Today marks the 237th anniversary of the Boston Tea Party. What a few dozen men did on that cold, damp night in 1773 has come to symbolize the feelings that many Americans currently have towards the federal government. As it did back then, the government is not only taxing too much, but it has the audacity to dictate from whom we must purchase certain goods and services.
Having watched the media try to determine who the make-or- break GOP power-players are or what specific room every candidate must pass through to be successful, it’s just a matter of time before the media tries to anoint one presidential hopeful the Tea Party candidate.
The media would like nothing more to find a Sharron Angle or Christine O’Donnell to obsess about and ridicule like they did in the last election. In some respects, they already treat Sarah Palin in this manner. Truth be told, there isn’t going to be just one Tea Party candidate. Instead, the Tea Party activists will likely fracture their vote and support a number of different candidates.
The Tea Party will make a major difference in the upcoming caucuses, but it might not be how you think. In previous caucuses, candidates like Duncan Hunter and Tom Tancredo struggled to find the necessary support and funding to run comprehensive campaigns. Thanks to the Tea Party movement, even the lesser-known candidates that the national media likes to ignore will have a real chance at winning the caucuses.
In the upcoming 2012 caucuses, the Tea Party could ignite a candidate like Congressman Mike Pence, who might otherwise be written off because he’s a congressman, and they typically don’t make credible presidential candidates. Pence, who hails from from Indiana, is rumored to be contemplating a run for higher office. Time will tell if that means a gubernatorial or a presidential campaign. If he runs for president, he could be the darling of the Tea Party movement in Iowa.
The same could be true for Rick Santorum. While the U.S. Senate has been the launching pad for a number of presidential campaigns, Santorum lost his re-election bid in 2006. That would normally be the end of the road, but the Tea Party environment allows Santorum a chance to catch fire.
Yesterday, Santorum spoke to a Tea Party group in Davenport about national security issues. If they can overlook his 2006 loss, Santorum is a champion on the issues that the Tea Party activists care about the most.
Other candidates, especially Ron Paul, will also benefit from the Tea Party movement. Many consider Paul’s 2008 campaign to be the genesis of the Tea Party. Paul’s appeal to these activists, as well as libertarians, set him up to be an even more formidable candidate in 2012 than he was in 2008. Paul will also benefit from the organization his campaign was able to build in the last caucuses.
While every candidate is likely to have some Tea Party support, these activists are going to be swayed by the candidate’s positions on issues instead of being persuaded by their appearance, fundraising ability, or personality. Thanks to the Tea Party movement, the upcoming caucuses will be about the important issues that our country must address in the near future.
Those who were surprised by Mike Huckabee’s 2008 Iowa caucus victory should brace themselves to be surprised again in 2012. The Iowa caucuses, which represent grassroots politics at its best, is tailor-made for Tea Party activists to put their stamp on the presidential nominating process.
The Tea Party means many more viable candidates, more grassroots participation, and even more surprises. Fasten your seatbelts. The Iowa caucuses will be a fun ride.
Photo by Dave Davidson
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