If you analyze it I believe the very heart and soul of conservatism is libertarianism.
~Ronald Reagan, July 1, 1975
Self-identified Tea Party groups are supporting primary candidates against Republican incumbents Senator Joe Kyrillos, Assemblywoman Amy Handlin, Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon, Monmouth Freeholder Director Tom Arnone, Freeholder Deputy Director Serena DiMaso and Monmouth Sheriff Shaun Golden.
Normally I’d say to the challengers nothing more than, “Hey it’s a free country so have at it,” but to call America a “free country” now is becoming more cliché than reality, isn’t it? Between Democrat Obama’s view that he has a right to kill American citizens without due process of law and Republican John Roberts ruling that I can be “taxed” on ObamaCare for not buying it, it is becoming increasingly hard to know who to trust in matters of American freedom.
When people ask me nowadays if I’d like to see a third party in politics, I tell them I’d settle for a second one. The Democrats and Republicans are becoming that much alike.
So let me start by saying to Tea Party folks that I understand your frustration. I too feel the need to have political ideology inform political judgment rather than concerns over electoral identity.
The problem, my friends, is the “Tea Party” was never intended to be a third political party, and the local folks in Monmouth County are treating it like it is. There seems to be a need to serve a full slate of candidates without regard to whether the Republican in question should be challenged, and that makes you look more election driven than ideology driven.
This whole primary is a mistake. That’s not to say the Republicans haven’t made some mistakes too – they have and I’ll get to that. But this constant war by primary will fail and needs to end.
We are seeing quite a split in the Republican Party between those identified as Tea Party and those who are not. On the national level, Karl Rove has declared war on the Tea Party, the Tea Party has declared war on the Republicans and the symbolic jackass of the Democrat Party is braying with laughter at us all.
I’ll deal with Rove another day. Someone finally has to do it. I’ll deal with national Tea Party folks another day. That has to be done as well.
For now, let me talk to the local Tea Party people and the local Monmouth Republican establishment, two groups I admire.
First the Tea Party:
It is unfortunate that the word “party” appears in the name because it gives the false impression that Tea Party is supposed to be a structured organization to promote candidates for election like the Republicans and Democrats. It’s not.
“Tea Party” is a very limited ideology committed to nothing more than smaller government. It has no other issue and I cringe when I see anyone press an issue besides small government while waiving the Tea Party flag. That puts the movement in a false light.
At its heart the Tea Party is libertarian and as Reagan pointed out libertarianism is also the soul of conservatism. That being the case, Tea Party should be an easy fit for all stripes of Republican regardless of whether their personal aesthetic is social conservative, paleo-conservative, libertarian or otherwise.
That means too that a Democrat or Independent can be “Tea Party” so long as small government and low taxes are what they seek. Their other issues are beside the point of Tea Party. The goal of politicking (as opposed to legislating) is to persuade – to convince. America is not a banana republic. We don’t kill the political opposition. In a civilized nation of laws we evangelize our position to the opposition. We cajole. We debate. We persuade. All are welcomed to be Tea Partiers no matter what their electoral affiliation.
But I don’t see the local Tea Party folks primary Democrats to convince them. To thrust only at Republicans every primary season in the name of bettering the Republican party isn’t an attempt to influence policy. It becomes an internal coup to take over the party, and that is decidedly not “Tea Party.”
I also see local Tea Party folks judging Republican candidates on social issues, while waiving the Tea Party flag. Feel free to do so, but put down the Tea Party flag and swing your Social Con flag while doing it. Stop trying to convert the economically libertarian Tea Party movement into a mouthpiece for social conservatism. It isn’t. I’m socially conservative myself, but smart enough to know that if I really want small government, I won’t alienate others from the Tea Party movement. I want to convince the Democrat to lower taxes, no matter where he stands on gay marriage. I want to convince the Independent to lower taxes, no matter where he stands on abortion. I’ll fight those lions in other colosseums. They aren’t Tea Party fights.
So to the Monmouth Tea Partiers, I’ll ask you to stop trying to be a third party, or you risk destroying the very movement you wish to drive.
To the Monmouth Republican establishment:
I support you. But…you need to be more ideological absolute. The Tea Partiers are right about that.
Karl Rove and the national establishment Republicans seem to have completely forgotten about 2010. The only reason we have the House of Representatives as a weapon against Obama is the Tea Party. I’d prefer it if Karl would just say thank you.
Instead, I see a steady rise of Republicans joining the ranks of media and calling Tea Partiers nut jobs and other unnecessary epithets. It’s entirely ungrateful.
I tell you now, without equivocation, that the split between Tea Partiers and establishment Republicans that didn’t exist in 2010 and exists now is the fault of establishment Republicans. The establishment Republicans thought that after the Tea Party handed them the House, they could go about business as usual. They have an unreasonable expectation that the Republican line in elections belongs to them, that mirrors a liberal’s expectation of government largess. It’s whiny, plaintiff and unbecoming.
We owe you no office. You owe us a commitment to the Lockean notions of American freedom restated in the Declaration of Independence if you want that Republican line without a primary, just as Democrats should have to commit themselves to small government in exchange for not suffering a Tea Party primary there.
So to conclude: Kyrillos, Handlin, O’Scanlon, Arnone, DiMaso and Golden are going to clean the clocks of the challengers. I support them.
Their first order of business after that should be to show the Tea Partiers an increased commitment to the economic theories of Hayek and Friedman, and stop joining the media in trashing the Tea Party who brought the Republicans the House. Invite the Monmouth Tea Partiers in for a meet and hammer out some goals of small government. I’ll mediate.
Remember America is a center-right country and if you commit yourself to a libertarian conservatism, we can take the Senate and White House too.
On your way…