Dear Readers: My favorite talk-pundit and fellow cat-aficionado, Tammy Bruce, often compares organizing conservative-minded people to herding cats. The analogy is apt.
(Image from richfaber.blogspot.com; click here for more)
I have been wanting to opine about the state and direction of the “Tea Party” movement for awhile. As a veteran “tea-bagger“, coming up on one-year of citizen activism, I do have a thought or two. The inspiration behind today’s post is two-fold:
1) I have received many questions regarding the nature of the Tennessee Tea Party Convention next month; and,
2) The gentlemen from HillBuzz, who I follow closely, have expressed deep concerns about the nature of that convention.
So, yesterday I chatted with the President of the Southern California Tax Revolt Coalition — the gracious and savvy Dawn Wildman. I become concerned when one group or person attempts to be presented as “the face of the Tea Party Movement“. Some groups, such as the Tea Party Express, have been more aggressive about doing so than others. Keeping the cat analogy: There are over 40 breeds of cat — there has got to be at least that many breeds of Tea Party groups.
Dawn informs me that Tea Party Nation’s founder Judson Phillips is a good guy. The original vision of this event was to bring the chief citizen organizers of as many Tea Parties as possible into one event….to organize them. While not necessarily a bad idea, it is fraught with all the complexities of herding cats. For example, it seems that the convention is already facing an organizational crisis: ALA pulls out of Tea Party Nation Convention.
Dawn says that the price tag to attend, as well as the ticket price to see Sarah Palin speak, has drawn many comments from our local membership. It seems the costs is prohibitive to many who are involved in Tea Party groups (as the poor economy is the inspiration for their involvement). However, the convention tickets appear to have been all sold. We wish Tea Party Nation tons of good luck. Based on the townhalls of the summer of 2009, and the spunkiness of many Tea Party members, they are going to need it!
I think the key to success in understanding Tea Parties is that there are a wide variety of them, each focused on different areas of liberty/conservatism/capitalism and with differing agendas. If I have discovered anything about politicians in my nearly one-year of citizen activism, is that NO ONE party can be trusted with power. Therefore, it is vital that Americans stay informed and involved directly with issues on the state, local, and national levels. The reasons that I adore my group, as well as the national group (Tea Party Patriots) include:
* The focus on issues, not people. In California, we are organizing propositions to curb the excessive political power of union leadership, to reign in our idiot legislature with a shortened work period, and to eliminate the state version of Cap and Trade. This emphasis on the local matters is as key to long-term conservative success as attention on national issues.
* Each group is can readily share its ideas, information, and expertise will all others, to the benefit of all. Yet, no group is coerced to support any action item or person either. As a Tea Party Democrat, I like this independence.
* We have gotten much mutual aid from Americans supporting us in other states — deeply appreciated.
HillBuzz is worried that the “Tea Party Convention” is going to turn out to be a destructive promotion of the “Third Party”. In other words, people will be so hyped-up to trust neither of the major parties, Obama and Democrats will win upcoming elections by vote-splitting between the GOP and the third parties. HillBuzz wants to see the re-election of Obama as badly as most cats want to see their vets. I must concur with the concern expressed by the gentlemen of HillBuzz.
I should hope that after nearly 365 days of tea-party-action that our fellow citizens realize that NO PARTY can be trusted entirely and that each race must be addressed on a candidate-by-candidate/issue-by-issue/race-by-race basis. I think that the Massachusetts Senate race is a good template on how to think of elections in Tea-Party-Terms.
Dawn expressed concern that the Independent candidate in that race, Joe Kennedy, was being ignored by the media in the rush to promote the GOP nominee, Scott Brown. She sent me the following Pajamas Media piece — and as I follow Pajamas Media, it was well worth reading. The post, Joe Kennedy: The Forgotten Tea Party Senate Candidate in Massachusetts, is by Ian Andrew Ian Dodge. Here is a snippet:
He is a conservative who believes in limited government — the type of candidate that most tea party types across the land profess to want to see elected. (Here is a good examination of how they differ on the important issues of the day.)
While I agree it is good to be fully informed, I also don’t want distractions or vote-splitting at this level. Brown has said he will vote against ObamaCare — which will derail it effectively months ahead of the November 2010 election. He has the potential to win, and with avid Tea Party support, he can do so. His victory will ensure that one of the core Tea Party issues — stopping big government takeover of personal health matters — will be addressed. If Joe Kennedy wants to be in politics, then let he and his group focus on more local elections on another day.
If any Third Party wants to be taken seriously, it cannot start at the Presidential/Gubernatorial/Senate levels. It needs to take seats in state assemblies. It needs to take seats in state senates. Perhaps when the third party can take seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, showing a realistic mix of experience, savvy, and reality-based operational systems (instead of theory), then it will be ready to contended against the two main parties that have evolved at these higher spheres. I will merely point to the Independent Governor of Minnesota, Jesse Ventura as an example when a third party and its candidate are not properly seasoned.
However, that is not to say I won’t consider a third party candidate, either. A Democrat like myself has pretty slim pickings when it comes to party nominees likely to support our Tea Party attitudes. New York Senator, Democrat Chuck Schumer, just used the pejorative term “tea-bagger”. I have to say that I am not really feeling the love from my registered party. Therefore, in upcoming races, I have to consider the GOP and Third Party nominees carefully.
Who exactly, then, is a “Tea Party” candidate? For me, it will be the person most apt to get the most accomplished in terms of supporting free-market and liberty-enhancing agenda items. I will show you how I currently think of the upcoming Senate and Gubernatorial races, to give you a sense of how individual this process is. This will demonstrate that no one can proclaim to be the “Tea Party Candidate”. The Tea Parties, once they are informed of the race and the likely outcome if no support is given, will act on their own to generate a “Tea Party” candidate.
In terms of the U.S. Senate race, I can honestly say I am glad I am a Democrat. I get to vote AGAINST Babs Boxer twice. I adore Chuck Devore, and I think he is smart, dynamic, and a real problem solver. However, his rival in that race, Carly Fiornia, is an attractive candidate in her own right. I must say that her Weekly GOP Address was brilliant. While I can’t warmly embrace Fiorina (as she headed the weak John McCain campaign team), she just might be OK. I plan to let my Republican friends decide this one, and then fully support their candidate.
The Gubernatorial race is a bit more complex. The two candidates touted by the state Republican party have not exactly thrilled my sensible and conservative Republican friends. There are over 20 potential candidates within the GOP and all other parties. I have utterly no idea what I am going to do. The idea of Jerry Brown as Governor for a second time has no appeal. Big Government has this piece: Jerry Brown, ACORN and the Rule of Law.
Consider, if you will, these brushes with the rule of law that Jerry Brown has had as Attorney General – the official charged with upholding our laws:
* Attorney General Brown’s “spokesman” recently was given the boot for illegally taping telephone conversations with reporters – ironic yes? That Brown will find someone illegally taped ACORN while his office does the same?, or
* Brown’s blatant mischaracterization of Senator George Runner’s upcoming Voter ID initiative as the: LIMITS ON VOTING. INITIATIVE STATUTE. [which] Prohibits citizens from voting at the polls, unless they present a government-issued photo identification card. Under similar circumstances, Brown’s Democrat predecessor dubbed the Voter ID initiative he reviewed as “VOTER IDENTIFICATION REQUIREMENT. INITIATIVE STATUTE. Requires that voters present one of four types of picture ID before voting.” Brown was sued by Senator Runner for such misconduct; or
* Attorney General Brown’s decision to file lawsuit against San Bernadino County for “failing to consider how growth and new development will impact climate change” – even though the regulations related to AB32 had yet to be written at the time of the lawsuit.
My dear friend, and Libertarian pundit, W.C. Varones, has a different take:
I will probably vote for Jerry. He’s a real maverick, and everybody on the Republican side is a go-along-get-along tax-and-spender. Poizner, who claims to be the “conservative” in the race, has a history of supporting tax increases and just decided this year that it might be convenient for him to run against taxes.
I’ll take my chances with the maverick Democrat over any of the three Republicans who are likely to turn out to be Schwarzenegger II.
I think being Governor of California is going to be a truly awful job. I hope the Tea Parties can coalesce around a solid candidate — but who that would be, I cannot now say. However, I am open to considering a third party option here.
I suspect Governor Schwarzenegger will be uttering something along these lines to his successor (the quote is what retiring President James Buchanan said to Abraham Lincoln):
“If you are as happy entering the presidency as I am in leaving it, then you are truly a happy man.”
To end this post using the proper reference, I may vote for Toonces as Governor. The cat cannot do worse than our current California leadership.