravy train) in its current form because it will grow into something larger: issue-focused groups, candidate-focused groups, weekend warriors; but make no mistake: I don’t foresee its permanence and I hope I don’t because if it’s permanent then it means it’s not successful in creating progress. People can’t forever be waking up. At some point they have to get out of bed and get to work.
I think this piece is only partially full of shat.
Weigel has a few very erroneous presumptions. The tea party is independent of the GOP but unless Democrats become limited government, stop cranking up the deficit, and restore individual liberty, the actual beliefs of the tea party movement, the tea party will never be independent in the sense that it could go either left or right.
Demonizing Rand Paul as a negative doesn’t work, either. He believes that the government has no right to remove any indications that a business owner is a racist jackass thus, preventing Paul from choosing not to spend his money at an establishment owned by bigots. I like when people let their freak flags fly. Keep the crazy out there, don’t cover it up, it makes it easier to deal with the trash. But I digress.
Weigel also ignores the aforementioned dip and burnout. I think 2012 will be the tea party’s major hurrah, if it can live up to the hype and the muscle it showed a year ago.
That’s not to say that I thought tonight went bad for conservatives or the tea party; absolutely to the contrary. As I said, it was an amazing night for conservative women. The impact of this movement was seen in races on both sides. Tea partiers supported Fiorina just as some supported DeVore; Sharron Angle was a tea party favorite, Graves, SC’s Nikk Haley should overtake Barrett in the runoff.
If the tea party doesn’t defeat itself and can maintain energy we will succeed all the way until 2012. Yes, if it doesn’t defeat itself. The biggest threat to the tea party isn’t the establishment, it isn’t the left, it’s the shysters, the famewhores, the people who failed in business but saw a gravy train in the tea party and thought they could make a buck even though they displayed no discernible skills pre-movement. It’s the party hacks who like to create consultant groups and act grassroots, it’s the politicians who think that the movement owes them something simply because they have an R by their name – or rather, those who enable it by allowing themselves to be convinced. It’s the jockeying for power. We cannot allow this movement to turn into an alternate beltway with deals, pettiness, drama, and ridiculousness because then we’ve become a shadow of the very aesthetic against which we fight.
We have more good than bad, I’ve met too many phenomenal patriots who will not stand to see their tiresome work count for nothing. I’ve seen too many people with too much on their plate already got to the mat to make sure conservatism is represented, wins, crosses the threshold. These people and their sheer numbers are inspiring.
I’m optimistic, especially after seeing some of the results tonight. I hope to build off that optimism after midterms.
We have just a bit to exhale. We repeat with greater stakes in five months.
Now for sleep. It’s late and I’ve a media hit in four hours.