Tea Party, don't let your opposition define you
By Frank Salvato
With the mid-term elections now literally in the history books, the powers that be on both the Left side of the aisle and the Right, inside the beltway and out, have finally come to understand the power and appeal of the citizen movement commonly referred to as the Tea Party Movement. But, along with this recognition of power and appeal comes the wont of these groups to rationalize away the catalyst and the chemistry that gave birth to the movement. If the Tea Party Movement is to keep its potency it must avoid several pitfalls common to well-intentioned movements. Chief among these pitfalls is allowing your opposition to define who you are; or what we are.
Make no mistake, the establishment political apparatus does not – repeat, does not – celebrate the Tea Party Movement. In fact, they are extremely threatened, both on the Left and the Right, by this pure grassroots movement; this phoenix that has ascended from the ashes of a grotesque governmental system centered on political opportunism and self-preservation. They are threatened – not they feel threatened, but they are threatened – because their status quo is threatened; because the very apparatus they have assembled is about to be junked. And just like a feral cat that has been cornered, they are willing to do and say anything to protect their status quo.
On the Left, the Tea Party Movement is castigated as an assemblage of rubes, devoid of the Ivy League education (read: Progressive indoctrination) required to be "taken seriously" on the political stage. The Tea Party Movement, in their observation, is a gaggle of fly-over state, poorly educated rednecks, clinging to their God and their guns, disillusioned by the simplistic notion that a Constitutional Republic – not a Democracy – can actually function without their superior intellect in its management. A perfect example of their contempt for the Tea Party Movement – and, in fact, the total of the American citizenry – can be seen in their "shock" that We the People don't understand that a nationalized healthcare system is better than the primitive free-market system under which we are currently "dying in the streets."
On the Right side of the aisle, the push back comes from a quite different element altogether: the establishment Republicans.
Establishment Republicans – the old guard Republican operatives cemented in the status quo apparatus, both elected and not, inside the belt way and at the state and county party levels – see their power threatened in a much more systematic way. They see a threat posed by a new breed of citizen politician who recognizes that not only is the old guard just as guilty of engaging in political opportunism and self-preservation as those on the Left, but that they are also guilty of playing the "go along to get along" game and the "pecking order" game.
In the "go along to get along" game the establishment Republicans are guilty of the sin of compromise. While the notion of compromise may sound reasonable, an examination of the results of establishment Republican compromise exposes an ugly and chilling reality.
Using the analogy of politics as a pendulum, we can understand that in a quest for balance in government, the swayable element in the US electorate has demonstrated a tendency to vote power from one philosophy on the political spectrum to the other and then back again, with those committed to their political philosophies anchoring each base. In almost every election since the turn of the 20th Century – consequently, the exact moment in American History when Progressivism arrived on our shores – in almost every election since then, when the Left has won office they have pontificated about compromise and reaching across the aisle; about non-partisanship, even as they avoid – at all cost – acting on their rhetoric in practice.
Conversely, when the Right has won office they have repeatedly, with few exceptions, honored their commitment to non-partisanship and compromise. One needs look no further than the inclusion of Clinton staffers and Democrats in the George W. Bush White House to prove this point. The trouble with this is that by "going along to get along" – by compromising without reciprocation – the center point always – always – moves further to the Left with each election. Such is the false promise of "going along to get along."
Additionally, the establishment Republican apparatus is hierarchical in nature, and viciously so. If you haven't carried water to the elephant – and sometimes even if you have – if it isn't "your turn," if you aren't from "the right stock," even if your philosophy is effective, you're marketable and you have a potent message, you are considered persona non grata; the apparatus will shun you. A more perfect example of this cannot be found but for the candidacy of Christine O'Donnell in Delaware.
In Delaware, Christine O'Donnell did quite well with Independent and undecided voters. She even did alright with Democrats, considering it's a cobalt blue state. The demographic that sunk her candidacy was the Republican demographic. Why? Because Ms. O'Donnell had the gall to upset the "pecking order"; it wasn't her turn. Because of this, the Delaware State Republican apparatus purposefully lumbered through the motions of support, creating the need for the O'Donnell campaign to construct from scratch the get-out-the-vote effort and the media engagement structure, denying the "usurper" O'Donnell critical time to communicate her message. It is for this singular reason that Ms. O'Donnell lost the US Senate race in Delaware.
If having the whole of the Left and the establishment apparatus of the Right against you weren't enough, the mainstream media literally hates the Tea Party Movement – both the elected and those who embrace the philosophy. I'm not simply talking contempt; I am talking foaming-at-the-mouth hatred. All one has to do to confirm this notion is to watch MSNBC for no longer than a minute or two. The vitriol that shoots out of the television is reminiscent of the scene from the movie Poltergeist where the evil spirits swarm the little girl as she sits in front of the television set, only to be swallowed into the netherworld.
So, those newly elected members of Congress who identify themselves as emanating from the Tea Party Movement arrive in Washington, not only to be seated in the politically charged crosshairs of the politicos in the establishment political realm, but in the bazooka sites of the mainstream media. I'm not even going to get into the loathing held for the Tea Party Movement by those in the plethora of George Soros-funded Progressive organizations.
After coming to understand all of this you might be thinking to yourself, "If the Tea Party Movement has such potent and far-reaching enemies, how, then, did it win an overwhelming victory in the 2010 midterm elections?"
First, the spirit of true Americanism cannot be crushed – ever. When the sleeping giant of the true American spirit is awakened there is nothing that we cannot accomplish. It awakened for the American Revolution to achieve liberty. It awakened in the aftermath of the US Civil War to unite a broken nation. It awakened for World Wars I & II to defeat murderous despotism and it awakened after September 11, 2001, to courageously confront pure evil. Today, it has awakened to defeat the ideological enemy of Progressivism; Marxist Socialism that champions redistribution of wealth, the rewarding of non-productivity, cronyism, social justice instead of justice for all and Socialist Democracy over our Constitutional Republican form of government (Karl Marx himself declared, "Democracy only leads to Socialism," and it is for this singular reason that it is so very important not to falsely label the United States a Democracy...it is a Republic).
Second, and this is extremely important in the near future, the powers that be don't understand the catalyst, the motivation for Tea Party Movement and, thus, have been unable to place a label on it; have been unable to define the movement in their terms, on their terms. They call it racist and the Black people in the Tea Party Movement say "Excuse me?" They accuse the movement of being Rightwing and Independents and Democrats stand up to be counted. They paint us as violent and we defy them to produce one piece of evidence to prove their accusation. They call us inexperienced and we baffle them with common sense-based solutions. In each instance where they have tried to label or define the Tea Party Movement they have failed, increasing both their anger and their determination.
It is for this reason that we must – must – deny them each and every time they try to label and define the movement. Today they are trying to redefine the movement as a political entity; as a separate political party. Even the establishment Republican faction is referring to newly elected members as "members of the Tea Party."
It is time that we – as a movement – insist that we be defined on our terms; that we are American citizens from all political walks of life that understand – and evidently more so than the powers that be – that the US Constitution and the whole of the Charters of Freedom are what binds us together as a people, not our political parties or social philosophies. Accepting the US Constitution and the Charters as our common bond allows for our elected officials to execute honest debate and good government via a pre-ordained set of boundaries meant to safeguard the rights of both the majority and the minority. Embracing the US Constitution and the Charters as our common bond in Americanism enables us all to understand that the covenant lives; that the US Constitution lives not so that it can be manipulated to suit the times but so that we can find commonality throughout time in the truths of the Charters; truths that are so incredibly self-evident.
We, the people who comprise the Tea Party Movement – the Republicans, Democrats, Independents, Libertarians, Constitutionalists and those who have no affiliation – all of us that make up the Tea Party Movement, we must force the powers that be to acquiesce to the fact that the Tea Party Movement is about American exceptionalism and acknowledging the opportunity and protection that Americanism affords, and that it transcends the finite boundaries and labels of the established political system.
We the members of the Tea Party Movement – We the People – must take it upon ourselves to explain to those who still don't get it that the Tea Party Movement is the American spirit; that it lives in all of us who love our country and our covenant, regardless of political denomination.
Let us define who we are, let not our detractors define us. Let us make them understand. Once we accomplish this, the meanings of the messages brought forth on the flags of the American Revolution – "Unite or Die," "Live Free or Die," & "Don't Tread on Me" – mean so much more...so very much more.
Frank Salvato is the Executive Director and Director of Terrorism Research for BasicsProject.org a non-profit, non-partisan, 501(c)(3) research and education initiative. His writing has been recognized by the US House International Relations Committee and the Japan Center for Conflict Prevention. His organization, BasicsProject.org, partnered in producing the original national symposium series addressing the root causes of radical Islamist terrorism. He is a member of the International Analyst Network and has been a featured guest on al Jazeera's Listening Post. He also serves as the managing editor for The New Media Journal. Mr. Salvato has appeared on The O'Reilly Factor on FOX News Channel, and is a regular guest on talk radio including on The Captain's America Radio Show, nationally syndicated by the Phoenix Broadcasting Network and on NetTalkWorld Global Talk Radio catering to the US Armed Forces around the world. Mr. Salvato is also heard weekly on The Roth Show with Dr. Laurie Roth syndicated nationally on the USA Radio Network. His opinion-editorials have been published by The American Enterprise Institute, The Washington Times & Human Events and are syndicated nationally. He is a featured political writer for EducationNews.org and is occasionally quoted in The Federalist. Mr. Salvato is available for public speaking engagements. He can be contacted at email@example.com.