Hey Republicans, don’t think you have closed the deal with the TEA Party. Don’t assume they are your base. The TEA party defies neat Republican vs. Democrat classification. It even defies Right vs. Left. In fact, while it is conventional wisdom that the TEA party started because of Barack Obama and congress moving the country hard to the left, the root cause of the TEA party is a failure of Republican leadership. You read that right, the TEA party’s very existence was created by Republican failures.
To be sure, the Republican Party should be the natural home for most in the TEA party. Most are conservative. Most believe in the value and power of the individual. Most don’t want government taking too much of their income and don’t want government telling them how to live. Yes, this sounds like the Republican Party. At least it sounds like the Republican Party according to the literature, the websites and the politicians. Unfortunately, the reality is far different. There are far too many in our party, whether they are in Washington DC, Des Moines or even City Hall right here in Cedar Rapids, who claim the mantle of conservatism, yet are really big government Republicans.
The problem is that the Republican party of the rhetoric we love is scarcely discernable in the actions of many, if not most, of the Republicans we elect when they take office. With Obama, we knew exactly what we were getting. He told us he wanted to fundamentally transform the country. Unfortunately, he is well on his way. But, why does Obama even matter? He should be a non-issue. He should never have become President. The simple answer is that over the last ten years, there has not been enough difference in the way Republicans governed and the way Democrats had governed up to that point. It is time to change that.
Despite what the main stream media has tried to tell us for years, the country is largely still conservative. Most people prefer to be self-reliant. Most prefer to have freedom to choose their careers, their cars, their houses and their activities. We cringe at having someone else tell us what is good for us. We saw that Democrats were willing to lose their jobs in order to pass the healthcare bill. Wouldn’t it be nice to see a few Republicans who are willing to lose their jobs in order to stand up for the basic values of smaller, less intrusive government?
That said, not all the blame belongs with the politicians. Much of it lies with those of us who blindly support these politicians. Let me share an analogy. When I was young, if I broke the rules at school, my parents would assume I was wrong and discipline me when I got home. Today, many parents can’t stand the thought of their child being punished even if they do wrong. So, the parents blame the teacher and protect their child. What happens? The child grows up to be a whiny adult that expects to be bailed out of every situation. When Republican politicians act like big government Democrats, we shouldn’t applaud them, we should call them out on it.
Most of the people reading this get excited when they see the senator they so dutifully voted for the past several decades. We will all be ready to vote for him again in 2010. What would we say if Senator Harkin was campaigning on the fact that he wrote the bill that created a huge new government entitlement that creates even more dependence on their government masters? We’d all be calling him a liberal, big spending socialist. But, if the politician has an R by their name, we clap loud, put out our chest and chant his or her name. We enable even more government largess when we do that.
This conservative and most Tea-Party participants are done with this arrangement. If the Republican Party is to be saved, it will be because of the Tea Party pulling it to its natural position of small government, individual responsibility and founders’ principles. It will only be saved if big government Republicans change their ways, or leave the party.
Those who put party above principle do harm to both.
Photo by Dave Davidson
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