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Tea Partiers and the GOP: An Uneasy Alliance

As the Tea Party movement and its anti-establishment voters continue to gain momentum, it’s no longer just the Democrats who are getting hit by the wave. The recent victory in Delaware of Tea Party-backed senatorial candidate Christine O’Donnell over incumbent Mike Castle has angered some of the GOP establishment.

Most notably, Karl Rove, who usually can muster a bit of humor and restraint when he attacks Obama, seemed particularly unnerved by O’Donnell’s victory and by what has obviously become an uncontrollable grassroots movement intent on taking over the GOP.

Rove’s rant and other GOP-establishment tantrums like Crist’s switch to Independent, Murkowski’s possible write-in candidacy, and the refusals of many incumbent Republican losers to endorse the Tea Party-backed winners reveal an uneasy alliance within the GOP.

To their credit, Tea Partiers across the country recognized early on that forming a third party would be defeatist. Instead, they chose the most expedient route they could find to halt the juggernaut of the nanny State:   reforming the Republican Party, the party of small government, now a shadow of its former self.

Everyone knows Washington Republicans lost their credibility and their footing while reaching across the aisle one too many times. Republican voters grew weary of Republican excuses for supporting left-leaning legislation after left-leaning legislation from TARP and ObamaCare to cap-and-tax.

The fact that the first bailout was ushered in by a Republican administration (and supported by the GOP’s presidential candidate, McCain) was not lost on the Tea Partiers. McCain was defeated by a man who promised there would be “change” in Washington. Unfortunately, that change went in the wrong direction — too far left, way too fast. High unemployment, a $1.4 trillion deficit and socialized medicine scared even the Independents, who quickly aligned with the Tea Partiers. No one likes high taxes and inflation.

Both parties in Washington should beware:  Voters are not willing to accept the status quo anymore. As one caller to Rush Limbaugh’s show put it:  The Tea Party movement is less about an anti-establishment sentiment than it is a rejection of Keynesian economics. This is true even if rejection of Keynes manifests itself as a rejection of government largess. The Tea Partiers want the government to stop spending their money recklessly.

Sure, not all Tea Partiers agree on everything — some are social conservatives and some are libertarians, some put God first while some are atheists — but they are all in agreement about one thing:  the urgent need to fight for liberty against the ruling-class statists. They know, implicitly or explicitly, that defending liberty means fighting for economic freedom, which means fighting to save capitalism — the freest economic system on Earth.

Tea Partiers are a diverse bunch. But somehow, in spite of decades of progressive education, they understand that socialism is not compatible with capitalism. They also know that a government intent on lording over its citizens or trampling on Constitutional rights naturally wants deficit spending to be okay. They know it’s in the Washington politico’s interest to keep implementing more and more welfare programs both domestically and abroad. But they couldn’t care less about what Washington politicos want now. Or, as one O’Donnell volunteer put it:  “We could care less about the Republican Party. We want our government back.”

The stakes are too high, and the People don’t know who they can trust anymore. But since they have to trust somebody, they will go with anybody new who espouses free-market principles and fights for what the GOP used to stand for — limited government.

This is also why the People will vote for inexperienced self-made millionaires and billionaires. The People like business, and they like successful entrepreneurs. Business means jobs. Big business means more jobs. If a new candidate’s past is a little sketchy, who cares. In the era of big and bigger government, it’s a lot harder to navigate without breaking some law you may not even be aware of anyway. Issues that involve Medicaid fines, federal student loans, taxes, foreclosures, bankruptcy, or unemployment won’t necessarily cost a candidate any points; while voting in favor of mammoth federal mandates like cap-and-trade, ObamaCare or TARP will.

Most of the established politicians in Washington are to blame for the ballooning $1.4 trillion deficit, the unpopular bailouts, the union favoritism, the bloated pensions, and the backroom deals that lead to the passage of unfavorable legislation.

Of course, O’Donnell is a Republican even if the establishment and the NRSC refuse to support her for the general election. (To be fair, NRSC, did reluctantly donate to her.)

And the other Tea Party-backed candidates — Rand Paul of Kentucky, Marco Rubio of Florida, Ken Buck of Colorado, Sharon Angle of Nevada, Tom Graves of Georgia, Jim DeMint of South Carolina, Mike Lee of Utah, and Joe Miller of Alaska — are all Republicans, too.

The question is, will the GOP establishment in Washington embrace them as their own or will there be a third party after all?

Both parties in Washington should beware:  Voters are not going to accept the status quo anymore. As one caller to Rush Limbaugh’s show put it:  The Tea Party movement is less about an anti-establishment sentiment than it is a rejection of Keynesian economics. This is true even if rejection of Keynes manifests itself as a rejection of government largesse. The Tea Partiers want the government to stop spending their money recklessly.

1 comment to Tea Partiers and the GOP: An Uneasy Alliance

  • mike houston

    The most glaring omission in Tea Party’s point of view is how to actually make our government smaller. What, specifically, do Tea Party’ers want to cut? A very simple exercise that I would encourage people of all political persuasions to undertake is to pull out a pie chart of current government expenditures (federal or state) and try to significantly reduce the pie in a way that you can live with. Then think about the effects those cuts will have on others. I’m not suggesting it can’t be done, but I am suggesting that it will be a sobering exercise — one that is likely to move us all beyond slogans and platitudes, and instead to the more deliberative thinking that this country desperately needs from its politicians and citizens alike right now.

    I commend the Tea Party for raising the profile of this issue — it is a discussion very much worth having. However, absent those discussions, and absent any concrete proposals for achieving the party’s stated ideals, I remain skeptical that the Tea Party is anything more than the flames of wishful thinking fanned by a Republican party that wants to take back Congress and the White House at any cost.