Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Tough Times for the tea party

We should admit that the present political situation is a difficult one for the tea party movement. Achievement of some measure of power does that to any popular movement. We are now in a difficult situation where mere protest and indignation against the train of abuses is an insufficient rallying cry to our cause. We expected to propose real solutions, since we are perceived as having some power in the seat of government and, inevitably, concrete solutions will have elements that are objectionable to some constituencies. This also saps popularity.

Some additional elements have made our situation even more difficult. First, the occupy movement, despite its problems, has captured significant attention. It has focused on some of our issues, like crony capitalism, but overall has had such a diffuse focus that a discussion of actual issues has been avoided. Its narrative is filled with stories of the suffering of art history majors who are only qualified to wait tables, but have huge student loans.

Second, despite our fondest hopes, no natural Presidential candidate has emerged who embodies tea party hopes. We seem to be waiting for Reagan's heir, and so far she has not emerged. It would be good to remember that Reagan's first brush with fame came in 1964 with his nominating speech for Barry Goldwater, followed by two terms as governor of California, where he did some liberal things, a failed bid for the Presidency in 1976 before becoming President. We are reduced to arguing which candidate is least objectionable and writing attack pieces about the various Republican potential successors to Barack Obama. (I am guilty as well.)

Third, there are the dangers of the Supreme Court ruling on Obamacare*, which I discussed yesterday.

Finally, our insistence on changing the direction of the federal government has made us vulnerable to charges of obstructionism. The super-committee will likely fail and the tea party might get some of the fall out.

My answer to all of this is, tough. To quote some famous Americans whom we hope to emulate:
"These are the times that try men's souls: The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman."
Who said that reversing a century of effort by progressives was going to be easy or accomplished in two years. Keeping a focus on our principles is the only path to long term success. We know what works. We see the blue states sputtering with high taxes and business exiting. We see quasi-socialist stimulus policies failing to end the recession. We see Obamacare failing to deliver on any of its promises of lower insurance rates, keeping your insurance, or helping the economy.

We will make tactical changes to respond to circumstances. The occupiers have focused the attention of the nation on crony capitalism, to some extent. The tea party should be reminding the whole public that we were protesting the wall street bailouts and corporate welfare from the beginning. This is an example of a tactical shift that stays true to one's principles.

Further, we should be developing a strong bench. Keeping an eye on local races to develop a new generation of office holders who genuinely believe in limited government is important, but not exciting work. Finally, we must continue to change the climate so that even bad men are persuaded to do the right thing, because it is politically profitable.

Reagan wasn't elected to the Presidency until 1980, but he made this speech in 1964. Think about the difference between him and Barack Obama, who made a well received speech at the Democratic convention in 2004 and was then elected in 2008, with little of the experience that Reagan developed. Which man will have the more lasting positive legacy for the nation and his party?

*In yesterday's comments, liberal friend Calivancouver thinks the next round of health care reform will result in single payer. I disagree and liberated my comment here.
Too much to debate why I think single payer will bankrupt those countries who are trying it. Consider this. The best parts of the medical industry from both reports and personal experience are vision correction and cosmetic surgery. There are no waits, prices keep declining, and quality keeps improving. They also have in common that most consumers pay their own way with no insurance or government involvement. The free market is achieving the purported goals of government health care, declining price and increasing quality. Yet we seem loathe to try for more free market solutions with any other part of health care.


  1. Might I point out that those are not government-provided, nor should they be, because they are elective. You can shop around for boobjobs and lasik surgery, plan them in advance, and weight the costs and benefits like any other good

    You don't shop around for emergency surgery. You might not even be conscious.

  2. Cali,

    Might I point out that those are not government-provided

    That's why they are good, efficient, and cheap

    You don't shop around for emergency surgery.

    No, but you shop around for emergency coverage before you need it, and it will be much better and cheaper than ObamaCare.