September 27, 2010
I will make an admission right here and right now that will shock my husband: I am not always right. Things I have been wrong about include:
1) The Spice Girls would never make it big in America.
2) No one would ever want a camera on their phone. 2a) Also, no one would ever want to text.
And 3) The Tea Party would never matter.
When the Tea Party protests began, it just seemed like a bunch of Republicans who don’t usually do the protest thing getting out and meeting like-minded others in the wake of an Obama win. That they were doing it under a new banner confused me. How many Tea Partiers are not ultimately Republicans? Ok, I know, there’s like 6 independent voters who could really go either way but the majority are right-leaning people who probably pulled the Republican lever more often than not. I felt that the Tea Party would have been better off just reclaiming the Republican mantle for themselves instead of forming something altogether new. It reminded me of young Republicans who struggle with the R word and so call themselves “libertarians.” But hey, it worked, so what do I know?
Anyway, where are they going? I say “they” and not “we” because even though I probably share many goals with the Tea Party, they’re not really a *party* with a platform, so I can’t say for sure. PJ O’Rourke tries to find out the foreign policy of the Tea Party and finds there really isn’t one:
Foreign policy opinions in the Tea Party are “wide, wide-ranging,” said the Web designer, “everything from ‘nuke Iran’ to the Ron Paul people who want to pull everyone out of everywhere to Rand Paul who’s more in the middle ground and wants an active foreign policy but says it’s a question of money.”
The same goes for domestic policies. While I’m confident nearly every Tea Partier believes in lower taxes, there are many opinions on how exactly that’s executed. Most may oppose illegal immigration but differ wildly on how to combat it. The drug war, abortion, gay marriage, positions on all sides of these issues find a home at this not-really-a-party Party.
The tent is big and I like it that way, believe it, but that means that there isn’t a coherent message or philosophy on much. And if there’s one thing that remains true in politics, no matter who is in charge and no matter who is leading in the polls, it’s that you need a message, you need strong positions. You can win for a little while without these things, but it isn’t a long-term strategy.
Lately, it seems like the Tea Party is limiting who gets in the tent. In lieu of a platform the focus is on excluding those it deems “establishment”, and banking on us vs. them as a way to win. It’s a strategy, that’s for sure. The problem is, I don’t know if I’m us or them anymore. I worked for conservative candidates in four states, wore a “Sarah Palin is my homegirl” t-shirt around Manhattan, am a member of the NRA and the Club for Growth and have maintained this conservative blog since 2001. If I don’t belong, who does? But if I say Christine O’Donnell doesn’t seem like the world’s best candidate, I’m establishment, a RINO, unfit to Party. If I don’t think our collective goal should be scalp collecting, I’m the enemy. If I think disagreements on the issues shouldn’t turn into the ugliest of wars, whose side am I on? It’s too obvious to state that the party who makes the most people feel like they have a political home is the party that wins. Why don’t the Tea Partiers understand that excluding people is not a winning idea?
Fact is, Republicans are projected to do well in November but right now we’re still the out party in every way that matters. We control nothing. Do we really want to in-fight away our chances at a sustainable majority? Is purging those who dare not fall in line behind every candidate or method the way to go? I wrote above that so many positions are represented in the Tea Party. If exclusion begins on one position, it will continue to others. Just because it’s not you and your outsider point of view on an issue today doesn’t mean it won’t be you tomorrow.
So ultimately, where are we, whether Tea Party, squishy RINO, or other, going? I know we have a lot of common ground, all of us on the right who are currently trying to tear out each others throats. We agree on much, and we agree strongly that Barack Obama has been an utter failure as president and we need to get rid of him and his majority. Let’s just keep in mind, winning is great, winning for more than one term is better.