Friday, April 16, 2010

The Future of the Tea Party

There is a debate when it comes to the future of the Tea Party movement. There are arguments raging over whether the Tea Party matters, will matter in the future, or be a mere footnote in US history. It is our tendency to get caught up in the moments of time. Right now, it seems like the Tea Party movement could be a major player in the policy debate for years to come. For that to happen, several issues will need to be addressed.

What, exactly, is the Tea Party? It started as a simple protest movement when an angry reporter said that the American people should be disgusted over the corporate bailouts and they should fight back with a Tea Party movement. In no time, that became a reality. Its membership, however, is very interesting and raises many questions about unity. Forty percent of those who call themselves Tea Party "members" are also self described Democrats and independents. A loud, if not significant, minority are of the libertarian variety. There are also those who describe themselves as "Truthers" (believe the US was behind September 11th), which seems to be largely ignored by the vast majority in the movement. The single largest group ranges from traditional conservatives to those who call themselves "Constitutionalists." It is difficult to call this a "united movement." However, there could be enough "critical mass" to make a difference.

Are the members of the Tea Party too worried about "being used" to be useful in the cause of liberty? There is no doubt that the members of the Tea Parties have every right to be offended over the abuses in government that exist today. However, most of these abuses accumulated while the "giant," now called the Tea Party, slept. Yes, shame on government for going on autopilot, but shame on the American people for not keeping them in line. Virtually everyone in the Democratic Party has open disdain for the Constitution and most of Republicans are filled with hypocrisy. That leaves few options for a group of Americans that have felt disenfranchised. A mere "throw the bums out" strategy is filled with problems and America cannot afford to wait for a viable third party. It will be a truly wasted opportunity if this movement fails to accomplish anything of lasting value.

I think it is imperative for those who are interested in having an immediate impact on the political process, but do not want to be taken advantage of by the political parties, to take a strategic approach when it comes to their activities. Conservatives should aggressively support the best (AKA constitutionally sound) candidates in primaries. They should go door to door, make phone calls, and give money to these type of candidates. If they do not exist in your district, work in a nearby district that has a candidate that shares your values. You can also help these candidates outside of your district, if the candidate you supported does not get the party's nod. Don't waste time, energy, and resources on candidates who do not share your values...that is, America's value. If such principles are applied consistently, you will naturally have better candidates over time. I would argue, in a very short time.

So what happens when you get to November and your choices are various degrees of "bad?" My view is one that is both pragmatic, but lends to the wisdom of the Founding Fathers. The United States is one of the only governments in the world that can have a head of government that is different from the legislative branch of government. For example, the Prime Minister of England is a mere member of Parliament, whose party enjoys a majority. Our Founders did not believe that a government that could create policy with ease was necessarily a good government. In our current state and with a President pushing this nation towards a socialist wasteland, I can comfortably vote for obstruction. To vote for a Republican for Congress in the general election is a vote against Nancy Pelosi or Harry Reid as leaders (depending on the House). At this point, it is unconscionable to vote for a third party or to not vote at all in the current political environment. With the fast track towards socialism we are moving on today, I can comfortably support obstruction all day long.

Kevin Price is a syndicated columnist whose articles frequently appear at ChicagoSunTimes.com, Reuters.com, USAToday.com, and other national media. Kevin Price is also host of the Price of Business (M-F at 11 AM on CNN radio). Hear the show live and online at PriceofBusiness.com. Visit the archive of past shows here.

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