Saturday, December 28, 2013

Tea Party Relevance

By Stephen Z. Nemo:

What does it matter if you gain the whole world but lose your soul? The US Chamber of Commerce is giving $50 million to establishment Republican candidates facing off against Tea Party and conservative challengers in the upcoming GOP Senate primaries. “No fools on the ticket,” the Chamber’s political strategist Scott Reed told the Wall Street Journal. Republicans fear Tea Party opponents threaten their best chance in years to take the Senate.

Republican politicians feared the Tea Party after the “shellacking” of 2010 did more than unseat democrats; it unseated a few GOP RINOs as well. As of late, the Tea Party has lost its focus, distracted by such things as President Obama’s national origin.

I have a theory explaining the Tea Party’s diminished influence and it centers on one man: former Republican House Speaker Dick Armey.

Armey headed the FreedomWorks organization in the years leading up to the 2010 trouncing of Nancy Pelosi’s House Democrats. He helped organize Tea Party and conservative grassroots activists into a vote-winning juggernaut. All the same, he was eventually deposed and paid $8 million to go away. Since then, FreedomWorks has focused primarily on fundraising and not much else.

A condition of Armey’s lucrative departure from FreedomWorks most likely included a non-disclosure agreement preventing him from speaking publicly regarding his exodus from that organization.

The Tea Party should have been large and in charge during the presidential election of 2012. It wasn’t.  Armey’s exit from the political scene may be the reason why. Of course, Republican voters did not help matters by nominating another Democrat-Lite candidate to head their presidential ticket.

Luckily, Heritage Action (the political arm of the conservative Heritage Foundation) has attempted to fill the void left by FreedomWorks. Recently, it spent a half million dollars for online political ads targeting GOP House members that balked at defunding ObamaCare. For compromise-first Republicans, Heritage had gone too far.

“There’s a real question on the minds of many Republicans now – I am not just speaking for myself,” said Utah’s Sen. Orrin Hatch during an appearance on MSNBC, “Is Heritage going to go so political that it really doesn’t amount to anything anymore? It’s in danger of losing its clout and its power.”

Arizona’s GOP Sen. John McCain told the Washington Post he has been giving advice to Republican incumbents facing Tea Party challengers: “Play offense. Go after your opponent. Your opponent’s going after you, you go after your opponent. The best defense is a good offense.”

It’s unfortunate McCain didn’t follow his own advice during the presidential campaign of 2008. But then, Obama was not a Tea Party challenger. And that is the point.

The problem many Republican politicians have with the Heritage Foundation is that the organization has finally dropped all pretenses that a measurable difference exists between the GOP’s weak sisters and their ObamaCare-hobbled Democrat colleagues; a reality many in the Tea Party have been aware of for some time.

Establishment Republicans desperately want to control Congress. What they will do with their majority they haven’t said. That’s because their only ideology is power … just like Democrats. Orrin Hatch says the moral principles that govern the actions of the Tea Party and conservatives are “so political that it really doesn’t amount to anything anymore.”

“Life liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness” are pass√© to the John McCains, the Orrin Hatches and the John Boehners of the GOP. What frightens me is these spineless  Republican leaders may have their finger on the pulse of the American populace. Freedom is a hard sell to a society that has devolved into a collection of weak, government-dependent serfs.

Americans were oblivious to the life-changing effects of dictatorial ObamaCare and elected the president twice. Republican voters that claim they don’t like big government re-elected big-government “conservatives” just the same.

The good news is that the 
roll-out of the presidents health care monstrosity is awakening the American people, providing the Tea Party a hammer to strike authoritarian Democrats and their compromising GOP friends.

I remain a Republican for one reason: to vote for Tea Party and conservative challengers to incumbent RINOs. Most Republicans are obsessed with winning a majority in Congress. I, on the other hand, am more interested in changing the Republican Party from a big-government enabler to an uncompromising champion of  limited government and maximum freedom for the individual.

That requires an organization capable of countering tens of millions of dollars from establishment backers. We must remember that Texas Sen. Ted Cruz was outspent by the establishment favorite David Dewhurst – 3 to 1. Dewhurst, a millionaire, spent $19 million of his own money. Tea Party organization carried the day for Cruz. My hope is that Heritage Action will help the Tea Party repeat the success of 2010 in  2014.

To that end, a well-organized Tea Party should take John McCain’s advice: “Go after your opponent. Your opponent’s going after you … The best defense is a good offense.”

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