Saturday, April 11, 2009

Three Mistakes the Tea Party Movement must Avoid

The Tea Party movement is a spontaneous, passionate, and in many respects, disorganized effort to restore those principles that made the United States the greatest country in the history of the world. Like many mass movements in its early stages, it is poised to rewrite the future of this Republic, or to be a mere footnote in US history. Decisions this movement is making today, will have everything to do with its legacy tomorrow.

Currently, there is plenty discussion about what the Tea Party should do. I want to focus on three things it needs to avoid.
  • The Tea Party must never become partisan. Fewer people identify themselves with a party now than at any time in US history. The reason why is because the major parties have failed us miserably. The Reagan Revolution wasn't about partisan politics, but important principles regarding the way government viewed the economy, family, and national security. The 1994 "Contract with America" movement was actually motivated over issues of accountability. You had check kiting Members of Congress who wrote bad checks without consequences and a Post office Scandal (Members would turn their huge allocation of stamps into cash and even included drug laundering) that brought down many Democrats, including the Chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee (Dan Rostenkowski). The current Tea Party is also about accountability, which is very similar to the 1994 elections and needs to maintain that nonpartisan appeal.

  • The Tea Party must not become a single issue movement. On the one hand, Americans have every right to make this movement about taxation. The US has the second highest tax rates on businesses than any industrialized country in the world and the pressure on taxpayers in general are only growing. But there is a widespread attack on America's freedom that include excessive regulations, pressure from organized labor that is poised to damage the US competitive advantage, the disenfranchisement of our political freedoms (thanks to Obama's political antics, e.g., the movement of the Census Bureau to the White House in an effort to effect Congressional Districts, the attack on members of Obama's own party who won't vote lock step with the Administration, etc.), and more. If the movement only worries about taxes, it will be separating itself from those concerned about other issues and validating those who believe that people in this movement only care about money. It isn't about money nearly as much as it is about freedom. That includes economic freedom.

  • The Tea Party must not become about personalities. Right now there is jockeying in the movement all over the country by individuals who want to lead it going forward. If a single individual rises to fill the role, the movement will likely be in trouble. That person will probably have a partisan history that will make him or her easy to dismiss by the movement's opponents. I'm reminded of the early days of the Reagan Revolution, which was led by people who were "mad as hell," like Eddie Chiles in Texas and Howard Jarvis in California. These were individuals who were leaders in business, not politics, and had no further agenda then restoring America's freedoms. In spite of how powerful of a personality Reagan had, he was, in many respects, the epitome of the movement that elected him, rather than the creator of it.

There are, I am sure, other pitfalls the Tea Party should avoid, but by being ever diligent on these three important areas, the Tea Party will be a force to be reckoned with for years to come and should leave a positive and powerful impact on the future of this country.

Kevin Price is Host of the Price of Business, the longest running show on CNN 650 (M-F at 11 am), AOL Radio, and CBS Radio. Eric Bolling of Fox News and Fox Business says that Price’s Blog “is very influential and moves the blogosphere.” Steve Moore of the Wall Street Journal calls Price the “best business talk show host in the country.” Find out why and visit his blog at www.BizPlusBlog.com and his show site at www.PriceofBusiness.com.

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