Tea Party types are a divers lot, and even among the small group of SLOBs here in San Diego, there has been much debate over the relative merits of the presumed and declared candidates. In an attempt to impose some ideological purity, which is of course doomed to failure, I offer the following observations.
First and foremost, I would like to remind both the Tea Party and the nation that the biggest threat to our liberty and our prosperity is the unchecked growth of government. Our soaring debt is threatening to crush our ability to grow the economy for the next twenty years. Don't believe me? Look no further than Japan, where the lost decade has stretched to two. They have been piling up debt and big public works during this time to no avail. The only candidates worth looking at have the political will and demonstrated record to deal with this mess. This disqualifies Gingrich, based on his crass and self-serving criticism of Paul Ryan. I think Sarah Palin doesn't fare well by this standard either. Her tenure in Alaska is hardly preparation for dealing with the federal budget, as Alaska is the most socialist part of America except Puerto Rico, due to Alaska's oil revenue.
Closely related to the growth of entitlements, is the growth of both government regulation and bureaucracy. Reversing Obamacare before its main provisions kick in is my most important immediate political goal. Which candidate is going to do so? Do you really think that's Romney, who can't bring himself to disavow his own Massachusetts plan, even though it is proving a failure? Further, any support for the regulatory nightmare of cap and trade should be a non-starter for Tea Party members. Even if you believe in AGW, you would not support cap and trade, because it is inherently ineffective and prone to fraud. This would exclude Pawlenty, for his past support, but to his credit he has recanted. The third leg of this stool is the need to curb the power of government unions. Christie and Daniels stand out for their records in this regard, although.
Reforming the tax code goes hand in hand with reducing the complexity of government. The tax code is just another avenue of regulation of the economy, but one especially prone to manipulation by business interests. It is the source of the sea of special interest money in campaigns. I am looking for candidates supporting a flat tax or scrapping the income tax altogether. I like Herman Cain's support of a national sales tax, mostly because it replaces the income tax.
There is also the matter of focus. Foreign policy is important but not over riding, ditto for social issues. Most Tea Party members will decry Obama's declarations about Israel's borders today, but I submit that this should not be the over riding concern for our movement. In my view, candidates with significantly out of the mainstream views on foreign policy, even if we agree with them, should not receive our support. This excludes Ron Paul from my support. His statement that he wouldn't have targeted bin Laden in Pakistan makes him unelectable, in addition to his overall crankiness. However, see Tim Daniel's analysis of foreign policy issues from our perspective.
One could also take this view on social issues. So Santorum, who has been a vocal social conservative and Gary Johnson, with whom I agree on drug policy, should be viewed with caution. Controversial and distracting social positions takes the focus off the budgetary and regulatory issues that need to be our main focus. Gary Johnson's position on marijuana legalization is already a sideshow threatening to derail his candidacy. In the general election, this will open up a line of attack that will peel away enthusiasm of social conservatives for the Republican nominee. Politics is about coalitions, we need to focus on the core of our coalition, reducing the size and scope of government.
So there you go Tea Partyers, you unofficial chief ideologist has spoken, or at least written. I am sure you will give this all the due deference you give to the edicts of Republican establishment. Good on you.