Sunday, July 13, 2014

On the Tea Party (Yet Again)

Michael Gerson (RINO, Country Club Republican) has an Op-Ed in this morning's Washington Post that really sums up the way I (RINO, Country Club Republican) feel about the modern instantiation of the Tea Party.  I posted it on Facebook this morning and predictably raised the ire of this blog's most prominent Tea Partier, The Hammer.  So let's transfer the debate here, where it belongs.

The Tea Party was a wonderful thing when it began.  I attended a rally here in Maryland in 2009, and what I saw there were politically un-involved people who had had enough--enough spending, enough taxes, enough government over-reach--enough.  They wanted to be left alone, and they saw the ascendance of Barack Obama as the clearest threat to that impulse.

These were limited government people who were dealing with basic issues of economics and freedom.  I watched the movement grow and I asked very basic questions about it--here in the blog.  One of the points I made early on was my fear that the Tea Party movement would be hijacked by social issue conservatives.  I felt then (and feel now) that the movement would be weakened by diluting its brand, and would likely just appear to be a place for the crankiest among us.

I hesitate to put immigration in the category of "social issues", but for some reason it smells an awful lot like it.  At the end of the day, there is someone doing something that we feel is wrong, and there are others who are trying to tell us how wrong we are for feeling that way (i.e. gay marriage, abortion, etc).  Naturally, the modern Tea Party has jumped on it like a hobo on a ham sandwich.  Don't get me wrong--what is happening on our Southern border is an absolute disgrace, brought on by the President (and to some extent, John Boehner).  But the rhetoric is divisive, and the attacks on anyone looking to actually SOLVE PROBLEMS rather than just round them up and deport--only serve to once again, make the Republican Party look like a bunch of unsympathetic old white guys.  We need to calmly, and factually, move forward.  We will give you comprehensive immigration reform if YOU build a fence.  Yes, that means those that are here now are likely to be able to stay.

Where else has the Tea Party gone astray?  Contrary to their tendency to expropriate Ronald Reagan for their own purposes, they have made league with the enemy (Liberal Dems) to emasculate our defense budget, treating defense spending as if it is just another line item to be cut, rather than the very basic duty of our government.

The Tea Party of 2014 is a mirror image of the "Occupy" movement.  It eschews rationality, logic, and data in favor of emotion and resort to ad hominem attacks--the only difference being that the Tea Party's tactics  seem generally to support policies that at least appear to be conservative in nature.  Don't get me wrong--what the GOP did in the Mississippi Senatorial primary run-off was despicable and low-down.  But what this election showed me (as did the Virginia governor's race last year) was that responsible states have closed primaries.  Mississippi's ridiculous system that allowed Democrats to vote in a Republican primary is silly, and Virginia's even more ridiculous caucus system (as in, no primary at all) seems ripe for oldboyism and cronyism.

What is lost in this whole debate though?  The fact that the original Tea Party-- the 2009/2010 version--has changed the Republican Party for the better, which was always my hope.  Republicans today get squishy on taxes and the role of government at their own peril.  The party IS more conservative on economic matters, and that is a very, very good thing.

So that about does it.  I was very sympathetic to the Tea Party four and five years ago.  Today, not so much.

Standing by for enfilade from Mudge, Hammer.


NavyAustin said...

My experience was the same - In 2009, I visited a Tea Party rally in Austin, and the mood was ordinary people who felt Washington was completely out of touch with ordinary Americans who wanted to work, pay their fair share, provide a safety net for society but otherwise be left alone. I saw grandmas and moms with homemade signs, likely the first political thing they had ever done. 5 years later, this is not the face or brand of the Tea Party.

"The Hammer" said...

CW I'm a bit confused. You act as if the "Tea Party" was some organized political entity or a caucus in Congress or something. The fact is there are many "Tea Parties", what the true number would be I have no idea, maybe Lois Lehner will fill us in one day.
The way I see it the "Tea Party" is a grassroots populist movement of common sense Republicans and Jacksonian Democrats. Tea Party folks believe America doesn't need "fundamental change", that it is a force for good in this world and that sound fiscal and monetary policy and respect for the rule of law is essential to our liberty.
Now, if you think the movement has turned into the Moral Majority then you couldn't be more wrong. If there is some organization out there with Tea Party in their name advocating any number of "right wing" social positions, hell you're probably right. But so what? There are leftists out there using the name.
You mentioned immigration. I believe this is an economic issue as well as political. The overwhelming majority of these immigrants will tap into our already ridiculously generous social welfare system with the American taxpayer footing the bill. The overwhelming majority of these immigrants will be beholding to the Democrats for this very reason. Polls show the overwhelming majority of these immigrants have a big government orientation therefore their very presence disenfranchises me and people who think like me.
I want to close the border as you do, but I also want to get rid of this birthright citizen bullshit, that ain't what the Constitution says. I also want to round up every illegal and send their asses home. Plus I'd like to call in a few airstrikes on known hangouts of Mexican drug cartels to show who owns the border. Give me three weeks and the border would be as secure as the Berlin Wall and the Mexicans could go back to raping Guatemalan teenagers rather than putting them on trains organized by the Mexican govt (which I would subvert and replace).
Now, to spending. I do not want to gut the military, but the services have been compromised by the leftists and as has been pointed out just because the Defense Dept writes the check, some stupid social program or green energy boondoggle is what it is.
As to the Establishment Republican Party, I think they're weak. I think they are intimidated by the progressives to the point of apoplexy. I think they have convinced themselves their demise is inevitable and they should become as the British Tories. This attitude sickens me! If the Republican leadership wants to fold the tent they can do it without me. If the Chamber of Commerce insists on open borders otherwise they'll not contribute then they can shove their money up their ass. If business wants subsidies, tax breaks, contracts WHATEVER that depends on Republican support apart from the level playing field afforded by free and open markets then they can go to hell.
We obey the law. We don't give special favors. We are the protectors of the middle class not special interest. We unite not divide. We are for earned benefits, not handouts....and if we can't make that argument and win then we lose. But regardless we fight them every step of the way and never give in. No getting along, no compromise and no accommodation. Relentlessly raise holy hell and sooner or later the American people will take notice. We don't have the propaganda machine the Democrats have but we have a huge advantage they don't have, OUR WAY WORKS!

Mudge said...

How did I miss all this? My two cents? What Hammer said. Except bold, underlined and with an exclamation point.

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